The Environmentalists Are Trying To Frighten the Natives

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a manner reminiscent of witch doctors urging primitive people to
sacrifice their sheep and goats in order to mollify the wrath of
the gods, today’s environmentalists and their shills in the
media and academe repeatedly urge the people of the United States
and the rest of the modern world to sacrifice their use of energy
and their standard of living in order to avoid the wrath of the
Earth and its atmosphere. That wrath will allegedly take one form
or another: a new ice age (recall the predictions of Paul Ehrlich)
or, if not a new ice age, then global warming and a resulting rise
in sea levels. And if global warming and a rise in sea levels of
1 to 3 feet over the next 100 to 150 years is not sufficiently frightening,
then a rise in sea levels of 13 to 20 feet over centuries lying
still further in the future is projected. Both of these sea-level
results are supposed to proceed from a projected rise in average
global temperature of 4 degrees, and of average temperature in the
Arctic specifically of 5 to 8 degrees. (See “Melting
Ice Threatens Sea-Level Rise
” and “Climate
Data Hint at Irreversible Rise in Seas
” in today’s
[March 25, 2006] New York Times.)

None of these
predictions is based on any kind of scientific experiment. Nor could
they be. A scientific experiment would require a laboratory somewhere
that contained two identical planets, Earth 1 and Earth 2. There
would be just one difference between them. The human population
of Earth 1 achieves an Industrial Revolution and rises to the level
of energy use and standard of living of our own present-day Earth
and its likely level of energy use within the next century. In contrast,
the human population of Earth 2 fails to advance beyond the energy
use of the Dark Ages or pre-industrial modern times. And then the
scientists in the laboratory observe that the average temperature
of Earth 1 comes to exceed the average temperature of Earth 2 by
4 degrees, and that of its Arctic region by 5 to 8 degrees, and
that its sea level proceeds to rise by the number of feet described,
while the sea level of Earth 2 remains unchanged.

this is not how such temperature and sea-level projections are arrived
at. They are reached on the basis of combining various bits and
pieces of actual scientific knowledge with various arbitrary assumptions,
which combinations are then fed into computers and come out as the
results of “computer models.” Different assumptions produce
different results. The choice of which bits and pieces of scientific
knowledge to include also produces different results. The process
is very similar to an individual with a spreadsheet combining various
financial formulas with various assumptions about rates of return,
periods of time, tax rates, and so forth, and then coming out with
projections of his retirement income.

Imaging being
a member of a jury, charged with deciding the guilt or innocence
of a defendant on the basis of such computer models. Would it then
be even remotely possible to render a verdict that met the standard
of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”?

Yet this is
the caliber of the evidence on the basis of which the environmentalist
prosecutors/persecutors of Industrial Civilization want us to convict
it and condemn it to death. Yes, the death of the Industrial
Revolution and Industrial Civilization. That is what is meant by
such statements as, “we will have to commit soon to a major
effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere,”
i.e., to stop the consumption of most or all oil, coal, and natural
gas, and thus throw the world back to the pre-Industrial ages. (This
particular statement was made by one of the “scientists”
referred to in The Times’ articles. Its meaning is supported
by major segments of the environmental movement with little or no
opposition from the rest of the movement.)

Civilization is not a disembodied concept. It is the foundation
of the material well-being and of the very lives of the great majority
of the 6 billion or more people now living. Its destruction would
mean the collapse of the production of food and medicine and literally
result in worldwide famines and plagues. This is a result that would
be of great satisfaction to those environmentalists who believe
that the pre-Industrial World’s population limit of about a
billion people was somehow more desirable than the subsequent growth
in population to its present size. But it would not be of any comfort
or joy to those who had to suffer and die in the process and who
saw their loved ones suffer and die. Nor would it be of any comfort
or joy to the survivors, who would have to live lives of abject
poverty and misery.

There are juries
that bring in verdicts in defiance of all reason. The question is,
is the jury of contemporary public opinion in the developed world
in general and in the United States in particular so simple minded
and irrational as to bring in a totally unjustified death-penalty
verdict not only against modern Industrial Civilization, but against
most of the human race at the very same time?

27, 2006

Reisman [send him mail]
is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine
University’s Graziadio School of Business & Management in Los Angeles,
and is the author of Capitalism:
A Treatise on Economics
. Visit
his website.

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