Global Warming, the Precautionary Principle, and the Road to Totalitarianism

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Emboldened by a United Nations report regarding global warming, Al Gore campaigns for and wins the 2008 presidential election under the banner of the Green Party. Mr. Gore’s key, to his landslide victory, was a campaign promise to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect Mother Earth from humanity’s depredations — this would be the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. After all, "science" has determined that global warming (which has a "high probability" of being human-caused) is going to decimate untold numbers of animal and plant species. Americans, accordingly, came to a strong consensus that political action, as guided by the "precautionary principle," was the only way to save the environment, let alone the entire planet. President-elect Gore’s election mandate has delivered a message to all 50 state legislatures that the Green Party’s proposed "Precautionary Principle Constitutional Amendment" must be ratified posthaste.

It is early 2009 and Al Gore has just taken the Presidential Oath of Office. President Gore’s first priority is to prod each state legislature into ratifying the 28th Amendment. He brushes aside critics who have declared that the Amendment will hollow out the Constitution. During a "Keynesian" moment of candor, President Gore quips: "The Bill of Rights really won’t matter if we are all dead." With Americans clamoring for environmental and human salvation, all 50 state legislatures ratify the 28th Amendment with the same rapidity, foresight, and studiousness as the U.S. Congress exercised when passing the Patriot Act.

Al Gore, and his Green Party, celebrate one of the most astonishing political victories in U.S. history. Now, Mother Earth herself will have a "voice" in domestic and world politics. The precautionary principle has become enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The body of the 28th Amendment reads as follows:

Amendment XXVIII

Section 1: Congress shall take any necessary action in advance of scientific proof of evidence, that the environment may be harmed, on the grounds that any delay of action would be more costly to society and nature. Precaution is not simply the prevention of manifest or predicted risks that have been scientifically proven. Rather, the precautionary principle goes beyond the notion of prevention in the sense that it insists that Congress move to anticipate problems before they arise or before scientific proof of harm is established.

Section 2: The actions of human beings, corporations, and other entities shall be subject to examination of identifiable social and environmental gains or losses arising from any course of action.

Section 3: The precautionary principle shall be enforced so that the overall capacity of environmental systems will act as a buffer for human well-being. However, any error in risk calculation shall be to the advantage of the environment. This entails leaving a sufficiently wide natural cushion in the functional equilibria of natural systems. In effect, this means that humans must learn to widen the assimilative capacity of natural systems by deliberately holding back from unnecessary and environmentally unsustainable resource use on the grounds that exploitation may prove to be counterproductive, excessively costly or simply unfair to future generations. Nature’s assimilative capacity cannot always be taken for granted.

Section 4: As a matter of moral right, vulnerable and critical natural systems and entities, namely those close to thresholds, or whose existence is vital for natural regeneration, shall have equal standing to human beings.

Section 5: No real property shall be developed without the property owner demonstrating that no unreasonable harm will come to the land.

Section 6: All Congressional spending decisions must integrate environmental policy from certain and known concerns that occur in the present, to future and more uncertain issues.

Section 7: The international environmental treaty, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, its Kyoto Protocol, and all further updates, are hereby integrated into the Constitution.

Section 8: Any Constitutional interpretations, conflicting with this Amendment, shall be settled in favor of this Amendment.

Section 9: The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

During the ratification process, opponents of the 28th Amendment were quite vocal. Such critics advised that the proposed Amendment essentially voids the Constitution itself. Detractors argued that the unintended consequences, of giving the environment legal standing equal to humankind, will be economically and socially devastating. Additionally, the intentional vagueness of the precautionary principle will allow for arbitrary and tyrannical rule. It will be only a matter of time before chaos ensues.

In a stunning turn of events, with respect to the Section 3 of the 28th Amendment, pro-life advocates immediately seek to overturn Roe vs. Wade and, by default, make abortion illegal in the United States. Pro-life advocates assert that giving legal standing to future generations inherently makes abortion murder.

This thorny issue (abortion) has been haunting the U.S. Supreme Court for decades. The court immediately takes up the case and hears both sides of the argument. With breathtaking speed, the Justices rule 9-0 in favor of the pro-life advocates. In a brief summary of the unanimous decision, the Justices state: "In light of Sections 3, 4 and 8 of the 28th Amendment — the law of the land — an unborn child has full legal standing in the United States. Hence, abortion is murder."

Feminists and women’s rights groups, throughout the nation, express outrage at what the Green Party has wrought upon American women.

To add another unintended consequence into the mix, veterinarians are now refusing to euthanize terminally ill and infirmed animals. A cautious interpretation of the 28th Amendment reveals its biocentric nature — all entities, which naturally include animals, have equal standing to humans. Therefore, to euthanize an animal would be tantamount to murder. Pet owners, across the nation, are confused and exasperated.

Shall the police be called in to investigate the death of a goldfish?

Heartened by the newly found "rights" of animals, animal-rights activists press to have hunting and fishing banned in the United States. As a response, every state suspends the issuance of hunting and fishing licenses. Lawsuits begin to flood the state courts.

Being that the precautionary principle is inherently vague and broad, the anti-gun lobby leaps into action. Citing Section 1 of the 28th Amendment, anti-gunners mention how it is incumbent upon Congress to both "anticipate" and "prevent" problems.

With murder rates, in Washington D.C. and New Orleans, at alarming highs, anti-gunners declare that an outright ban of guns is the only solution to the "murder problem." As the anti-gun lobbyists argue, "…guns kill people." To add weight to their case, President Bush’s war in Iraq is cited as an example of the precautionary principle. Poor implementation of the war aside, Congress did agree to allow the Commander in Chief to militarily remove the Iraqi regime and then seek out and confiscate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Congress determined such preemptive and precautionary military actions were necessary in order to prevent Iraqi WMDs from ever harming the American people. Based upon Congressional precedent (i.e. the precautionary war against Iraq), and now buttressed by the 28th Amendment, anti-gunners demand that the right to bear arms be immediately revoked for the sake of preventing further murders in the United States. The Supreme Court’s docket is starting to get full.

Animal-rights activists, not surprisingly, have expressed their solidarity with the anti-gun lobby.

And now, back to the present. With environmentalists playing the role of Mother Earth’s savior, welcome to the moral, intellectual, and legal quagmire that the green movement is attempting to thrust upon humanity.

If global warming is real, and I seriously doubt it, then let free-market solutions emerge instead of adopting the failed command and control systems advocated by environmentalists. The eminent Austrian economist, Dr. George Reisman, has written forcefully on this matter:

Whether global warming comes or not, it is certain that nature itself will sooner or later produce major changes in the climate. To deal with those changes and virtually all other changes arising from whatever cause, man absolutely requires individual freedom, science, and technology. In a word, he requires the industrial civilization constituted by capitalism.

This brings me back to the possibly truly good objectives that have been mixed in with environmentalism, such as the desire for greater cleanliness and health. If one wants to advocate such objectives without aiding the potential mass murderers in the environmental movement in achieving their goals, one must first of all accept unreservedly the values of human reason, science, technology, and industrial civilization, and never attack those values. They are the indispensable foundation for achieving greater cleanliness and better health and longer life.

If you do not believe green totalitarianism can take root in the United States, then I suggest that you take a look at what is happening in San Francisco. Under the guise of the precautionary principle, it has already begun.

Eric Englund [send him mail], who has an MBA from Boise State University, lives in the state of Oregon. He is the publisher of The Hyperinflation Survival Guide by Dr. Gerald Swanson. You are invited to visit his website.

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