Let Me Worry About Climate Change
by Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff
Does climate change caused by mankind even exist? My answer is "No." The idea is highly improbable. And I view its support by a panel of scientists as a fraud, notwithstanding the participation of those sincere scientists who have examined research and contributed to its interpretation. But the latter fraud pales by comparison with four far greater deceits: (1) That the world needs to wage a War on Climate Change; (2) that the states of the world should spearhead this war; (3) that the states of the world have the authority to prosecute such a war; and (4) that said states can wage such a war successfully.
The quixotic idea of a War on Climate Change is preposterous. Statesmen who cannot control their tempers, their verbal blunders, and their bedrooms, propose to control the world's climate. Statesmen who cannot get through the night without having to relieve themselves, who cannot settle a dispute over a barren island, and who routinely lie, cheat, and steal, propose to unite in an effort to control the earth's climate. Men who routinely unleash forces within society that are beyond their control, and who then try to control them with bombs, terrorism, napalm, mines, missiles, and issues of paper money, now propose to control the world's climate over the next 100 years. What insanity is afflicting us? What impossible propaganda will we the people not sop up and place our faith in? Statesmen cannot stop engaging us in slaughtering each other in the multi-millions on behalf of their insane wars. And yet now they propose to get together to control the earth's climate on our behalf? We are utter fools if we believe this claptrap. We are utter fools if we do not suspect that any cooperation they might cobble together is anything but designed to further their power over us.
Like America's wars, the War on Climate Change, when and if it occurs, will also not be marked by a clear declaration. It is in fact already occurring and has been occurring for some years under a host of idiotic but no less lethal titles and appeals such as environmentalism and sustainable development. We have already accepted incredible intrusions into the regulation of energy. A California legislator proposes to ban ordinary light bulbs and make everyone use fluorescent lights. A War on Climate Change has the potential to create the worst dictatorship the world has ever seen, one that invades the private lives of every person. In such a war, there will be no clear demarcation of an enemy or enemies. They will be kept vague. They will be an ever-moving and ever-changing target. They will change with the climate, and the climate is notoriously changeable. As the climate alters naturally, the political states of our world will have a perpetual and ideal excuse for further intrusive actions to control the micro-behavior of all of us. There will be no clear signs of what constitutes victory in such a war, because there will never be a clear declaration of war or the criteria for that war to end in victory. If we are to battle the climate to stem its being warmer, say, then in the future why not battle it for other purposes? The foundation will be laid for an open-ended and never-ending battle against climate change or for climate control. The War on Climate Change, as environmentalism already has, will serve mankind's rulers and their minions, the experts and greens, who will batten on their control and dominance. The people of the world have everything to lose and nothing to gain from a War on Climate Change. And that war lies directly ahead of us. Like all wars, its purposes will transmute as it proceeds. Instead of being a war on changes in climate, it will become a war to control climate.
The latest big noise, causing a severely high reading on the pollution of ideas index, is the fourth report of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This Panel is a United Nations agent, created by two other U.N. agents: the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme. We greatly deceive ourselves if we believe that we will be led into the light by government reports, especially reports of inter-government organizations such as the U.N. We greatly deceive ourselves if we believe that panels of scientists working under the auspices of government agencies will lead us into the light of true knowledge. Hundreds, even thousands, of scientists may have their names attributed to the final report. This will lend weight to the document and make its pronouncements seem irresistible. But such reports are still government reports, and many of the scientists will be government employees. There will be bias in the opinions expressed. It will not necessarily be a bias produced intentionally by those participating, although I do not discount such blatant bias. It will be what is technically called selection bias. The government employees and the scientist-beneficiaries of government grants and largesse who influence the report will have been selected in the first instance (and also self-selected themselves) as recipients of government science welfare aid, and this position imparts a bias to their prior beliefs in manmade climate change. Such persons will go into their jobs with stronger beliefs at the outset that man is a cause of significant climate change. That is partly why some of them may be meteorologists in the first place. We cannot assume that we are hearing the evaluations of objective scientists. We should rationally assume the opposite.
Furthermore, a few persons will write the final report after gathering the input of many. These few will have a disproportionate effect on the final conclusions. A few words here and there can shift the tenor of the report remarkably. The press reports that such was the case with the latest report.
Has there been climate change? Over long enough time periods, climate changes remarkably. Are many regions of the earth now experiencing such change? There is little assurance that the answer is yes, because climate varies a lot over time. Is whatever variation that is now occurring attributable to mankind? There is little assurance that the answer is yes because the variables influencing climate vary greatly over time and are not well-understood. The past 150 years of weather does not differentiate itself from the past 10,000 years of weather. Still less does it allow us to be confident that mankind is causing whatever differentiation seems to be happening. The bald fact is that there is no need to launch a War on Climate Change even based on the facts of climate.
Faced with this lack of necessity alone, are we supposed to melt with fear because there happen to have been more hurricanes in the Atlantic or because ice is melting in the Arctic? Are we supposed to place our lives in the hands of government and allow bureaucrats and scientists to change our lives dramatically in the vain hope of changing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? We could not do anything more foolish. Not only are we unsure of whether mankind is creating climate change, we are sure that those telling us this myth have a conflict of interest. They benefit by propagating this story.
But there are many more reasons why we should not plunge ahead with a state-led War on Climate Change. Even if the people of the world are causing climate change, what are its costs? No set of states will ever be able to assess them. They too depend on too many imponderable variables. They depend on personal human assessments and valuations. Climate change obviously has benefits to some people. And it may even have net benefits to many, many people. Maybe it will forestall the next ice age. We cannot expect the state to measure costs and benefits for us in an unbiased way, and we cannot expect them to be able to measure them in the first place. They simply can't. The press reports that a number of large companies already are lining up to support the U.N. report and the War on Climate Change. This is no different than Brown and Root and Haliburton seeking and getting Iraq war contracts. When the state proposes measures to subsidize ethanol or biomass fuels, or to regulate appliance energy use, or subsidize new energy sources for automobiles, we can be 100 percent certain that the only costs and benefits that the state has considered are those of the business lobbies who are anxious to use the War on Climate Change to line their own pockets.
The state has no constitutional authority for the measures it might contemplate and enact. That hasn't stopped it in the past. In this case, as in all the other of the state's crusades, the proper expectation we should hold is that the state will succeed at its purposes of its own aggrandizement, control, and enrichment; while it fails miserably at the purported purpose of controlling the climate. We should expect that each failure to control climate will be used as an occasion to call for more money and controls. How many times do we have to observe this pattern before we learn? The war to end all wars (World War I) initiated more wars. The war on poverty created more poverty and dependency. The war on alcohol stimulated greater alcohol use and crime. The war on drugs has imprisoned hundreds of thousands without stemming drug use. The war against terror has stimulated more terror than ever.
There will be many who will disagree with my assessment that there has been no significant climate change, and there will be those who will say that mankind is causing climate change. Let me say that it would be more accurate if we were to speak in terms of probabilities. To take another case, consider whether bin Laden is alive or dead. I believe the probability of his being dead is greater than 0 (surely alive) but less than 1 (surely dead.) I believe this because there have been press reports out of France and Saudi Arabia suggesting he may have died. Yet confirmation has not occurred, so I personally do not endorse a probability of 1. Climate change is similar. Each of us assesses a different probability. The latest U.N. report asserts that the chance of manmade climate change is near 1. I assert that it is near 0. As evidence comes in, all the many individuals who care about this issue change their prior assessments. Usually these assessments are implicit. Most of us do not bring them to the surface consciously.
If we as individuals have different implicit probabilities of climate change, so also do we have different valuations of how it might affect us. And we have different strategies for coping with it because we assess different costs and benefits of such change. Climate changes are merely one among a huge number of other things that are changing in our lives. It holds no special place in the big picture simply because it's climate change. Each of us is better off establishing our own priorities and tradeoffs than allowing Congress to choose them for us. If we are forced to use high-cost ethanol or biomass fuel or forced to scrap our cars prematurely, we might assess those costs as much higher than the costs to us of climate change. We might prefer to have more cash to spend on a child's education, or more cash to spend on a medical need. If we are forced into a Congressionally-mandated solution for our energy wants, we may be giving up a host of beneficial choices that each of us might otherwise have selected. Furthermore, we lose all those choices that might have been made by entrepreneurs anxious to save us energy in other ways.
Each of us finds ourselves confronted with a raft of prices that interact with all sorts of problems and choices we face, climate change being merely one of them. I find it hard to believe that people individually will spend very much money to attack an intangible and elusive problem like climate change when they have far more pressing problems. That won't stop Congress from mandating such expenditures. In such a situation, the free market is the answer, not the collectivized answer that a Congress might impose on all of us. It may be called democracy, but in subverting the market and free choice, Congressional mandates are soft communism.
Let me worry about climate change, Congress. Let me make my own decisions and adaptations. Let everyone else do the same. Let us adapt. Let us be free to adapt. Let us be free to choose. Let freedom ring, Americans. Stop listening to the siren song of scientific shills. Stop listening to atavistic greens who value swamps and snails more than humans. Stop handing over your lives to politicians and bureaucrats who don't know or care about you.
February 5, 2007
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
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