18 April 2009


The one constant phenomenon throughout billions of years of geological history is that the earth is constantly changing. The continents shift, life evolves, the temperature fluctuates, and everything from anthills to mountains come and go. Throughout most of this history carbon dioxide has been present in the atmosphere, sometimes in greater quantities, sometimes in lesser, but there is no doubt that it is a naturally occurring gas. In fact every time we breathe we are exhaling CO2 (and plants are taking it in). It is therefore the height of absurdity for the EPA to label CO2 a pollutant. This is a political, not a scientific judgment. This of course opens the door to onerous government regulation that is going to cost us all dearly in terms of higher energy costs.

This is not to deny that there is a relationship between CO2 and global warming, or even that some of it is man made. The question is how we approach the problem. The horrendous costs and social disruption that are likely to result from C02 regulation are as disastrous as the consequences of simply leaving it alone, while modestly working towards more energy efficiency, but for cost savings, not cost increases. That there may be rising oceans and geological consequences does not require that we go into panic mode to address them and undermine our entire energy, industrial, transportation, and home infrastructure. Rather we should simply deal with them as they arise. Nothing lasts forever, and the earth will inevitably shift and change in any case, so what purpose is served by severely punishing ourselves, while the Chinese go on burning coal anyway? We are more than capable of adapting to circumstances as they arise. The costs will outweigh the benefits and we will be that much poorer as a result. Far greater problems could be addressed at a fraction of the cost according to the copenhagenconsensus.com. The self-flaggelation we are about to undergo at the hands of this administration is historically unprecedented. It is only about ten thousand years since the last ice age ended, and in half that brief time our civilization flourished. What are we going to do about the next ice age? What are we going to do if a series of volcanos erupt simultaneously, causing more atmospheric change than all our efforts combined? Government cannot manage anything effectively, yet we are now expanding its role to manage not merely laws and institutions, but the global environment itself. Unfortunately over time it will be abundantly clear that this is far beyond its competency.

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