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Category — Civil Liberties and Energy

The Climate Torquemada – Joe Romm at the Climate Inquisition

Two years ago, in Scenes from the Climate Inquisition, my colleague Steve Hayward and I observed that climate alarmists were growing ever more incendiary in their criticism of people who disagree with them. And these disagreements were not simply about the science, but about the favored policy choices of leftist environmentalists, many of whom had no training in public policy or economics.  As we wrote:

Anyone who does not sign up 100 percent behind the catastrophic scenario is deemed a “climate change denier.” Distinguished climatologist Ellen Goodman spelled out the implication in her widely syndicated newspaper column last week: “Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.” One environmental writer suggested last fall that there should someday be Nuremberg Trials–or at the very least a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission–for climate skeptics who have blocked the planet’s salvation.

Former Vice President Al Gore has proposed that the media stop covering climate skeptics, and Britain’s environment minister said that, just as the media should give no platform to terrorists, so they should exclude climate change skeptics from the airwaves and the news pages. Heidi Cullen, star of the Weather Channel, made headlines with a recent call for weather-broadcasters with impure climate opinions to be “decertified” by the American Meteorological Society. Just this week politicians in Oregon and Delaware stepped up calls for the dismissal of their state’s official climatologists, George Taylor and David Legates, solely on the grounds of their public dissent from climate orthodoxy. And as we were completing this article, a letter arrived from senators Bernard Sanders, Pat Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, and John Kerry expressing “very serious concerns” about our alleged “attempt to undermine science.” Show-trial hearing to follow? Stay tuned.

Desperation is the chief cause for this campaign of intimidation. The Kyoto accords are failing to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in a serious way, and although it is convenient to blame Bush, anyone who follows the Kyoto evasions of the Europeans knows better. The Chinese will soon eclipse the United States as world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, depriving the gas-rationers of one of their favorite sticks for beating up Americans.”

At the time, we naively hoped that there would be a moderation of such language, as some saner voices were beginning to push back against the whole slander-denier complex.

Alas, the venom-spitting of the the climatistas is increasing in direct proportion to the probability of failure in enacting their world-girdling eco-theocracy. And the leader of the pack, Joseph Romm of Climate Progress (Center for American Progress), turns out to be one of the least civil human beings to tread the planet. [Read more →]

November 9, 2009   11 Comments

A War on CO2? Civil Libertarians, Beware!

“It seems clear that the first major penalty man will have to pay for his rapid consumption of the earth’s nonrenewable resources will be that of having to live in a world where his thoughts and actions are ever more strongly limited, where social organization has become all pervasive, complex, and inflexible, and where the state completely dominates the actions of the individual.”

- Harrison Brown (1954), quoted in Anne Ehrlich, Paul Ehrlich, and John Holdren, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1973), p. 388.

Free-market writers such as Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman have stressed that it is impossible for a government to restrict economic freedoms while retaining civil or “personal” liberties. For example, even if a democratic yet socialist government assures its citizens they have “freedom of the press,” that assurance is hollow because the government owns all the newspapers and radio stations. It’s also naive to say that citizens have the right to protest the government, if that same government has the power to reassign workers to Siberia (because they deem it best to maximize national “economic output”).

Because of these realities, people who call themselves progressives should rethink their commitment to more government control over energy markets. It’s not simply a matter of abstract property rights and fairness for shareholders of oil companies. If the government can’t be trusted to snoop on our phone conversations or emails–and I wholeheartedly agreed with the progressives who were alarmed at the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush Administration–then by the same token, how can that same government be trusted to fairly administer energy markets with only the fate of the planet in mind?

This is not a vague “right-wing scare story” that I’m cooking up here. For example, in a recent Spiegel Online interview, “Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the German government’s climate protection advisor, [proposed] the creation of a CO2 budget for every person on the planet…”

In another example of climate concern bumping up against personal liberties, a new report issued by the London School of Economics concludes that “family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reductions.” Relying on a UN estimate that 40 percent of all pregnancies are unintended, the report calculates that “[i]f these basic family planning needs were met, 34 gigatons (billion tonnes) of CO2 would be saved–equivalent to nearly 6 times the annual emissions of the US and almost 60 times the UK’s annual total.” (Note that the quotations come from the news article, not the report itself.) [Read more →]

September 14, 2009   6 Comments