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Author Topic: Seriously, though, how would a libertarian society address global warming?  (Read 27372 times)
ascent
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July 03, 2011, 05:18:27 PM
 #41

Still, we are finding new resources faster than we are using them up. Blubber, horses, coal, oil, uranium, solar, there is no evidence even the usable resources on Earth are decreasing. We are better off using the resources more quickly and developing the technology and prosperity to find more resources than we are trying to slow ourselves down. You don't turn the wheel of the car until you get to the curve.
I disagree with this. I stand behind the statement made by Stanford professor Paul R. Ehrlich:

"The scale of the human socio-economic-political complex system is so large that it seriously interferes with the biospheric complex system upon which it is wholly dependant, and cultural evolution has been too slow to deal effectively with the resulting crisis."

And the views of Herman Daly. You can watch a video of him here: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/daly-on/

Unfortunately, the Seed Magazine site is down, or I'd point you to two excellent articles, one an interview with Herman Daly, and another an article on biodiversity.

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July 03, 2011, 05:32:17 PM
 #42

Still, we are finding new resources faster than we are using them up. Blubber, horses, coal, oil, uranium, solar, there is no evidence even the usable resources on Earth are decreasing. We are better off using the resources more quickly and developing the technology and prosperity to find more resources than we are trying to slow ourselves down. You don't turn the wheel of the car until you get to the curve.
I disagree with this. I stand behind the statement made by Stanford professor Paul R. Ehrlich:

"The scale of the human socio-economic-political complex system is so large that it seriously interferes with the biospheric complex system upon which it is wholly dependant, and cultural evolution has been too slow to deal effectively with the resulting crisis."

Odd that you would stand by views that have been so thoroughly discredited, but whatever. To the extent you agree with Ehrlich, you should be trying to speed up cultural evolution, not slow it down. The child you don't have could have been the person who figured out how to make fusion power practical.

Ehrlich has claimed that his doomsday forecasts didn't come true because he sounded the alarm and action was taken to avert catastrophes. Exactly. When you get to the curve in the road, you don't freak out, you just turn.

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July 03, 2011, 05:35:05 PM
 #43

at this point, the people who are initiating violence are those who defend one more day's profits of big oil - and who are paid to do so, thinking they'll get to join the club.

You have to show a direct threat. You can't just say that so-and-so doing X will increase my chances of coming to harm. If that argument applies then we need to lock up all teenage males because letting them roam freely increases the chances that I'll get attacked by one of them.

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July 03, 2011, 05:52:13 PM
 #44

To the extent you agree with Ehrlich, you should be trying to speed up cultural evolution, not slow it down.

It depends on how you choose to look at it. The statement I quoted is not really a prediction. It's more an assertion about the current state of affairs, which you argue is only an opportunity to make a turn in the road.

Fine. Who decides which way to turn? You? People who are choosing to think like you? Me? People who are choosing to think like me? You clearly admit that a turn likely needs to be made. Is Ehrlich saying anything else? Or Herman Daly? That's exactly what they are saying.

You're advocating the development and use of alternative resources to fuel our growth. This is obvious. But that turn in the road must also incorporate a heightened sense of diminishing natural wealth, and the current turns in the road do not seem to be sharp enough. Determining when and where that turn is, which way it goes, and how sharp it is should be a process which weighs a lot of factors, many of which seem to be conveniently ignored. Unfortunately, many political ideologies benefit from ignoring certain factors.

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July 03, 2011, 07:17:39 PM
 #45

Now really, what is the big deal about global warming and environment destruction?

Humans will die en masse, only maybe 10% will be left, and they will live in a different way than we do, to put it shortly.

It is a great hubris, in my view, to believe that humans have the power to destroy their environment (at large scale - meaning he planet) in the first place.

Having destroyed their micro-environment, it is an even greater hubris that they can restore it by their means.

There is overwhelming evidence that the planet we live in is changing, and the chages happening will cause problems for the human race.

There has not been, in my view again, overwhelming evidence that humans have actually caused this. I do not count academic researches and papers written in order to cash out subsidies or tenure positions.

And there is complete lack of evidence that humans could possibly reverse planetary scale changes, no matter how much they wish to, no matter how much funding they have.

I think we had better start thinking about surviving WITH global environment change, instead of spending our wit in order to understand the obscure and do the impossible.
 
If you are out of food for your children, and without a shelter for the night, you will probably stop worrying about whether society is or can be libertarian or whatever else.

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July 03, 2011, 07:25:18 PM
 #46

There has not been, in my view again, overwhelming evidence that humans have actually caused this. I do not count academic researches and papers written in order to cash out subsidies or tenure positions.

We're supposed to be entering a new ice age, based upon the orbital dynamics of the Earth, the dynamics of its changing axis tilt, and Sun cycles. These are the natural causes of ice ages. Despite that, the last 100 years, coincident with the rise of the industrial age, show a very marked trend like increase in temperatures.

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July 03, 2011, 07:29:06 PM
 #47

You can learn about the natural cause of ice ages here: http://www.amazon.com/After-Ice-Age-Glaciated-America/dp/0226668126/

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July 03, 2011, 07:31:29 PM
 #48

If any individual could predict how a voluntaryist society would address environmental issues, they would be well-qualified to lead a planned economy!

The more free a society is, the more possible courses of action its people can choose from, therefore the higher the chance of being able to pursue desirable outcomes.

You can take some comfort from some large-scale experiments. Consider West Germany vs. East Germany. After reunification it was clear that pollution and environmental degradation were much worse in the previously-communist East Germany. Prosperous people like to live in a nice environment, and are more likely to be able to achieve it.

Similarly, we can compare South vs North Korea, or Hong Kong vs Shanghai. In each case, the more free country or city is the less polluted one.
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July 03, 2011, 07:34:39 PM
 #49

Now really, what is the big deal about global warming and environment destruction?

Exactly. As George Carlin put it, The earth is a self-correcting system. If we fuck it up, it will fuck us up, until we are no more, at which point, it will seek equilibrium again. Short of turning the surface into glass via nukes (And I'm not entirely certain even that would get everything), We are nothing more than a hiccup for this planet. You're not worried about destroying the ecosystem, you're worried about making the planet a place hostile to human life. Should humanity make the planet hostile to human life, we will either leave, or die. Either way, Planet keeps on trucking.

At this point, I would like to point out that back before 'the little ice age' British wines were out-performing the French ones. I would also like to point out that the age of the Dinosaurs was considerably warmer than the current climate, So, at least be honest about what you're concerned about. It isn't the planet. It's the coastal cities.


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July 04, 2011, 12:19:10 AM
 #50

We've sustained unsustainable growth for centuries simply by changing the way we grow as needed and on schedule.

Centuries is not a particularly long time in human history. We had a brief period of access to nearly free energy because we were essentially granted access to millions of years worth of concentrated solar energy. That energy will quickly start having much smaller EROI over the next century. We could argue that other energy sources - nuclear solar hydro geo etc will take up the slack, but there is at least a fair possibility that they won't/can't.

Unless we redefine growth in terms of "development" rather than increasing of energy throughput, there's certainly a non-zero chance that we will see a reversion to the energy throughput of most of human history.

Exponential growth doesn't occur indefinitely in finite systems.
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July 04, 2011, 12:23:32 AM
 #51

Unless we redefine growth in terms of "development" rather than increasing of energy throughput, there's certainly a non-zero chance that we will see a reversion to the energy throughput of most of human history.

You sound a lot like Herman Daly (which is a good thing): http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/rethinking_growth/

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July 04, 2011, 12:35:55 AM
 #52

If people care about it, which they clearly do, they will voluntarily devote their own resources to solving the problem, maybe even try to convince others to join in.

Whenever someone schemes about how to get my stuff in order to solve a problem they see I know they don't care much about it. When someone really cares about something they devote their own resources. It's easy to spend other people's money on garbage plans.

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July 04, 2011, 12:39:51 AM
 #53

If people care about it, which they clearly do, they will voluntarily devote their own resources to solving the problem, maybe even try to convince others to join in.

Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking. You can continue to hold this belief, but I challenge you to make a strong case for it here in this forum. I invite you to try though.

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July 04, 2011, 01:30:52 AM
 #54

If people care about it, which they clearly do, they will voluntarily devote their own resources to solving the problem, maybe even try to convince others to join in.

Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking. You can continue to hold this belief, but I challenge you to make a strong case for it here in this forum. I invite you to try though.

You think it's right to say that people care about things even if they refuse to work to fix or save them?

I'm not saying that people never lie. You will certainly meet people who claim to care about something, but if they only devote other people's resources to it they are just using the issue as cover.

There is no 'case' I can make. The way I tell what people care about is by watching what they do so I'm just always right on this. What is your way of telling what people care about? Listening to what they say?

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July 04, 2011, 01:47:56 AM
 #55

What I mean to say, within the context of this thread, and requesting that you make a case for "where if people care about something, they will fix it" is this:

The first thing that is necessary for people to care about something is for them to realize it needs to be cared about. In other words, it needs to be clear that it is a relevant issue. Given the title of this thread, global warming is a great issue to use as an example.

Clearly, some people believe global warming exists and is caused by man. Others acknowledge it probably exists, but is not being caused by man. And yet others don't even believe it exists. So the first problem we have is lack of unity with regard to acknowledging the issue. Let's just suppose for a moment, regardless of your particular belief, that global warming is real and is caused by man. If that is the case, then something needs to be done, but it can't get done if we can't achieve agreement on the subject.

Following from that, we have an example of people wanting something (and trying wholeheartedly to educate others on the issue), but failing to get it. What are the elements that are preventing the people who want it from getting it? Skepticism, lack of education, greed, economic factors, etc.

Let's move on to environmental preserves, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or Patagonia. Let's just presuppose for a moment, that in any given year, 80 percent of the public wants these areas to be preserved. Let's assume that this desire continues from year to year, and allows policy to be enacted which prevents contaminating infrastructure from spoiling these areas. Such a situation might continue for many decades. Then, let's suppose, on some year in the future, public unity on the matter fractures, and there is only 40 percent in favor of preserving the preserves. Politicians, planners, economies, whatever, decide to move in and start doing business, drilling, damming, whatever, to the detriment of the land. Now, let's just suppose, that it was only a three year period in the future that preservation of these areas was unfavorable, and going forward, everyone agrees that, in reality, the areas should not have been encroached upon. Ah, but the damage was done. This is how our planet's natural abundance, complexity and diversity is slowly eroded.

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July 04, 2011, 07:12:32 AM
 #56

Oh no!  Look out for the nasty CO2 that Humans Exhale and Plants breathe!

You want to know how Libertarians would address it?  By letting nature takes its natural course of rising and falling levels of CO2 through the eons.  Because a Libertarian nation is not full of a bunch of fools falling for whatever Al Gore tells them we will get along just fine.  And we'll beat anyone who wants to preach differently to us with they're own Hockey Sticks.

I asked this in a related thread and it didn't get addressed so I'll ask again here. How would a libertarian society address the problem of certain entities emitting enormous amounts of C02, leading to global warming?

An answer I've received elsewhere was that a libertarian society would allow you to sue power companies that output large amounts of C02. I don't like this answer for two reasons:

1) Depending on the type of libertarian society there may not be a court system the power company would agree to be sued in, and they might not obey the decision anyway.

2) Even individual power companies don't emit enough C02 to noticeably affect global C02 levels. Global C02 levels only get measurably affected by the combined output of hundreds of the coal burning plants in the world. You would have to simultaneously sue every power company in the world, which is completely impossible right now and would be even harder still in a world with less centralization.

How would a libertarian political order address this? And more generally, how would it address the problems that arise when a great number of parties each contribute small amounts of pollution into common resources?
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July 04, 2011, 01:26:03 PM
 #57

Oh no!  Look out for the nasty CO2 that Humans Exhale and Plants breathe!

You want to know how Libertarians would address it?  By letting nature takes its natural course of rising and falling levels of CO2 through the eons.  Because a Libertarian nation is not full of a bunch of fools falling for whatever Al Gore tells them we will get along just fine.  And we'll beat anyone who wants to preach differently to us with they're own Hockey Sticks.

Thank you for making my point. A classic example of how an ideology will destroy the planet.

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July 04, 2011, 01:30:20 PM
 #58

Oh no!  Look out for the nasty CO2 that Humans Exhale and Plants breathe!

You want to know how Libertarians would address it?  By letting nature takes its natural course of rising and falling levels of CO2 through the eons.  Because a Libertarian nation is not full of a bunch of fools falling for whatever Al Gore tells them we will get along just fine.  And we'll beat anyone who wants to preach differently to us with they're own Hockey Sticks.

Thank you for making my point. A classic example of how an ideology will destroy the planet.

It's kind of like how cigarettes don't cause cancer, it's ok to dump heavy metals in the local river, coal dust never hurt anyone, asbestos is perfectly safe, etc.

The ability of dogmatic people to be willfully ignorant and ignore facts should never be underestimated.

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July 04, 2011, 02:14:34 PM
 #59

Since CO2 doesn't cause Cancer, contribute to Heavy Metal Toxicity, Produce Coal Dust or Asbestos does anyone know what this guy in on about?
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July 04, 2011, 03:47:24 PM
 #60

If not, how do you know resources are diminishing? It seems we're finding new resources at least as fast as we're using them up.
Sure. The Singularity will arise, and provide us with the technology to build a space faring species, resulting in a solar system wide economy, enveloping first the Asteroid Belt, then the gas giants, then the Kuiper Belt, then the Oort Cloud, then the nearby stars, ultimately resulting in a trans-human diaspora across the Milky Way. The Human Experience will ultimately harness the power of stars, and most of us will live in Dyson Spheres until the heat death of the Universe.

But until such time, the Earth is where it's at.

Oil will be more expensive without government subsidies. Alternate energy sources, no longer with a subsidized competitor, would be competitive in the marketplace and something would take its place, making it obsolete and removing the problem.

you manage to completely ignore coal, which is cheap like borscht, and thus is not going to be functionally competed against by unsubsidized renewable energy.
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