More on Global Warming

While surfing the web, I came across an article (see it here) written by George Reisman that appears on the LewRockwell website. The article is titled: "Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is".

Let me identify who George Reisman is before I go any further. George is a Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics and the author of at least one book on economics.

For a summation of George's argument, I am going to quote from him. The whole purpose of the argument can most accurately be summed up with his statement:

One essential piece of information is the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming. If one values the benefits provided by industrial civilization above the avoidance of the losses alleged to result from global warming, it follows that nothing should be done to stop global warming that destroys or undermines industrial civilization. That is, it follows that global warming should simply be accepted as a byproduct of economic progress and that life should go on as normal in the face of it.
Now George seems to be a hard core Capitalist. Anything that gets in the way of a completely free market capitalist society is evil or something in his viewpoint. Perhaps this is not a completely accurate description, however it is not too far off the mark if we look at this piece and only note the title of the book he has written: "Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics".

I could attempt to go through the article paragraph by paragraph and rip into the arguments presented. However I am going to try and keep my response brief so as not to bore anyone who happens to read my own input.

Professor George seems to agree global warming might indeed be a fact. He states:

Although such anecdotal evidence as January’s snowfall in Tucson, Arizona and freezing weather in Southern California, and February’s more than 100-inch snowfall in upstate New York, might suggest otherwise, global warming may indeed be a fact.
While he opens it up with Rush Limbaugh style examples of cold extremes that will still exist in the face of global warming, he will at least admit that he can not prove global warming is fictitious. Progress people, we're starting to see some progress! It is starting to become rare for educated people to attempt to claim global warming does not exist.

But George wants to argue that unfettered or in any way restrained free market capitalism is the answer to the threat of global warming. I included this sentence in a previous quote of George's article, but it bears repeating:

That is, it follows that global warming should simply be accepted as a byproduct of economic progress and that life should go on as normal in the face of it.
Excuse me, if we continue down the path we are following, life is NOT going to "go on as normal".
Even if we seek to restrain greenhouse gas emmissions, getting the freight train slowed down and turned around is going to take some time. Shoveling coal into the firebox is not going to help us obtain a favorable outcome.

George seems to think that there is no room for government regulation or providing motivation to businesses in dealing with global warming. In his own words:
Even if global warming is a fact, the free citizens of an industrial civilization will have no great difficulty in coping with it – that is, of course, if their ability to use energy and to produce is not crippled by the environmental movement and by government controls otherwise inspired. The seeming difficulties of coping with global warming, or any other large-scale change, arise only when the problem is viewed from the perspective of government central planners.
Does George think that government regulation does not deserve any credit for the existing quality of our air and water in our nation? Does he think hard core capitalist businessmen would have been motivated to clean up our air and water if it was not through governmental regulations that motivated them to do so? If the only motivation that is provided is "making a buck" and harm to the environment is not factored in (through governmental regulation) I shudder to think of what we Americans would be living with today.

So how would George go about dealing with global warming? He states:
There are rational ways of cooling the earth if that is what should actually be necessary, ways that would take advantage of the vast energy base of the modern world and of the still greater energy base that can be present in the future if it is not aborted by the kind of policies urged by the environmentalists.
Did you catch it? "There are rational ways...". So just how rational is George willing to be? What are his ideas? Here's a sample:
Certainly, there is no case to be made for an atomic war. But there is a case for considering the possible detonation, on uninhabited land north of 70°, say, of a limited number of hydrogen bombs.
George seems to think we can save the world by blowing it up! He wants to explode nuclear bombs and introduce radioactive particles into the environment in order to save us from global warming. Why, this man is surely a genius. (Sarcasm intended.) Please note that one such instance of nuclear detonation would not solve the problem. Every few years we would have to find new "uninhabited" islands to incinerate in order to introduce the required amount of dust particles into the atmosphere. Once we turn the surface of an island into glass, it is no longer going to serve the purpose. Please note this "solution" must be amongst those the learned professor would describe as being "rational", chuckle.

OK, what would I propose? Through goverment action that motivates and encourages developement of renewable fuel sources we ask capitalist businesses to help us to adapt. Fossil fuel energy sources become expensive and renewable energy sources become cheaper. Captitalist businessmen will be motivated to come up with ever cheaper and more economical methods of generating renewable energy in an effort to make a quick buck. We throw a harness on the capitalist and get this strong work horse to do what we want (which is save the world) instead of allowing the horse to run willy nilly in the plowed fields and destroy the harvest.

As much as previous generations found a way to harness the power of the horse to plow the fields, we harness the modern business man to save the world.


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