Friday, February 09, 2007

Global Climate Change - Stage 2

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the following stages of grief:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

When it comes to global climate change, most on the right are still in stage one, though signs are appearing--such as this letter to the Washington Times--that stage two is on the horizon:

Cool reception

Let's grant (if just for the sake of argument) that environmental scientists have proved that Earth's ideal average temperature was reached about a century ago and that the temperature is rising because of human activity ("Just the facts," Op-Ed, yesterday).

The truth remains that these scientists have no expertise to judge whether government can be trusted with the power and resources to "combat" global warming. Nor can these scientists tell us how a free market likely would deal with global warming's consequences.

Contrary to widespread belief, environmental scientists can legitimately say nothing about whether, or how, to respond to global warming.

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX
Chairman
Department of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax

My geographer friend Shane responds:

Now would be the perfect time to give these people an island of their very own.

Do it right, though, via plebecite. As an economist -- not an ethicist -- they wouldn't really have the standing to resolve whether it would be "good" or "bad" to employ democratic power to such an end.

Contrary to widespread belief, economists can legitimately say nothing about whether or not they should be deported to aquatic death camps. They could only say definitively that such a program expresses an aggregate preference.

14 Comments:

Blogger sexyretard said...

Where to start oh where to start?

As long as we have open trade with China and India, doing anything at all about global warming is going to ruin our economy and do nothing for the globe but delay Revelation-like catastrophe of the highest order a few years or so.

Conversely, if global warming is hogwash..........

There's no way to expect the Chinese and the Indians to play by the rules, any more than it is reasonable for Al-Qaeda and the Mullahs to respect the Geneva Conventions. It's just like gun control; only the law abiding will follow any kind of protocol and everyone will get screwed anyway.

BTW, what do you know about NYC? I want to go for a quick weekend and wander around, as my wife and I have been working on number 3. So I think if I am going to do any wandering I better do it now.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

S-Tard,

It is in the interests of America to abide by the Geneva Conventions whether or not Al-Qaeda does so (I would have thought the unmitigated PR catastrophe that was Abu Ghraib would have demonstrated that pretty conclusively), and it is in the interests of America and the world to reduce CO2 pollution whether or not China and India begin doing so at the same time--they will do so eventually, and they'll have to buy all of our (by that time) extremely advanced technological fixes.

I have to take issue with you blaming free trade for our post-industrial woes. I'm sure it contributes to unemployment, but plenty of countries outsource work to the US as well, and in terms of factory work, I believe technology is responsible for far more job loss than free trade. However, I agree that we should condition MFN status on *some* level of worker protection in those countries.

As for New York, I think JetBlue still has those fantastic introductory fares (like a $100 bucks RT the last time I checked). You can stay in Jersey City, right across the river, for a lot less than staying in Manhattan, and the train will get you back and forth in no time.

7:59 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

"It is in the interests of America to abide by the Geneva Conventions whether or not Al-Qaeda does so"

While I certainly agree that the current occupation is a mistake, I do not take the above statement as a given. It's little different that playing chess with someone who cheats; you just cannot win.

Playing by the rules and turning the other cheeck are absolute essentials to the righteous life of an individual; however, governments are not morally obligated to follow either (and may be obligated at the opposite end).

If the IRS decided not to enforce the tax code, you'd be silly to pay your fair share of taxes, as the system would be doomed to failure. Similarly, the Geneva Conventions, just like the Kyoto Protocol, only have the function of sanctioning the already somewhat compliant.

"it is in the interests of America and the world to reduce CO2 pollution whether or not China and India begin doing so at the same time--they will do so eventually, and they'll have to buy all of our (by that time) extremely advanced technological fixes."

From where comes this optimism???????? While it's possible China and India will one day "wake up," it's not entirely likely they will do so before the damage is beyond repair, and certainly beyond the repair of man manufactured band aids incapable of fixing the cancer inflicted on the globe by China and India before this mythical paradigm shift you see occurring.

1:07 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

While I'm at it, do not scientists believe that we will eventually get to an ice age that will last 90,000 years or so and cover most of the United States in ice? A great many "cold related deaths" would certainly come from such an ice age, would it not?

Just to be sure, do ice ages come because the globe is too warm? Are people who die from the cold any less dead than those who die from the heat?

I'm not saying we shouldn't be more responsible incidentally, but I am saying that a healthy dose of scepticism seems to be lacking in everyone but hurtleg and a couple of evangelicals who didn't sign Ted Haggard's save the environment/more sex with meth addicts pledge.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Playing by the rules and turning the other cheeck are absolute essentials to the righteous life of an individual; however, governments are not morally obligated to follow either (and may be obligated at the opposite end)."

I wasn't aware that some distinct life form other than human individuals ran governments, but okay. Now, I assume your opposition to the Geneva Conventions means you think that torture can elicit useful information from subjects. How about some examples?


"From where comes this optimism???????? While it's possible China and India will one day "wake up," it's not entirely likely they will do so before the damage is beyond repair, and certainly beyond the repair of man manufactured band aids incapable of fixing the cancer inflicted on the globe by China and India before this mythical paradigm shift you see occurring."

They will do it for the same reasons and at the same time we did it: when it becomes a significant enough quality of life and resource cost issue. I don't know when that will happen, and I'm not absolutely certain it will happen, but I am certain that the US is still the #1 emitter of CO2, and that it is therefore incumbent upon us to do what we have always done, which is to take the lead and work on a technological fix for the problem--even though our government is run by mysterious beings with no moral responsibility for the predictable consequences of their actions.

11:22 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Very quickly,

I don't condone the use of actual torture, but my definition would be quite different. When it comes to bamboo shoots up the fingernails or the like, I am morally opposed to that or any kind of actual cruelty.

When it comes to making someone uncomfortable through loud BeeGee's music, sleep deprivation, or through firing a weapon close to their heads, I am all for it. I think we need to differentiate between that which is excruciating and that which is quite unpleasant but manageable.

More later.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"When it comes to making someone uncomfortable through loud BeeGee's music, sleep deprivation, or through firing a weapon close to their heads, I am all for it. I think we need to differentiate between that which is excruciating and that which is quite unpleasant but manageable."

Granted, I can see why you find this all to be good fun, but I'd still like to see some evidence that its past use has elicited enough good information to balance the dangers of asking government agents to "almost" torture people. I haven't read a lot on the issue, but my impression is that interrogation experts generally agree that you can't trust the information you get under torture or the torture-lite you seem to be a fan of. Besides this, it's still pretty bad for our image, and for our soldiers who may be captured.

9:41 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Jeff,
I disagree.

First of all, fuck our image. Literally, take the American image to some slezy back alley, hand her a 10 dollar bill, and do your business. The American image is in the toilet and it always will be. I was in Spain in the 1990s and don't recall any pro-American sentiment to speak of, and I remember quite a bit of anti-American sentimet. A Welshman in San Sebastian told me that he wished the Soviets would have won, and his compatriots, while not taking that line, echoed their disapproval of the United States. Of course this is anecdotal, but so too are media reports of Europeans who have turned against the US because of the war with Iraq.

So, I have two points

1-Our image hasn't been very good in the past 30 years, might as well get over it.

2-We should do what is right for the United States, and not for global opinion. There was a case where an Army officer fired a gun near the head of an insurgent in captivity, and the insurgent gave information that saved American lives. The officer, instead of getting a commendation, was reprimanded for his use of such "torturous" tactics.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"2-We should do what is right for the United States, and not for global opinion. There was a case where an Army officer fired a gun near the head of an insurgent in captivity, and the insurgent gave information that saved American lives. The officer, instead of getting a commendation, was reprimanded for his use of such "torturous" tactics."

What do I have to do, fire a gun near your head to get some citations out of you, boy?!

You still goin' to NYC, you hedonist near-torture-monger?

3:44 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

"They will do it for the same reasons and at the same time we did it: when it becomes a significant enough quality of life and resource cost issue. I don't know when that will happen, and I'm not absolutely certain it will happen, but I am certain that the US is still the #1 emitter of CO2, and that it is therefore incumbent upon us to do what we have always done,"

I chased a rabbit and got off track. (I have not forgotten your quest for a citation regarding the gun shot story) The US is still the number one emitter of CO2 but China is set to pass us before too long are they not? You are suggesting that "they will eventually do what's right," while at the same time suggesting that we are not currently do what's right. Which gets me back to my charge of naivety, my non-torturous hybrid-humper!

If the Al Gores of the world are to be believed (and I can kind of go either way on that one), we have doomed the future and Florida will be under water horribly soon. If the US with all of our prosperity has not decided to take action yet, how many flooded out Floridas will it take for India or China to get THEIR act together, and aren't you also assuming that corporations will willingly comply, or that nations and corporations act in a rational manner?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be more responsible (got some of them nifty mercury laden autism-causing light bulbs myself, and drive that Chevy Aveo that is fuel efficient), but I am saying that doing nothing about India and China will make any action on our part both self-injurious to our economy AND of little practical use to the environment.

9:37 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Incidentally, Jeff, never mind the firing a gun story (came from Haditha, we'll chalk it up to right-wing propaganda and I'll apologize for mentioning it). Would you say that sleep deprivation is torture? I am asking your opinion on whether that is permissible. And do you actually believe that Al-Quida is treating our soldiers better or worse because of how we treat our prisoners? What historical point of reference do you have for THAT? The Viet Cong? Would you say that the US should not have been able to assassinate Saddam, as assassinations of national leaders are prohibited by the UN?

I find it hysterical, incidentally, that the same body that could not save the lives of half a million Rwandans feel that they should be able to tell us what we should do. THEY clearly can be trusted with matters of national security and are experts at warfare.

6:59 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
--Cobb County sticker, struck down by a judge

Such is the case in today's "science." We must accept their conclusion and we musn't let ourselves be caught freely thinking. It seems that global warming is the same way. The dats itself is not what I'm disputing, but rather the conclusions based on it. This month's Wired magazine has a fascinating blurb on all that we "don't know," including whether the rate of CO2 causes the earth to warm, or whether the earth warming causes CO2 rates to increase.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Sorry this has taken me so long, but your questions are important and I thought I should engage.


"Would you say that sleep deprivation is torture? I am asking your opinion on whether that is permissible."

I think that interrogation methods range from benign to malevolent (torture, if you will), and from effective to ineffective. In my opinion, the standard should be, What if this guy doesn't know and didn't do anything wrong? What, then, are we comfortable doing in order to get information out of him? I base this not only on my belief in the principles of our justice system (as opposed to, say, the Napoleonic code), but also on the observation that many of the detainees in Guantanamo and Iraq fit this description: "The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that it was told by the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq that 70 to 90 percent of those in detention were innocent civilians who had been swept up in raids."

In that context, I would have to say that, no, sleep deprivation doesn't sound particularly torturous to me. Then again, what if it's combined with a broomstick up your ass and a waterboarding? I'd have to say that I'm not in favor of those techniques. I would also say that if our government is a signatory to international treaties (however distasteful you find that concept to be), it should abide by its obligations or withdraw from the treaties, rather than pull this lawerly Bush Admin. bullshit of redefining every term to mean what you want it to mean.

"And do you actually believe that Al-Quida is treating our soldiers better or worse because of how we treat our prisoners? What historical point of reference do you have for THAT? The Viet Cong?"

No I wouldn't say that. I would definitely say, however, that how we treat our prisoners has an impact on the ability of Al-Qaeda to propagandize and recruit. Al-Qaeda will behave like the barbarians they are whether or not we torture their soldiers, or, for that matter, civilians we suspect of being their soldiers. Here is a good opinion piece on why it's important for us not to act like Al-Qaeda, even though Al-Qaeda does.

"Would you say that the US should not have been able to assassinate Saddam, as assassinations of national leaders are prohibited by the UN?"

I would have much preferred that the US assassinate Saddam as an alternative to invading Iraq. However, I'm very doubtful that this is an effective strategy in most cases, since there's always someone next in line.

"I find it hysterical, incidentally, that the same body that could not save the lives of half a million Rwandans feel that they should be able to tell us what we should do. THEY clearly can be trusted with matters of national security and are experts at warfare."

I'm critical of much of what the UN does, but let's admit that, with a Security Council made up the world's most powerful nations as permanent members with veto power, there is always going to be someone with interests at stake (in the case of Rwanda, France). Also, the US didn't rush in there unilaterally to save the Tutsis, so I guess we're guilty of the same criticism. But I think you're confusing that structural flaw with your dislike of certain international agreements that we signed on to.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
--Cobb County sticker, struck down by a judge

I couldn't agree more with Judge Whatshisname on this one. For one thing, "theory" doesn't mean the same thing in science as it does in the vernacular, and the Christians who advocated for this sticker were playing on that discrepancy in order to score points against science as a system of understanding. It's absurd to even suggest that such a sticker should be placed on a science book. How absurd? How about this sticker on all English grammar books:

"This textbook contains material on English grammar. The "rules" it outlines do not correspond to objective truth, but are rather a snapshot of the current accepted dialect of the cultural elite. There are no objective criteria by which these rules can be judged to be any better or worse than, say, the ghetto teen-talk you hear on MTV. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

See what I'm getting at? If you read that sticker, although nothing in it is really false, you would automatically--correctly--assume that a bunch of post-modernist lit-crit professors had overtaken the school board and were trying to push their interpretation of "language as meaning," or whatever bullshit, on the English curriculum. If the science is taught well, then the students will learn a system that will help them approach *scientific* questions "with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered." If it's not, the sticker is useless anyway. But ultimately, it's not really the objective of the sticker to turn out better scientists, is it?

3:08 PM  

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