A Fate Worse Than Global Warming

Winter all over our neighbor's lawn. Snow Dragon!

Winter all over our neighbor's lawn. Snow Dragon!

Weather and Freedom

A friend handed me the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) the other day. To him it was irrefutable, demanding prompt, massive action against global warming. “Just the facts”, he said. I told him that my worry, aside from the actual magnitude of the problem, is that the policy prescriptions that it may nourish may be harsher than the problem.

Is it not ironic how people do not trust the weatherman, the frequent butt of jokes, to predict tomorrow’s weather, but readily trust weather predictions of the IPCC reaching forward thousands of years, pertaining to every square mile of the earth’s surface? (“Local warming of larger than 3 degrees Celsius, if sustained for millennia, would lead to virtually a complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet with a resulting sea-level rise of about 7 m.”) (For the maps showing impacts across the world, see SPM-4 in the report.) The predictions of climatologists are being taken with great credulity. If prediction were so easy, the stock market would not be so difficult to conquer.

Mark Twain said “We talk a lot about the weather but we don’t seem to do much about it.” That may be about to change.

Those who would centralize political authority are salivating. Global climate change is their tool. Dire predictions call for dire actions. “Stabilization of CO2 concentrations and any level requires eventual reduction of global CO2net emissions to a small fraction of the current emission level”, (IPPC, page 16.) This will require a colossal, coordinated effort. Such coordination is proving difficult, with many nations, our own included, not signing Kyoto and other agreements. National autonomy impedes progress. If the problem is truly as severe as reported, people of all nations will be expected to relinquish their national allegiances. Intergovernmental panels, regional planning agencies, EU-type consortia, and especially the United Nations will have to dictate policies to nations. States will not have different laws; definitions of and punishments for environmental crimes will be standardized. The United Nations will dictate to nations, who will dictate to their states or provinces, who will dictate to their citizens, who will be not citizens but subjects. Personal autonomy and free economic systems will fall under the hatchet of the global climate imperative. Imperative action can only be carried out by imperial authority.

My first concern upon reading the IPCC report arose not in the fact that the signatories were overwhelmingly male, (it just seems so patriarchal!). No, it arose sixteen words in to the body where human caused actions were called “dangerous anthropogenic interference.” Anthropogenic, not human. Human beings are reduced to a component in the climate puzzle, to be factored-in to grand machinations. De-humanizing was a tool of the blood-letting governments of the past century. An example of someone willing to quash the human race to rescue fish and coral reefs is Jacques Cousteau. “One American burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladesh…This is a terrible thing to say. In order to stabilize world populations, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it’s just as bad not to say it.” His words and those of other population control extremists, like E.O. Wilson, worry me more than a rise in sea level.

IPCC does not account for the rapidity with which people respond to change. When the famine hit Ireland, millions emigrated. And nobody, not even the EU, told them to do it. They just did it.

Effective proposals for stopping climate change require a degree of coordination that would shame the governance of the Roman Empire. One can imagine CO2 plans on the order of the Five Year Plan and the Great Leap Forward, whose architects were Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao. I can see myself living through droughts, tsunamis, mudslides, famines and dust storms more easily than under the horrors of powerful, central, world-wide government.

The agency that decides how many children you can have, each family’s annual car and airline mileage quota, the cost of home remodeling permits, the total number of beef animals permitted under husbandry, which corporations receive licenses to build cars and what kind of cars they are to build, and evening hours of home lighting, cannot be merely state or local, or even national; it must be supra-national. A world-wide problem, CO2 emissions, calls for world-wide regulations, laid down by a world-wide Senate, Secretariat, Plenary Session, or Commissariat, call it what you will. Overall targets will be achieved through quotas, rationing, permits and prohibitions. It could be a crime to drive more than 5,000 miles per year, or perhaps even to own an automobile, (everyone uses mass transit). Or, if cars are allowed, they could be equipped from the factory with a computer that shuts down the car upon reaching the legislature’s limit.

Everything- agriculture, distribution, construction, education, recreation, and even religion- has a bearing on CO2 production. Totalitarianism is “a regime in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior”. Against global climate change, nothing less will do.

To which I paraphrase Patrick Henry: Give me liberty or give me drought!

Tom Burnett

April 1, 2007