Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Phillies “Sensible Answers To Tough Questions Part 2: The Environment”

In Environment, George Phillies, Global Warming, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Presidential Candidates on May 6, 2008 at 3:29 am

George Phillies for President 2008


Sensible Answers to Tough Questions, part 2: The Environment

Global warming is now widely accepted as a fact within the scientific community. What is not yet accepted is the extent to which the planet will warm and the impact that it will have. What will Libertarians do about this issue?

Ruwart: When our weather reporter’s can’t get tomorrow’s temperature right, it’s difficult to believe that global warming can be predicted, isn’t it? (This sentence should be told lightly, as a joke, to elicit agreement.)

As you mentioned, we really don’t know what the effect of global warming might be. High temperatures and CO2 stimulate crop and other plant growth, so global wamring could actually be good for us. Any action we take has to be based on the facts, and we just don’t have those yet.

In a libertarian society, if a chemical such as CFC caused a problem, victims could sue the manufacturer for damages. The high cost of restitution would be apssed on to CFC consumers, driving up the price. People would turn to cheaper alternatives and CFC production would be automatically curailed.

People could sue before actual harm was done, so long as they could convince a judge or jury that CFCs actually posed a threat.

Phillies: Research on climate and climate change represents an enormous effort by thousands of people. Vast computer facilities exist primarily to study climate change. Billions of dollars are spent to deploy specialized earth satellites and other scientific instruments to study our atmosphere. Polar expeditions set forth, at significant risk to the lives of participants, to examine arctic ice conditions.

What about the question “When our weather reporter’s can’t get tomorrow’s temperature right, it’s difficult to believe that global warming can be predicted, isn’t it?” For almost all academic scientists, the reward of scientific research is almost entirely the personal satisfaction of untangling a scientific puzzle. If there were no hope of predicting climate accurately, wouldn’t real scientists have noticed, and transferred their work elsewhere?

The answer, of course, is that it is actually almost infinitely easier to predict climate than it is to predict the weather. Why? It’s actually very simple. To predict climate, you only need to predict odds accurately, and it’s much easier to predict odds than to predict results. If I roll a quality Las Vegas die, the odds are very exactly one in six that I will roll a “two”. If I roll that die 600 times, I will roll “two” a hundred or so times. If you try to predict whether you will roll a “two” on your very next roll, well, that’s a lot harder, isn’t it? For the same reason, predicting climate is a lot easier than predicting weather.

In dealing with pollution, litigation can make sense if there is a single source that does a lot of damage to specifically identifiable people. If the local power company decides to save money on disposing of clinker ash by dumping ten tons of it on my front lawn, the responsible party is identifiable, the repair costs are identifiable, and the responsible party’s pockets are deep enough to support litigation.

In the global warming case, the responsible parties are everyone mining or using any fossil fuel or any process that vents methane into the air, the persons damaged include almost everyone, and the cost of assessing responsibility is astronomical. You have around the world several billion damaged parties, each with different facts of their cases requiring separate adjudication, against a similar number of differenced defendants. That’s trillions or potential lawsuits. Where do you find the lawyers? Furthermore, for most of the injured parties, money is not the issue. They don’t want money, they want an ozone layer. For this sort of diffuse case, the litigation-restitution approach is completely unworkable.

How do we deal with global pollution? (page 30)

Ruwart: Thankfully, most pollution does more local than international damage, thereby discouraging polluters. For example, governments try to prevent Chernobyl-type accidents because their local population is put at greater risk than the international community. The country that polluted the oceans enough to cause global damage, for example, would destroy its own fishing first. The country that polluted its own air enough to disturb other nations would asphyxiate its own population in the process. Thus, global pollution is a highly unlikely event.

Phillies: While our understanding of atmospheric chemistry and its effects on meteorology has advanced considerably in the last decade, it remains clear that individual countries have created and are creating global atmospheric pollution.

A simple example of global atmospheric pollution is supplied by the chlorofluorocarbons, substances that are nearly inert and harmless on the ground. These safe, harmless materials were once manufactured all around the world. When transported to the stratosphere and brought in contact with stratospheric ice crystals, these substances had a catastrophic effect on the ozone layer near the poles. The effect is only now coming under control, as a result of rigorous planet-wide treaty restrictions on CFC production.

Similarly, there is massive evidence that the current global changes in climate are being driven in considerable part by man-made releases of carbon dioxide and methane. The huge increases in energy consumption in China, India, and Russia lead to matching increases in production of carbon dioxide. Fortunately, there is appreciable evidence that natural law will do what legislative law has not, namely the supplies of oil and coal will be exhausted before atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches levels vastly higher than those now encountered.

In the atmosphere, levels of carbon dioxide and methane are essentially never harmful to local populations. However, rising ocean levels are causing property protection questions along the coast. An increase of a foot or two in sea level is really bad if your home started a foot or two above sea level.

For more information on Phillies and the Environment, please visit

To support the George Phillies campaign, please visit today.

To arrange an interview or obtain a short quote from the candidate, contact:

Carolyn Marbry, Press Director
(510) 276-3216
George Phillies for President 2008

George Phillies: “We Can Politely Disagree”

In Environment, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Presidential Candidates on May 4, 2008 at 5:02 pm

George Phillies for President 2008


We Can Politely Disagree:
Sensible Answers to Tough Questions, Part 1

Having urged civil disagreement between candidates, I now enumerate a few points where Mary Ruwart and I take different stands on issues. The following are issues that have significant national interest: The National debt. National defense.  Climate Change. Pollution.  Our answers differ a great deal.  Which do you prefer?  That choice is up to you.

Dr. Ruwart describes herself as being from the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party.  I view myself as being from the centrist wing of the Libertarian Party:  I’m not Republican Lite, and I’m not an anarchist.

#1 What is the Libertarian response to handling the National Debt?

*Ruwart* (pp. 91-92, Short Answers to the Tough Questions by Mary J. Ruwart): The national debt represents loans to government secured by its willingness to tax (steal from) its citizens.  Thus, some Libertarians view buying government bonds as encouraging a thief and
have no qualms about repudiating the debt.  Others believe that government property (including over 40% of the U.S. landmass) should be liquidated to repay the debt, wholly or in part.

*Phillies*:  Three choices for solving the national debt are paying it, selling assets, and repudiating it.  I  say that we should eliminate the National debt by paying it.

Can we? It’s exactly like paying off a house mortgage.  If you want to pay off a mortgage over 30 years, your monthly payment on the principal starts near a tenth of a percent of initial debt.  We have nine trillion
dollars of national debt.  A budget surplus around $100 billion a year and constant future payments makes our funded national debt go away by 2040.  What about alternative solutions?

Sell Federal lands?  That won’t work. Why?  America has around a billion acres of Federal land.  Parts of that land, such as the Grand Canyon, simply will not be sold. To pay off the national debt by selling the rest, we’d need to clear around $10,000 an acre.  In contrast, in eastern Kansas and Western Missouri, real estate ads show farmland for one or two thousand dollars per acre.  Selling all our Federal lands might raise, being optimistic about central Alaska, perhaps a trillion dollars, ignoring what happens to real estate prices if 40% of our land area hits the market. A trillion dollars is barely a tenth of the funded National debt.

Repudiate the national Debt?  Ask yourself: What happens next? Huge numbers of Americans bought T-Bills for their retirement. Their retirement savings are wiped out. Foreign governments hold dollar reserves in Treasury bonds. The value of the dollar vanishes.  Banks hold financial reserves in Treasury bonds.  Those banks are insolvent; their doors close. The economy collapses.  Furthermore, no one — neither foreign governments nor our own citizens would be willing to lend the U.S. money again since by this point we would have established that we renege on our obligations.

My good friend Mike Badnarik always  asks: ‘Is it Constitutional?’ No, repudiation is not constitutional. The 14th Amendment says so.   And the opposition parties chant ‘Repudiation is Theft’.

#2:  Libertarian National Defense

*Ruwart*: Free trade is the best national defense we could ever have. No country bombs their trading partners.  (page 77)

*Phillies*: A real defense requires real defenses. Trade is no defense.   Countries that trade with each other go to war regularly.  A few examples:

Consider the Latin American countries attacked and occupied, sometimes repeatedly, by their major trade partner, the United States. World War I was fought between countries that had traded substantially with each other. In 1937, Japan invaded major trade partner China.  In 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, and 1945, when Russia invaded Manjukuo, each country attacked a major trading partner.  In 1943, Italy declared war on Germany, which had been not only its largest trade partner but its primary military ally.

National defense requires a real national defense policy, such as the national defense policy that I have previously proposed at .

To support the George Phillies campaign, please visit today.

To arrange an interview or obtain a short quote from the candidate, contact:

Carolyn Marbry, Press Director
(510) 276-3216
George Phillies for President 2008

The real ‘green’ candidate for president: Dr. Ron Paul

In Environment, Global Warming on October 27, 2007 at 9:23 am

What we call “environmentalists” aren’t environmentalists at all. They are communists. They hate private property and want to effectively abolish it so that all lands may be collectively governed according to “green” principles.

The real environmentalists are libertarians, and this in-depth interview on the environment with Ron Paul proves it. The interviewer, Amanda Griscom Little, did a great job in asking questions that allowed Dr. Paul to articulate free-market environmentalist principles. Here are some highlights.

On energy policy:

I would say that the reliance on the government to devise a policy is a fallacy. I would advocate that the free market take care of that. The government shouldn’t be directing research and development because they are bound and determined to always misdirect money to political cronies. The government ends up subsidizing things like the corn industry to develop ethanol and it turns out that it’s not economically feasible. So, my answer to energy is to let the market work. Let supply and demand make the decision. Let prices make the decision.

On environmental protection:

Governments don’t have a good reputation for doing a good job protecting the environment. If you look at the extreme of socialism or communism, they were very poor environmentalists. Private property owners have a much better record of taking care of the environment. If you look at the common ownership of the lands in the West, they’re much more poorly treated than those that are privately owned. In a free-market system, nobody is permitted to pollute their neighbor’s private property — water, air, or land. It is very strict.

On abolishing the EPA:

Environmental protection in the U.S. should function according to the same premise as “prior restraint” in a newspaper. Newspapers can’t print anything that’s a lie. There has to be recourse. But you don’t invite the government in to review every single thing that the print media does with the assumption they might do something wrong. The EPA assumes you might do something wrong; it’s a bureaucratic, intrusive approach and it favors those who have political connections.

On the threat posed by global warming:

I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus — those are immediate threats. We’re about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then that’s going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.

There’s much more, but I don’t want to quote the entire interview. The interviewer comes from a more typical leftist “environmentalist” perspective, and she is clearly taken aback by Ron Paul’s answers. But she can’t help but offer him at least some faint praise for his free-market ideas — which were clearly foreign to her. Read the entire interview.

Energy Vortex II

In Civil Liberties, Economics, Environment, Global Warming, Health, History, Iran, Iraq War, Media, Middle East, Military, Police State, Terrorism, War on June 16, 2007 at 8:26 am

A while back I wrote about the Energy Vortex and others have commented on the same issue.

The most cited instance of this is the War in Iraq (and possibly Afghanistan; it may have had a lot to do with the proposed oil pipeline through Afghanistan).

This view of


has worked its way into popular culture:

Many have denied the connection, but the new Iraqi Oil Law
makes it harder to give any credibility to such denials.

Nor is the regime’s energy fascism solely confined to grand projects abroad; sometimes, it can also be quite petty and domestic.
Francois Tremblay

Despite his good intentions, the state fined Teixeira $1,000 for not paying motor fuel taxes. North Carolina officials also told him that to legally use veggie oil here he’d have to first post a $2,500 bond.

Such penalties have also been levied against other North Carolina drivers whose vehicles were powered by alternative fuels.

It’s enough to make you do a Katrina Clap…

UN clusterfucks itself in the ass

In Economics, Environment, Police State, Politics on May 20, 2007 at 2:27 am

So Zimbabwe’s now the chair of the United Nations Commission of Sustainable Development.


Next, let’s make North Korea the chair of the United Nations Commission of Not Being Completely Batshit Insane! Or maybe let’s make America the chair of the United Nations Commission of Pronouncing “Nuclear” Correctly. (That’s “noo-KLEAR,” not “new-kyu-LUR,” Mr. Bush.)

Boy howdy, this United Nations is made of fail. EPIC fail. Should this Republic last a thousand years, our descendants will tell stories of this legendary failure to their children to scare them into not punching their kid sisters anymore. (They’ll probably also use the letter “W” as a swear word, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Anyway, yeah. Why the hell are we still letting these complete and total pieces drive up land prices in Manhattan?

I get a little bit closer to feeling sick

In Celebrities, Environment, Music on May 11, 2007 at 8:17 pm

So Cheryl Crow thinks that we really only need one piece of toilet paper per bathroom visit.

On April 23, Cheryl Crow, the well-know singer was quoted in Britain’s The Register as saying: “I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don’t want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required.”

Ms. Crow has reportedly since claimed that she was merely joking. Be that as it may, her proposal follows logically from ideas that permeate the environmental movement. It follows from the belief in the need to reduce consumption as a means of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which emissions allegedly cause global warming. It also follows from the doctrine of the alleged intrinsic value of nature undisturbed by man. If the trees from which toilet paper is ultimately made are intrinsically valuable and thus must not be disturbed, it follows that man should not have toilet paper.

Even if she was joking, screw that. And I gotta admit… I’m never going to be able to listen to her music with a straight face anymore.

But one piece of toilet paper? Who the hell does she think she’s talking to, Arnold Rimmer? “One up, one down, and one to polish”?! How about no. I’m pretty sure that the Earth is not going to asplodinate because I wiped my ass thoroughly.

Destroying the Environment for “Renewable” Fuels

In Corruption, Economics, Environment, Global Warming on March 31, 2007 at 12:26 pm

It’s a good time to be a corn lobbyist. The largest acreage of corn since 1944 is to be planted this year, with a record harvest predicted if weather is even slightly cooperative. Here’s what the Washington Post tells you:

Corn prices have doubled since last fall due to explosive growth of the ethanol industry, driving up costs for cattle, dairy, hog and poultry producers.

“Explosive growth of the ethanol industry” translates to higher ethanol content in gasoline, thanks to government, high tariffs on Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, thanks to government, and massive subsidies for ethanol production, thanks to government. This government support for corn ethanol isn’t around because your representatives just care so much about CO2 emissions. In fact, corn ethanol does very little for net CO2 emissions. But it’s awesome for Midwestern special interests. Sugarcane ethanol is far easier to produce, and thus far more environmentally friendly, but since there’s nowhere in the US that is suitable for growing sugarcane (except, with huge government subsidies, the Everglades – government helping out the environment again), it must be imported from countries like Brazil. This might be a good idea, but the corn lobby and their pet politicians won’t hear of it, so ridiculous tariffs on ethanol have been imposed.

The larger acreage of corn being planted means that corn is being grown on land less well-suited for corn farming, which means that farmers will use more chemicals on their land to get a yield. These chemicals don’t all stay on their land, however. Some will end up in runoff, which means they’ll get into streams and rivers. There, pesticides and herbicides kill things, and fertilizers cause runaway growth of algae. When the algae dies, its decomposition uses up all the oxygen in the water. Then all the animals not killed by pesticides and herbicides die. Bam, dead stream/river/lake. As government continues to tweak the market, encouraging naturally uneconomical uses of land, the environment will continue to suffer – all in the name, supposedly, of renewable energy.

Wake Up and Smell the Hysteria

In Environment, Global Warming, Science, Socialism on March 11, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I preface this by saying that I consider myself an environmentalist. I see crap in streams, smell what comes out the end of cars, and it annoys me. I also believe the free market to be the best solution to this. Then I see the crap spewing out of the faces of those who latch onto anything they can to justify their hate for development, growth, and freedom. This documentary is interesting and probably different from anything you’ve seen before on the subject, especially if you’re an anthropogenic global warming fence-sitter like me.

House Hearing on Global Warming Canceled Due to Ice Storm

In Environment, Politics on February 14, 2007 at 8:57 am

Via Drudge.

You gotta love the irony!

Libertarians ax wasteful program, baby Marx cries

In Economics, Environment, Libertarian, Politics on February 1, 2007 at 6:30 am

The latest Libertarian mailer carries a link to a story about how a newly-elected Libertarian majority on some local soil board somewhere (the article didn’t specify) managed to shut down a complete waste of tax money, and how the bureaucrats turned out in droves with threats and sob stories aplenty.

From the News-Press:

Chairman Jack Tanner quickly moved through the agenda until he opened the floor to discuss the termination of the mobile irrigation laboratory and our two employees. The next 45 minutes or so were consumed by a series of earnest and emotional pleas by the government managers. Phrases like “millions of gallons wasted” and “billions of gallons saved” were used. Papers were pushed around with columns, charts and graphs. A case was cited in which an elderly, feeble, poor woman, unable to manage her lawn sprinklers, was “saved” by our wonderful program.

The process was disturbingly familiar as I have witnessed this play acted out in many state, county and city boardrooms over the years. Politicians eager to be re-elected are unable or unwilling to stand up to intimidation and embarrassment that comes with a difficult or unpopular decision.

The Cape Coral utilities manager was impressive and forceful. At one point he said, “Citizens don’t protect themselves so we have to.” He concluded, “You may as well keep this program because if you don’t we will find a way to continue, and the taxpayers won’t save a dime.”

Long story short, the Libertarian majority ended the program, the two workers were fired, and the bureaucrats began debating how to foist some evil onto the local populace yet again. We won this round, but big government may yet rear its ugly head. Keep voting Libertarian and we’ll be able to keep the Man down.

State of the Empire

In Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Crime, Democracy, Drug War, Economics, Environment, Health, Immigration, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian, Middle East, Personal Responsibility, Politics, War on January 31, 2007 at 7:59 pm

Another outreach piece from Susan Hogarth of
LP Radicals.


Read the rest of this entry »

The Energy Vortex

In Drug War, Economics, Environment, Health, Libertarian, Middle East, Taxation, War on January 31, 2007 at 6:47 pm

An exchange provoked by the Libertarian Response to Bush’s State of the Union Speech

Andrew L Sullivan writes…

You have a choice of drilling for oil in your own damn country or fighting for it in the Persian Gulf. PICK AND CHOOSE!

Well, yeah, those are a couple of choices. But there are others such as biodiesel from hemp, biodiesel from other sources, hydrogen, elctric based on wind, wave, geothermal, solar, fusion etc.

Currently the market incentives for developing alternative energy are pretty badly distorted: one way of looking at half a trillion for Iraq, among other military expenditures, is as a subsidy for petroleum. There are also non-military subsidies like highway spending (actually, in a sense military spending as well, they are technically Defense Highways).

Then there is the prohibition related ban on industrial hemp, even though it can’t possibly get anybody high.

Also, corporate personhood and limited liability absolves corporations of the true costs and risks of petroleum drilling, refining and burning, thus throwing off the cost/benefit/risk of petrol against other types of energy.

Taxes and regulations fossilize the market, destroying the natural turbulence that keep new companies from forming and rising and artificially keeping the big players securely on top.

That, and the SS system, keeps potential venture capital locked up.

The linkage of health care to employment is another system that keeps people, on the margin, as corporate employees rather than starting up entrepreneurial ventures, and the government school system teaches regimentation and unthinking leader-following for the purpose of
docile corporate and government employment.

Those are just a few of the factors.

Steve Kubby’s Energy Policy:

Originally posted at pauliecannoli wordpress

The State of the Union: Libertarian Responses

In Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Crime, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Economics, Environment, George Phillies, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Republican, Taxation, War on January 25, 2007 at 7:18 pm

The following reaction to the King George’s latest State of the Union speech at got so many hits that it overwhelmed our server yesterday and caused the website to go down for most of the afternoon. We’ve got the site back up now, and Tom Knapp says we will be getting a server upgrade soon.

My fellow Americans,

Earlier this evening, America listened as President George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress, fulfilling his Constitutional duty to report annually to Congress on “the state of the union.” Shortly thereafter, Virginia Senator Jim Webb delivered the Democratic Party’s response to his report.

I am not privileged to address you tonight over broadcast televison or radio; my party’s opinions are considered unworthy of coverage by the “mainstream media.” A response, however, is required, and I accept the responsibility for making it as an American, a presidential candidate, and hopefully a worthy, although not official, representative of my party.

The union, President Bush tells us, is strong. And he may be right. What he does not admit is that the union is weaker now than when he took office.

As evidence for his claim of national strength, he cites an economy which thrives in spite of, not because of, the ministrations of his government … and proposes additional “help” of the type that weakens rather than strengthens it.

As proof of the bright future before us and the care which we take to leave our children a better world, he points to his “No Child Left Behind Act” — an act which props up a disintegrating public education system with more of the federal interference that, until only a few short years ago, his party had pledged to eliminate at the first opportunity.

Addressing himself to the question of national defense, he defends to the very last his failed experiments in foreign military adventurism which have stretched America’s armed forces to the breaking point, alienated our friends, empowered our enemies, and left us less, not more, secure against attack or invasion.

Turning to issues of energy independence and environmental sanity, he recommends more subsidies and more regulation, rather than smaller government and more innovation.

Like President Bush, I believe that the union is strong. Unlike President Bush, I and my fellow Libertarians understand what makes America strong.

We understand that every dollar in taxes taken out of your paycheck makes America weaker, and that every dollar left in your pocket makes America stronger.

We understand that Washington’s one-size-fits-all programs for public education make America weaker, and that parental control and individual choice in education make America stronger.

We understand that “bring’em on” and “mission accomplished” and “surge” make America weaker, and that a foreign policy based on “friendship and commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none” makes America stronger.

We understand that government subsidies to Big Oil and Big Agriculture make America weaker, that unsubsidized competition makes America stronger — and that only the innovation fostered by a truly free market will allow us to meet the challenges of pollution, climate change and future fossil fuel scarcity.

The union is strong — not because of the efforts George W. Bush and his fellow politicians, but in spite of them. And in their clutches, America can only continue to become weaker … because the strength of our union, my fellow Americans, is freedom.

The notion that government exists only for the purpose of securing our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, bequeathed us by our nation’s founders, is the foundation upon which every worthwhile American accomplishment rests. The Bush adminstration, the Congress, and their predecessors in the White House and on Capitol Hill, have gone at that foundation with a sledgehammer.

The cracks they’ve produced in that foundation are visible all around us. The Patriot Act. The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless searches and wiretaps. No-knock raids. Detention without charge, counsel or trial. As a nation, we now imprison more of our own than any other. One in thirty of us are trapped in a “justice” system that has long since ceased to represent justice. The rest of us are subject to reams of arbitrary and capricious edicts concerning what we may say, how we may worship, which political candidates we may support (and how much we do so financially), what arms we may carry in our own defense, what medicines we may use, even whether or not we can play cards on the Internet.

America as we know it — everything in it worthy of our devotion and allegiance — stands at the edge of cliff, below which the darkness of totalitarianism awaits. Whether or not our union is strong enough to step backward from the precipice is a question only time will answer.

Over the next two years, I’ll watch with you as the new Democratic Congress wrestles with the problem of restoring freedoms that a corrupt and lawless administration has robbed us of. If history is any guide, the Democrats will choose instead to go to work with their own sledgehammers.

In the meantime, I urge you to join with me in support of America’s last, best hope for a better tomorrow: The Libertarian Party. Even as we speak, hundreds of Libertarians toil in elected and appointed office or as volunteer party activists, working to protect your reedom. With your help, we can elect thousands of new local officials, hundreds of state legislators, dozens of US
Representatives and Senators and, yes, a President, who understand what makes America strong and are prepared to act on that understanding.

Let freedom grow!
Steve Kubby
Libertarian for President

George Phillies and Bill Redpath have also written responses to the
Shrub speech. My favorite review of Dubai-ya’s oratory, however, was written by Jason Gatties.

UPDATE 1/26: Libertarian Presidential Candidate Kent McManigal has also written a response to the State of the Union blatherings.

Drowning in dogma

In Environment, Health on January 2, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Being a libertarian environmentalist can be frustrating. Take the most obvious issue, global warming. Many of my favorite Libertarian personalities (like Ian Bernard of Free Talk Live) insist that global warming is either a myth, not anthropogenic, or not a problem. Many environmentalists scream about the need for more government intervention. In reality, they’re both being dogmatic. I believe that the market is the best solution to environmental problems, not government or ignorance.

It’s the statist environmentalists that are pissing me off now. A Sioux Falls, SD company has genetically engineered cattle that almost certainly cannot be infected with BSE, otherwise known as mad cow disease. Average beef-eaters would say “Awesome, now I can eat beef without worrying about slowly dying from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.”

But it’s easy to imagine what would happen if this company tried to bring the cows to market. People wearing funny costumes would protest, the FDA would be required to go through a multi-year process to ensure the safety of something that almost certainly carries zero risk. I have a better solution than regulation: let those of us who feel the risk of vCJD is worse than the risk of something going wrong with the cows eat them, and let those other people eat “natural” cows.

Government: The last thing you want in charge of the environment

In Economics, Environment on January 2, 2007 at 5:06 am

Anytime a problem of seemingly incomprehensible enormity faces a group of people, they tend to run to the most enormous thing they can think of for help. As a general rule, the most enormous thing they can think of is national government, or even larger, international bodies like the United Nations or organizations based around treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. The solutions offered by these organizations generally include an expansion of the power of the government. This generally does not seem dangerous at the time, because government power is being expanded to accomplish something generally regarded as beneficial.

What this viewpoint fails to recognize is that anytime government power is expanded to accomplish something, no matter how beneficial, that government automatically has the power to the opposite. In a system of government which changes constantly due to elections, policies and opinions can change rapidly. Thus, in national forests established to protect their natural state, logging companies are now encouraged to transform old-growth trees into paper and two-by-fours to build suburbs.

Even so, it is tempting to resort to government power to bring solutions to the most terrifying problems confronting the world. Anthropogenic worldwide climate change is certainly among these, but still, resorting to government leaves open dangerous paths for future administrations to take. For example, artificially curbing carbon outputs through regulation lets the next group of politicians with different loyalties raise caps and rewrite laws and regulations which end up raising carbon emissions above what they would normally be.

Such concerns are not hypothetical; for example, deforestation – essentially the removal of a valuable carbon sink – is encouraged by the United States Forest Service, even including clear-cuts which essentially raze the forest. Clearly the simple existence of a government program that is supposed to take care of something guarantees nothing; in fact, all that can be guaranteed is that the allegiances of its bosses will change.

Even when a lobby is so powerful that changing politicians are frightened to ever change their favorite programs foists an idea on the government on the premise that it will help the environment, frequently the environmental benefits are questionable at bets. The most obvious example of this problem is the huge subsidy on corn ethanol provided by the United States government. Although sugarcane-derived ethanol works in Brazil, making fuel-grade ethanol from corn is highly inefficient and has mediocre results for the environment – though the profits it makes the corn lobby are unquestionable.

Nothing can match the government of a developed nation in centralized power and wealth, which is of course what makes government an obvious choice to attempt to solve problems that threaten our existence as a species. However, as governments are fickle and often backtrack, the dedicated efforts of private groups and individuals are the only thing that can consistently defend the environment.

No one group can cover all aspects of environmental protection and advocacy, but specialization is a positive feature of private environmentalism – groups such as the Nature Conservancy can focus on actually maintaining ecosystems and reserve areas, groups at universities such as our own Solar Decathlon team and our competitors can work towards finding more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to live, along with private-sector innovators taking advantage of the fact that efficiency is, as a general rule, profitable and environmentally friendly.

Another advantage of private-sector environmentalism is that it is better at weeding out poor ideas such as corn-based ethanol: without the altering presence of lobbyist-guided politicians, ideas that don’t work are not drawn out for decades based on political favoritism.
Handing responsibility for our environment to a fickle, huge, and easily confused beast like government is about as sensible and responsible as entrusting an infant to a seemingly friendly grizzly bear: the infant will be secure while the bear remains friendly, but there’s no question that things will change.

Recycling: No good?

In Celebrities, Economics, Environment, Humor on December 28, 2006 at 11:16 pm

My friend Dan is a big big fan of Penn & Teller. Besides the fact that Penn is involved with the World Juggling Federation (yes, I actually sit at rapt attention for hours while watching grown adults play with their balls on national television), they do this lovely little show called “Bullshit.”

Dan got all three seasons of Bullshit right before Christmas break and he was showing me some episodes. I went hunting for some of the online episodes and this is one of the especially enlightening ones. I want to save the environment as much as the next guy, which is why I was so fascinated. (They also did another one on the environmental movement in general that was good.) But anyway, here it is. Half an hour but so worth it.