Friday, October 22, 2010

The Other Bet of High Stakes Gambling

In my pursuit of interesting things written about Common Lisp, I decided to visit Kent Pitman's website.  Unfortunately for me, the political voice is a lot louder than the technical voice on his website; this is the first of three posts that will address three of Kent's blogposts:  two on Global Warming, and another on the Estate, er, the Death, Tax.

After that, I will try to leave well enough alone, except for in the comments.

In the first post that I will address, Kent asks us to "draw a line in the ice" where we'll accept that Global Climate Change is happening, and then we'll do something about it.  In particular, he wants us to
call that what it is, shall we? It's gambling. High stakes gambling. Gambling with the fate of the world.
He then pointed out that, almost every single advice booklet on gambling advises us to set a limit where we are no longer willing to lose any more, and then stop, before we lose all.  Kent would like us, in particular, to decide how much more Climate Change we cannot handle, and then start to believe from there; he calls this "a line in the ice".

Kent would like us to believe that doing nothing will have catastrophic consequences, but doing something will Save the Planet(TM).  What that something is, I don't know, since even Kent admits that
There may be no sure plan to succeed, but at what point are you prepared to admit that the likelihood of disaster looms if we don't start to trust some plan. Probably meager stuff like reducing emissions by 20% won't do anything. I personally doubt anything like cap and trade will work. Leaving things to private individuals to handle as they see fit won't work—that's what we've done so far, and it isn't fixing things. Serious, coordinated changes will almost certainly be needed with how our whole society needs to operate, and we have to have a constructive dialog on that without partisan political bickering poisoning it.
But will doing something, anything, even if it doesn't work, really have no cost?  Consider:
  • Cap and Trade will put an enormous burden on businesses, that could cripple not just the economy, but our abilities to produce the food, machinery, and distribution necessary to feed six billion people--are we prepared for massive unemployment, or even famine, caused by such a bone-headed move?
  • Global Climate Change, to the extent that it may be a threat to our existence, isn't the only threat.  It isn't even the only plausible effect.  Are you prepared for the possibility that the Rules, Regulations, and Taxes put into place today could very easily destroy the resources, initiative, and drive that will be necessary if we are to survive the entirety of Yellowstone National Park magma coming to the surface, or a large asteroid hitting the Earth?
  • Are you prepared to bet that the loss of freedom and money will be worth it, and will never, or at least be very highly unlikely to be repealed, even if, despite your deepest convictions, Global Climate Change proved to be nothing to worry about after all?
  • At what point are you willing to back off of the Rules and Regulations put forth as "necessary" to stop Global Warming?  Will you stop at One Child Only and Forced Sterilization?  Or Let the Sick and Elderly Just Die?  Or Let's Select a Sub-Population And Quietly Liquidate Them?
  • For that matter, what technologies are you prepared to give up on?  Are you prepared to give up flying on private jets?  (I doubt that Kent regularly flies on private jets, but Al Gore and Arianna Huffington, among others, do so on a regular basis.)  Public jets?  Driving in cars?  Long-distance food?  Computers--especially those massive server banks maintained by the likes of Google?
  • If we are to consider all actions, regardless of cost, are you prepared for the over-correcting that may occur as we pump carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, fertilize the oceans so that algae and plankton could thrive in places where they aren't thriving, release chemicals into the air to break down methane and condense water vapor?  That is, are you prepared for the starvation and loss of habitat that would be the result of another ice age, that may be caused by us?
  • Are you prepared for the possibility that, even though we may be the cause of Global Warming, that such warming may very well be at the eve of a natural Ice Age, and that Global Warming may very well be what keeps the Earth in balance?
It should be kept in mind that every single threat to us via Global Warming is hypothetical, and it is decades in the future.  As Kent should know, a decade in our highly technical society is a very long time, and we have the means to deal with these threats, as they slowly encroach upon us.   But one thing that isn't hypothetical, is this:  Rules and Regulations have killed 100 million people this last century, and have made the lives of hundreds of millions of people this last century completely, utterly miserable.

And if you don't think that regulations can't hamper our abilities to respond to crisis, consider this:  we can't build nuclear power plants, which would be crucial to get our cars off of hydrocarbon fuel.  (An electric or hydrogen car that gets its energy from coal powered plants is still a hydrocarbon car.)  And, even if we could build them, we still have tons of nuclear waste, that could be drastically reduced if we could just recycle that fuel.

But we can't recycle it.  Jimmy Carter said so, by Executive Order, for fear of terrorists getting a hold of the product of recycled nuclear waste.  Yet another regulation putting us in danger, in the Name of Safety(TM).

Finally, are you willing to bet all of this, when the science itself has some troubling flaws that need to be addressed--both with regards to data integrity, and with regards to the peer process itself?  Considering that CRU represents a major portion of Climate Science, about a third of Climate Research has been tainted by Climategate.

I, for one, have my line drawn in the ice--I could care less if the polar ice caps disappear.  It won't be the first time that the Earth had been ice-cap free, and it certainly won't be the last.  And life on this planet has adapted every time.  My question to you, dear Global Climate Alarmist, is this:  where will you draw your line in the sand?  At what point will you say, "Get your government off my freedom?"

Live free or die, for death is not the worst of all evils.


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