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Justice and Global Warming

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DancingBear
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If person A shoots person B, person A deserves to go to prison and possibly face capital punishment. If person A defecates on person B's lawn, person A still deserves to be punished. But what if person A is a corporation which cuts down trees to make paper, which reduces the environment's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which subsequently accumulates, preventing radiation from reflecting off the Earth into space, thereby warming the environment and leading to unpredictable and catastrophic weather patterns? What if these weather patterns destroy person B's house? Is this person A's fault and should the government punish him or better yet, preemptively regulate him?

My point and main concern is that, assuming climate change is happening, which I do believe is happening, is there a blame to be placed and is anyone responsible for correcting it? Does anyone deserve to be legally regulated to prevent the situation from escalating? In other words, what is the proper role of government here and how does the situation affect individual rights?

I have included as an attachment a capture from an article I was reading by a university professor with a diagram claiming to illustrate how pollution leading to global warming is humans harming humans.

Snapshot 2011-01-20 01-42-32.tiff

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Holding people accountable for the carbon dioxide that they release in the air would involve holding people accountable for breathing. Isn't that your first clue that there's something wrong with the idea?

Non-sardonically, the complications involved in this proposed rectification are limitless. Why should person A be punished for the carbon dioxide results of his tree-cutting business, when he was just responding to a demand for paper? Shouldn't everyone who bought paper from him (or everyone who bought paper period, or drives a car, or...) share in the blame?

We take actions every day which have unforeseen, indirect consequences on those around us, both positive and negative. I have not seen a compelling case for global climate change to be any different than any of these (non-rights-violating) activities, presuming the phenomenon of global climate change is real (I am undecided on this point).

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Thanks for the answer Dante. Very wise and objective.

To develop the topic further: again, assuming that climate change is occurring, what is the proper method of dealing with it? Should the government prevent people from buying cars, or prevent people from selling them? Should the government subsidize alternative energy? Should I feel personally guilty and bike to the recycling center everyday? :P

I would like to know, assuming that the science and/or climate itself proves indisputably to be changing, what do we do about it? I don't think the government has the right to prevent anyone from doing anything other than harming others directly, but perhaps someone would like to make an opposing argument. Furthermore, I don't think most people would do ANYTHING about it. I think most people in America live comfortably and would be reluctant to give up that short-term comfort for long-term comfort and possibly even survival.

So again, what's the role of government here? How could climate change be handled without interference on individual rights?

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You have to go further than to assume climate change is occuring, you have to assume to know the exact nature of its effects, the official subsidized version of which has changed

every week since the 60s.

On the other hand, the amount of damage caused by interference with individual rights since climate change was first brought up has been like "The Day After Tomorrow" times 2586.

It's like seeing a smudge on the horizon which could be the either smoke from a forest fire or a cloud and preemptively burning your house down to starve it of fuel.

A proposal to increase this effect is something I can't take seriously for debate.

If you really want to know whether there's something government CAN do, I can't think of anything legitimate but to keep the peace if things go badly. However, I don't buy the idea that people will

literally be too stupid to come in out of the cold if/when they are confronted with a measurable threat. The mystics can't help but be frightened of the environment because they've abondoned man's

means of dealing with the environment. They see modern comforts as something that sprung up out of the ground and wouldn't know where to begin in order to repeat such feats. Nature, as it is

and has been and will be, is utterly inhospitable to humans, and yet here we are. If all the horrifying, panic-enducing prophecies came to pass we would be reduced to a standard of living only a few orders of

magnitude more bearable than that of the serfs of an average planned economy, only they are slaves and we would be free.

If environmentalists care enough about this issue to support laws which they objectively know would kill countless people, directly, why not sell some of their guns and start a

business dedicated to discovering a real, technological solution? Or at least start convincing people to move out of coastal cities? I'm not talking about any form of pull-peddling,

which has never resulted in anything good. They could just take the tax dollars their supporters claim to be willing to pay as donations and start researching at any moment but it won't happen

because to them the human race is only worth saving if they get to cannibalize its members in the process. So if you want to start working on a solution, keep in mind that it is the

climate change movement and the government who will do the most to get in your way, as they've gotten in the way of all progress in recorded history. Good luck.

Edit: Spelling

Edited by DanLane
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Thanks for the reply. If you don't want to assume that global warming is happening, there is another way to approach the same fundamental issue.

If I begin building a farm around the same time and in the same area that someone begins building a factory, and during the growing season waste from the factory leaks into the ground and air and kills my crops, do I have a right to sue the factory owner?

If I could sue the factory owner, wouldn't that be infringing upon his right to own a factory and use it how he likes? If I could NOT sue the factory owner, isn't that infringing on my right to own my property and not have it be interfered with against my will?

I don't think it's possible to prevent the diffusion of chemicals in the environment. For example, when toxins are leaked into the ocean and end up in the fish we eat. Or when Mexico City produces smog, which is carried through the air and causes acid rain in the Southeast U.S. Don't be unreasonable and assume that pollution has no significant effect on the environment. Look at the BP oil spill. Their accident caused financial problems for many fishing companies in the Gulf of Mexico.

If I throw trash on your lawn, I'm at fault and should be punished. If I throw trash in the ocean, no one will directly be affected, but it will probably kill a fish or two, which would continue to affect the ecosystem that fish belonged to and any business that profited from harvesting any animals in that ecosystem. So should the businesses be able to sue me although they don't own the water or the fish they harvest?

I think the problem reduces to the lack of ownership of certain environmental realms like the sky and ocean and water in general. Could such ownership be realized and if so, how would their borders be demarcated?

Thanks in advance for your objective input.

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DancingBear, the exceedingly important concept you're dancing through is that one must prove their rights have been violated. If I am accused of murdering someone, it must be proved that I did before you put me in jail. If you accuse me of causing the climate above your property to change, then you must prove I've changed the climate (or that my actions have changed the climate) before you demand recompense.

Now, you might be tempted to argue that proving my actions have changed the climate would be nearly prohibitively difficult to do. Well, "difficult to do" is not a valid justification for pre-emptively initiating force against me. A tenuous link between CO2 and rising temperatures is not going to be enough when you're dealing with the incredibly vast and chaotic system that is planetary climate.

If you can prove that someone's actions have caused you harm (e.g. the BP oil spill), then the government has the obligation and the authority to impose punishment and restitution. There's no justification in pre-emptively regulating oil companies who have done no harm to you.

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If I begin building a farm around the same time and in the same area that someone begins building a factory, and during the growing season waste from the factory leaks into the ground and air and kills my crops, do I have a right to sue the factory owner?

If I could sue the factory owner, wouldn't that be infringing upon his right to own a factory and use it how he likes? If I could NOT sue the factory owner, isn't that infringing on my right to own my property and not have it be interfered with against my will?

Yes, you can sue him. No, he caused measurable damage you can bring into a courtroom and trace to him. Pollution has plenty of effect on the environment. Later on you suggest dividing up air and water. With the easy availability of GPS technology this would not be any harder than dividing land and the basis for claiming it, and for making reparations, would be the extent to which the owner makes use of it. It would help a lot, I agree.

I support laws against pollution, and one day if the depate becomes scientific rather than political I may be conviced that CO2 is a pollutant. The difference between law and regulation is the presumption of innocence, a foreign concept to the global warming debate. Regulation is more hostile to life than the surface of Mars.

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As for the diagram, .tiff is new to me. What I can see is a nasty little blue Q, might pick up quicktime later. On an unrelated note, new formats should be regulated in case industry doesn't have the foresight to update their media players to handle them. Even if they did, people are unlikely to change their habits and download the new players when they suddenly lose access to their media. No the analogy doesn't all-the-way fit, but it does correspond to one of the common arguements.

Edit: Got quicktime, saw the diagram, it's the standard one. Everything enclosed in Biophysical Climate Cycle isn't just shrunken and simplified to make the diagram pretty, it's that way because that box contains all of the information that has been derived scientifically. There is a carbon cycle, the causes, effects and extent of feedback are not measured, and there is as much data saying it's negative as there is saying it's positive. There are atmospheric concentrations, "climate drivers" is a matter of interpretation and degree. There are natural drivers, but even the IPCC doesn't think their box is that small. The IPCC version wouldn't fit on the page and they underestimate it. "Increasing uncertainty but increasing significance" is God(Gaia?) lurking in the gaps as usual. All the meaningful information I got from it is that Values and Ideology are in the input boxes and Damages are in the output, which is what they've been trying to put over since before the existence of carbon molecules was discovered.

Edited by DanLane
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I support laws against pollution, and one day if the depate becomes scientific rather than political I may be conviced that CO2 is a pollutant.

So the fact that we breathe in oxygen to live, and breathe out CO2 as a natural byproduct of that process, and that plants use CO2 as a building block and emit oxygen as a natural byproduct can become a political issue if science aligns themselves with the consensus?

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So the fact that we breathe in oxygen to live, and breathe out CO2 as a natural byproduct of that process, and that plants use CO2 as a building block and emit oxygen as a natural byproduct can become a political issue if science aligns themselves with the consensus?

It's not what CO2 does inside plants and people and under microscopes that anyone is questioning or passing laws about, but what it does in the oceans and the upper atmosphere. None of what you said has anything to do with what I said. The grammatical form of the phrase "science aligns themselves" contains most of my answer to what I think you wanted to ask.

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Scientists shouldn't be aligning themselves with anything other than the truth.

The fact that many living organisms emit CO2 as a by-product doesn't change the issue. The fundamental question is whether increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have significant effects on the climate. Whether this CO2 comes from your exhalations or the tailpipe of your car is irrelevant. It's entirely possible that the mere presence of over 6 billion humans, breathing constantly, has an effect on the environment. (I wonder how long it takes 6 billion people to cycle through the entire atmosphere with breathing?). The problem is, nobody wants to reduce population (at least not by force), so the other alternative is to reduce the other "drivers", i.e. carbon emissions.

Also, although plants do absorb CO2 and emit oxygen, the CO2 they have stored is released when they die (or are harvested). Furthermore, without replacing the plants, the net environmental ability to absorb CO2 is reduced.

I'm more interested in what to do about this problem if it is indeed true. If someone would like to propose an alternative problem which addresses the same issue (defining boundaries of ones actions, i.e. when does my shit taint your food?), feel free to do so. The climate debate raises a question which I find more philosophically stimulating than the question of whether climate change is actually happening.

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The fact that many living organisms emit CO2 as a by-product doesn't change the issue. The fundamental question is whether increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have significant effects on the climate. Whether this CO2 comes from your exhalations or the tailpipe of your car is irrelevant. It's entirely possible that the mere presence of over 6 billion humans, breathing constantly, has an effect on the environment.

No, it isn't irrelevant at all.

The CO2 coming from 6 billion people is made from Carbon that was already "in circulation".

The CO2 coming from tailpipes is made from Carbon that came out of the ground which otherwise was locked away and most of which would almost certainly have remained locked away for the foreseeable future.

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If person A shoots person B, person A deserves to go to prison and possibly face capital punishment. If person A defecates on person B's lawn, person A still deserves to be punished. But what if person A is a corporation which cuts down trees to make paper, which reduces the environment's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which subsequently accumulates, preventing radiation from reflecting off the Earth into space, thereby warming the environment and leading to unpredictable and catastrophic weather patterns? What if these weather patterns destroy person B's house? Is this person A's fault and should the government punish him or better yet, preemptively regulate him?

Assuming that all this has been proven beyond reasonable doubt, sure. Letting the Earth just turn into living Hell would be stupid.

My point and main concern is that, assuming climate change is happening, which I do believe is happening, is there a blame to be placed and is anyone responsible for correcting it? Does anyone deserve to be legally regulated to prevent the situation from escalating? In other words, what is the proper role of government here and how does the situation affect individual rights?

The government has no role in acting on things you believe are happening. First, you would have to prove they are happening.

The reality is that instead of AGW advocates offering proof, it's in fact AGW opponents who have offered proof that the whole thing is a lie.

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Assuming that all this has been proven beyond reasonable doubt, sure. Letting the Earth just turn into living Hell would be stupid.

The government has no role in acting on things you believe are happening. First, you would have to prove they are happening.

The reality is that instead of AGW advocates offering proof, it's in fact AGW opponents who have offered proof that the whole thing is a lie.

I'm no scientist, so I can't second guess what scientists say. If a scientist says he ran computer simulations mapping the introduction of carbon into the atmosphere over time, I can't sit there and wonder whether he took this or that fact into consideration; it's a waste of my time. Furthermore, why so many scientist would be willing to risk their careers by advocating something that is entirely false is beyond me. Even if they were getting funding by certain environmental interest groups, it seems strange to waste all that time and money to convince people that something is true when it's not, knowing that if it is proven to be false, your career would be finished.

That said, AGW advocates do offer proof. Satellites measure CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Weather stations around the world measure temperature.

The point of this post was, given that AGW is occurring, what possible solutions are there? Many people think government has a responsibility to protect people from environmental disasters. Others think that the problem can be handled without the government. I would like to see the free market produce innovative technology to either prevent or adapt to any such disaster, so these are the responses I'm most interested in hearing about. However, if you have a strong argument that the government has a legitimate role to play, by all means post your ideas.

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If person A shoots person B, person A deserves to go to prison and possibly face capital punishment. If person A defecates on person B's lawn, person A still deserves to be punished. But what if person A is a corporation which cuts down trees to make paper, which reduces the environment's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which subsequently accumulates, preventing radiation from reflecting off the Earth into space, thereby warming the environment and leading to unpredictable and catastrophic weather patterns? What if these weather patterns destroy person B's house? Is this person A's fault and should the government punish him or better yet, preemptively regulate him?

My point and main concern is that, assuming climate change is happening, which I do believe is happening, is there a blame to be placed and is anyone responsible for correcting it? Does anyone deserve to be legally regulated to prevent the situation from escalating? In other words, what is the proper role of government here and how does the situation affect individual rights?

Your example does not take into account the fact that trees are renewable resources. Paper companies harvest trees specifically grown for the purpose of being turned into pulp to make paper. There are always trees in various stages of maturity waiting to be harvested.

Climate change runs in cycles. How did the numerous glacial and interglacial periods occur? Dinosaurs and mammoths did not drive SUVs. How does one explain the Little Ice Age, that the AGW proponents conveniently overlook, or the preceding medieval warm period, likewise ignored? The increase in carbon dioxide does not indicate that it is a factor in increased temperatures. Correlation does not prove causation. Your professor needs a refresher course in the scientific method.

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The Little Ice Age:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age#Causes

You can find links to the Medieval Warming Period from there.

History describing how we know CO2 raises the temperature:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide#History

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

This Swedish Chemist calculated the effects of Carbon Dioxide near the end of the 19th century:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius#Greenhouse_effect

I would really rather discuss solutions to this rather than whether or not the science is accurate. In my class, the science isn't up for debate. I need the class to graduate, so I'm trying to not rock the boat too much.

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Go take a look at wattsupwiththat.com (from there you can branch out). There's a lot of info to wade through, but assuming that AGW is correct is exactly what environmentalists and politicians want you to do so they can get their tendrils around your neck.

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I would really rather discuss solutions to this rather than whether or not the science is accurate. In my class, the science isn't up for debate. I need the class to graduate, so I'm trying to not rock the boat too much.

With a worldwide environmental phenomenon like AGW is proposed to be, the costs to any one country which imposes significant restrictions on its own CO2 emissions are great. Additionally, the payoff is nonexistent unless all the other major countries cooperate. Bilateral agreements just aren't going to cut it. However, there is no way to elicit worldwide cooperation or to enforce worldwide regulations without an entity which presides over every nation, and has the authority to set laws which can be enforced on any nation. This means a worldwide enforcement system, something resembling a world government. This 'solution' is by far more dangerous to mankind's well-being than AGW. The only solution is to allow individuals to adapt to the changing climate in their own ways, just like they do with any other environmental change.

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I'm no scientist, so I can't second guess what scientists say. If a scientist says he ran computer simulations mapping the introduction of carbon into the atmosphere over time, I can't sit there and wonder whether he took this or that fact into consideration; it's a waste of my time.

If figuring out what's going on is a waste of your time (or beyond your abilities), doesn't it logically follow that figuring out the solution to what's going on is also none of your business?

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This highly recommend you watch this video (youtube) presentation:

link to part 1 of 4:

It is very well presented in a way which is understandable by the general audience.

After you finish watching that look for youtube videos of Richard Lindzen.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Thanks for all the skeptic (for lack of a better word) resources. The only books we have been assigned in my course argue that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. I'm sure Richard Lindzen will be heavily cited in my final paper.

Here's something from page 41 of "Science As A Contact Sport" by Stephen H. Schneider:

[Mike] MacCracken said, as I recall, "Dick, we are not arguing that we should tell people we know the answer. What we are basically saying is that we have the best information there is and that we should explain what we know, and what the likelihoods are, and how much of this we can fathom. And we should say what research needs to be done."

...

Lindzen excoriated him. Basically, he said, "You don't understand. That's not what science is. These politicians should never push us around, and we should not give in! We should demand that we scientists are in charge of the scientific agenda. We are a better enterprise than politics."

I [schneider] stood up at that point. "Dick, they are going to vote on the SST in a few years. They need the best science that's available. Do you think it's more responsible for us to guess with caveats attached, or to have Senator Barry Goldwater guess for us?" A couple of people applauded.

Lindzen turned around and said, "That is the most scientifically irresponsible thing I've ever heard." He stormed out of the meeting shortly thereafter.

The SST was potentially going to be a government-subsidized American Supersonic Transport, like the Concorde jet. Personally, I think we could use a few more caveats in today's research.

Here's my recent paper in case anyone is interested. Feel free to criticize.

Oh and any current events related to climate change that may be of interest to this forum are welcome.

Analysis 1 revised.doc

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