Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maybe Arbor Day Isn't So Pointless After All

I really appreciate this article on Anthropogenic Global Warming, or the man-made global warming. I’ve been searching for well-thought responses to the global warming issue--as I think complete denial of humans affecting the climate is naive, yet to say humans are the sole cause of the current environmental state of being is just as misguided. And I especially like it since the author came at the topic from a libertarian point of view, although as he says it may not be the consensus view point.

I agree with him that the government should be looked to as a quote-unquote manager of the environment. But as someone who finds himself waking up more and more libertarian each day, that’s a hard pill for me to swallow. I think it’s a good thing that Teddy Roosevelt supported conservation in his presidency: "Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty... to develop and use the natural resources of our land but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us." So perhaps the problem now has more to do with environmental lobbyists than any governmental conservation. For as Roosevelt said, "[W]ith the water-power... forests... mines, we are brought face to face with the fact that there are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is the one of the fundamental reasons why the special interests should be driven out of politics." But measures should be taken to protect certain lands, waterways, et cetera from overuse, or misuse.

The author also makes the point in the article that CO2 drives warming; I do not disagree with that statement. However, whether or not you see it as a mechanism designed by God, I believe the earth has a natural ability to control CO2 levels through the process of photosynthesis. Yes, humans have increased our CO2 output over the last century significantly, but I don’t think that would be as much of a problem if we were still committed to preserving forests and other major photosynthesis producers. It’s especially unfortunate that the very idea of “going green” through renewable fuel sources could end up causing more harm than good, as illustrated in this Time Magazine article. In Brazil’s attempt to cash in on the renewable energy craze, large portions of the Amazon are being slash-and-burned in order to produce fertile farmland to grow sugarcane and corn, main crops used in the production of biofuel. It's a shame that the rain forest and other ecological jewels are outside the United States' jurisdiction; that’s Brazil’s land, and there’s not a damn thing we can do to stop them from using it.

Not sure if I stayed on topic through that, but if there is a way to ensure government commitment to conservation while remaining revenue neutral, then I would be all for it. As it is, the plans that get put forward regarding cap and trade and the like fly in the face of the American taxpayer. Unless the average citizen is given control in the system to use, barter, and sell their own carbon credits, then they will just remain pawns who are at the mercy of energy companies who may raise rates when they run out of their own emission credits. Rather than let markets dictate which energy sources should be pursued (i.e. if we can drill for now, let’s drill, but under the realization that we won’t have it forever) the government would rather hand out subsidies to either renewable or fossil fuels depending upon which party is in power.

In closing, the skepticism is just plain wrong; to say humans don’t affect the environment is like saying buying something now doesn’t affect my future purchasing power. We just have to be smart in how we live. And to the Al Gores out there, if we’re as doomed as you say, then drastically changing course now won’t save us… so let’s give it a little more thought, mkay?

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