Those most inclined to make noise within the arena of politics about global climate change are also usually inclined to demand more government policies and more government regulatory power while diminishing the reputation of anyone who disagrees by labelling them “deniers.”
But calling those who are cautious about government power “deniers” is a canard, nothing but a distraction. There’s actually very little “denial” regarding the climate:
1. Virtually everyone knows and admits that the climate is changing. Because it always changes. That’s not news.
2. Some people believe that recent changes in the climate have been caused by the industrious efforts of human beings to live and improve their lives. Others raise questions simply because it’s difficult to test and measure and identify accurately the cause(s) of all climate change(s).
3. There’s almost no consensus, however, that climate change is a great or the greatest impending threat to someone or something, OR that government policies and increased government power can somehow answer that threat adequately, OR that government policies and increased power won’t make everything worse for everyone in the process.
Pointing out that while climate change might be a threat, and increasing government power without limits is always a threat, hardly qualifies one as a “denier.” More likely, such caution is a sign of prudence.
IS VERSUS OUGHT
For those who demand vast increases in the regulatory power of the United States government as well as other governments around the globe that’s sometimes cooling, sometimes warming, always changing, the burden of proof is on them, not on those who raise questions and concerns about their agenda.
More specifically: When climate change and environmental activists sound the alarms that something terrible is happening, they’re implying that the climate right now, the climate as it IS, is different from how the climate OUGHT to be.
If the climate IS not as it OUGHT to be, then let us begin by asking: What OUGHT the climate to be or to become?
To say that the climate OUGHT to be something different than what it currently IS, is to suggest that the climate currently is different from what is good, healthy, or right. But if the climate OUGHT to be good, healthy, or right, it ought to be good, healthy, or right according to…what? What might these terms possibly mean?
The moment we start asking what is good, healthy, or right, we’ve crossed into the realm of what most people call “values”—or what classical thinkers, who tended to reflect upon the logic of morals more thoughtfully than we do today, called “virtues.”
WHO SHOULD THE CLIMATE FAVOR?
Regardless of terminology, however, global climate change and environmental activists are faced with daunting moral and intellectual questions: How is good, healthy, or right defined with regard to the global climate? And who defines these standards of what the climate OUGHT to be?
At a minimum, big government climate activists must address these kinds of questions:
First: What kind of climate is best suited for polar bears? For red-eyed tree frogs? For lionfish? For triceratops and velociraptors and other dinosaurs? For…human beings?
In the current climate, many people in many parts of the world are living longer, healthier lives than any human beings ever, anywhere. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is the climate that helps human beings thrive something to be preserved or changed?
And what about the ideal climate for trees and shrubs and bushes and flowers and vegetation of all kinds? For all past, present, and potential species of all kinds?
Second: If certain climate conditions are better for some species and not others, then which species should the climate favor? Which species should not be favored? In short: Who should the climate favor? And why?
Should the climate be viewed by human observers and human legislators from a human-centric point of view, or an anti-human point of view? Or should the fate of human beings simply be ignored when studying and attempting to control the climate?
Third: How can the preferred state of the climate—how can the climate conditions that someone decides OUGHT to exist—be achieved through government policies and vastly increased government regulatory power? Even if climate activists could define a goal, or an end, why is government best suited to achieve it, and how will it do so?
Don’t hold your breath for any publicly satisfactory answers to these questions. More likely you’ll hear crickets, at least the ones who have so far survived warming, cooling, and other climate changes.
ENDS AND MEANS: DOES GOVERNMENT EVER ACHIEVE ITS GOAL? AND SHOULD WE CARE?
It has become regular news that environmental activists insist on policies that increase the regulatory powers of government, all of which is justified allegedly by climate change.
Very well. Again. And about these policies and increased regulatory powers of government I ask:
- To what end, goal, or purpose?
- How will increased government power lead to this end, goal, or purpose?
- What dangers to human beings are created by increasing government power and how do the dangers of growing government compare to the dangers of climate change?
If environmental activists have no satisfactory answers, then I am going to push back and say: No.
More than four decades ago, the federal government in the United States effectively took over American public education. It’s goal? To improve education. And produce measurable results of that improvement.
Since then, government has spent hundreds of billions of our dollars on education. Government has hired hordes of education bureaucrats who crank out and enforce hundreds of thousands of pages of laws, regulations, rules, and administrative guidelines. The result? At best education in the United States has remained flat. In some ways, it’s become worse.
So if the federal government cannot achieve its goal because it cannot manage a system of schools—after spending enormous amounts of money and increasing its regulatory power over every aspect of education!—then why should anyone think government can manage an infinitely far more complex system: the global climate?
The truth is that those who chant the loudest for more government while wringing their hands with concern over climate change have no idea what their goal is or how they might achieve it. Yet that doesn’t stop them from demanding more government power. That doesn’t stop them from demanding that we immediately and without question give up more of our freedom by increasing the scope of government regulations. That doesn’t cause them to pause and consider that unlimited government power has been throughout all of history the single greatest threat to human beings.
And they seem to be in complete denial about those facts regarding themselves. They seem to have virtually no self-awareness. So who are the real deniers when it comes to the subject of global climate change?