Sunday, 16 September 2012

Global Warming – A Modest Proposal

Note: This has little to do with my book, but it's one of my more amusing essays. N..

Look, warmists, you’ve put yourselves – and everyone else, too - in a pretty pickle.

You have made accusations against human civilization – and, by implication, against all of us in it. You accuse us of causing, through emissions of greenhouse gases and in particular carbon dioxide, a catastrophic, irreversible change in the global climate, both presently and in the future. You make out that our civilization and our economy are not sustainable. And, presuming us guilty without trial, you promote harsh political action to stop our use of fossil fuels, and to curb our freedoms both personal and economic.

We realists, on the other hand, look at the facts. That is what realists do. We do not see anything out of the ordinary in recent global climate. We do not know of any hard evidence that raising carbon dioxide to even, say, twice its present level would, overall, damage the planet – in fact, we suspect the opposite may be true. But we do see evidence that if honest, productive people everywhere in the world are to have the chance to lift themselves out of poverty and up to the standard of living they deserve, wise use of fossil fuels will be essential.

The way you warmists have behaved also irks us realists. “Scientists” on your side have been dishonest. You have told us “the science is settled,” when it wasn’t and it isn’t. You have spouted propaganda and scares for over 20 years – yet the scares haven’t actually come to pass. You have called us nasty names like “deniers,” and have suggested that we are mentally ill. You have perverted the true precautionary principle – “look before you leap” – into bureaucratic gobbledygook, whose effect is completely the opposite. You have presumed us and our civilization guilty, without allowing us a fair and public trial. You have done your best to suppress the voices of those experts who are able to speak up for us.

You are hypocrites, too. Al Gore warns of huge sea level rises, but buys beachfront property. You tell us that driving in cars and flying in planes are bad for the planet; but you don’t stop doing these things yourselves. Indeed, warmist politicians, bureaucrats and academics fly, at our expense, to places like Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban, where they enjoy jolly gabfests about “saving the planet.”

The dispute between warmists and realists seems to be at an impasse. So, in the same spirit as Jonathan Swift, I offer this modest proposal to help resolve the problem. I propose that we do some science – some real science. I propose that we do an experiment.

My experiment aims to answer two key questions in the global warming dispute:

(1) Does more carbon dioxide actually cause significant global warming – not in theory, not in models, but in the real world?

(2) Is a green economy without fossil fuels, as touted by the warmists, actually sustainable?

Here's my proposed experiment. We will divide the world into two zones, the Realist Zone and the Warmist Zone. The zones will be sealed off from each other with borders which no-one can cross, to ensure that the two economies are independent.

In the Realist Zone, there will be no restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. In the Warmist Zone, there will be zero-net-emissions restrictions. The experiment will measure temperatures over - say - forty years. It will also measure the economic success of each zone.

Once we know the boundaries of each zone, we will be able, before the experiment begins, to predict its climatic outcome. For if – say – half the world population were in each zone, that would mean an immediate, sizeable reduction in emissions when the experiment begins. Then, if climate scientists actually know how the climate works, they can estimate how much cooling (or warming) should take place, both (a) if more carbon dioxide actually does cause significant warming in the real world, and (b) if it doesn’t. With luck, they might even reach “consensus” on the two estimates.

We will also, of course, be able to predict the economic outcome of the experiment. And it could be amusing, too. For all their talk about sustainability, one thing the warmists haven't proved is that a green economy actually is sustainable in the real world. In other words, that an economy restricted by bureaucratic and anti-fossil-fuel regulations doesn't inexorably slide down into poverty and starvation. Well, this is their chance!

How could we divide the world into these two zones, without violating the rights of innocent people? That, I think, is easy. Let the inhabitants of each country decide, in their own way, which zone they want to be part of. In democratic countries, that will be by referendum. In absolute monarchies and dictatorships, by edict of the king or dictator. In each place, by whatever means they find appropriate. Then, for a period of - say – five years, open all borders. Let those in countries which go Warmist, who don't believe the warmist hype, leave for the Realist Zone. And let those in realist countries, who support the global warming agenda, move to the Warmist Zone.

In fact, we must go further than that. If any promoter, supporter or enforcer of the global warming agenda refuses to go to the Warmist Zone, that means they wanted to impose on others policies which they aren't willing to have imposed on themselves. Such hypocrites cannot be tolerated in civilized society. “Scientists” that faked data or methodology to try to promote warmism; warmist propagandists and campaigners; politicians that bought into the warmist agenda (and, in Europe at least, that is almost all of them); bureaucrats that wanted to use the agenda to increase their power. If they won't go voluntarily, all must be expelled from the Realist Zone.

The warmists, of course, will have the same right, to expel from their zone those who don't support the global warming agenda. But I don't think there will be many – honest, productive human beings won't want to be trapped in the Warmist Zone, so they will have left already.

Then we seal the borders of the Warmist enclaves, and start the experiment. It will run for forty years. But if one molecule more of carbon dioxide comes out of the Warmist Zone than goes in, the forty-year period re-starts right there.

It's fun to speculate which parts of the world might actually go Warmist. I can't imagine the Canadians or the Russians, both of whom would benefit significantly from a warmer world if it did happen, going anything but Realist. Nor the Indians nor the Chinese, neither. Nor can I imagine the Middle Eastern oil producers wanting to give up selling their black gold. Nor most Americans wanting to give up their cars and their air-conditioning. In fact, I don't think there are too many honest people, even in Europe, who if they found themselves actually having to decide between Realist and Warmist zones, would pick the Warmist.

It’s even possible that not a single country in the world would go Warmist. I do like to think, however, that North Korea might go Warmist, particularly if we grease their palms to do so. Wouldn’t it be fun, packing off the politicians to Pyongyang? Failing that, our best bet would probably be to move the Greenlanders – there are less than 60,000 of them – and let the warmists have Greenland. They like cold, don’t they?

It's also fun to speculate about the economy in the Warmist Zone. I personally doubt that a warmist economy could last five years, let alone forty. An economy composed of politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and other politicized no-goods won't be very dynamic or productive, will it? Not having affordable energy won’t help them, either.

And where will the entrepreneurs be? The engineers? The creative, productive brain-workers? The honest, non-subsidy-craving farmers? The dynamic, honest working people? You've guessed it - all these people will be plying their trades in the Realist Zone.

And we in the Realist Zone won't do anything to help the warmists. It's entirely their own fault. If they wanted us to feel any concern for them, they shouldn't have supported political policies designed to harm us.

Of course, if the warmists do survive their forty years in the wilderness, or if bad things befall the planet in the meantime, we may need to re-integrate them. Well, that’s something I’m happy to leave to future generations.

There is an additional benefit to my proposal. The five years without borders will, I hope, help to counter nationalism and all the stupid politics and wars that flow from it. As well as encouraging peaceful contact between people of different races, cultures and religions. Once liberated from borders and politics, I don’t think people in the Realist Zone will want to go back to them.

And unlike Jonathan Swift, I don’t propose to harm Irish children. Unless, of course, the Irish go Warmist! But judging by the Irish people I have known, I think that unlikely.

Well, there’s my modest, realist proposal. Is it a deal, warmists?


Anonymous said...

Probably a stupid question on my part but I need to be enlightened. To ensure accurate outcomes you have, quite rightly, proposed that the borders between zones be hermetically sealed so their economies not interfere with each other. How will you ensure a similar separation between the climates. After all, we wouldn't want the warmists to benefit from the superior climatic conditions of the realists!

Neil said...

Dear Anonymous, your question is not stupid at all.

But I hope I made plain that my experiment will not try to stop gas molecules moving across the boundaries. To evaluate "global" warming - or not - it is better not to separate the zonal climates.

And if the warmists gain a small indirect benefit from that, I don't mind.