Friday, September 26, 2014

Stamato vs. Zemack on Science, Political "Courage,” and Special Interests

As I noted yesterday, I lauded Rutgers University’s Linda Stamato for her willingness to intellectually engage readers in the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s comments section. Her willingness extends beyond her own article, too. The Star-Ledger Editorial Board’s Building a movement on climate, which was the subject of my 9/21/14 post, also featured comments by Stamato.

In her comments, Stamato directly replied to mine, which were posted under my screen name “Zemack”. Stamato said, in part:

Science told us that smoking was causing cancer and we were--finally--smart enough to promote good health practices including ridding the air we breathe of second hand smoke and curbing advertising including appeals to young people to reduce smoking.  Science tells us a lot and we ignore what it says at our peril.  "Never mind the climate science," Zemack?  Wrong.  Mind it and figure out the best strategies for minimizing climate change . . .

Science doesn't have to tell us what to do about what it tells us; we're supposed to be smart enough to develop the policies and plans that reflect our ingenuity and draws on our political will and courage to do what science has revealed. All too often, it's the special interests, those that profit by continuing practices that science uncovers are harmful, that push back and mislead the public.  

I replied:

I reject the comparison to smoking. Smoking is demonstrably harmful. Fossil fuels are demonstrably and overwhelmingly beneficial, on balance.

The issue is not just practical. It is moral. Special interests? They’re everywhere. We live in a mixed economy. You have a special interest; to use government force to impose your taxes, controls, and subsidies. The IPCC is a special interest. Being funded by politicians, it is the very definition of politicization. It must produce conclusions that satisfy the politicians, who seek ever more power and control. What should not be allowed is for special interests to use government as the hired gun to impose their values on everyone else by force of law, in the name of some collective “we”.

Droughts, rising sea levels, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, heat and cold waves, wildfires; all of these have always been with us. The difference is, we now have the technological capacity to adapt to and protect ourselves from nature’s harmful forces, and plentiful cheap energy is needed to drive that capacity. Reducing that capacity through government policies is the real long-term danger.

I would also dispute that using government force to impose “solutions” to climate change requires “political courage.” Initiating force is not courageous. It is the mark of a cowardly thug. The government’s only proper job is to protect individual rights, which includes objective laws against actual pollution. CO2 is not pollution. It is a gas essential to life on earth. Courage is on the side of those of us who battle against the climate change statists aggressors despite the degrading smears, demonization, and minimization of the statists, most of whom don’t themselves have the courage to engage opposing ideas in open intellectual debate.

Also, my opening reply about smoking should not be interpreted to imply support for government policies that “promote good health practices including ridding the air we breathe of second hand smoke and curbing advertising including appeals to young people to reduce smoking.” Many of those “public health” policies, such as imposing legal bans on smoking inside private establishments, are rights-violating and wrong. I wanted to stay on-topic, and getting into the propriety of government policies on smoking would have detracted from the main subject.

Related Reading:

Attack on "Carbon Pollution" an Attack on Human Life

No comments: