Monday, December 14, 2015

The Historic Universal Witch Doctors Paris Climate Agreement

Nearly 200 nations adopt first global pact to fight climate change, reports the Associated Press. According to AP:

In the pact, the countries commit to limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.

There you have it. Primitive tribes had witch doctors to “protect” them. Protecting the tribe meant periodic sacrifices of individual members to the gods of nature, lest the gods bring down nature’s wrath on the tribe.

In the modern version of witch doctors, human beings are to be sacrificed by the world’s political leaders to the trees, soil, and oceans. Human activity intended to improve environmental conditions for man is not, apparently, considered natural. The natural, unaltered state of nature—the trees, soil, oceans, or anything not man—are sacred. To avoid the wrath of the climate change gods, man’s improvement upon the natural world—technological industrialization—must be sacrificed.

But won’t “green” energy supply man’s energy needs? Even if the intractable drawbacks of solar and wind—economic non-viability, dilutedness, and intermittency—are somehow overcome, the answer is no, because the massive mining, refining, manufacturing, and infrastructure land use requirements of solar and wind contradicts the standard of value implied in the goal of limiting carbon dioxide emissions to “natural” limitations. That implied standard is to honor the Earth's natural state, and there's nothing natural about massive “green” energy. Environmentalists will simply replace co2 with some other "disruptor" of nature as the human-engineered enemy that must be curtailed.

Man survives, thrives, and prospers by applying reason and productive work to the task of expanding nature’s limits through the turning of raw materials into the resources that feed industrial progress, and thus an ever higher standard of living. For example, turning coal, oil, and natural gas deposits into the fuel that powers all other industries gives us all of the material goods that turns the dangerous natural environment into a much safer and more livable environment. That wouldn’t be possible except under the moral standard that places human life above the trees, soil, and oceans.

Under the moral standard of value that underpins the idea of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to non-human “natural” limits, progress stops, and human beings suffer massively. Isn’t human well-being worth the price of whatever extent human industrialization is contributing to climate change? Not according to the naturalists. As if pointing to the ideal of human existence the Paris agreement implicitly aims to achieve, Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the agreement as “a victory for all of the planet and for future generations.”

There was a time when the planet was victorious over human mastery, and the non-human natural state of things was preserved for future generations. It was the Dark and Middle Ages, a period of grinding poverty and stagnation and a life expectancy of 30 years for generation  after generation. It was only with the onset of the freedom and fossil fueled Industrial Revolution that future generations began to benefit. We today are the future generations of times past, and we should be thankful to our industrial forbears precisely for not “saving the planet for future generations,” and instead bequeathing to us a much improved planet and thus the standard of living we now enjoy. And earlier industrialists did it all by improving their own lives, and by extension the lives of their contemporary generation. We, the future generations of their time, benefited. Isn’t that the gift that we owe, if we do owe it, to future generations?

We shouldn’t be saving the planet for future generations. We should continue to improve it for ourselves. Anthropogenic climate change is a small price to pay for massive human progress—if climate change even is a price. We must reject the naturalist standard of value that produced the Paris Witch Doctors anti-energy climate agreement, and embrace the humanist standard of value.

If there is a bright spot, it is that the Paris agreement has no legal enforcement mechanism. There seem to be so many conflicting motivations—from President Obama and other western leaders’ desperation to leave behind a climate legacy to poor and developing nations’ demand for $trillions in "entitlements" from rich nations in atonement for their “wrecking the climate” (i.e., getting prosperous) to statists seeing the conference as a path to central planning powers to "green" energy companies seeking subsidies and competition-stifling taxes and regulations on fossil fuel companies—that it’s hard even to tell how seriously the leaders take the carbon limits. Hopefully, for the sake of the oil, coal, and natural gas industries our energy well-being depends on, the Paris agreement will fail to live up to the “green” hype.

Related Reading:

Paris Climate Agreement Adopted: New Central Plan for the World’s Economy and Climate—Ronald Bailey for

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