Friday, August 9, 2013

King Obama's Carbon Emission Mandate

President Obama recently issued an executive order unilaterally reducing allowable carbon emissions from electric generating plants, virtually making coal-fired power plants illegal. In Obama Looks to Clear the Air on Climate Change, New Jersey Columnist Tom Moran commented on Obama's action:

"[Obama's] most baffling political challenge has been the outright rejection of the science on climate change. This blockheaded strain of American political culture has always been a nuisance when it comes to things like teaching evolution in Texas. But really, the nation can survive that.

"When it comes to climate, though, it gets dangerous. You can find a few quirky dissenters, but every major scientific organization agrees this is a dire threat. No one is sure how bad it will be. And no, they can’t pinpoint the blame on climate change for any single storm, including Hurricane Sandy.

"But they all agree the downside is potentially historic, with floods and famine and the wars that would inevitably follow. Lots of people could get killed. So we are way beyond textbooks in Texas.

"The riddle for Obama is this: If your opponents reject the findings of science, how can you win the argument? It’s as if the Enlightenment never happened and we are living by “Game of Thrones” rules. So how is Obama supposed to settle this, with swordplay?

"In a way, yes. He has no sword, as far as we know, but Obama is relying more and more on brute force of presidential power to settle the climate debate."

It's rare to see a "liberal" acknowledge that their agenda relies on "brute force." But Moran is quite open in his approval of it: "[S]cience is on the run," he concludes, "So pause to give thanks and praise to the Clean Air Act. Maybe in his second term, Obama feels more free to push the envelope like this. Let’s hope so." So much for the rule of law, another Enlightenment principle.

I left these comments:

Obama, in fact, does have a sword; the legal power of the state, and he is using it in a way that is fundamentally contrary to the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment gave rise to the principle of individual rights, and the government as a servant and protector of the rights of the individual—the basic principles upon which America was founded. The only proper purpose of government’s legal powers of physical force is to fight criminals and foreign enemies who threaten the freedom of the people by initiating force against them. The extraordinary powers of today’s presidential office flip those principles on their heads, and make the president more akin to a king, and private citizens akin to his subjects. It is the power of a thug. 
As to the “science on climate change,” it is terminally suspect on two counts. First, those “major scientific organizations” are primarily funded by governments—which means, politicians. That means, scientists must satisfy the politicians with the “right” conclusions. How much of the “science” is corrupted by this politicization? Given the power of the environmental lobby, is it any wonder that the “climate consensus” favors catastrophic human-caused climate change?” Until all government funding of science ends, we will never be able to trust the science. 
Second, the idea that the effects of global warming are uniformly catastrophic is absurd on its face. But the scare-mongering serves a useful political purpose for statists: Every dictatorship needs a perpetual sense of impending disaster to maintain or add to its powers. What better way to accomplish that than to seize on every kind of weather disaster to rationalize government thuggery. The catastrophe scenario serves that purpose.  
Yes, science is on the run, along with our freedom. Enlightenment principles would never allow for science to become the handmaiden of dictators, or to foster the return of a government of men rather than laws. 

Moran notes that "The source of this [presidential] power is the Clean Air Act, [which] doesn’t specifically empower the government to limit carbon." In other words, in the name of cleaner air, the Act under which the president acted grants open-ended power to the executive branch, so long as the action can be rationalized as a means of cleaning the air. Arbitrary power is just what America's Enlightenment principles were meant to forbid to government officials.

The Clean Air Act, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, were passed by congress. For that reason, notes The Objective Standard's Ari Armstrong:

Congress, too, deserves a share of the blame for the assault. As Brigham A. McCown writes for Forbes, Obama’s “plan is designed to sidestep Congress, by using a presidential memorandum” to control the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions. Congress has the constitutional power to pass legislation and to regulate (or refrain from regulating) interstate commerce, but it has inappropriately ceded its powers to the executive branch in this case.

If we are to reverse the steady erosion of freedom in America, one of the things we must do is repeal the Clean Air Act, abolish the Environmental protection Agency, restore congress's constitutional law-making powers, and deal with pollution by means of objective laws based upon the protection of individual rights.

Related Reading:

Attack on "Carbon Pollution" an Attack on Human Life

Why I Don't Trust the "Climate Consensus"

Obama's War on Energy Producers and Consumers by Ari Armstrong

1 comment:

Steve D said...

Too many people want CAGW to be true, too badly, which is worrisome. Also, why is the Earth's present temperature necessarily optimum for human life?