Thursday, September 27, 2007

The mad rush to save the planet.

The mad rush to solve some perceived problem, real or imaginary, usually leads to stupid mistakes. I find it necessary to hammer home the point that every “solution” is not necessarily a solution. And when solutions are created through the political process they are almost always wrong.

Politicians have warped incentives to find politically beneficial solutions not solutions that work. Often the touch of the political hand on the brow of the fever victim doesn’t heal but kills. Government is the one entity in the world that would give a cold victim a case of bubonic plague and then announce that they successfully reduced the number of people with the sniffles.

The more an issue is deemed unworthy of debate the more likely the politicians are to make a bloody mess of the whole thing. This has been my main complaint about the cult of anthropogenic warming and their crusade to shut down debate and discussion. They are in a frenzy, demanding the world madly, and without little forethought, rush into embracing extreme solutions that they propose. Merely to question the veracity of their alleged solution is enough to get one branded genocidal. Odd thing that. They were the ones who stopped the use of DDT in malaria control programs and that directly led to increased malaria-related deaths to the tunes of million of additional victims.

After decades of that disastrous “solution” being imposed on the poor nations of the world, with real genocidal consequences, those nations started reusing DDT. And various world bodies eventually endorsed the practice. That previous environmentalist induced “solution” was abandoned. It had been embraced far too quickly and without sufficient debate. But then the scare stories the environmentalists were pushing at the time were meant to do just that. How little things have change. Or to be more precise, how little the environmentalists have changed. Outside of the dispensationalist fundamentalism they are the last of the Apocalyptic cults.

They preach a precautionary principle which applies to every advance in science and technology but never applies to themselves. When it comes to their solutions we are to ignore precaution, ignore debate, and simply accept the latest wisdom they hand down to us from on high. And they are often wrong -- spectacularly wrong.

Let us use as an example their proposal to push biofuels. This is now a multibillion dollar corporate welfare scam for agribusiness and politicians are tripping over themselves to suck up to the wealthy businessman in order to shower them with money from the taxpayers. Warming guru, Saint Al of Gore, has campaigned on behalf of these subsidies as a means to save the planet.

Of course, as we outlined here, the first result of that has been to consume vast amounts of food in order to produce fuel. Food prices have jumped dramatically because of it. And that means that food around the world is now more scarce than before and poor people in impoverished nations are going hungry because Al Gore and the environmental lobby pushed for this program. Of course the fuel that is produced is so costly that it can’t compete. So the politicians stick their grubby hands into our pockets to subsidize the price.

Here is the hilarity of it. By hilarious I mean the disgusting nature of this con. The politicians are taking food out of the mouths of hungry people, and money out of the pockets of the average worker, in order to shower millionaires and billionaires with corporate welfare. And they justify the whole damn charade my ominously whispering “global warming.”

Spiegel called biofuels “the great hope for fighting climate change” but now admits that the solution is actually worse than the fuel it is replacing. A team of scientists, led by Nobel prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen, “finds that the growth and use of biofuels produced from rapeseed and maize can produce 70 percent and 50 percent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels.”

Burning normal petrol does less harm. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developed specifically said that biofuels "offer a cure that is worse than the disease they seek to heal."

The political process is inherently corrupted by bad incentives. The feedback loops are all screwed up and there is little that can be done to fix that problem. Almost without fail governments around the world solve problems by creating even bigger problems in their place. And the politicians don’t care. All they want is to win the next election. And if voters think something sounds good, no matter how much harm it really does, the politicians tend to go with that.

The biofuels con job was an easy one to actually pull off. First, we had all these bubble-headed Greenies lining up to endorse anything to “like, save the planet, man.” Then big agriculture chimed in and noted how this would “help the family farm” and “protect the planet from global warming.” It didn’t hurt that agribusiness lobbyists were donating to the campaigns of the politicians.

The unthinking media reports the latest fad of the environmentalists with little critical appraisal of the scare stories they push or the solutions they offer. After all, they are motivate out of “concern for the planet” not “out of greed.”

Scientists who are studying biofuels immediately chime in and support the move since this will mean massive funding for their projects. Know-nothing Hollywood film stars will run out to endorse the idea. Big Business is for it. The environmentalists are for it. The media endorses it. It’s a political windfall. Jump on board you can’t lose -- unless you are the people who can’t eat, or don’t understand why it’s so hard to pay your food bills anymore.

And here and there some damned skeptic waves his hand saying, “Excuse me! Ah, excuse me, please!” He is ignored. Called a denier, or a shill for big oil and ignored. He is only ignored because they haven’t found a way to bring back the rack and public flogging. And “big oil,” where are they? They are right up there in the front of the line showering money on politicians to support the subsidies because they have become “energy” companies, not oil companies. And if government largess means bigger corporate profits through biotechnology they are quite happy to do it. And you thought big business and the environmental left were on opposite sides of the fence, didn’t you?

But the biofuel “solution” is here now. All around the world billions and billions of dollars are being given to “energy companies” and agribusiness by the anti-corporate Greens and their allies. And the whole goal is “save the planet” by emitting fewer greenhouse gases. And then some damn scientist notes that it actually increases greenhouse gases.

This “solution” doesn’t solve the problem. It makes it worse. It wastes billions of dollars to produce a dirtier product. It starves people to death. It transfers wealth from the poorer people to the richest people. And you know what—it will keep rolling along for years and years to come. Why? Because that is how politics work.

When you want to solve a problem through political means this is the sort of bullshit you get. Get used to it. This is the only the beginning of bad solutions that will be imposed in the name of global warming. As H.L. Mencken noted: "For every problem there is a solution which is simple, clean and wrong." And if you are looking for wrong solutions the surest way to find them is to get polticians to vote on them.

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