A Genuine Question to all Environmentalists

A simple hypothetical question that I’m genuinely really interested to hear the response to.

Let us say an angel comes down from On High and reveals climate change isn’t happening. Just assume this for a minute. Al Gore, the IPCC etc all put out a statement saying “oops”. There is 100% consensus AGW is false. Now just entertain this concept for the sake of this hypothetical.

My question is: would this make a difference to the policies you advocate governments adopt?


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14 Responses to “A Genuine Question to all Environmentalists”

  1. J Says:

    Im confused at the point? For the sake of hypothetical wouldn’t one then change ones policy mix to reflect this new ‘information’? But I adovocate environmentally sustainable policies because we know that global warming does exist. And by ‘we’ I mean such a vast consensus to ignore it is to place oneself on the outer realms of political viewpoints. I’ve no doubt once could point out scientists that think global warming is false, but we can agree that the vast majority do not. So again, the point?

  2. Tim Says:

    Well that’s the question which I’m curious about; whether or not the environmentally sustainable policies advocated are dependent upon climate change, or whether the advocates of such policies would continue – for the most part – to champion identical policies, irrespective of global warming.

  3. Butters Says:

    I think that this question separates those who want to solve the problem of climate change from those who are merely using climate change as a justification to push policies that they would be pushing for whether climate change existed or not.

    For example, I’ve heard people use climate change to justify improved public transport, to justify preventing urban sprawl and on one occasion to justify vegetarianism. I think that these same people would still be advocating improved public transport, preventing urban sprawl and vegetarianism, even if climate change did not exist.

    Sometimes this is because, even in the absence of climate change, there are other benefits to these policies – eg better public transport can improve tourism – but in some cases it’s because climate change has become a “convenient excuse” for bad policies.

    I think that the best policies are those that seek to solve climate change, but have other benefits. That way, if the science of climate change is ever disproven, we haven’t introduced a whole bunch of policies with no benefit; there is at least a side benefit to the policy. For example, encouraging fuel efficient cars has economic benefits and sustainability benefits as well as lowering greenhouse gas emissions, so even if climate change doesn’t exist, there is still some benefit to introducing the policy.

    Whether the side benefits of these policies would be enough to warrant the introduction of a policy in it’s own right is another question.

  4. Ben Raue Says:

    Of course it would, but it wouldn’t change them completely.

    I’m assuming that you’re saying climate change isn’t happening, but you’re not doing anything about the other impacts of fossil fuels, eg. smog, a highly centralised power industry, the fact that we’re running out of coal.

    We wouldn’t say that you need to move at such a breakneck speed as the environment movement is asking, but in the end shifting our economies away from coal and other finite resources towards infinite resources like wind and solar is a positive development, and decentralising the power industry by encouraging people to generate their own electricity (eg. a gross feed-in tariff) is also a good thing.

    Likewise with public transport. The problem with building a transport system that relies totally or mostly on cars is that, no matter how many roads you build, you never solve congestion. The only thing limiting people from driving more cars is the fact that the roads are already full. You see it each time a new highway is built: it doesn’t take long before the number of cars catches up. That’s part of the reason why public transport is so important (apart from its benefits for those too poor to own cars or pay the exorbitant price of fuel – which even if climate change doesn’t exist is gonna keep going up as we run out of fuel).

    I think most of what the environment movement is calling for in changes to our economy and industries are generally positive, even if climate change wasn’t real. But again, you probably would want to slow down the reforms, in order to have less of an impact on people’s lives.

  5. sydwalker Says:

    When iatrogenic global warming first became a serious concern (to some) in the mid-1980s, it re-inforced the need for many policies that were already on the environmentalists’ agenda.

    Energy-efficent public transport, for example, was on environmentalists’ agenda previously. The prospect of global warming merely added to the case.

    I have a deep suspicion of angels and would want to quiz him/her/it about the basis for the glad tidings. Is the new heavenly consensus based on a sufficiently risk averse approach to planetary magagement?

    Beware false angels who fudge answers to intelligent questions! 🙂

    See http://sydwalker.info/blog/category/sustainability/climate-change/ for some of my scribblings on these matters – especially http://sydwalker.info/blog/2008/12/23/not-far-from-climate-change-consensus-for-action/ where I attempt to tackle scepticism from a slightly different angle from the current norm.

  6. Tim Humphries Says:

    Butters said:
    [I think that the best policies are those that seek to solve climate change, but have other benefits].

    The side benefits are a crucial point. Whether or not climate change exists isnt the issue anymore. The debate on that has moved on. My strong belief is that free-market capitalism will play a critical role in opening up new markets/opportunities for the creation of new business models that will adapt to the idea of a low carbon [Co2] future thereby creating new jobs and new businesses to power that new future.

    This is a positive step regardless of whether climate change can be credibly disproven down the track.

    The trick will be to ensure that the climate change policy includes incentives that will maximize the eventual upswing in the finance markets so that the new green business model can be safely executed and turned into profit making engines for job creation.

    In the current malaise, finance market upswing seems atleast in the short-to medium term unlikely. With time though free market private capital will re-emerge [beyond the current bailout mentality] and the green business model will finally have a chance to make its mark.

    The truth despite the bagging that neo-liberal market capitalism has receieved recently is that Environmentalism’s greatest ally will ultimately be free-market capitalism.

    It will show the way on the creation of that new future, taking into account ofcause both viewpoints on the truth/falsity of climate change.

    There may yet be an argument over Government-Private capital being used in partnership to create this new green future. Looking at the history of Government-Private partnerships in capital infrastructure projects it has been a mixed bag though.

    I will conclude with a story I heard on a very interesting Liberty pod-cast that discussed the turn of the 20th Century situation across the globe where Horse-drawn cart was the transport of the day.

    As I recall it the discussion went that the manure produced by the horses during this period was such a concern that the major cities of the world were concerned about hygeine and being consumed by a growing manure crisis.

    In the end the horse and buggy was given up for the automobile bringing with it the current Carbon challenge we face.

    I have faith that a lower carbon future is technologically achievable, given that we over came the 1900’s manure problem and replaced it with the age of the automobile.

    The truth is we can use the free-market to do the same with low carbon [C02] technologies and take the automobile and other pollution producing technology to the next inevitably low carbon step.

    So the answer to the question is a simple, no it probably wouldn’t make a difference, we need a free-market leadership and an upswing in the markets to make it achievable. Time will tell.

  7. Ross Grove Says:

    Yes it would.

    Climate change departments and their policy aparatus would vanish. Companies would be able to donate any tree plantings used to offset emissions to the NPWS in return for a one-off tax credit.

    Other environmental issues such as salinity, erosion, habitat preservation, air quality and the need for nuclear power would move back up the ladder but not to the extent that global warming did.


  8. Jake the Muss Says:

    My policy provisions would change to discard climate change as a cost.

  9. Wayne Says:

    Okay, if I were an environmentalist would my advocation of policy change? Yes, absolutely. I would re-focus my views on the advocation of long term energy sources as opposed to “carbon neutral” energy sources. This would probably focus on coal over oil in addition to nuclear. I would maintain my support for electric and hydrogen vehicles.

  10. Nolan Says:

    Lets say an angel comes down and says that all money is worthless and that we should trade goods for the sake of making ourselves feel better.

    Sound retarded? Yeah, that’s because you don’t pull hypothetical shit out of your arse to deal with matters of Scientific policy, you also don’t link Al Gore to the IPCC as if they’re both scientists and you don’t write such a ridiculous blog post expecting to spark controversy.

    I honestly thought you were intelligent, Tim. It’s not the place of Government to interefere with any system, least of all a cap and trade system, we’ll respond to whatever byproducts of climate change bring as we’ve responded to any natural disasters or any natural shifting in populations.

    This is stupid and onanistic.

  11. Nolan Says:

    The absolute gross misunderstandings of the scientific method and the scientific community, I feel, need to be stressed. It’s not a fucking monarchy or autocracy. It’s an open and reviewed system based on evidence and falsifiability.

    Have you now, or ever, undertaken any scientific education whatsoever?


  12. Tim Says:

    Mr. Nolan, with all due respect, you have completely missed the point.

  13. Tim Says:

    Although speaking of which, since you brought it up, how do AGW theories meet the falsifiability standard?

  14. JaketheMuss Says:

    Asks the man studying Orthodox Christianity.

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