Sunday, September 03, 2006

You Bet Your Life

Most persons who are confronted by an armed mugger will accede to the mugger's demands for wallet, jewelry, etc. The immediate prospect of being killed or injured generally outweighs the thought of resistance or flight, neither of which is likely to be effective and both of which might simply infuriate the mugger. The instintive logic at work in most persons goes like this: My odds of surviving this incident unharmed are much greater if I accede to the mugger's demands than if I try to resist or flee. I value my life and limb more than the money and jewelry demanded by the mugger. Therefore, I will accede to the mugger's demands.

Environmental alarmists react to the very mixed and uncertain evidence about climate change and its causes as if they were facing an armed mugger. Oh, they say (in effect), let's give in to the "mugger" and forswear our wealth so that we might live to see a cooler, less turbulent day.

The difference, of course, is that the threat posed by the mugger is immediate and obvious. He's right there in your face. That is not the case with climate change; we see the change (e.g., rising temperatures) but we are very far from certain about its causes, effects, and future course. (In addition to the item linked above, see this, this, and this, and follow the many links in the third item. See also John Ray's Greenie Watch, which is replete with relevant material.)

Those who counsel environmental "action" in the face of such great uncertainty about the causes, effects, and future course of climate change are not being mugged, nor are they witnesses to a mugging. They are spectators to a scene that is visible to them through a translucent screen. They see something going on and they assume that it is a crime and that they can identify and shoot the criminal without harming the victim. In fact, there may be neither criminal nor victim. To assume that there is a crime and an identifiable criminal runs the risk of harming innocent persons (i.e., everyone) for the sake of nothing.

We are not facing the one-sided certainties of such screen "gems" as The Day After Tomorrow or An Inconvenient Truth. We are peering through a sceen darkly. The only muggers we face, in actuality, are the perpetrators of such propaganda as The Day After and Inconvenient -- and those scientists who abet them, wittingly or not.

Do you want to bet your life (or livelihood) on the biased inferences of environmentalist muggers? I don't. I want a lot more information about what is happening to the climate, why it is happening, whether the consequences for humans are good or ill, and what (if anything) humans can do about it if the consequences are ill.

Related link: Reality-Based Skepticism of Government Action to Reduce Global Warming, by Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek