Well, That Was A Nice Conservative Party We Had For A While

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The UK's Conservative party took a decisive turn—you might even call it a break—from Thatcherism last year, electing 39-year old Eton grad David Cameron as their new leader. Cameron's first electoral test will be the May 4 local elections (in the UK, all localities hold elections the same day), and his strategy for victory has little to do with the Conservative party stalwart issues like tax cuts or law and order. He's running on a hardcore environmental platform—"Vote Blue, Go Green." (Blue is the traditional color of the Conservatives. Also, note how the law and order issue is reframed as a fight against "environmental crime.")

Rather weirdly for a local election, Cameron kicked off the campaign by visiting Norway for photo-ops with glaciers and cute snow dogs. He returned with the passion of a zealot, proposing a ban on the building of new roads, among other "I know what's best for you" policies.

Mr Cameron's emissions target would mean virtually all cars on Britain's roads would have to be powered by new technologies such as hybrid motors.

He has declined to say whether he would increase vehicle excise duty for gas-guzzlers or impose a green tax on air flights which produce high levels of greenhouse gases.

I prefer the old Conservative party's way of dealing with pollutants—like coal, for example.

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  1. in the UK, all localities hold elections the same day

    Er, not so. There will be no local elections in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland this year, just for starters.

    In England, all Council seats will be up in London, a third of the seats in the other metropolitan area and a share varying from zero to 100% in the rest of England. Large chunks of England will not be having any elections at all this year.

  2. “Improving our environment is not just a matter of rising to the great global challenges of climate change and reducing pollution; it also means taking effective action to tackle vandalism, graffiti, and the low-level crime and anti-social behaviour which blight our local communities.”

    So now, anything that “blights” the physical environment is an “environmental crime”? That’s rich. Why do I foresee the government rounding up the homeless and poverty-stricken, and replacing them with middle-class folks, postmodern loft-condos, and pretty flowers?

    “Hey, you. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You know what? You’re an ugly sunofabitch! You’re blighting my view! That’s an environmental crime, motherfucker! You’re going to prison!” Ugh.

    As if “grafitti and low-level crime” weren’t big enough bogeymen, he invokes “anti-social behavior”. What? Such as? And how in the fuck is being anti-social some kind of environmental crime?

    That website reads like some kind of orson-welles-inspired futuristic horror. You know, “utopia, but at what cost?”

  3. I wish the Libertarian Party here would do this. the last Election was all talk about Alternative fuels and Energy, but neither main group did a damn thing to show so much as leadership on the campaign trail.

    They could have driven biodiesel/ehtanol vehicles…but didn’t.

    They could have made their campaigns otherwise carbon neutral by buying carbon credits….but didn’t.

    These are straightforward non-coercive things that a party could do to show leadership in this area of growing concern.

    If there continues to be a leadership vacuum, then the more populist parties may gain more power, and force everyone with their totalitarian policies and mega taxes and programs (which won’t actually help the environment of course).

    I’d greatly prefer that free(as in speech) non-forceful Libertarian policies take root, but that won’t happpen without leadership.

    /plug:
    http://www.terrapass.com
    http://www.carbonfund.org

  4. Evan,

    “Why do I foresee the government rounding up the homeless and poverty-stricken, and replacing them with middle-class folks, postmodern loft-condos, and pretty flowers?”

    Isn’t that the sort of thing that happens in a free market environment under the name of “gentrification”? Does it matter to the poverty-stricken whether they are evicted by the local authorities, or by landlords wishing to take advantage of an influx of yuppies?

    “As if “grafitti and low-level crime” weren’t big enough bogeymen, he invokes “anti-social behavior”. What? Such as? And how in the fuck is being anti-social some kind of environmental crime?”

    While I think it cheapens environmentalism to expand the definition to such an extent, in NYC they say serious crime was reduced by going after the graffitti taggers and turnstyle jumpers.

    Interestingly, I think it was Milton Friedman who made the specious (spurious?) statement in one of his books that one man’s pollution is another’s idea of a fun time – using loud rock music as an example of what he would consider to be “noise pollution”. This is the same as conflating graffitti with acid rain. Note, I might be wrong about Friedman being the source, I was just browsing through a book that I think was one of his and happened upon that passage.

  5. The thing that makes me scared is that there are so many people out there who see the photos of Cameron and say ‘ohhh wow! How cool is this guy. He’s so nice and friendly and he wants to save the lesser spotted African leaf beetle! Hooray!’ Let’s vote Tory.

    Idiots.

    I for one am hoping for a Mission Impossible 2 type turnaround, Cameron gets voted in and pulls off his face to reveal Michael Hesletine who then runs straight out his 10 Downing Street and starts whacking all the pikeys in Parliament Square with a club.

    That would be sweet.

  6. Larry,
    Sweden seems to be well on its way to at least meeting their goals:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/04/sweden_again_me.php

    Treehugger btw is a nifty site covering (more or less freemarket) green tech, goods, and services; as well as commentary.

  7. Imagine that, he claims to know that pollution and ecological catastrophe aren’t “good for you.”

    What a snob.

  8. As always, joe, if you know a cost-free way to eliminate pollution, feel free to share.

    Until then, the rest of us are going to continue to ponder the very real costs of implementing the green ideology via government fiat.

  9. R C Dean
    no such thing as ‘cost free’. I still pay for garbage and sewage etc., and will forever in some form or another. And that has nothing to do with the ‘Green Ideology?”

    Cleaning up our own Co2 waste likewise can still have nothing to do with the Greeny fascist agenda, but it requires some leadership from those who oppose their policies. Libertarians for instance…

  10. going to continue to ponder the very real costs of implementing the green ideology

    Translation: I don’t give a shit about the environment. My private sector plan for protecting the environment is to do nothing. That is what is best for me in the near term and that is what I choose to focus on.

  11. Translator,

    That very well may be true for RCDean, but there’s plenty of people who do care about the environment but just think we need to weigh the options carefully and balance environmental concerns with other concerns. Many Green concerns are legitimate, but many others are just “The sky is falling!” hysteria. Like it or not, environmental degredation has given the average person a lifestyle far more comfortable than even kings enjoyed just a couple of centuries ago.

  12. Addressing the issue of polluting someone else’s air is not necessarily an “I know what’s best for you” policy. But top down “central planning” methodology generally has that component. For instance, will having less roads really reduce pollution? Logic dictates that making it more difficult to drive somewhere will certainly keep some people from doing it. But if the reduction of drivers is small compared to the added time the remaining drivers spend on the road, pollution could very well be driven (ha-ha) up. Maybe it’s more of a “I know what’s best for all of you” policy.

    (Note: I know that in a pure libertarian world, the government would not be building roads anyway. The question here is while the government is monopolizing the road building bizz, should decisions be based on costs versus demand on one hand, or on attempts to engineer a desired social outcome on the other?)

  13. sam,

    Why should we expect our “leaders” (more accurately, our politicians) to base their decisions on different factors than the rest of us do?

  14. I don’t give a shit about the environment. My private sector plan for protecting the environment is to do nothing. That is what is best for me in the near term and that is what I choose to focus on.

    Man, my sentiments exactly. I am betting there is virtually nothing that I can do to the environment that it cannot quickly recover from. What do you think you can do to harm it?

  15. “I know that in a pure libertarian world, the government would not be building roads anyway. The question here is while the government is monopolizing the road building bizz, should decisions be based on costs versus demand on one hand, or on attempts to engineer a desired social outcome on the other?”

    The government mostly monopolizes the roads because they are basically necessary for the whole “Provide for the Common Defense” thing. Solely private roads would result private standards of design and conditions, which wouldbe diffulut to defend against our 20th century enemies. Perhaps in the 21st century we could do better with more private roads and leave the major highways to be subsidized, I dunno for certain.

    I do suspect that the reason we don’t pilot jetsonian aircars is beacuse the roads are subsidized. If the costs of making and maintaining them were completely applied directly to those who use them (fuel taxes or somesuch), then I bet flying conveyances would be muchmore prevalant…or at least ground conveyances would be better used and less wasteful whatever they are.

  16. “Why should we expect our “leaders” (more accurately, our politicians) to base their decisions on different factors than the rest of us do?”

    I expect our leaders to be able to lead, and take quickly and rationally the advice of experts in time of need (or prepare for such). A long understood problem with democracy is that the consituency of ordinary folk are often inexpert and shortsighted; even smart and farsighted societies get the dumb disease every now and then.

  17. That very well may be true for RCDean, but there’s plenty of people who do care about the environment but just think we need to weigh the options carefully and balance environmental concerns with other concerns.

    My point is that I don’t think RCD is weighing any private options or relatively-less-governmentalized solutions. He is using costs as an excuse to ignore the problem, instead of as an opportunity to propose some type of strategy for dealing with the problem.

  18. Let me elaborate a bit:
    I don’t want the Governemtn to Fix the Problem; through force and Fiat etc.

    I want the Government to take the Leadership in Fixing the Problem; require the government to, when possible and affordable:
    Pay carbon credits for it’s activities.
    Buld/remodel its own buildings to be Net-Zero Energy structures
    Drive Efficienct government vehicles.
    End subsidies, especially for fossil fuels. (this would help pay fo the above items)
    Free up regulations exp for nuclear power.
    Help other nations end corruption and inefficiencies.
    etc.

    These are certainly possible now. Affordability is comming sooner and sooner, and will be even more sooner if the goevernments use their power of purchase to lead the way.

    No need for EnviroNazism…just good leadership.

  19. (…and gud spelign)

  20. fyodor,

    The construction of roads by the government, like the construction of anything by the government, is a subsidy for that type of development that relies on that type of infrastructure.

    Ceasing the construction of highways would eliminate a government subsidy for that type of development – suburban sprawl – that contributes most heavily to air pollution and global warming.

  21. At the local level, the tories are largely a regional party with almost no council seats in the west midlands, northwest,and northeast. The Lib Dems are where its at at the local level and in terms of advocating occasional libertarian policies.

    The interesting thing will be if the BNP picks up seats off the tories new leftwing tilt and their abandonment of half the country at the local level.

  22. I do suspect that the reason we don’t pilot jetsonian aircars is beacuse the roads are subsidized.

    The major reason is that they just aren’t economical. A flying vehicle has to provide energy to support its own weight, as well as energy to move forward. A ground vehicle only has to have enough energy to move. Flying vehicles gain in loss of friction what they lose in energy supporting themselves, but only at relatively high speeds. If you notice, there are no efficent low-speed flying vehicles. Helicopters and VTOLs like the Harrier are big, loud, and fuel-hungry in low-speed flight. For the everyday needs of most people, flying is pretty useless, since it’s very inefficient to fly half a mile (or even five miles) to the grocery store.

    This is to say nothing of the dangers involved. Most people wouldn’t be able to handle the 3D aspect of flying easily, and the consequences of a screwup would be much worse than in a land vehicle (higher speeds as well as the falling factor). It’s possible that all these things will be solved at some point, but it’ll require some real breakthroughs in science as well as (probably) computer control of vehicles.

    I don’t give a shit about the environment. My private sector plan for protecting the environment is to do nothing. That is what is best for me in the near term and that is what I choose to focus on.

    Or maybe we think that waiting and seeing what happens is a better course of action in the long run. I, for one, after having done some research, think that waiting another forty years to act is the best course of action. Give technology four more decades to advance unencumbered by environmental laws, and let global warming continue as it may. We’ll then have a better idea of the real extent of the warming, and a better understanding of the mechanisms behind it, and better technology and more wealth to deal with it.

    If nothing else, there’s the brute-force approach of building a giant shade in orbit to reduce the amount of sunlight falling on the earth, thus reducing the temperature. Build it out of asteroid material; it doesn’t have to be pretty, just effective. Expensive? Yeah, it would be. But probably still less expensive than carbon controls extensive enough to actually affect the warming would be. And in forty years, I’d imagine that there will be more than enough space experience and private investment to bring the cost down significantly. That’s my solution: do something, but only when it’s most effective for the least cost.

  23. to defend against our 20th century enemies. Perhaps in the 21st century we could do better with more private roads and leave the major highways to be subsidized, I dunno for certain.

    Not to be picky, but we are in the 21st century now, and by definition have to defend against 21st century armies.

    More importantly, I have two main issues with your statement. First, I see no reason why all highways can’t be privatized, or at least given long term leases (30 years or more) with certain restricitions in place, such as defense concerns in your case. It is the local roads that are inordinately tricky to privatise.

    Second. Solely private roads would result private standards of design and conditions. How about regulations, like standards and measures type of things? Not pure libertarian of course, but surely more libertarian than prohibiting the creation of private roads. One could also explicitly say that local roads belong to the locality instead of the state, thus bringing things closer towards individual choice. You don’t like what a local town is doing with its roads, don’t go there or live there. Or vote it down.

  24. “Expensive? Yeah, it would be. But probably still less expensive than carbon controls extensive enough to actually affect the warming would be.”

    When leaded gasoline was banned, the cost to the economy was estimated to be so high that the entire industry would collapse.

    Ditto with mandatory seat belts. That didn’t exactly pan out.

    When restrictions were put on acid rain emissions, it was estimated that the cost of the required reductions would justify the creation of a commodity-based trading scheme. Instead, the reductions proved to be so cheap and easy that there is virtually no demand for the “emissions credits,” because simply scrubbing the stuff from your chimney was so much cheaper.

    But THIS time, the cost of addressing the problem really, really will be economically impossible. Regardless of lead times and phasing, reducing carbon output is going to cost billions – no, trillions – no, fuck it, bajillions – of dollars, and the economy will crater and we’ll all be living in mud huts.

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop taking polluters at their word when they tell you how expensive it would be to stop polluting.

  25. No need for EnviroNazism…just good leadership.

    The problem with that approach is that it assumes those who lead us actually know where they are going. Like it or not, nowadays the term “Good Leadership” is just a euphenism for “Big Government”, because that’s the only solution the current leader caste are familiar and comfortable with.

    While some government regulation might be inevitable and even desirable, it’s far better overall to allow the market to solve the problem. And as an example, consider the air quality it the Salt Lake Valley.

    Salt Lake City sits in a basin surrounded by mountains. It has problems with particulate pollution (wintertime inversions) and ozone (summer heat). Yet the air here is arguably cleaner today than any time since the railroad arrived in 1870.

    Part of that improvement is due to Clean Air Act regulations on automobile emissions, for sure. But much of it is due to technology and the markets. One hundred years ago, the Salt Lake Valley was home to dozens of smelter operations that refined the abundant gold, copper, silver, lead, etc. from the nearby mines. In addition, every house and industry in the valley was heated by coal or wood.

    The pollution from all of this was quite noticeable; older pictures of the famous Salt Lake Temple show the stone to be much darker and dirtier than today.

    So what happened? The market worked. When the mines played out, the smelters went out of business (as opposed to state-run industries, which would probably be still operating today). When electricity and natural gas became cheap and available, everyone ditched their inconvenient wood and coal stoves. The air was already much cleaner by the time the EPA arrived on the scene.

    While I don’t doubt that much of the improvement since then has been due to the CAA, the fact is the market — coupled with improvements in technology — did alot to alleviate the problem long before goverment regulation even was considered. Something to keep in mind when considering what to do about Global Warming.

  26. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop taking polluters at their word when they tell you how expensive it would be to stop polluting.

    joe,

    I’m not taking polluters at their word. If you actually look at the energy flows, and look at what can sustain a high-tech society, there are only a two options: nuclear (fission or fusion, either one) and fossil fuels. Solar is an option if you’re talking about solar power satellites, where you don’t have to worry about ground area covered by solar cells nor about energy lost in transit through the atmosphere, and long-term that’s probably the best solution. However, sun, wind, and rain don’t supply enough energy to use to fuel a high-tech society, not for everyone in the world and not sustainably. If we tap enough solar energy (in its various forms) to run our society, then there will be definite environmental effects. They might be less than fossil fuels, but they’re certainly not negligible.

    We would probably be able to leave things the way they are now, with a rich developed world and a poor third world – no longer developing, because they’re just shit out of luck, they’re stuck in poverty forever. The developed world would be less rich, although certainly not badly off by historical standards.

    In the long run, fossil fuels aren’t the answer. As Jerry Pournelle once said, there are better things to do with oil than take a match to it anyways. But in the short run, fossil fuels will give us enough time to find a good solution to this, one that doesn’t involve the knee-jerk response that we all need to stop sinning and learn how to get right with God – er, nature.

  27. grylliade,

    I doubt the Big Three knew exactly how to make cars provide decent performance without lead in the gasoline when it first became clear that it was going to be banned.

    And I doubt they had any idea what kind of technologies could remove particulates, SO2, and other tailpipe pollutants when the Clean Air Act first came around.

    But they were given their mandate, they were given time to achieve it, and guess what? They innovated, and it worked. Capitalist American industry is good at that.

    Also, you should check your assumptions about reduced energy usage leading inevitably to reduced economic output and reduced economic growth – they’re based on a static-technology model that has been repeatedly proven false.

  28. As much as I might disagree with certain statist policies of the French, I have to admit that there usually appears to be some kind of internal logic behind them, if you buy into their vision of an ideal society. The Brits, on the other hand, appear to have simply gone batshit loco.

  29. sam:

    Good comment on the effects on having roads privately build by different parties. When railroads were built that way, different sections of tracks had differing widhts, and when the train got there, it needed to have a wheel adjustment. The town there got paid quite a bit for the service…

    Once there was a standard gauge of track, all those nice people had to find another way to make a living…

  30. About privatizing roads, there might be a perverse unintended consequence, the creation of internal tariffs in commerce.

    Now everyone pays for the roads, whether they use them or not. The stay-at-homes pay for the tourists, and the local industries pay for the shipping of the imports to their neighborhood.

    Start collecting tolls and what happens?

    Imported stuff becomes more expensive since it ahd to pay tolls to get there, and that makes local stuff more competitive. Tourism becomes more expensive, so people stay closer to home.

    This may be good, or bad, but it is good to remember that the tolls and tariffs instituted in the Middle ages had to do with the right to use the rodas and bridges set by the locals.

    Sometimes I have the suspicion that a libertarian agenda might land us into medieval times without knowing it.

  31. Once there was a standard gauge of track, all those nice people had to find another way to make a living…

    But it is worth noting that the decision to standardize the guage was made by agreement among the railroads to save costs. The government played no part in it.

  32. Also different design standards between private road and highway companies would be no different than the differences in design standards that exist between the fifty states and nearly every city and county in the country.

    And they would exist for the same reasons. To suit local conditions.

  33. Isaac, I found this:
    The Lincoln administration, after planning the transcontinental railroad at 5 feet, 0 inches to conform with the existing railroad in California, decided on 4 feet 8-1/2 for consistency with the most important Eastern railroads. This assured that 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches would be the North American standard gauge.”
    Here:
    http://tinyurl.com/57w6o
    so I was wrong.

  34. Actually, Sam, I probably should not have said “The government played no part in it” since in some cases the decisions were made at the political level.

    In Australia railways were for the most part creatures of the State governments and were established before Federation when there was less of a feeling of National Purpose. In fact the colonies saw themselves in competition with one another.

    New South Wales was dominated by English immigrants and for that reason chose the “English guage” (4′-8 1/2″) while in Victoria the Irish were more influential so the Irish guage (5′-3″) was used. The guages were eventually standardized to Standard guage (4′-8 1/2″) so it is now possible to travel from Sydney to Perth without changing trains (or guages at any rate).

    Tasmania and Queensland chose the narrow guage (3′-6″) for reasons of economics and topography.

  35. Start collecting tolls and what happens?

    Imported stuff becomes more expensive since it ahd to pay tolls to get there, and that makes local stuff more competitive. Tourism becomes more expensive, so people stay closer to home.

    Or it’s just as likely that imported stuff gets there faster and with less damage because the toll roads are less crowded and in better shape than the public roads. Or that staying at hotels and eating at restaurants are less expensive because the locals don’t have to charge a sales tax to cover the road construction.

    Or the most relevant example: gasoline is much cheaper in the toll areas because there’s no need for a gas tax to finance public roads.

    Utah doesn’t have any toll roads that I know of, but I have drove on California toll roads and without exception they were cleaner, less crowded, and in much better shape than the public highways. The only problem is that you still have to pay exorbitant California taxes to help finance the rest of their bloated public sector.

  36. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop taking polluters at their word when they tell you how expensive it would be to stop polluting.

    Here’s a post by “Jane Galt” that does the math.

  37. So, for all you who were so smug about how my concern over the costs of implementing Green policies was just so much avoidance, how do you respond to the math?

  38. Nifty link fletch,
    she does make one very key observation:
    “We’ll never again see efficiency improvements like we got from the coal to oil switch unless we go nuclear (or discover some energy source I don’t know about);”

    She doesn’t explore wind, wave, or solar. With or without nuke power these will be important.

    Changing out of fossil fuels wont be cheap (mega understatement). But…

    Sealevels are going to rise this century no matter what we do. How much they rise depends on what we do. The more we do sooner, the more can be averted or delayed. The costs of doing this need to weighed against the losses of developed coastlines (just what will be the value of Florida in 2050?) as well as the costs of peacefully (or violently) relocating tens of millions of refugees, maybe hundreds of millions, depending on the water level.

    Does Jane Galt “do the math” of that? (didn’t know about this site till now so I will go check.)

  39. Couple more points:
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/whats-wrong-with-warm-weather.html
    and
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/action-on-global-warming-is-suicide.html

    Change is gonna happen, its easier to handle it if that change is slow. And it can be a killer if it is too fast.

  40. Argh! can’t sleep thinkning about this:

    I live in the bay area of Californistan, the economic effet of even one meter of sea level rise would be devastating, as there are so many stretches of freeway that are already at sealevel which would need to be protected or rebuilt in some fashion. Given a probable range of between 2 and 7 meters in sea level change, the best I can imagine would be to teardown the GoldenGate Bridge and install a huge set of locks and a new bridge of course. The enviroweenies would have a fit as the Bay turns into a freshwater lake. A backup-set of locks would be advised at the karkeinas (sp) straight to protect the interior. This in and of itself seems like a trillion dollar effort. (don’t forget the terrorist potential of such a target [by Zorin Industries no less 😉 ])

    Otherwise, it’s bye bye California economy, and much of it’s ecology would be in tatters too.

    Okey, now maybe i can get some sleep.

  41. sam-

    She doesn’t explore wind, wave, or solar. With or without nuke power these will be important.

    Face it, ‘wave’ is trivial- and wind/solar too irregular to ever handle even a minimum of “base-load”. I’m a “global-warming skeptic” who would love to see *cough*(nuclear) or (“sci-fi fantasy” ‘solar-power’ satellites)*cough* alternative energy sources developed- oil is too important to other parts of our economy to simply burn it…

    (didn’t know about this site till now so I will go check.)

    Do a search from the ‘main page’ for “global warming”- there are a number of interesting posts(w/ ‘varied’ pro/con views represented in the comment sections).

  42. My point is that I don’t think RCD is weighing any private options or relatively-less-governmentalized solutions. He is using costs as an excuse to ignore the problem, instead of as an opportunity to propose some type of strategy for dealing with the problem.

    Or maybe, like me, he isn’t conviced the doom sayers are right. I mean like scientifically, not like emotionally.

    I’ve posted around here before about the inherent problems with long term global warming models. But most people find it easier to believe the sky is falling than not.

    “I can’t believe you don’t believe the world is coming to an END!” falls in the same catagory as people who tell me “I can’t believe you don’t believe in God.” How dare you? How dare I indeed.

  43. sam,

    She doesn’t explore wind, wave, or solar. With or without nuke power these will be important.

    None of these is ever going to be much more significant a source of total energy consumption than they have been. They’re diffuse energy sources, just to begin with.

    Changing out of fossil fuels wont be cheap (mega understatement). But…

    Not necessarily. If battery technology improves enough to make electric cars practical on a large scale, and we went nuke, it might not be all that expensive.

    ______________________________________

    You’d probably sleep better if you spent some time trying to understand why there are so many people (like me) who don’t believe the dire predictions coming out of the global warming models. There are very solid reasons to doubt, it’s not just a whim, and I don’t own an oil company so you can’t accuse me of thinking short term economics.

    I’ll give you a beginning hint. There have been fluctuations in global temperature for tens of thousands of years. We have very little data on what these temperature swings have looked like. Hence we (homo sapiens) have virtually no basis for claiming to “understand” them. Sorry, but we didn’t have weather stations recording things around the globe 2500 years ago.

    It is by no means clear that the bulk of whatever apparent temperature changes are happening right now, aren’t part of a long term natural cyclic phenomenon. Which is what makes this statement

    Sealevels are going to rise this century no matter what we do. How much they rise depends on what we do.

    absolutely absurd.

    There are lots of people who have faith one way or the other. But nobody actually knows that what we’re doing, or could do, would have any significant impact on whatever is going on (which is not as crystal clear as the doom sayers claim).

    But if you’re one of those people who would rather listen to Chicken Little on “better safe than sorry” logic, then you better get used to the idea of not sleeping. At least not in this life time.

    btw, this is only an opening salvo at the dire predictions of the global warming models. There’s lots more holes Chicken Little’s theories, if you look.

  44. Wonderful to see that the Tories have actually selected someone who loves the band that wrote “The Queen is Dead.” Ha!

    How would a system of private toll roads collect money? Tollbooths are, unquestionably, a pain, and adding thousands more (perhaps hundreds of thousands, depending on how many junctions and road-owners there would be) would be painful to everyone. Hmm, maybe environmentalists should get behind it to reduce driving!

    Would companies and/or individuals buy the roads that are already there? Privatization of roads would entail either an enormous corporate giveaway or trillion-dollar government windfall. By what logical jujitsu are libertarians are in favor of either of these choices?

  45. By what logical jujitsu are libertarians are in favor of either of these choices?

    🙂 We’ve got a utopian streak to us too, just like everybody else.

    In an ideal libertarian world the government wouldn’t control roads.

    In the real world, we libertarians have always had a bit of a problem drawing a clean line between the public and private domains.

    Still, in our defense I’ll note that our Mother Mary Guiding Light is to mistrust the government at every possible step, and therefore to keep their mitts off everything we possibly can.

    You see, when private enterprises screw the pooch they go bankrupt. Then, eventually, somebody else starts totally new, very different private enterprises that work better.

    OTOH, once you create a government buearacracy to deal with something, it exists unto the end of time. If it screws the pooch it does not go bankrupt. Instead, politicians give it more money and expand it, amplifying the basic ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

    Such is the undoing of great nations.

  46. OTOH, once you create a government buearacracy to deal with something, it exists unto the end of time. If it screws the pooch it does not go bankrupt.

    Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who would rather not have the fire department or other emergency services go bankrupt. The NYC subway strike at Xmas is far preferable to the entire system going the way of Enron, too.

  47. fletch,
    I did search a bit and didn’t find anyting quite like that. I will send a message and ask.

    Kahn,
    I do my best to staty away from the Al Gores and James Lovelocks of the ProGlobal Warming sensationailsm and alarmism side. I prefer to get what I beleive unfiltered and unflavored from working climatologists such as at http://www.realclimate.org. So far I really do think they have the better argument.

  48. Kahn,
    here:
    http://tinyurl.com/eqvdu
    is an assesment of basically what real working climatologists are actually saying.

  49. A bit more thorough and with better links:
    http://tinyurl.com/s3wor

  50. Captain Holly:

    Historically, tolls have a way of evolving into trade barriers. In the Middle ages, each time you crossed a bridge you had to pay the town or lord of the place. Same as you had to pay to enter a lord’s domain.

    You might want to consider that the French Enlighment preached the need to do away with all those barriers to commerce, to whit the duties you had to pay to go from a place to the other. call them tolls, call them tariffs, call them what you will.

    It is true that the gas prices will also go down, but the perverse effect is that the gas prices will go down for everybody, whether they travel a short distance or a long one, so the local producers end having a price advantage.

  51. adriana, I’ll add that each toll booth is another oppportunity for a corrupt guard (or ‘error-prone’ electronic toll system) to extract a little extra. Another disturbing trend is the “pay per mile” ssystems for paying for roads:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1839672.stm
    disturbing for privacy rights that is. The roads do need to be payed for…unless we get truly Jetsonian!

  52. More about possible sea level rises:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/
    the USGS says:
    “Small changes in global sea level or a rise in ocean temperatures could cause a breakup of the two buttressing ice shelves (Ronne/Filchner and Ross). The resulting surge of the West Antarctic ice sheet would lead to a rapid rise in global sea level.”
    I swear I am not making this up. 😉

    also to be fair, the 2001 IPPC TAR suggests that we will likely only see about 1/5 meter rise in sea level by 2100. However this report is 5 years old, and glaciologists bitched and complained that teh glaciers were being treated as if they were mereky big ice cubes, and not the dynamic structures they are. so there have been more recent studies which strongly suggest more rapid ocean rise. In october this year the next IPPC report will be issued, which will likely correct many little nigling details.

    In the meantime confusion reigns supreme on this topic.

    And given the severity of the consequences I am willing to go out on a limb and stand by the 2-7 meter figures. (But I stilldon’t want EnviroNazis in the White House!)

  53. On the subject of EnviroNazis,
    Wired MAgazine has a couple articles. the first:
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/green.html
    is where I am at, Free Market technologies to slow the warming, and to better adapt to it.

    the second concerns Al Gore, and the NeoGreen movement:
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/gore.html
    who may or may not be a screen for EnviroNazis, we’ll see.

  54. I wish the media hadn’t decided to switch conservative and liberal’s colors in Republican/Democrat context. Is libertarian yellow?

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