Global Warming

Ron Paul on the Environment

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I've noticed a disconnect between the seeming cultural hugeness of global warming anxiety and how comparatively absent it has been from presidential politics this season. Ron Paul, who totally avoids this stuff in his standard stump speeches, is called on to explain free-market approaches to environmental problems in this Salon interview (which originally ran last month at the enviro mag Grist.)

Interviewer Amanda Griscom Little sums him up, with a bit more respect than I would have expected:

Some of those ideas arguably have environmental merit. Paul is known for his zealous opposition to the Iraq war, which he duly notes causes pollution and the "burning of fuel for no good purpose." He wants to yank all subsidies and R&D funding from the energy sector, which many believe would benefit the growth of renewables. A cyclist himself, he has cosponsored bills that would offer tax breaks to Americans who commute by bicycle and use public transportation. Still, his libertarian presidency would, among other things, allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, boost the use of coal, and embrace nuclear power. Moreover, it wouldn't do diddly about global warming because, Paul reasons, "we're not going to be very good at regulating the weather."

Excerpt from Paul's own comments, sounding like a classic old-school Rothbardian:

Imagine that everyone living in one suburb, rather than using regular trash service, were taking their household trash to the next town over and simply tossing it in the yards of those living in the nearby town. Is there any question that legal mechanisms are in place to remedy this action? In principle, your concerns are no different, except that, for a good number of years, legislatures and courts have failed to enforce the property rights of those being dumped on with respect to certain forms of pollution. This form of government failure has persisted since the industrial revolution when, in the name of so-called progress, certain forms of pollution were legally tolerated or ignored to benefit some popular regional employer or politically popular entity.

When all forms of physical trespass, be that smoke, particulate matter, etc., are legally recognized for what they are—a physical trespass upon the property and rights of another—concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished. When any such cases are known to be slam-dunk wins for the person whose property is being polluted, those doing the polluting will no longer persist in doing so. Against a backdrop of property rights actually enforced, contingency and class-action cases are additional legal mechanisms that resolve this concern.

……..

To the extent property rights are strictly enforced against those who would pollute the land or air of another, the costs of any environmental harm associated with an energy source would be imposed upon the producer of that energy source, and, in so doing, the cheap sources that pollute are not so cheap anymore.

And global warming? Maybe we've got more immediate concerns, Paul says:

If you study the history, we've had a lot of climate changes. We've had hot spells and cold spells. They come and go. If there are weather changes, we're not going to be very good at regulating the weather.

To assume we have to close down everything in this country and in the world because there's a fear that we're going to have this global warming and that we're going to be swallowed up by the oceans, I think that's extreme. I don't buy into that. Yet, I think it's a worthy discussion….I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus—those are immediate threats. We're about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then that's going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.

NEXT: The Cold War's Return

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  1. BTW, Ron has topped $10,000,000, thanks to today’s “moneybomb”.

  2. He speaks with logic, always. God loves Ron Paul.

  3. LOL every one of the comments at salon is critisizing him. Im not sure what they believe, that it should be legaly permisable to polute someone elses propery if the government says so? They seem to think that if a pollution case makes it to the courts big buisness will automaticly win on the acount of the fact that they are big buisness and thats the way it works in capitalism, big buisness always wins. They seem to of missed the whole “When all forms of physical trespass, be that smoke, particulate matter, etc., are legally recognized for what they are — a physical trespass upon the property and rights of another — concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished” part.

  4. We need to eliminate the income tax and the capital gains tax, among others, and replace them with a tax on carbon emissions.

    If we instituted a tax large enough to have an impact on global warming, it would devastate our economy unless we eliminated all taxes on productivity and innovation.

    …and even if global warming isn’t a real problem, we’d be better off taxing pollution rather than productive activity anyway.

  5. ACK! He is advocationg the Maryland logic of banning tobacco smoking because someone three blocks away can smell it?

    Just as I was warming up to the good Doctor . . .

  6. BTW, Ron has topped $10,000,000, thanks to today’s “moneybomb”.

    Wait a minute here. IIRC, the goal for the entire quarter was 10 Megabucks. Am I right?

  7. The goal is $12,000,000.

  8. tweleve megabucks.

  9. Still, his libertarian presidency would, among other things, allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, boost the use of coal, and embrace nuclear power.

    And right there is what makes the Green agenda bullshit. Nuclear power is the greenest of all available options. If greens actually cared about the environment, they would support nuclear power. Their opposition to nuclear power reveals their true nature. They are opposed to civilization. They are communists against people. They especially hate free prosperous people. Just about everything they propose in the name of environmentalism would result in environmental degradation.

  10. the goal for the entire quarter was 10 Megabucks. Am I right?

    No, $12 million. But the campaign told me in early October that it’d be happy earning $3 million that month, $4 million in November, and $5 million in December (when they expected the moneybombs to hit), so they’re really blowing past expectations. At this point a $15 million quarter-winning haul seems possible.

  11. Global warming isn’t going to be stopped by humans. Maybe we did escalate it to some degree, but the fact is.. we’re trying to put a band aid on a gunshot wound. The planet has been warming up and cooling down for 5 billion years. Why did the ice age stop? Cavemen weren’t driving SUV’s, were they? There is evidence Mars is warming at the same rate as the Earth..are the land rovers causing this? The fact is, the Sun is burning hotter, has more radiation, and solar flares are increasing. The air born pollution we have created may possibly be saving us by reflecting the suns energy back into space. Contrails help reduce the daily range in daytime highs and nighttime lows. Contrails, by providing additional insulation, further reduce the variability.

  12. Ron Paul is shilling for Giant Bicycle.

  13. If there are six plants using vinyl chloride in my area, and my property becomes polluted with dioxins, and I get brain cancer, it will be impossible to trace the cancer to any company’s emissions.

    If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

  14. Bob A,

    The IPCC report states that solar activity has been decreasing since the late 1960s, and has ruled out increased solar forcing as a contributing factor to climate change.

  15. 10 Megabucks

    Are we attacking to control, destroy or neutralize? What are we rolling on now, about a 3?

    (Hopefully that isnt too obscure for H&R.)

  16. I might believe some of you Greenies if you were driving hybrids like me. But you aren’t so quit trying to get the government to make you do something you are not doing anyway.

    BTW, I HATE the Dr. RP welfare for bike rider thing too. They should just be charged less for using a road than when I drive the hybrid Charger or Jeep.

  17. Do not fret joe, Greenland won’t melt. It is land that is green not ice. Iceland might melt though (because it’s land made of ice).

  18. Since I started commuting by bicycle I always thought that there should be an incentive to get more people commuting on bicycles. I don’t necessarily need the break myself, I just think it would get more people out of their vehicles.

  19. OMG, the bike-riding wanna-be welfare queens are beginning to swarm! Can’t you guys go read WSWS or something?

  20. What’s wrong with commuting by bicycle? But I think you’re already giving yourself a tax break, the excise tax on gas. Maybe a skateboard commuter ought to get the tax breaks.

  21. If there are six plants using vinyl chloride in my area, and my property becomes polluted with dioxins, and I get brain cancer, it will be impossible to trace the cancer to any company’s emissions.

    Easy. You sue all six and get a joint and several liability award.

    If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    One time a famous Chicago economics school judge was fretting about rising water levels due to global warming and I asked him howcum insurers don’t seem to upset or Green or whatevs. He did not answer me, tho.

  22. Bicycling is great. I found that in an urban environment, travelling less than two miles by bicyle takes about as long as by car. A bike has increased flexibility (disobeying traffic laws and such is easier (-: ) and a car has lights, traffic, and parking to deal with. And its cheaper. However, the basic principle I believe that TAXES SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR COERCION is more important to me. Not very free market-ish, however well-meaning it may be. Ron Paul is still the most free market of all of them.

  23. Thanks, Duane.

    I was never very good at geometry.

  24. Dave W.,

    1. Insurance companies are, in fact, increasing the deductables in expectation of global warming. There was a post on this very blog about that within the past year.

    2. For joint and several liability, you still have to demonstrate responsibility on the part of each actor.

  25. How about this for an incentive: Allow bikes on the freeways. Sure, it could be dangerous. But when all those people in cages are sitting in gridlock and watching all those bikes squeeze between the cars and get to their destination faster, it might be enough to make people use peddle power.

    Watch out for me, though. I tend to suddenly fling my door open for no reason.

  26. If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    Don’t be silly joe. Use eminent domain to seize the property between you and the ocean and build a dike.

  27. robc,

    The Bermuda Triangles are going to take over the Boy Sprouts with the help of the Congressional Wives. Just try and stop us, Bavarians!

  28. And right there is what makes the Green agenda bullshit. Nuclear power is the greenest of all available options.

    Thanks Warren, I was planning on making the same point if no one else had.

  29. 2. For joint and several liability, you still have to demonstrate responsibility on the part of each actor.

    well, I stated myself inartfully, and I am not an expert in this area of the law, but here is the kind of thing I am talking about:

    http://www.toxictort.net/art_risky_cause.shtml

  30. If there are six plants using vinyl chloride in my area, and my property becomes polluted with dioxins, and I get brain cancer, it will be impossible to trace the cancer to any company’s emissions.

    There are legal mechanisms in place to deal with this type of issue. It’s been a couple of years since I took Torts and the bar exam, so I don’t know what the majority and minority rules are. In any event, I’m sure you can think of a number of practical solutions that make sense. Just one example, if you know that all six were partially responsible, you can allocate the loss based upon their respective emissions. There are many, many more iterations, and probably a sensible solutions for each.

    If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    If Greenland melts and your house is under water, how you are sure it’s the result of Greenland melting?

  31. I”ve noticed a disconnect between the seeming cultural hugeness of global warming anxiety and how comparatively absent it has been from presidential politics this season.

    I question this premise. This is normally the last refuge of the 21st century scounderel but:

    global warming presidential politics:
    2.34 million google hits

    as compared to

    health care presidential politics:
    788 thousand hits

    and

    terrorism presidential politics:
    1.8 million hits

    futhermore,

    iraq war presidential politics:
    13.7 million hits

    which was not mentioned *at all* during the republican youtube debate.

  32. And right there is what makes the Green agenda bullshit. Nuclear power is the greenest of all available options.

    While I agree with you, kind of, it should not go without saying that the nuclear power industry relies on insurance backing from the tax payers. If nuclear power plants had to go out and get their own insurance, they couldn’t operate profitably.

    Like many things, it is green and not exactly market based.

  33. For those who are concerned about or unsure about global warming, the recent book titled “Cool It” by Bjorn Lundberg is a fascinating read. I started it as a skeptic, but found it to be surprisingly well reasoned. Using both well-researched facts and clear logic (sound familiar to someone in the Republican debates?), Lundberg questions the current hype about global warming and the efficiency of the proposed Kyoto plans, and proposes an alternative way that does more to help people and the environment. As much as I have been impressed with Al Gore’s passion on the subject and his ability to get it the attention it deserves, according to this book it appears that in his enthusiasm he may have been unwittingly recruited by scientists and politicians with hidden agendas (grant funding, political positioning). I highly recommend it if anyone is unsure about where global warming should be on their list of concerns.

  34. 12 it is. Thanx!

  35. robc, thanks for the props!

  36. Wow… Steve Jackson comments in a thread about Ron Paul; it’s like a perfect storm of awesome. If we could just get Penn Jillette and Joss Whedon to post something here, it would be the Best Day Ever for the unrepentant fanboy lurking within me.

  37. I haven’t seen much mention of RP’s Industrial Hemp Farming bill and the impact it could have on pollution. Hemp is a viable alternative to a lot of the dirty and harmful things we currently use. Many view its criminalization as an elimination of competition. Perhaps hemp is another way in which the free market approach of Ron Paul could work towards curbing emissions.

  38. If there are six plants using vinyl chloride in my area, and my property becomes polluted with dioxins, and I get brain cancer, it will be impossible to trace the cancer to any company’s emissions.

    If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    Valid points. Provide a preponderance of the evidence, that the dioxin/SO2/MTBE came from my place of business, I dare ya. I rightly hate government regs, but nobody offers another viable environmental protection solution.

    Oh yeah, BUILD MORE FISSION PLANTS!

  39. So, does Guy’s quip about smoking bans highlight an issue with hyperdefined property rights?

    Call me skeptical on being able to ascertain who violated who’s air. Does anyone find this remotely feasible? I personally believe we need a large technology jump before you can safely define who “smoked-up” my air.

  40. How about this for an incentive: Allow bikes on the freeways. Sure, it could be dangerous. But when all those people in cages are sitting in gridlock and watching all those bikes squeeze between the cars and get to their destination faster, it might be enough to make people use peddle power.

    Allow them on the METRO rail tracks too. Please use the third rail.

  41. I haven’t seen much mention of RP’s Industrial Hemp Farming bill and the impact it could have on pollution. Hemp is a viable alternative to a lot of the dirty and harmful things we currently use. Many view its criminalization as an elimination of competition. Perhaps hemp is another way in which the free market approach of Ron Paul could work towards curbing emissions.

    I prefer the Montag Farming Bill: if you want to grow it go ahead, on your own land with your own money.

  42. My vote is for the reinstitution of the constitution. My vote is for the welfare of my brothers and sisters and my posterity. My vote is for freedom. My vote is for liberty. My vote is for peace. My vote is for the only honest, God fearing patriot, true and faithful, educated candidate. The only one with a clean slate and integrity. The “Good Doctor” aka Ron Paul. Whether you support him or not, our country is in peril, heading down a destructive path. If we do not turn this ship around our global warming empire will collapse! May God bless us all. He has stated on the issue of GW that he would need to study and review scientific study and proof of global warming. To me, its more political than scientific. In the 60’s-70’s they said the earth was getting colder. Consider your vote for Ron Paul in 2008, we will be better suited to handle this and other issues we face with him in office. Why? Our voice will be heard! Power to the people!

  43. sage | November 30, 2007, 1:25pm | #

    How about this for an incentive: Allow bikes on the freeways. Sure, it could be dangerous. But when all those people in cages are sitting in gridlock and watching all those bikes squeeze between the cars and get to their destination faster, it might be enough to make people use peddle power.

    Watch out for me, though. I tend to suddenly fling my door open for no reason.

    Hey, if cycling was allowed on the intersates I would definitely take advantage of that for short distances (riding in the shoulder, of course). However, if physically separated bike lanes were installed, I’d be on that puppy all the time.

  44. When it comes to big questions like global climate change, it’s always best to ask a third-tier Republican Presidential candidate. But for medical advice, turn to Oprah. Science is so overrated.

  45. If Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    You’ll have to file in Spongebob’s venue.

  46. We are technically in an ice age right now. The earth will get warmer sooner or later. Then it will get really fucking cold. How much of an effect will people have on it, if any? 10, 50, 100 years? Big fucking deal. These climate periods last thousands of years. Instead of this bullshit about trying to slow it down and what-not, shouldn’t people be trying to prepare for the inevitable?

    I think I might buy a bunch of land on high ground and profit off a bunch of floridians.

  47. 2 problems with nuclear:

    There is a very dangerous biproduct that more people are far more worried of being buried in their backyard then the co2 released from a coal plant.

    And has a nuclear power plant ever been fiscally
    solvent on its own without massive subsidies?

  48. Hey, all you bike guys:

    Why do swarms of bikers wearing odd looking bike helmets ride on narrow curvy rural roads two or three abreast, jabbering away at each other, with no apparent realization that there are cars on the road traveling at fifty mph who, when rounding a curve and suddenly encountering them, are not likely to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid flattening a bicycle?

    It seems like share-the-road arrogance but it may not be.

    Just wondering.

  49. I loved his “government failure” line in response to the so-called “market failure” we hear about so often.

    This is the part progressives and liberals overlook — just because you put the government in charge of regulating something, it doesn’t mean the government is going regulate it effectively.

  50. I’ll be excited when my place returns to it’s natural state circa 6,000 BC when it was a temperate rain forest. With any luck, I might have 500 feet of beachfront.

  51. There is a very dangerous biproduct that more people are far more worried of being buried in their backyard then the co2 released from a coal plant.

    Sounds like the price of my back yard (okay, balcony) just went up! Just pile it over there folks, after I see that your check has cleared.

  52. TWC,

    Regarding your question…because, as with motorists, there are also dumb cyclists.

  53. JImmy, Cycling IS allowed on interstates so long as there is no other option available. My buddy El Geronimo de Crow rides his bike from here to Vegas. That’s about 250 miles. I know, stunning, eh? at least 100 of those miles are Interstate.

    But when all those people in cages are sitting in gridlock and watching all those bikes squeeze between the cars…… In Californicate, where it is totally legal to do that, motorcycles do it all day long but I don’t think it has increased ridership.

    Watch out for me, though. I tend to suddenly fling my door open for no reason.

    When I was a lad riding murdercycles on the street that happened a little too often for comfort.

  54. One time a famous Chicago economics school judge was fretting about rising water levels due to global warming and I asked him howcum insurers don’t seem to upset or Green or whatevs. He did not answer me, tho.

    How many private insurers cover coastal flood damage? Not many. If you recall, much if the hubub following Katrina occurred when homeowners realized that they were insured for wind, but not flood, damage. Coastal flood insurance usually comes from state government programs, at least on the east coast.

  55. Jimmy, I figured that. ๐Ÿ™‚ And the truth is that motorists often do swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid those guys. In the last three years I’ve nearly been hit head on four times by cars swerving into my lane to avoid cyclists. Scares the shit out of me every time. I kid you not.

    When I was a kid we rode bikes everywhere. It wasn’t cool like it is now, but we didn’t care. I always rode against traffic, which was illegal then just like now. Never was comfortable with not being able to see what was coming my way. Especially on Highway 39 when we’d ride to the beach. Never got a ticket either.

  56. Hey Edward, did you just try to make a funny?

    Try again.

  57. Tacos, there are a lot of strange things about insurance. My insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes but if the earthquake knocks the house down and then it catches fire and burns up, well, that’s covered.

    In our grousing though, we tend to forget that there is no God Given Right to buy good insurance.

  58. I’m not up on flood insurance, but isn’t that a federal program? I own a house close to a lake that is not in a flood zone but on the other side of the lake houses that are 1,000 above lake level are in a flood zone and have to buy expensive flood insurance. [shrugs]

  59. In our grousing though, we tend to forget that there is no God Given Right to buy good insurance.

    Too bad we can’t ban that (some)States mandated requirement to purchase certain insurance.

  60. In our grousing though, we tend to forget that there is no God Given Right to buy good insurance.

    I’m not saying there isn’t. I’m just saying that one reason insurance companies may not seem particularly concerned about global warming causing flooding in coastal cities is that they don’t insure coastal property for flood damage.

  61. I’m not saying there isn’t. I’m just saying that one reason insurance companies may not seem particularly concerned about global warming causing flooding in coastal cities is that they don’t insure coastal property for flood damage.

    Sounds like an opportunity to compete for a new market. Well, if there were not such high regulatory hurdles and you did not gave to compete with Big Government.

  62. While the environment is definately an important issue, especially with me, I think protecting our civil rights, getting our troops out of Iraq and bringing value back to the American dollar is a little more pressing. You’ll never find a candidate you completely agree with on everything. It’s time we brought some honesty and integrity back to the white house and revived the ideas that made the US a country to be proud of. RON PAUL 2008

  63. Huh. Well, Paul’s comments on the environment certainly are…totally useless. But they’re not explicitly evil, so I’ll give him that.

    More surprising is that people here seem to think these comments are actually clever somehow. Except by surprising I mean, not surprising at all.

  64. Tacos, I did get that, even if it sounded like I was lecturing you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You got me curious about coastal flood insurance so….

    I was looking at a couple of items. Can’t tell if it’s private or government but one article said that coastal flood insurance policy that used to cost 4k now costs 10k, which is why some people are not rebuilding on the Gulf Coast. Saw another article claiming that government flood insurance is now priced according to risk.

    I don’t really know much about this do you have info on how flood insurance is sold/structured and who actually does the insuring? I always figured LA County was subsidizing the Hollywood set by rebuilding Malibu Beach every year after the floods but I never really gave it much thought.

  65. I was talking to a nuclear engineer the other day who told me that Carter banned the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. Apparently most other countries reprocess the fuel, and it results in a much less nuclear waste.

    Nuclear has been heavily subsidized, which is problematic, but in a world without subsidies for other forms of energy and with taxes on pollution it seems likely that nuclear power would be amongst the cheapest options. Therefore, it’s important to correct these so-called environmentalists who oppose nuclear power.

  66. There is a very dangerous biproduct that more people are far more worried of being buried in their backyard then the co2 released from a coal plant.

    Quantities that are orders of magnitude less than a coal fired electric plant. Fossil fuels also produce other pollutants besides CO2. Does mercury ring a bell? But you knew that. The waste disposal problem is political, not technical. The wacked-out wing of the environmental movement is hindering, not helping solving a very real problem.

    And has a nuclear power plant ever been fiscally solvent on its own without massive subsidies?

    Yes.

  67. Threadjack:

    It has been raining here at Casa de las Rocas Grandes for six hours. You may be stifling a yawn over that news but it has not rained here for over a year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  68. Nuclear Waste is easy to get rid of. Put it on a rocket to the sun.

  69. Ammonium,

    I was talking to a nuclear engineer the other day who told me that Carter banned the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. Apparently most other countries reprocess the fuel, and it results in a much less nuclear waste.

    Mr. Carter did bring the Clinch River Breeder Reactor to a rapid demise upon assuming office. However, I believe plenty of nuclear fuel is still reprocessed, especially for nuclear vessles.

  70. Sage –

    EDWEIRDOOOO tried to make a funny, but someone went and started the car on him!!!!

  71. VM

    eewwww

    Others, that photo may not be work safe for your place of employment.

  72. yeah – guess it depends on the industry. (sorry)

    so: NSFW for some.

  73. Plasma gasification is the technology we need here in the US. It converts waste into energy, eliminating the need for landfills.
    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/873aae7bf86c0110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html

  74. x,y,

    Just one example, if you know that all six were partially responsible, you can allocate the loss based upon their respective emissions. But one can no more dust for dioxin than one can dust for vomit. I DON’T know exactly who put exactly what dioxin on my property, or whose dioxin molecules caused my cancer. That’s my point – trespass laws are designed for a system where the facts of the physical encroachment are known.

    If Greenland melts and your house is under water, how you are sure it’s the result of Greenland melting? Again, that’s my point exactly. We can’t show whose emissions caused what melting, nor what melting caused which water to flood whom.

  75. Stupid joke name!

  76. “If there are six plants using vinyl chloride in my area, and my property becomes polluted with dioxins, and I get brain cancer, it will be impossible to trace the cancer to any company’s emissions.”

    If you file the suite in Illinoise you get to sue all 6.

  77. Moose, I’ll check it when it get home. Is it something I would see on rotten.com?

  78. “If Greenland melts and your house is under water, how you are sure it’s the result of Greenland melting?”

    You’ll be dead before Greenland melts.

  79. I DON’T know exactly who put exactly what dioxin on my property, or whose dioxin molecules caused my cancer. That’s my point – trespass laws are designed for a system where the facts of the physical encroachment are known.

    I’m not trying to prove a point, just to be a pedant about the law ๐Ÿ™‚

    Many (if not most or all) states recognize something called enterprise liability. The exact elements differ from state to state, but generally, if you can show that your damage was caused by a specific group of entities, even if you can’t prove which one it was, you can have liability apportioned among them (often based on their share of the market). I’ve seen it mostly with product liability cases, but the principle is applicable here.

  80. A.Randian:
    ” before you can safely define who “smoked-up” my air.”

    You have to explain how you came by your title to that air. Who says it’s yours ? If it’s not, kindly get your nose out of it and stop stealing my valuable smoke .

  81. joe,

    I don’t claim to know what dioxin is or the specifics of how one would go about proving causation and allocating loss, but I understand the crux of the issue you’re raising. My guess is there’s a sensible, libertarian-friendly way to do the analysis. I just don’t know enough about the science and technology to post about it.

    Someone upthread mentioned joint and several liability. That’s probably a good starting point for the situation joe’s describing. Sulla also raises a good point.

  82. Many (if not most or all) states recognize something called enterprise liability. The exact elements differ from state to state, but generally, if you can show that your damage was caused by a specific group of entities, even if you can’t prove which one it was, you can have liability apportioned among them (often based on their share of the market). I’ve seen it mostly with product liability cases, but the principle is applicable here.

    See Asbestos Industry

  83. While I agree with Mr. Paul on several points, ‘proving’ pollution is problematic. It can often be done only after the fact, using statistical analyses that allow polluters to argue about the cause.

    There is also the problem of corporations paying pseudo-scientists (or real scientists willing to prostitute themselves) for bogus studies that cover up a problem for a few more years of profits. The tobacco industry provided a perfect example, and now the fossil fuel industry is doing the same thing.

    Mr. Paul wants to ensure that current externalities are applies to corporations, so that a cost is put on emitting CO2, for example. Good idea – what’s the price? And he opposes pollution taxes because he says that corporations should simply not be permitted to pollute – again, a good idea, but who’s deciding what pollution is? I can’t see a way of avoiding government agencies to do these things.

    Finally, my greatest concern with Mr. Paul, whom I consider by far the best Republican candidate, is the market fundamentalist view, as George Soros calls it. Not everything has a price, though it may have a value. It seems to me that market fundamentalists have replaced worship of God with worship of the market, and have become as blind to its shortcomings as religious zealots have to faults or inconsistencies in their brand of religion.

    To be sure, if the United States followed Mr. Paul’s prescriptions, the world would be a much better place. The U.S. might also be much poorer, given the amount of wealth extracted from “American interests” overseas. On the other hand, the U.S. might be wealthier if the hundreds of billions of military expenditures were eliminated or redirected to useful purposes. The longer he stays in the race, the more honest he will make all Republicans.

  84. BTW, doesn’t that middle-ages nuiecence (sp?) law cover pollution?

  85. BG,

    There is also the problem of corporations marxist fronts paying pseudo-scientists (or real scientists willing to prostitute themselves) for bogus studies that cover gin-up a problem for to steal a few more years of profits. The tobacco environmental industry provided a perfect example, and now the fossil fuel legal industry is doing the same thing.

    You had a few typos.

  86. It has been raining here at Casa de las Rocas Grandes for six hours. You may be stifling a yawn over that news but it has not rained here for over a year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers, TWC!

    Yeah, when this mysterious clear liquid began to fall from the sky this morning, I felt like singing the Hallelujah chorus. I could actually feel my dry skin going “aaaaah”.

    On the other hand, I haven’t seen my umbrella for, like, 2 years. Got a little damp trudging to work this morning.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled thread.

  87. “LOL every one of the comments at salon is critisizing him. Im not sure what they believe, that it should be legaly permisable to polute someone elses propery if the government says so?”

    That’s because they don’t have a very high regard for property rights.

  88. And the other problem is…

    The Precautionary Principle is really the only sensible way to go. The way we currently operate is thus: The burden of proof is on the victim, not the polluter. That is, I have to show that a pollutant is a problem in general and then specifically for me. This can be fantastically difficult and expensive to do. The polluter gains all the benefit and profit from polluting while I bear all the harm and cost until I can prove otherwise.

    The Precautionary Principle says that if there is doubt as to a product’s safety or a means of doing something, don’t do it until you – the producer – can prove it safe. This is the only fair way of doing things, but obviously corporations will not like it, because some things take a long time to prove safe or unsafe.

    In general, anything that doesn’t fit in with natural systems or how we evolved is going to be hard to prove ‘safe.’ Bye-bye many things from GM foods to burning fossil fuels. The impact on the way we live and do business would be dramatic – but it is being done on a small scale in some areas. Read Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough for some examples.

    (To give one: His company created an all-natural fabric using an industrial process that removed pollutants from the feed water. Because the fabric was natural, and because of the way it was made, there was no risk to workers from inhaled chemicals. And when the fabric was worn out, it could be tossed on a compost heap.)

    Guy Montag – do you really think that thousands of scientists around the world are falsifying their findings and conclusions to enable a Marxist world takeover? Put down the bong.

  89. “Sounds like an opportunity to compete for a new market. Well, if there were not such high regulatory hurdles and you did not gave to compete with Big Government.”

    What sane human being would insure a house for flood damage that is next to a coast that is frequently hit by hurricanes?

    The answer is nobody. Flood insurance didn’t exist before it was subsidized, if those were removed it would go away very quickly. The smart ones would get out of the business, the not so smart ones would go bankrupt.

  90. “It seems to me that market fundamentalists have replaced worship of God with worship of the market, and have become as blind to its shortcomings as religious zealots have to faults or inconsistencies in their brand of religion.”

    Leftists have replaced worship of God with worship of government and have become blind to its shortcomings.

  91. In Norse legends written in the 12th century and later, it is told that Eric the Red explored the southeast and southwest coasts of Greenland in a.d. 983-986 and gave the country its name. Greenland was warmer in the tenth century than it is now. There were many islands teeming with birds off its western coast; the sea was excellent for fishing; and the coast of Greenland itself had many fjords where anchorage was good. At the head of the fjords there were enormous meadows full of grass, willows, junipers, birch, and wild berries. Thus Greenland actually deserved its name.

    Just sayin’.

  92. There is one name not mentioned in either the article of the thread yet, so Im going to throw it out there:

    Coase. Coase, Coase, Coase, Coase Coase.

    Coase

  93. “What sane human being would insure a house for flood damage that is next to a coast that is frequently hit by hurricanes?”

    People who build next to the coast or in flood areas know there is a risk. Why should others pay for the risk with government provided insurance? How can anybody sue companies for rising sea levels caused by global warming partly caused by man’s activity? Sea levels have been rising and falling throughout the history of the earth. People know that sooner or later their coastline property will be inundated. Hurricanes take place every year. People know that there is always that risk if they live by the sea. Hurricanes would happen with or without man’s activity. The expected sea level rise according to the IPCC by the end of the century is 1 foot, 2 feet at the most. Hardly anything to be overly concerned about. No intelligent person takes Gore’s 20 foot rise in sea level seriously, but even if it were the case, it would be the responsibility of those who choose to build their houses near the beach.

  94. “It seems to me that market fundamentalists have replaced worship of God with worship of the market, and have become as blind to its shortcomings as religious zealots have to faults or inconsistencies in their brand of religion.”

    I hear this a lot, even from my fellow libertarians. I equate it with Intelligent Design. The understanding that life finds a way to work itself out doesn’t require someone to prove that a master planner wasn’t required in each and every case. Biases aren’t necessarily irrational. …especially in the face of incomplete data, by which I mean most of the time.

    “Leftists have replaced worship of God with worship of government and have become blind to its shortcomings.”

    Oh yeah, and by the way, faith in God, like a well researched bias, isn’t necessarily irrational either and, hence, doesn’t make for a very good example for something that doesn’t have any basis in reality.

    …people pray and feel comforted. Show me an example of the federal government overstepping its bounds to the benefit of everyone–that would be a real miracle.

  95. Brian,

    The Precautionary Principle says that if there is doubt as to a product’s safety or a means of doing something, don’t do it until you – the producer – can prove it safe.

    So, shut down all new products and processes until they can be proven safe? Well, there goes any progress. No new ways of doing things until we can be assured of safety!

    If people like you had been in charge throughout human history, we’d still be living in caves eating raw meat because fire is dangerous.

  96. “Coase”

    That’s Farsi for pussy, I believe.

  97. Sage – that or from Mr. Steven Crane’s family reunion. You choose!


  98. People who build next to the coast or in flood areas know there is a risk. Why should others pay for the risk with government provided insurance? How can anybody sue companies for rising sea levels caused by global warming partly caused by man’s activity? Sea levels have been rising and falling throughout the history of the earth. People know that sooner or later their coastline property will be inundated. Hurricanes take place every year. People know that there is always that risk if they live by the sea. Hurricanes would happen with or without man’s activity. The expected sea level rise according to the IPCC by the end of the century is 1 foot, 2 feet at the most. Hardly anything to be overly concerned about. No intelligent person takes Gore’s 20 foot rise in sea level seriously, but even if it were the case, it would be the responsibility of those who choose to build their houses near the beach.”

    Where in my statement did I say any of those things? The post I quoted made the claim that if subsidies for flood insurance were go to away — there would be a new flood insurance market. That would not happen. The premiums would have to be so high that nobody would actually buy or even be able to afford flood insurance.

  99. The premiums would have to be so high that nobody would actually buy or even be able to afford flood insurance.

    Therefore, people would stop building in stupid locations. The market works!!!!

  100. “Therefore, people would stop building in stupid locations. The market works!!!!”

    Well, people would still build in those places. There just wouldn’t be as many and they would probably leave once everything they own was destroyed.

    I didn’t say that there should be government funded flood insurance, only that if there was no government support it is NOT something that would exist in the free market.

  101. I didn’t say that there should be government funded flood insurance, only that if there was no government support it is NOT something that would exist in the free market.

    I wasnt disagreeing with you, I just wanted to cut off any “market failure” people. The lack of a product can actually be a sign of market success.

  102. The Precautionary Principle says that if there is doubt as to a product’s safety or a means of doing something, don’t do it until you – the producer – can prove it safe.

    I think the product of your keyboard is hurting me. Stop using it until you can prove it is not.

  103. Seriously, what is being done about global warming now?

    Well, we’re at war in Iraq. Every single base we’ve built in Iraq is right smack on top of an oil field.

    It is illegal for me to drive one of these because it’s “dangerous” according to Federal Safety Laws:

    http://www.twike.com/

    Although it gets 250 MPG equivalent, and is safer than any motorcycle in the world.

    That’s your Federal government’s current actions on preventing global warming.

  104. Alright, Moose, I clicked your link. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go gouge out my mind’s eye.

  105. certain forms of pollution were legally tolerated or ignored to benefit some popular regional employer or politically popular entity.

    Is it possible that these polluting industries were serving a “public purpose”?

  106. Great article Brian…Ron is more Rothbardian than many realize. I love your new book by the way, it was my most enjoyable read in awhile. I just wish you weren’t such a friggin commie and were a little more Rothbardian yourself…The non-aggression axiom Doherty, the non-aggression axiom.

  107. It has been raining here at Casa de las Rocas Grandes for six hours. You may be stifling a yawn over that news but it has not rained here for over a year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good news indeed.

  108. I didn’t say that there should be government funded flood insurance, only that if there was no government support it is NOT something that would exist in the free market.

    It would exist. It would be outrageously expensive, but it would exist. Lloyds of London insured ships back when shipping was a REAL adventure. It was very expensive insurance. They paid off often, and in fact now own some of the shunken treasure that is littering the ocean floor.

  109. Ron Paul’s plan to abolish the Federal Reserve and the inflationary effects thereof would be the most beneficial thing for the environment in the history of the modern world.

    Let me explain.

    Inflation fuels consumption. The reason 70% of our economy depends on consumption is because of inflation. Inflation convinces people a dollar now is worth more than a dollar later, therefore they should spend it. Inflation diverts savings to consumption because people spend money on things now not realizing they will be more expensive in the future. Inflation corrupts our society and creates a dog-eat-dog mentality. Now the entire world uses our system of central banks and printing of money.

    Want to save the environment?? ABOLISH THE FEDERAL RESERVE.

  110. “Huh. Well, Paul’s comments on the environment certainly are…totally useless. But they’re not explicitly evil, so I’ll give him that.”

    They do show that he has read Coase and that he is aware that many environmental problems are caused by property rights that are difficult to enforce. Do other candidates recognize this? Or do they just think that pollution is bad, and therefore regulation is good.

    Even if this line of thinking leads you to support environmental regulation by the government (like I assume it would for most people) it’s still valuable knowledge and mocking people for bringing it up in a discussion of environmental policy is silly.

  111. Paul just lost any chance of my vote with his global warming skeptic quotes. Sorry, Paul, but the problem is real and needs to be dealt with. Any REAL libertarian would support a carbon tax on the order of $30 with a steady increase above the rate of inflation. Since we cannot privatize the air, the next best thing we can do is at least have the government set a fair price for dumping one’s garbage in our public property.

  112. I think that manmade global warming is real. I also think that the problem might be solved if Paul was elected and his policies were enacted. Wouldn’t fossil fuel prices skyrocket if the oil and gas industries lost all their R&D susidies at the same time that their security costs escalated when all the troops came home in the Middle East? With soaring oil and gas prices, and no personal income taxes, wouldn’t we see an explosion of green entrepreneurialism? Heck, even ExxonMobil might jump into the green market. Problem solved, free market capitalism at its best…

  113. Paul just lost any chance of my vote with his global warming skeptic quotes

    So, what libertarian leaning candidate will get your vote? St Hill? Rudy Ghouliani?

  114. BTW: everything “Thomas” says about “economics” is bullshit.

  115. Seriously, I would love to have some feedback. Am I missing anything when I say that the free market could begin solve the problem of manmade global warming in a Paul administration? (See my post above.)

  116. “Paul just lost any chance of my vote with his global warming skeptic quotes.”

    I’ve gotten to the point where I’d more or less settle for a President that was serious about cutting taxes and the federal budget. …protect our civil rights–sure, I’ll take a heapin’ helpin’, but that’s icing on the cake at this point.

    With Ron Paul, you get a guy that wants to abolish the IRS, a guy who regularly voted against his party to cut spending AND a guy who voted against the Iraq War (the only major party candidate to do so) AND voted against the Patriot Act, on principle, when it was very hard politically to do so.

    …I’m not gonna make bones about global warming. If two out of three ain’t bad, what’s like seven out of eight?

  117. Brian Gordon wrote: “It seems to me that market fundamentalists have replaced worship of God with worship of the market, and have become as blind to its shortcomings as religious zealots have to faults or inconsistencies in their brand of religion.”

    Well, this certainly isn’t true of Paul, who is an avowed Christian.

    This is a typical canard of libertarian opponents. Libertarians think that market mechanisms are frequently to generally to always (depending on the libertarian…we have a big tent, too) preferable to political mechanisms so that is equated with “worship.” Even for the “always” group this is clearly off-track, a skewed way of approaching alternative forms of problem solving by simply dismissing them with glib gibberish such as this.

    To be fair, libertarians or conservatives have done this at times with those biased towards political problem solving mechanisms – equate it with a religious approach to problem solving.

    Which one involves more wand waving? And in what cases? Which is more rational? There are ways to test this. But I think I’m going to throw up into my egg nog if I have to hear that line again about ‘worship’ as a replacement for actually thinking through the proposals discussed.

    That being said, are Paul’s Rothbardian proposals for dealing with particulate pollution workable? How would one know where the particulate matter in the air or water comes from? I generally favor market proposals for dealing with many kinds of social and environmental problems but it strikes me that in some cases, regulation might actually be necessary on issues where some combination of transaction costs, liability sources, and class action suits are prohibitive, difficult to discover, or less efficient at handling the case.

  118. “Paul just lost any chance of my vote with his global warming skeptic quotes. Sorry, Paul, but the problem is real and needs to be dealt with. Any REAL libertarian would support a carbon tax on the order of $30 with a steady increase above the rate of inflation. Since we cannot privatize the air, the next best thing we can do is at least have the government set a fair price for dumping one’s garbage in our public property.”

    ..hahahaa… dude that was great, Libertarians; supporting a tax.. hahahaha

    Anyways, you global warming theorists are fucking retarded, personally I hope it gets warmer because glacial periods look really shitty. Not sure how your going to grow crops when a lot of the farm land is under ice, But Fuck It! Why not try to cool down the earth anyways? Then you’ll be bitching about the freezing weather and about how the government should really do something about it.

  119. The fact that people actually vote yes or no for one candidate or the other based on candidates’ positions on global warming is somewhere between hilarious and scary.

    – Global warming is happening. The planet’s temperature is rising (very slowly) and this is a fact. However, this fact alone bears NO RELEVANCE AT ALL to American politicians.

    – MAN-MADE (KEY word here folks) global warming IS NOT a fact. It is a theory which we are steadily developing better technologies to accurately assess. There are, for example, researchers and experts in the Bay Area of CA who are building and assembling more advanced equipment as we speak which- THEY HOPE- will allow us to better determine whether human industrial activity has accelerated global warming…and indeed whether that is even truly possible.

    – When people talk about “greenhouse gas proflieration” and how “CO2 is doubling and increasing out of control,” they always seem to leave out these interesting little bits of info:
    * 98% of GREENHOUSE GAS IS WATER VAPOR.
    * From the remaining TWO PERCENT (of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect), Carbon Dioxide(CO2) accounts for the VAST MAJORITY.
    * Scientists have repeatedly shown that increases in CO2 cause faster, more efficient plant growth.
    * Keeping the above point in mind…consider that the estimated ratio of trees (NOT bushes, shrubs, mosses, vines, etc…TREES ALONE) to human beings on planet earth is about 800 trees to every human.

    – Climatologists and geologists (besides those I have spoken with at universities I have two in my family) will say over and over when you ask them: “YES, global warming is occurring. HOWEVER we cannot currently determine whether this is due to human activity or whether we even CAN do this.”

    Considering all the above, it is sheepish at best and brainwashed at worst to actually write off candidates based on their skepticism (since NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE) of whether we should spend BILLIONS of dollars on federal government programs to combat the climate of planet earth…something we DONT KNOW IF WE CAN ACTUALLY EVEN DO.

    Politicians who use this “issue” (which may or may not even BE) as a “the sky is falling” divider- you can believe it or not, but the sense of assurance that some politicians have considering the scientific community is still largely unsure of this is suspect.

    Check out Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear”
    or “The 5th Edition Handbook on Population” for some interesting reading on the whole issue.

    Also, I couldnt help but notice how the author of the article passes off proposals like nuclear energy and drilling in the ANWR as somehow deal-killing, silly proposals. An interesting view, since both energy options are ALTERNATIVES to respective actions already being taken:
    – Nuclear energy is almost second to none in its cleanliness, efficiency, and output. France has embraced this method to the point where over half the country is powered by it. Our ALTERNATIVE to this which are CURRENTLY being pursued is largely “more and more petroleum.” After all, embracing nuclear power as an energy source would in no way eliminate wind, solar, and hydroelectric methods already at work. Paul also actively favors industrial hemp and hempanol- read into the staggering energy/paper/clothing/fuel possibilities on that if you are unfamiliar with it.
    – Those who are aghast at the idea of drilling in Alaska seem to completely ignore the legitimate case for it, obsessed instead by the fearful notion of a chipmunk fleeing its tree at the noise of oil drilling.
    * Anyone remember that Alaska alone IS HALF THE SIZE OF THE CONTINENTAL U.S. FOLKS? Make a pinprick on a map of Alaska and you’ll see the space represented that about 50 refineries would occupy.
    * Many experts (mostly geologists and seismologists) currently believe there is MORE oil under Alaska than in the Mideast.
    * Considering the above two points, and that we OWN Alaska, its time to consider the ALTERNATIVE- as in, where we are CURRENTLY GETTING most of our petroleum:

    The gulf of Mexico region (far and away the majority of our oil comes from here, around 60-70%) including Venezuela, whose current dictator despises us and likes to verbally threaten us periodically with oil supply.
    and…
    The Mideast. Im not sure I have to spell out all the problems and complications we face getting it there…

    So my question to those who dread the thought of America weaning itself off of oil (which we should be doing) by pursuing nuclear energy, Hemp farming, and drilling in our biggest, most vast state is….do you want America to stay mercantilistically entangled in the Middle East instead?

  120. .,

    What sane human being would insure a house for flood damage that is next to a coast that is frequently hit by hurricanes?

    One who thinks that it is less expensive to pay the annual rate than what it will cost to replace the house during the period of payment, of course. Secondly, and more common, those who think the annual payment is more reasonable than the cost of a one-lump-sum of replacing a house.

    The population of insurors would be those who think that they can entice customers who will pay some rate higher than what they will pay over time for flooding and whatever else they are insuring.

    Seriously, this can not be such an impossible idea to think through.

  121. Like the old life insurance joke, the insurance company is betting you won’t die too soon and you’re betting you will. They’re playing the odds and you’re hoping they’re right. But just in case. Which is why 20 year term costs 300 bucks a month when your 50 and 25 bucks a month when your 22.

  122. f Greenland melts and my house is under water, who do I sue for trespass?

    Bob the Cow. The bastard anyway.

  123. Ron Paul:
    We’re about to lose our whole country and whole republic!

    Glad to see he avoids the fear mongering and bring rationality into the debate[/sarcasm]

  124. Ron Paul’s stance on the environment seriously concerns me, and I’ve never gotten satisfactory responses from his followers on his forums. He hasn’t been asked much about it in debates, and he hasn’t made it an issue in his candidacy.

    I’m wondering if using more coal means continuing the Bush administration endorsement of strip-mining. would allowing off-shore drilling seem like a big treat for the oil industry, anyway? I am dead set against allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    A Texas Congressman from Pittsburgh spells environmental disaster to me. I want the war to end, but I also want a candidate who believes in man’s responsible stewardship of the earth, and who wants to make the world a better place.


  125. Chad said:
    Paul just lost any chance of my vote with his global warming skeptic quotes. Sorry, Paul, but the problem is real and needs to be dealt with.

    Amen to that. It seems that a lot of libertarians (who generally pride themselves on their grasp of math, economics, science, and logic) are pretty fuckin’ weak when it comes to hard science. Must have been smokin pot during Grade 11 chem.

    What are the chances that all these libertarian deniers all just happen to have climatology as their hobby? And they all happen to find flaws in the scientific consensus?

    I call bullshit. Climate change is real. Deniers need to suck it up and deal with it, not pretend it’s not happening because reality bites and the gummint might tax you.

  126. Libertarians are no more in denial than anyone else–from my personal observation, just around here, they’re much less so than average actually.

    …incidentally, if those you who are crying out for government intervention spent as much time talking about how to compensate for the devastating impact meaningful mitigation will have on our economy, everyone else, deniers included, would give prescriptive policies a lot more credit.

  127. I was global warming skeptic for awhile. I’m not now but I still have questions. If humans are contributing significantly to warming how can we tell with any accuracy what the effects of human activities will be on the planet over a span of 50 to 100 years? We have no idea what sorts of technology will be invented, and all the spin-offs from those in endless recursion, in 20, 30, 50, and 100 years from now.

    Secondly, since the planet, throughout its history has continually gone through intervals of warming and cooling periods, how do we decide what that optimal temperature should be? Who should decide?

    To Gloria: Compare, overall, Paul’s proposals for the planet with how all the other candidates will seriously frack it up. Then decide.

  128. Oops, I meant, ‘Ginger.’

  129. Guy Montag,

    No idea if you are still on the thread but I wanted to correct one of your statements.

    While it is true that Carter tried to veto the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project, he was over-ridden and Reagan maintained the program. It was the Senate, which in Oct 1983, that stopped funding of the project.

    Full disclosure: My father was the technical director of the project and one of the reactor’s designers. He and I had a private groundbreaking ceremony for the plant a couple of weeks before actual construction began. And construction did begin. Eventually your tax dollars paid for the dismantling of everything on site, filling in a tremendous hole dug for the project, and shipping off all the components to Japan. Fun no?

  130. “Imagine that everyone living in one suburb, rather than using regular trash service, were taking their household trash to the next town over and simply tossing it in the yards of those living in the nearby town.”

    Wait, wouldn’t Ron Paul’s platform be consistent with stopping all public trash service?

  131. Octopod,
    Are you assuming no private trash services would compete to perform such services?

    Hey folks, how would we feed all these people without government run supermarkets?

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