Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Please Excuse Me If I Don't Listen Up!

"And that is what is behind the abrupt rise in climate change denial among hardcore conservatives: they have come to understand that as soon as they admit that climate change is real, they will lose the central ideological battle of our time—whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market." Naomi Klein

This is one of most widely circulated quotes I've seen about the climate change debate since the Internet began, and it is from one of the most vociferous mouthpieces on this subject, Naomi Klein. It's an opinion that's gathered a lot of momentum over the years - that once you admit that man-made climate change is a real thing you are compelled to be on the side of the climate change alarmists and endorse the same political policies they endorse.

The confusion here is in mistaking scientific truths for political truths. They are not the same, and just because we may happen to agree on the scientific truth of a situation does not mean that we have to agree on the politics. Scientifically, you and I may both agree that an electric fence energiser converts electromagnetic power into a high voltage pulse, but that doesn't mean we will agree if you tell me you think the state should pay for every house to have one fitted around everybody's house in the country.

My thinking your nationalised electric fence policy is a bad use of resources wouldn't make me an electricity-denier - and similarly just because we may disagree on your political policies to tackle climate change, it doesn't mean I'm a climate change-denier.

Similarly, just because I think your sugar tax policies and your minimum alcohol pricing policies are oppressive and lazy-minded, that doesn't mean I deny that too much sugar and alcohol are bad for you. It simply means I am very dissatisfied by your attempts to tackle these issues, or I'm unsatisfied that these are even issues that need satisfying by legislation.

This kind of opprobrium was prominent recently when Donald Trump pulled out of the climate agreement - everyone accused him of being irresponsible in not caring about the state of our planet. Perhaps he is, or perhaps he isn't, but either way - pulling out of the Paris agreement is not enough to go on, because anyone can reject it on the basis that they don't think it is trying to solve the problems in the right way, or that in some case their proposed solutions are actually worse than the problems they are trying to solve.

If I were a political leader, I would reject Naomi Klein-isms, the Paris agreement, and all manner of other movements and coalitions that are so evidently failing the tests before them. Because what none of the aforementioned do is get the basics right, regarding things like demonstrating how their policies will have a net positive effect on tackling climate change; predicting the effects of climate change alongside the effects of market progression; demonstrate that the costs of these policies are lower than the costs of climate change; and make any mention of all the opportunity costs associated with their policies and why they are worth sacrificing for this movement.

For all of those reasons and more, they are not giving us even a smidgen of a reason to believe they should be listened to on these matters.

Note: For further reading, my four part series on climate change attempts to address all the questions and answers that the alarmists have failed to address.