Friday, August 26, 2016
Wonder of wonders! A Greenie tries to debate a skeptic
Professional environmentalist Phil Williamson has responded to an article by James Delingpole rubbishing the ocean acidification scare. I reproduce below both the Delingpole article then the Greenie reply.
I would however like to add my comments to the discussion first.
Straight out of the gate Williamson reveals himself as a subscriber to Greenie lies. He accepts recent claims that bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has been drastic and sweeping and adds that "Population recovery, through re-colonisation and re-growth, typically takes 10-15 years". Does it now? Then how come a recent extensive survey of the reef by diving professionals found that less than five per cent of coral has died off — compared to the 50 to 60 per cent estimated by Greenie scientists. Instead of 10-15 years, recovery happened in a matter of months. No alarm there!
The article is very long-winded but consists mainly of appeals to authority and "ad hominem" attacks on skeptics. Rather than addressing the scientific evidence quoted, Williamson disparages the academic qualifications of skeptics. Such arguments are disreputable and of no logical force.
I can't imagine doing any kind of fisking of such a lot of wind so I will close my comments with what I think is the fatal flaw in Williamson's article. Delingpole does mention it in passing but makes far too little of it in my opinion.
The point is that ocean acidification and global warming CANNOT occur at the same time. One is incompatible with the other. Why? Because a warmer ocean would OUTGAS CO2, thus reducing the carbonic acid that it forms. A warmer world would have LESS acid oceans.
And if you want to see warm water outgassing CO2 just open a can of Coke without refrigrerating it first. You will get a gas-powered torrent.
Williamson and his friends carefully talk about CO2 levels but fail to mention their founding gospel -- that CO2 rises pump up the global temperature. So if Williamson wants to raise concerns about ocean acidification, he has to DENY that a CO2 rise would cause global warming. I somehow suspect that he is not ready to do that.
So his whole scare is an act of gross hypocrisy and scientific dishonesty. And scientific dishonesty is no science at all. Those who indulge in it should be totally disregarded -- along with any of the alleged "evidence" for their cause.
I reproduce only the first part of his very long and pointless paper below. But Delingpole first. As the third installment below I also add the recent report about the extent of reef bleaching
There was a breathtakingly beautiful BBC series on the Great Barrier Reef recently which my son pronounced himself almost too depressed to watch. ‘What’s the point?’ said Boy. ‘By the time I get to Australia to see it the whole bloody lot will have dissolved.’
The menace Boy was describing is ‘ocean acidification’. It’s no wonder he should find it worrying, for it has been assiduously promoted by environmentalists for more than a decade now as ‘global warming’s evil twin’. Last year, no fewer than 600 academic papers were published on the subject, so it must be serious, right?
First referenced in a peer-reviewed study in Nature in 2003, it has since been endorsed by scientists from numerous learned institutions including the Royal Society, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the IPCC. Even the great David Attenborough — presenter of the Great Barrier Reef series — has vouched for its authenticity: ‘If the temperature rises up by two degrees and the acidity by a measurable amount, lots of species of coral will die out. Quite what happens then is anybody’s guess. But it won’t be good.’
No indeed. Ocean acidification is the terrifying threat whereby all that man-made CO2 we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere may react with the sea to form a sort of giant acid bath. First it will kill off all the calcified marine life, such as shellfish, corals and plankton. Then it will destroy all the species that depend on it — causing an almighty mass extinction which will wipe out the fishing industry and turn our oceans into a barren zone of death.
Or so runs the scaremongering theory. The reality may be rather more prosaic. Ocean acidification — the evidence increasingly suggests — is a trivial, misleadingly named, and not remotely worrying phenomenon which has been hyped up beyond all measure for political, ideological and financial reasons.
Some of us have suspected this for some time. According to Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, long one of ocean acidification theory’s fiercest critics, the term is ‘just short of propaganda’. The pH of the world’s oceans ranges between 7.5 and 8.3 — well above the acid zone (which starts below ‘neutral’ pH7) — so more correctly it should be stated that the seas are becoming slightly less alkaline. ‘Acid’ was chosen, Moore believes, because it has ‘strong negative connotations for most people’.
Matt Ridley, too, has been scathing on the topic. In The Rational Optimist he wrote, ‘Ocean acidification looks suspiciously like a back-up plan by the environmental pressure groups in case the climate fails to warm.’ I agree. That’s why I like to call it the alarmists’ Siegfried Line — their last redoubt should it prove, as looks increasingly to be the case, that the man-made global warming theory is a busted flush.
To the alarmist camp, of course, this is yet further evidence that ‘deniers’ are heartless, anti-scientific conspiracy theorists who don’t read peer-reviewed papers and couldn’t give a toss if the world’s marine life is dissolved in a pool of acid due to man’s selfishness and greed. Unfortunately for the doom-mongers, we sceptics have just received some heavy fire-support from a neutral authority.
Howard Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, has published a review in the ICES Journal of Marine Science of all the papers published on the subject. His verdict could hardly be more damning. The methodology used by the studies was often flawed; contrary studies suggesting that ocean acidification wasn’t a threat had sometimes had difficulty finding a publisher. There was, he said, an ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals which predisposed them to publish ‘doom and gloom stories’.
Ocean acidification theory appears to have been fatally flawed almost from the start. In 2004, two NOAA scientists, Richard Feely and Christopher Sabine, produced a chart showing a strong correlation between rising atmospheric CO2 levels and falling oceanic pH levels. But then, just over a year ago, Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with 30 years’ experience, noticed while researching his PhD that they had omitted some key information. Their chart only started in 1988 but, as Wallace knew, there were records dating back to at least 100 years before. So why had they ignored the real-world evidence in favour of computer-modelled projections?
When Wallace plotted a chart of his own, incorporating all the available data, covering the period from 1910 to the present, his results were surprising: there has been no reduction in oceanic pH levels in the last -century.
Even if the oceans were ‘acidifying’, though, it wouldn’t be a disaster for a number of reasons — as recently outlined in a paper by Patrick Moore for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. First, marine species that calcify have survived through millions of years when CO2 was at much higher levels; second, they are more than capable of adapting — even in the short term — to environmental change; third, seawater has a large buffering capacity which prevents dramatic shifts in pH; fourth, if oceans do become warmer due to ‘climate change’, the effect will be for them to ‘outgas’ CO2, not absorb more of it.
Finally, and perhaps most damningly, Moore quotes a killer analysis conducted by Craig Idso of all the studies which have been done on the effects of reduced pH levels on marine life. The impact on calcification, metabolism, growth, fertility and survival of calcifying marine species when pH is lowered up to 0.3 units (beyond what is considered a plausible reduction this century) is beneficial, not damaging. Marine life has nothing whatsoever to fear from ocean acidification.
Given all this, you might well ask why our learned institutions, government departments and media outlets have put so much effort into pretending otherwise. Why, between 2009 and 2014, did Defra spend a whopping £12.5 million on an ocean acidification research programme when the issue could have been resolved, for next to nothing, after a few hours’ basic research?
To those of us who have been studying the global warming scare in some detail, the answer is depressingly obvious. It’s because in the last decade or so, the climate change industry has become so vast and all encompassing, employing so many people, it simply cannot be allowed to fail.
According to a report last year by Climate Change Business Journal, it’s now worth an astonishing $1.5 trillion — about the same as the online shopping industry. If the scare goes away, then all bets are off, because the entire global decarbonisation business relies on it. The wind parks, the carbon sequestration projects, the solar farms, the biomass plantations — none of these green schemes make any kind of commercial sense unless you buy into the theory that anthropogenic CO2 is catastrophically warming the planet and that radical green measures, enforced by governmental regulation, must be adopted to avert it.
It’s no coincidence that the ocean acidification narrative began in the early 2000s — just as it was beginning to dawn on the climate alarmists that global temperatures weren’t going to plan. While CO2 levels were continuing to rise, temperatures weren’t. Hence the need for a fallback position — an environmental theory which would justify the massively expensive and disruptive ongoing decarbonisation programme so assiduously championed by politicians, scientists, green campaigners and anyone making money out of the renewables business. Ocean acidification fitted the bill perfectly.
Does this prove that global warming is not a problem? No it doesn’t. What it does do is lend credence to something we much-maligned sceptics have long been saying: that in many environmental fields, the science is being abused and distorted to promote a political and financial agenda. Perhaps it’s about time our supposed ‘conspiracy theories’ were taken more seriously.
The Greenie reply to Delingpole
James Delingpole considers that ocean acidification is a scare story that is not only ‘fatally flawed’ but also grossly over-hyped by climate alarmists, for political reasons. To give credibility to these views, information and quotes are given from four scientists (Patrick Moore, Mike Wallace, Matt Ridley and Craig Idso). However, those sources are unreliable: none has relevant marine expertise, and the evidence they provide is either inaccurate or incorrect. Three other scientists (Howard Browman, Richard Feely and Christopher Sabine) who do have direct research experience are either mis-quoted or their competence is dismissed. The wider scientific literature is not considered. Overall, Delingpole’s arguments are based on exaggeration, false dichotomy, deliberate selectivity and bravado assertion: almost everything that could be factually wrong, is wrong. Specific errors, with other comments, are identified below for each paragraph of the original text. Example references are also given, as links; many other supporting sources could also be cited.
Delingpole’s article text given first, in italics, followed by Williamson’s comments. Paragraph numbering added by Williamson. Links within Delingpole text were not originally included, but have been added where the specific references are unambiguous.
1. [Article] There was a breathtakingly beautiful BBC series on the Great Barrier Reef recently which my son pronounced himself almost too depressed to watch. ‘What’s the point?’ said Boy. ‘By the time I get to Australia to see it the whole bloody lot will have dissolved.’
[Comments] Concern regarding the future of the Great Barrier Reef is fully justified – but not because the corals will soon dissolve. Instead, bleaching (loss of algae from the coral) is the most important current threat, due to unusually high seawater temperatures. Satellite surveys and field observations by the Australian government and independent researchers indicated that 20-50% (and locally up to 90%) of northern areas of the reef was affected by bleachingin late 2015/early 2016. Individual corals may recover from bleaching if high temperature events are short-lived; however, if the bleaching is permanent, the corals die. Population recovery, through re-colonisation and re-growth, typically takes 10-15 years.
2. The menace Boy was describing is ‘ocean acidification’. It’s no wonder he should find it worrying, for it has been assiduously promoted by environmentalists for more than a decade now as ‘global warming’s evil twin’. Last year, no fewer than 600 academic papers were published on the subject, so it must be serious, right?
Whilst the dead skeletons of coldwater corals (occurring in deep water, including around the UK) are at increasing risk of dissolving, a key effect of ocean acidification on warm-water corals is slower growth. Current growth rates are around 10% lower than they were before human activities increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, and reef development ceases at pH below 7.7, the projected end of the century level for high emission scenarios. Before then, it is near-certain there will be more frequent bleaching, due to further warming, together with even slower re-growth and population recovery due to ocean acidification. The cumulative effects of temperature change, ocean acidification and other stressors jeopardises the longterm survival of coral reef structures. The socio-economic consequences of reef loss are substantive, relating to coastal protection and fisheries, as well as tourism.
The scientific literature on ocean acidification covers much more than effects on corals. Collectively it provides the factual evidence that enables the seriousness of ocean acidification to be dispassionately assessed; for example, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeand the Convention on Biological Diversity.
3. First referenced in a peer-reviewed study in Nature in 2003, it has since been endorsed by scientists from numerous learned institutions including the Royal Society, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the IPCC. Even the great David Attenborough — presenter of the Great Barrier Reef series — has vouched for its authenticity: ‘If the temperature rises up by two degrees and the acidity by a measurable amount, lots of species of coral will die out. Quite what happens then is anybody’s guess. But it won’t be good.’
More than 150 scientific articles on ocean acidification were published before 2003. Between 1989 and 2003, these averaged 9 per year, including geological, chemical and biological studies. The 2003 Nature study did, however, stimulate wider scientific and political interest in the topic area.
‘Endorsed’ implies approval (for ocean acidification). It would seem more appropriate to say that many scientists and institutions have recognised that ocean acidification is occurring, is an issue of concern, and is worthy of detailed investigation.
4. No indeed. Ocean acidification is the terrifying threat whereby all that man-made CO2 we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere may react with the sea to form a sort of giant acid bath. First it will kill off all the calcified marine life, such as shellfish, corals and plankton. Then it will destroy all the species that depend on it — causing an almighty mass extinction which will wipe out the fishing industry and turn our oceans into a barren zone of death.
What is the source of these statements? They have not been made by scientists studying ocean acidification, nor (as far as I am aware) by environmental NGOs. But maybe by sensation-seeking journalists? Or are they satirical exaggerations by Delingpole? If – as it seems – they are deliberate mis-representations for polemic effect, the ‘climate alarmism’ of the title is spurious. The rest of the article then has questionable credibility, whilst becoming logically fallacious.
5. Or so runs the scaremongering theory. The reality may be rather more prosaic. Ocean acidification — the evidence increasingly suggests — is a trivial, misleadingly named, and not remotely worrying phenomenon which has been hyped up beyond all measure for political, ideological and financial reasons.
The alternative to ‘scaremongering theory’ is not to dismiss ocean acidification as nothing at all to worry about. That assertion is equally incorrect, providing a false dichotomy ‒ that is not increasingly supported by factual evidence, as discussed below.
6. Some of us have suspected this for some time. According to Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, long one of ocean acidification theory’s fiercest critics, the term is ‘just short of propaganda’. The pH of the world’s oceans ranges between 7.5 and 8.3 — well above the acid zone (which starts below ‘neutral’ pH7) — so more correctly it should be stated that the seas are becoming slightly less alkaline. ‘Acid’ was chosen, Moore believes, because it has ‘strong negative connotations for most people’.
Patrick Moore’s linkage with Greenpeace is controversial: the organisation does not recognise him as a co-founder although Moore continues to make that claim. What is indisputable is that Moore has only very limited, if any, expertise in marine science.
The term ocean acidification is scientifically correct: it is used for technical reasons, not for any connotations it might or might not have for non-scientists. Thus ‘acidification’ is the process of decreasing pH (increasing acidity), wherever on the pH scale that occurs. In the same way, ‘warming’ is the process of increasing temperature, wherever that occurs – including rather cold parts of the world, e.g. polar regions.
The range of pH naturally occurring in the ocean is much wider than stated. Values as low as pH 5.4 – undoubtedly acid – have been recorded at deep sea vents (that do support life, adapted to such conditions).
7. Matt Ridley, too, has been scathing on the topic. In The Rational Optimist he wrote, ‘Ocean acidification looks suspiciously like a back-up plan by the environmental pressure groups in case the climate fails to warm.’ I agree. That’s why I like to call it the alarmists’ Siegfried Line — their last redoubt should it prove, as looks increasingly to be the case, that the man-made global warming theory is a busted flush.
Matt Ridley also has only limited, if any, expertise in marine science. An opinion article he wrote in The Times in 2010 on ocean acidification contained many errors. What he shares with Moore (and Delingpole) is climate scepticism, with an unscientific approach to evidence evaluation.
The sceptical view that man-made global warming is a ‘busted flush’ does not look increasingly to be the case; instead it is increasingly hard to challenge in a rational way the accumulating evidence of human influence on the climate. In addition to the extremely thorough IPCC analyses of such issues, recent climate record-breaking is incontestable. For example: 2015 was the warmest year on record (mean surface temperature 1⁰C higher than in pre-industrial times), and that year included the lowest ever winter ice cover in the Arctic. 2016 is on course to beat those records – all months so far have been seasonally warmer than ever beforewith July 2016 being the hottest single month. Whilst there has been a significant contribution from the 2015-16 El Niño, that ended earlier this year – and the increase in total ocean heat content has been inexorable since 1970.
8. To the alarmist camp, of course, this is yet further evidence that ‘deniers’ are heartless, anti-scientific conspiracy theorists who don’t read peer-reviewed papers and couldn’t give a toss if the world’s marine life is dissolved in a pool of acid due to man’s selfishness and greed. Unfortunately for the doom-mongers, we sceptics have just received some heavy fire-support from a neutral authority.
Who exactly is the ‘alarmist camp’? The failure to identify the source of these assertions is telling. If, as seems likely, they are imaginary and provided for rhetorical purposes, Delingpole is a double extremist ‒ arguing against himself.
9. Howard Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, has published a review in the ICES Journal of Marine Science of all the papers published on the subject. His verdict could hardly be more damning. The methodology used by the studies was often flawed; contrary studies suggesting that ocean acidification wasn’t a threat had sometimes had difficulty finding a publisher. There was, he said, an ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals which predisposed them to publish ‘doom and gloom stories’.
Browman’s article does not claim to be a ‘review of all the papers published on the subject’; it is an Introduction to a Special Issue. Has Delingpole read it, or just the imbalanced and inaccurate accounts of it that were in the media (e.g. The Times, 1 March 2016), as challenged by Browman?
The words ‘flawed’, ‘inherent bias’ and ‘doom and gloom’ do not appear in Browman’s article. Whilst its text does state “studies that report no effect of OA [ocean acidification] are typically more difficult to publish”, those words are preceded by a crucial qualifier: “As is true across all of science”.
Furthermore, Browman does consider ocean acidification to be a serious problem, warranting research attention: “Although I call for a more sceptical scrutiny and balanced interpretation of the body of research on OA, it must be emphasized that OA is happening and it will have effects on some marine organisms and ecosystem processes.”
10. Ocean acidification theory appears to have been fatally flawed almost from the start. In 2004, two NOAA scientists, Richard Feely and Christopher Sabine, produced a chart showing a strong correlation between rising atmospheric CO2 levels and falling oceanic pH levels. But then, just over a year ago, Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with 30 years’ experience, noticed while researching his PhD that they had omitted some key information. Their chart only started in 1988 but, as Wallace knew, there were records dating back to at least 100 years before. So why had they ignored the real-world evidence in favour of computer-modelled projections?
The ‘Feeley and Sabine chart’ criticised by Wallace was not included in their seminal 2004 paper, but was first published in 2008 (authorship Richard Feely, Victoria Fabry and John Guinotte, giving data credit to Pieter Tans and David Karl). Mike Wallace’s hydrological expertise is in groundwater pollution, particularly minewater management. He has not published any peer-reviewed papers on ocean acidification, nor marine chemistry. By contrast, Richard Feely and Christopher Sabine are both oceanographers; their combined total is around 70 years of relevant experience, with around 500 relevant publications.
Lying Greenie alarmists found out: Reef tourism operators find less than five per cent of coral dead under ‘extreme’ bleaching
REEF tourism operators have found less than five per cent of coral has died off — compared to the 50 to 60 per cent estimated by scientists — under “extreme” mass coral bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef.
Latest findings exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail show coral mortality in the outer shelf reefs north of Lizard Island was between one and five per cent with “spectacular” fish life and coral coverage.
Teams of divers in a joint two-week expedition sponsored by Mike Ball Dive and Spirit of Freedom surveyed 28 sites on 24 outer shelf reefs along a 300km section of the hardest-hit part of the reef from Bathurst Head to Raine Island.
Spirit of Freedom owner Chris Eade said reports of 93 per cent bleaching on the 2300km long Great Barrier Reef had made global headlines and damaged the reputation of the $5 billion reef tourism industry.
“Scientists had written off that entire northern section as a complete white-out,’’ Mr Eade said. “We expected the worst. But it is tremendous condition, most of it is pristine, the rest is in full recovery. “It shows the resilience of the reef.’’
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions operations manager Craig Stephen, who conducted a similar survey on the remote reefs 20 years ago, said there had been almost no change in two decades despite the latest coral bleaching event.
“It wasn’t until we got underwater that we could get a true picture of what percentage of reef was bleached,’’ Mr Stephen said. “The discrepancy is phenomenal. It is so wrong. Everywhere we have been we have found healthy reefs. “There has been a great disservice to the Great Barrier Reef and tourism and it has not been good for our industry.”
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority estimated a mass coral white-out of between 50 to 60 per cent, on average, for reefs off Cape York under the world’s biggest-ever mass coral bleaching event.
Scientists with the Townsville-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies reported about 35 per cent mortality but warned “the final death toll” on some reefs may exceed 90 per cent.
In April, aerial and underwater surveys of 522 reefs in the northern sector showed 81 per cent had been severely bleached and one per cent not bleached.
Professor Terry Hughes, convener of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, at the time said “it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once.”
Professor Hughes yesterday welcomed the positive news but had not yet seen the latest survey findings. “We won’t know the true coral mortality until we can get back up there in October and compare before and after impacts from our March survey,’’ Prof Hughes said.
“Those coral will either survive or more will die.’’
A GBRMPA spokeswoman said they would closely examine the findings of the first independent expedition into the isolated region. “Obviously if they’ve found reefs with a lower than expected mortality rate that is fabulous news,’’ she said.
“Our initial findings noted that the level of bleaching and mortality was expected to be very variable across the entire reef system.’’
Obama Energy Czar: Actually, Fracking Is Pretty Good For The Environment
Hydraulic fracturing, a process more commonly referred to as fracking, is actually good for the environment, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a field hearing in Seattle last week, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment,” said Moniz, who previously served as the head of the Physics department at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, earned a doctorate degree in physics from Stanford University.
“The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer emissions,” Moniz reportedly said during the Seattle field hearing.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory board published a study earlier this month debunking the widespread claim that fracking contaminates drinking water, environmentalists have attempted to double down — claiming that the study didn’t have enough scientific evidence in it to back up its findings. Moniz’s testimony at last week’s hearing was meant to dispel these criticisms and confirm to the public that fracking doesn’t just drastically reduce the cost of energy, it also helps the environment.
In the past five years, there have been at least 75 scientific studies that all reach the same conclusion: methane emissions are falling — despite a huge increase in the level of natural gas, The Daily Caller’s Andrew Follett reported.
A recent study found that fracking has reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent, whereas the costly and heavily subsidized development of solar and wind energy has only reduced these same emissions by roughly 1 percent.
Global Warming Alarmists Plead: Save the Children By Not Having Them
William M Briggs
Global warming will, of course, doom us all. That is, if the models created by scientists are any guide. Which they aren’t, since these models have for decades predicted temperatures far greater than what we actually see.
Too, our greatest natural disasters occurred long ago before global warming loomed, (as this site documents). In 1931, a flood killed perhaps two million Chinese. Forest fires in the USA are far, far below their destructive peak in the late 1920s. An awful flood happened in 1936, the same year a heat-wave killed some 12,000 Americans, which again was the same year of the highest maximum temperature.
Still, even though tornadoes, floods, fires and hurricanes are way down, the consensus is that global warming will kill us all. A hundredth of a degree increase in temperature is nothing to sneeze at, you know.
Who will fare worst in our coming climate apocalypse? That’s right! The children! The promised destruction of our littlest ones is why NPR and a group of academic philosophers say we should “protect our kids by not having them.”
Protect our kids by not having them? That’s like saying the way to protect your house from fire is by not building it, or that the way to protect against crop failure is to cease farming.
Barren wombs as cure for our climate “catastrophe” makes sense to philosophers Colin Hickey, Travis N. Rieder and Jake Earl, who defend the idea in “Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change,” which will appear in the journal Social Theory and Practice (PDF). They say that “threats posed by climate change justify population engineering, the intentional manipulation of the size and structure of human populations” (emphasis in original).
Now all philosophical arguments start with premises, the assumptions which must be accepted to get the argument going. Here are theirs:
Two uncontroversial ideas set the stage for this article. First, climate change is among the most significant moral problems contemporary societies face, in terms of its urgency, global expanse and the magnitude of its attending harms. Second, population plays an important role in determining just how bad climate change will be.
Balderdash: both ideas are controversial and, as shown above, both are far from the truth. This is not a good beginning to their argument. As Aristotle noted, “The least degree of deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.” Let’s see if that prophecy holds here.
From their premises, the authors derive this:
In procreating one makes a whole new person who will emit [greenhouse gases]. But in fact, it is more than that. By creating a new person, one makes it possible that he or she will go on to create more people, who are then able to go and create even more people.
This radical deduction led to this conclusion: “The question, it seems, is not whether we should implement some sort of fertility-reducing population engineering program, but rather which interventions such a program should include.”
From there it was a short hop to the heading “Population Engineering Policies: Coercion and Choice Enhancement.”
Did somebody say coercion?
Somebody did. “This includes policies that involve straightforward violations of citizens’ autonomy or bodily integrity.” Not to worry. “Straightforwardly coercive interventions to reduce human population growth are almost always wrong.”
The other end of the scale of “total coercion” is pestering the population with putrid propaganda: e.g., “Poster campaigns featuring images of small, happy families and national slogans have been used widely” in other countries. While finding it distasteful, they don’t outright reject “outright misinformation, deception or manipulation,” and assure us they “would not endorse just any token preference-adjusting intervention to reduce fertility.” Grand of them.
They also put forward “women’s education and improved access to reproductive health care.” Now these are philosophers and you’d think they’d know better than to employ cheap euphemism. Reproductive health care means abortion and contraception, where there is no reproduction and where the health of any child “accidentally” conceived is permanently removed, and the would-be mothers endangered into the bargain.
Stripped of euphemism, the authors recommend active killing to reduce the population.
And if you’re “rich,” look out:
Our outline for a global population engineering program suggests that the greater a would-be procreator’s wealth, the more appropriate it will be to target that person with interventions to the right on the coercion spectrum. This is justifiable not only pragmatically, but also morally: since wealth is a fairly reliable proxy for individuals’ GHG emissions, and so for their carbon legacy, it is morally justifiable to exert greater pressure on wealthy people’s procreative behaviors.
Some people would still be allowed to have babies. Who decides who should procreate future GHG generators? Well, folks like author Travis Rieder, who is bravely passing on his genes (he has a daughter).
There isn’t a scintilla of a hint of a whisper of a ghost of a figment of an idea from these men that they might be wrong. But Aristotle was right. Start with silliness, end in lunacy.
Have more kids; save the world
FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL, humankind has regarded it as a blessing to be fruitful and multiply.
Not Travis Rieder. A philosopher and bioethics instructor at Johns Hopkins University, Rieder was the focus of a recent NPR story, in which he argued that having children is immoral and should be discouraged with government penalties. It’s not that Rieder dislikes children — in fact, he has a 2-year-old daughter of whom he’s quite fond. But with “dangerous climate change” approaching a tipping point “very, very soon,” he says, bringing more children into the world is unethical. After all, every additional baby means additional carbon emissions, and more carbon emissions mean rising global temperatures. Without drastic change, the planet will soon be “largely uninhabitable for humans.” So the natural human urge to procreate, Rieder insists, must be suppressed.
“It’s not the childless who must justify their lifestyle,” he tells NPR. “It’s the rest of us.” And no, it’s not enough for would-be parents to adopt a rigorously “green” lifestyle. Rieder says that no amount of conservation — driving less, recycling faithfully, using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances — comes remotely close to the level of CO2 reduction achieved by having one fewer child. (On its website, NPR helpfully supplies a sidebar with statistics confirming the point.)
Curiously, Rieder seems to believe he is saying something fresh and unusual. “Here’s a provocative thought,” he announces. “Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.”
Provocative? The notion that too many people are having kids, and that “overpopulation” spells doom for life on Earth, has been an article of faith among environmental extremists since at least the 1960s.
David Brower, the longtime executive director of the Sierra Club, insisted decades ago that childbearing should be “a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license.” The current White House science adviser, physicist John Holdren, was writing in the 1970s about the catastrophe that would result if governments didn’t turn to forcible sterilization, compulsory abortion, or antifertility drugs in the water supply to shrink the population. “If the population control measures are not initiated immediately and effectively,” wrote Holdren in a book coauthored with ecologist/alarmist Paul Ehrlich, “all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come.”
Population misanthropes were freaking out about the disasters sure to come from making too many babies as far back as ancient Greece. But though babies keep being made — at present, some 130 million of them every year — the disaster never comes. The number of men, women, and children on the planet has exploded from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7.4 billion today, yet humanity is better off than ever. People live longer, healthier, and more comfortable lives than at any time in human history. By and large, they have more wealth, more education, more food, more medical care, more energy, and more natural resources than their forbears could have dreamed of.
Never have there been so many people in the world. Never have the world’s people been so well off. Coincidence? Not at all. When people are fruitful and multiply, they tend to make the world better, not worse.
Population doomsayers get lots of attention, but the doom they predict invariably fails to materialize. That is because babies are more than carbon footprints. They grow up not merely to consume, but to produce. They think and create and explore and imagine — and they inspire others to do so as well. With more people a society gets more innovation, more acts of kindness, more social welfare, more enterprise, more caregiving, more discovery, more growth, more prosperity.
When parents bring a baby into the world, they do a wonderful thing — both for the baby and for the world. You really want to save the planet? Ignore the gloom-and-doomers, and have more children.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 12:12 AM