Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why Liberals Fear Global Warming More Than Conservatives Do

Observers of contemporary society will surely have noted that a liberal is far more likely to fear global warming than a conservative. Why is this? After all, if the science is as conclusive as Al Gore, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and virtually every other spokesman of the Left says it is, conservatives are just as likely to be scorched and drowned and otherwise done in by global warming as liberals will. So why aren't non-leftists nearly as exercised as leftists are? Do conservatives handle heat better? Are libertarians better swimmers? Do religious people love their children less?

The usual liberal responses -- to label a conservative position racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or the like -- obviously don't apply here. So, liberals would have to fall back on the one remaining all-purpose liberal explanation: "big business." They might therefore explain the conservative-liberal divide over global warming thus: Conservatives don't care about global warming because they prefer corporate profits to saving the planet. But such an explanation could not explain the vast majority of conservatives who are not in any way tied into the corporate world (like this writer, who has no stocks and who, moreover, regards big business as amoral as leftists do).

No, the usual liberal dismissals of conservatives and their positions just don't explain this particularly illuminating difference between liberals and conservatives. Here are six more likely explanations:

-- The Left is prone to hysteria. The belief that global warming will destroy the world is but one of many hysterical notions held on the Left. As noted in a previous column devoted to the Left and hysteria, many on the Left have been hysterical about the dangers of the PATRIOT Act and the NSA surveillance of phone numbers (incipient fascism); secondhand smoke (killing vast numbers of people); drilling in the remotest area of Alaska (major environmental despoliation); and opposition to same-sex marriage (imminent Christian theocracy).

-- The Left believes that if The New York Times and other liberal news sources report something, it is true. If the cover of Time magazine says, "Global Warming: Be Worried, Very Worried," liberals get worried, very worried, about global warming. It is noteworthy that liberals, one of whose mottos is "question authority," so rarely question the authority of the mainstream media. Now, of course, conservatives, too, often believe mainstream media. But conservatives have other sources of news that enable them to achieve the liberal ideal of questioning authority. Whereas few liberals ever read non-liberal sources of information or listen to conservative talk radio, the great majority of conservatives are regularly exposed to liberal news, liberal editorials and liberal films, and they have also received many years of liberal education.

-- The Left believes in experts. Of course, every rational person, liberal or conservative, trusts the expertise of experts -- such as when experts in biology explain the workings of mitochondria, or when experts in astronomy describe the moons of Jupiter. But for liberals, "expert" has come to mean far more than greater knowledge in a given area. It now means two additional things: One is that non-experts should defer to experts not only on matters of knowledge, but on matters of policy, as well. The second is that experts possess greater wisdom about life, not merely greater knowledge in their area of expertise. That is why liberals are far more likely to be impressed when a Nobel Prize winner in, let us say, physics signs an ad against war or against capital punishment. The liberal is bowled over by the title "Nobel laureate." The conservative is more likely to wonder why a Nobel laureate in physics has anything more meaningful to say about war than, let us say, a taxi driver.

-- People who don't confront the greatest evils will confront far lesser ones. Most humans know the world is morally disordered -- and socially conscious humans therefore try to fight what they deem to be most responsible for that disorder. The Right tends to fight human evil such as communism and Islamic totalitarianism. The Left avoids confronting such evils and concentrates its attention instead on socioeconomic inequality, environmental problems and capitalism. Global warming meets all three of these criteria of evil. By burning fossil fuels, rich countries pollute more, the environment is being despoiled and big business increases its profits.

-- The Left is far more likely to revere, even worship, nature. A threat to the environment is regarded by many on the Left as a threat to what is most sacred to them, and therefore deemed to be the greatest threat humanity faces. The cover of Vanity Fair's recent "Special Green Issue" declared: "A Graver Threat Than Terrorism: Global Warming." Conservatives, more concerned with human evil, hold the very opposite view: Islamic terror is a far graver threat than global warming.

-- Leftists tend to fear dying more. That is one reason they are more exercised about our waging war against evil than about the evils committed by those we fight. The number of Iraqis and others Saddam Hussein murdered troubles the Left considerably less than even the remote possibility than they may one day die of global warming (or secondhand smoke).

One day, our grandchildren may ask us what we did when Islamic fascism threatened the free world. Some of us will say we were preoccupied with fighting that threat wherever possible; others will be able to say they fought carbon dioxide emissions. One of us will look bad.


'No subsidy needed' for new nuclear generators

Nuclear power stations are economically viable without government guarantee or subsidy, the chief executive of British Energy claimed yesterday. The head of the company that supplies a fifth of Britain's electricity said that the cost of replacing ageing nuclear generators was highly competitive compared with funding new gas powered stations, lean coal stations and other technologies, including some sources of renewable power. Bill Coley, a 40-year veteran of the nuclear industry, said: "I don't believe that nuclear power requires any subsidy to make it viable in the market place. There are great examples of new nuclear plant in place in other countries at very competitive prices."

Mr Coley's comments follow speculation that the Prime Minister is to rule out financial incentives for new nuclear power plants when he announces the Government's new energy strategy next month. According to internal Whitehall studies, which have been discussed with the Treasury, soaring gas prices and the rising cost of tradeable carbon permits will make the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear plants commercially attractive. Previously it has been argued that new nuclear stations would require huge subsidies, an argument that appeared to be supported by the financial collapse of British Energy four years ago, when wholesale power prices plunged.

Mr Coley, who joined British Energy 15 months ago, also appeared to rule out indirect market subsidies for nuclear power yesterday. He said many studies had demonstrated that nuclear power stations could be built at present for about 30 pounds per megawatt hour, with a breakeven level of 20 pounds per megawatt hour. "Price is not the barrier, the biggest barriers here are the time it takes to get permits and planning," Mr Coley said.

However, Mr Coley and Steven Billingham, British Energy's finance director, believe that the current merchant generator environment - in which standalone power stations sell their output to the highest bidder through a mixture of short and long-term contracts - is unsuitable for nuclear power, which has relatively high fixed costs and cannot be switched on and off to take advantage of peak prices. One option under discussion in the industry is that new nuclear power stations would require substantial "off-take agreements" either with large energy retailers, such as British Gas, or major industry groups, such as the chemical or paper-making industries.

British Energy receives an average realised price of 32 pounds per megawatt hour but has sold three quarters of this year's output at 43 pounds per megawatt hour. Since British Energy was restructured, the Government has the right to take 65 per cent of the generator's free cashflow - 105 million pounds in the year to 2006. The company is also prevented from building new nuclear power stations until 2010. However, Mr Coley hopes that the Government will find a role for British Energy if it decides to build new nuclear power stations


Cockatoo may pulp proposal for mill

A $650 million pulp mill in South Australia is under threat from the red-tail black cockatoo, despite the bird never being seen on the planned site. The Environment Department in Canberra insists the project needs federal approval because of the potential dangers it poses to the rare cockatoo, for which the closest feeding spot is 4km away. The developer of the Penola Pulp Mill, due to begin production by 2009, warned yesterday that the intervention could threaten the project, which is expected to generate more than 600 jobs during construction and permanently employ 120 people. It would produce 350,000 tonnes of pulp a year.

The mill's project manager, John Roche, told The Australian he was alarmed by the Environment Department's move, given that federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell had blocked a Victorian wind farm because of a perceived threat to the orange-bellied parrot. Senator Campbell's decision to bar the Bald Hill wind farm sparked a state rights brawl between Canberra and Victoria, with the Bracks Government launching a Federal Court challenge in an attempt to overturn the decision. The wind farm battle also exposed a number of other projects around the country that were investigated after being identified by Senator Campbell's department as potential threats to native wildlife.

Under the pulp mill plan, Penola intended to remove seven 200-year-old river red gums that contained hollows potentially suitable for nesting by the cockatoos, which number about 1000 and are listed as nationally threatened species.

Mr Roche said he was concerned by the decision, given the Bald Hills wind farm block. "It plays on our mind because that was a project that was fully approved and then turned over," he said. A spokesman for Senator Campbell said last night the minister could not comment while the department was conducting the approval process. The department will investigate whether removing the trees would harm the cockatoo. If the tree removal were found to threaten the future of the cockatoo, Senator Campbell could veto the project.

In a submission to the department, Penola acknowledged the seven river red gums contained large hollows suitable for nesting by the cockatoo. It said that while 95 per cent of cockatoo nesting activities were within 2km of known foraging sites, the planned pulp mill was 4km to 5km from the nearest foraging site. Anecdotal evidence from landowners indicated no cockatoos had been seen nesting in the trees.

As a compromise, Penola plans to set aside a 200ha conservation area with hundreds of mature trees, including river red gums. Birds South-East president Bryan Haywood welcomed the compromise last night and said birdwatchers did not want the project stopped. However, he said they were opposed to unnecessary clearing of potential nesting habitat as it took more than 100 years for a hollow to develop in a tree.

Mr Roche said the mill was now subject to environmental and planning assessments at a local, state and federal level. The project would be considered for approval by the local council over the next three months. "There has probably been tens of thousands of these trees cut down in the past 10 years for plantations," he said. The project could be at risk if the approval process was not completed quickly, he said. "The cockatoos are the most significant environmental hurdle we face. All of the other work is done. Air, noise, water. There is no impact."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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