Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweet Victory.

A few months ago I wrote a blog entry titled "The Great Barrier Reef Has A Bright Future". In it, I referenced a National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) film that tells the viewer that increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to increased CO2 in the oceans which leads to "ocean acidification" which leads to the catastrophic destruction of the entire ocean food chain. Feeling suspicious that this alarming scenario was yet another attempt by groups who despise western civilization to justify their regulatory and redistributive ambitions, I started to do a little research on the topic. Within about five seconds (gotta love the Internet) I found a number of scientific references that were completely at odds with the conclusions advanced by the film. After summing up what I had found, I wrote this sentence: "So more CO2 equals more phytoplankton and more calcium carbonate--if anything, the base of the food chain is enhanced, not hurt, by increased CO2."

Yesterday I discovered that a fellow named Dr. Craig Idso from the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) has published a paper that is a full-blown, 54 page critique of the NRDC film. You can download the full report in PDF format here:

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/acid_test.pdf

Here is his final paragraph from the report:

Finally, if there is a lesson to be learned from the materials presented in this document, it is that far too many predictions of CO2-induced catastrophes are looked upon as sure-to-occur, when real-world observations show such doomsday scenarios to be highly unlikely or even virtual impossibilities. The phenomenon of CO2-induced ocean acidification is no different. Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not the bane of the biosphere; they are an invaluable boon to the planet's many life forms.

Told ya.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Life Of Your Own

Often, during the recent health care debate, (which, despite the deplorable passage of the Democrat's health care bill is far from over), a person would ask: "who can protest the ideal of ready access to quality health care for all?" What is nearly always left out of this query is the context that makes it a real question, and not simply a trap to make another party look callous. For of course, no one could protest that ideal if health care could be conjured out of thin air--as much as you want!, whenever you want it! But darn the luck, health care does not just exist, and reality demands the context. It is this: at what cost?, and to whom? "At what cost?" is sometimes difficult to figure out because everyone's answer will be different, but "to whom" is not. You and I are "whom." Oh sure, somebody might tell you that it's the "rich" that are going to pay for it, but you can bet that if they're sticking it to the rich today, they'll be sticking it to you tomorrow. And you won't be able to say "no", or opt out, or otherwise exercise the freedoms that are a cornerstone of justice and morality, and that is the heart of the matter.

The essential meaning behind that key phrase from The Declaration of Independence-- "...certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."-- is that every person, as a condition of their humanity, has a right to their own life, that every person's life is an end in itself, and is not a subject of or subservient to the whims or desires of "society", or "the public." The source of those rights is life itself. The U.S. Constitution, with its separation of powers, checks and balances, etc., is designed primarily to limit the role of government to that of a protector of those rights, though it has stepped far beyond that role in the last 100 years. Every one of those steps is in conflict with the premise that a man's life is his own.

The health care reform bill just passed is another giant, usurping step that will harm the country and the citizens through the stifling effects of taxation, regulation, bureaucracy, divisiveness, and dependency. Or, like I saw it written the other day, "beware of health care reform that promises fewer doctors and more IRS agents.

The only economic system that is consistent with those inalienable rights is laissez-faire capitalism, and that is the ideal toward which health care reform should be oriented. There are currently plenty of market distortions caused by state and federal regulations that, if removed, would go a long way toward reducing the cost of care, thus making it more accessible, and all without mortgaging the nation's future with a giant entitlement package. And, I might add, without polarizing the country in perhaps the most dramatic way ever.

The American people have largely rejected the model, the method, but not the idea of reform. The American people do care; they are as compassionate as any people, anywhere. Who immediately shows up on the scene whenever there is a natural disaster anywhere in the world? But because of the teachings of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they are, or have been, more fierce defenders of individual liberty and personal responsibility than most. The creativity, the prosperity, the generosity, and the generally sunny outlook of the citizens of the United States (ask a sample of Americans and Europeans about the future and see which group is more optimistic) are the direct consequence of that defense.