Thesis Number: #8 (Page 1 of 9)

The dispute over whether humans are responsible for raising global temperatures is a dangerous distraction. The fatal damage inflicted on the habitats of all species cannot be contested. The financial reforms that would terminate that abusive behaviour would also discipline the activities that generate toxic gases. But holistic reform depends on people’s willingness to recognise obligations to others as well as to nature. The stakes are high: current rates of income mal-distribution and resource depletion are undermining civilisation.


Just Prices and the Riches of Nature 

 


HUGE amounts of time and energy are devoted to the row over whether humans are guilty of raising temperatures on Earth. The dispute has spawned conspiracy theories galore, and some advocates of the “scientific consensus” have been willing to torture the evidence to prove they are correct. Ultimately, it makes no difference which side is correct, if both sides are sincere in wanting to enhance the quality of life of humans and the other species with which we co-exist on the planet.

The starting point for a debate that leads to effective consensus is the issue of whether humans have abused the planet. The evidence is beyond dispute: no matter where you look, the wreckage is there to be seen: from urban sprawl to decimation of rainforests, acidification of the oceans to the pollution of the air we breathe, all avoidable. That is why London lawyer Polly Higgins wants to hold corporate executives legally responsible for what she calls ecocide: the 5th crime against peace (Higgins 2010).

But both sides of the global warming contest are failing to focus on the fiscal philosophy that forensically identifies the strategies that would terminate the dumping of waste and the despoiling of nature on a scale that endangers all life-forms. Why? Who profits? A new appraisal has to start with the shocking realisation that the people who benefit from current property rights and income distribution have hijacked the green agenda. Wind farms are constructed not so much to produce clean energy as to reward the owners on whose land the mills are erected. The rush continues for the subsidies extracted from taxpayers. The costs are endured by people whose earned incomes are taxed. And now, after decades of international conferences, we learn that the target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will not be met by the end of this century (Crooks 2014).

Germany is a prime case of good intentions being turned to the advantage of people who profit from the culture of rent-seeking. That country designed its energy revolution to reduce CO2 emissions. Land owners were paid subsidies (the rental value of wind) to site mills on their properties. In 2013, carbon emissions were increased by 1.8% (Waterfield 2014).

Energy policy is in chaos; few people are satisfied, and the prospect of reaching an effective consensus recedes as the global economy continues to play havoc with people’s lives. Where do we go from here?

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