Thursday, October 23, 2003

This morning's Guardian, already the silliest major newspaper in the world, runs what is, even for them, an extremely silly story.

In the meantime, all American consumers have been asked to do is to buy Ben & Jerry's One Sweet Whirled ice cream, ensuring that a portion of Unilever's profits go towards "global warming initiatives". Wow!

Hardly worth a wow. The hallmark of modern policymaking is not initiatives that actually do anything, but rather those that serve to make people feel better about themselves. Certainly this is true of the Kyoto treaty, which does nothing to address the enormous amounts of "greenhouse gases" being produced by, for example, China, India, and Mexico. Even the proponents of this treaty cannot point to any measurable climatic benefits that will derive from it. But it will make us feel that we are Doing Something About It. And in this world where feelings are all that matters, that's enough.

"We're waging a war on the environment, a very successful one," says Paul Ehrlich, professor of population studies at Stanford University.

Amazing to see Paul Ehrlich quoted as an authority on anything. Ehrlich is the most consistently wrong predictor in memory, including radio psychics.

"It's a country founded on the idea of no limits. The essence of environmentalism is that there are indeed limits. It's one of the reasons environmentalism is a stronger ethic in Europe than in the US."

Finally something I completely agree with. It is very definitely true that the physical world has limits. But human creativity does not. The freest societies are the best at solving problems, including environmental ones, much better that those that simply impose arbitrary limits. The Kyoto-based limits that France placed on the use of air conditioning, for example, cost the country 15,000 dead this past summer. That's what limits do for you.

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