I keep a weblog like it's still the 90s. For commentary and dissent please visit jontaylor.ca, or various other purveyors of thought online.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006


When I hear something like this it makes me cringe:

A report launched at the [UN climate conference in Nairobi, Kenya] today complains that discussion on climate change has been dominated by science and economics, with vital ethical dimensions being left out by governments and scientists alike.

Firstly, ethics is the study of value and quality. I’m interested to know how one debates the ethics of climate change when they have contempt for economics and science.

The ethics report argues that, whatever the economics, “cost is not an ethically acceptable excuse for failing to take action to prevent harmful levels of pollution when that pollution threatens basic human rights.”

Again, cost is always an ethical excuse, especially in the absence of scientific consensus, because, once again, ethics is the study of value… and cost is an important part of value.

What value does the world earn from betting on computer models of a problem that we have no idea if we can fix? Are there any definitive studies which show that a Kyoto or Post-Kyoto deal would actually improve or change anything?

I would argue that it is unethical to cause a global economic slowdown using the precautionary principle.

The report also attacks those who use scientific uncertainty as an excuse to postpone action. “In law, wilful ignorance cannot be used as justification for continuing harmful behaviour,” it says.

Wilful (sic) ignorance is a loaded phrase and I’d like to turn it back on the report using the same Open Letter to PMSH that I used yesterday.

We believe the Canadian public and government decision-makers need and deserve to hear the whole story concerning this very complex issue. ... the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.

Willful ignorance goes both ways. People who support Kyoto willfully ignore the small fact that Kyoto is a wealth transfer scheme with very very weak scientific grounding. How does Canada transferring money (in the form of credits) to Mozambique for “overpolluting” actually help fix the environment?

As an aside: What Human Rights have the UN guaranteed to anyone? If you're born into poverty in the developing world the only Human Rights you have are birth (questionable) and death.

Status of the Earth: Still There