August 30, 2010
"The Greening of Godzilla"
This is the title from a piece written by Walter Russell Mead for The American Interest Online that could not be improved upon. Mead dismantles the "green" movement not so much from a scientific standpoint but to illustrate that it has become the enemy that it abhors: The Establishment.
The case environmentalists used to make was that modern science was too crude and too incomplete to take into account the myriad features that could turn a giant hydroelectric dam from a blessing into a curse. Yes, the dam would generate power — for a while. But green critics would note that the dam had side effects: silt would back up in the reservoir, soil downstream would be impoverished, parasites and malaria bearing mosquitoes would flourish in the still waters and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the destruction of wetlands and river bottoms imposed enormous costs to wildlife diversity and the productivity of river systems. Salmon runs would disappear. Often, the development associated with hydroelectric dams led to deforestation, offsetting gains in flood control.
Mead goes on to point out that greenies have morphed to espousing a simple solution (cap and trade) for a very complex problem (the environment). They now hide behind the "expert" label to hush critics. That's interesting but perhaps not all that groundbreaking.
What is more interesting is how Mead parallels liberal enviro regulation to their handling of the economy. We're told that financial reform will smooth all of the economic cycles and eliminate future "bubbles." Of course, that's nonsense because the economy, like the environment, is too complex for central planning.
Essentially, the core environmentalist argument against big projects and big development is the same argument that libertarians use against economic regulations and state planning. The ‘economic ecology’ of a healthy free market system is so complex, libertarians argue, that bureaucratic interventions, however well intentioned and however thoroughly supported by peer reviewed science of various kinds, will produce unintended consequences — and in any case the interventions and regulations are too crude and too simple to provide an adequate substitute for the marvelously complex economic order that develops from free competition.
This piece seems to meander between subjects, but the common thread is "experts" trying to solve problems that cannot be solved with grandiose solutions. The result is stifling regulation that creates as many new problems as it solves.
Worth the whole read.Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe Posted by Boulder Refugee at August 30, 2010 12:38 PM