If we don’t regulate what we do to the climate, we’ll commit suicide and kill everyone else, too. The vast majority of planets have no life on them. Climate changes. Right now, ours is changing with accelerating speed, from livable toward unlivable. There is only one scientific theory as to why it's happening (human-caused atmospheric carbon-buildup and its greenhouse effect) — no other hypothesis comes even close to fitting all the data (well, we’ll get to that question in a moment, with a proviso). But the fossil-fuels industries pay billions to get politicians not to stop it, because if they regulate to stop it, those companies’ sales and stock-values will plunge, and because personal corruption is normal, not exceptional: the average person cares more about himself than about future generations (billions of people). Inconveniencing oneself for others who don’t yet even exist is something that psychopaths (and this includes all conservatives, so they don’t want any regulations at all) refuse to do. So: we’re committing species-suicide, and even planetary suicide, because of a few billionaires, and billions of conservatives. The miseries that people today are creating for people yet to be born, and for trillions of other creatures, dwarf the miseries that Hitler and Stalin produced.
We are addicted to fossil fuels; we are addicted to gambling; we are addicted to debt; we are addicted to weapons; and we are addicted to drugs. Whatever we are addicted to, cannot have a normal competitive market, because government has to be very involved in that market, by regulating it, or even by outlawing it (which, for any addiction, will always produce more crime and suffering than it prevents; and that’s an inevitable governmental policy-failure — but it’s another story). Or else by owning it — such as state-run gambling, which isn’t taxed by the state; it’s owned by the state.
What do all of these things have in common, besides that they all are addictions, and not entirely mere desires, nor even mere needs? They’re all markets whose producers are controlled by whomever controls the government: each and every one of these markets, the markets that serve these addictions, is controlled by the nation’s aristocrats, the few billionaires who control the producing companies, which service the given addiction. Aristocrats are what they are, because of their relationship with the government — they buy the politicians and thus control the government. Politicians are their agents: hired by them, promoted by them, and fired by them. An aristocracy does not exist, where it does not control the government, because that’s what an aristocrat participates in: controlling the government. This isn’t a matter of “the nobility,” not a matter of mere titles (those are passé, by now); it is a matter of raw and real power, and the billionaires have it in most of the world’s countries today.
So, this brings us to that proviso: Whereas, previously, the big oil companies and so forth were funding scientists who questioned whether global warming exists, they’re now funding scientists who say that it’s caused mainly by solar cycles, or else that global warming will be beneficial instead of bad for the future. A major funder of these scientists is SPPI, which in turn is funded by ALEC, which in turn is funded heavily by the petroleum industry. The consensus that global heating is happening is now accepted, but the mainly human causation of it is not. The aristocracy’s barricades have been moved back to this point, by now.
Unfortunately, however, the generally-accepted-as-definitive scientific study of the scientific literature on global warming, which ‘showed’ a 97%+ consensus on the truth of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, turns out to be either fraudulent or incredibly sloppy, because it had categorized, as supporting the AGW hypothesis, some studies that actually discredited it — some being studies that even were published by scientists who had had extensive funding from fossil-fuels companies, and who were outraged to find their scientific studies as being categorized as being pro-AGW-hypothesis, which actually were anti-AGW-hypothesis.
The paper which debunked the generally-accepted-as-definitive scientific study of the scientific literature on global warming, was called to my attention by a reader “Charlie Primero”, at my preliminary version of this article, which was posted at washingtonsblog. I posted only the first paragraph of this article, there, before submitting the full article generally to the press, because the readers there are good at calling my attention to any oversight if I’ve made one; and I didn’t want anyone to be able to provide reasonably based challenge to that very controversial opening paragraph. In his reader-comment, “Primero” referred me to this debunking study, titled: “97% Study Falsely Classifies Scientists' Papers, according to the scientists that published them”. This article showed that either the generally-accepted-as-definitive study on “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” was fraudulent, or else it was incredibly sloppy — and, in either case, that it should never have been published.
So: where, then, does this — the failure of that ’97%” meta-analysis article — leave us, regarding the public-policy issue that’s at stake here? How much a percentage of the by-now-generally-agreed phenomenon of global warming needs to be human causation in order for the urgency of supplying counter-measures to reduce global warming to be considered to be cost-effective investments? It’s all future-oriented; it’s all investments in the future; but, are these investments cost-effective? Unfortunately, due to a fundamental flaw in basic economic theory, there is an error which causes the present value of future humans to be discounted in basically the same way that cost-benefit analyses discount the present value of mere human property (such as bridges and other physical infrastructure); so that, for example, a human existing a hundred years from now is ‘worth’ (in today’s flawed cost-benefit analyses) only infinitesimally as much as is a human who lives today. You are worth more than a child, and much more than a grandchild, from you. Some economists feel uncomfortable about that, but, unless the false fundamental postulates in economic theory will finally be replaced so that they’re based upon the vast accumulated historical empirical data in economics, instead of upon myths which contradict those data, as now is the case, this problem (the falseness of basic economic theory) will persist, and any economists who feel at all uncomfortable about discounting the present value of a person who will live in the future, will continue arguing among themselves about how much smaller the annual discount-factor for humans should be than is the discount-factor that’s applied to their property.
This discount-factor should be zero: I shall be presenting that new economic theory in my next book. The empirical data are overwhelmingly consistent with the hypothesis that the correct discount-percentage for the current value of a future person is zero — that a future person is as valuable as a current person; the true discount-percentage to apply (regardless of how far into the future the individual will be living) would be 0% — no discount at all; a person who exists a hundred or a thousand years from now is just as valuable as is a person who lives today. That is a corollary, not a postulate, in the new economics. And it is entirely consistent with today’s vast empirical base in economics — which existing economic theory is not.
Because of this falsehood of existing (micro-)economic theory, which causes future persons to be discounted down to virtually nothing, over a span of a hundred years or more, the importance of addressing global warming — which will otherwise become global burning and end all life on Earth — is being enormously underestimated, undervalued. It is an urgent problem, even if the human contribution to the existing recorded global heating is less than most scientists today believe to be the case. The difference is enormous: if humans contribute at all to this global warming that has occurred, then all future-existing persons should have a ‘vote’ equal to that of all present persons, concerning any currently proposed expense to restrain and hopefully reverse if not stabilize the heating-up of our planet’s atmosphere.
So, despite the invalidity of the key ’97%’ meta-analysis paper on the degree of scientific consensus regarding the cause of global warming, more focus and expense should be devoted to solving this problem — not less. The basic problem here is flawed (myth-based) economic theory, more than anything else — that flaw generates the biggest scientific hang-up, really.
But, global warming presents an enormously important policy-problem, and, just because today’s science — and scientists — are not what we might wish they were, is no excuse, whatsoever, for avoiding to address the problem. The longer we wait, the more it might accelerate, and the higher the likelihood will be that it will destroy life on this planet.