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The Stern Report = a good day to turn off the television

As the Torygraph leader says:

Having exhausted stealth taxes, the Government is reaching for green taxes: levies on flying, driving and household appliances.

The beauty of eco-taxes, from Gordon Brown's point of view, is that people won't want to be seen to be against them.

Those who dispute their efficacy – including this newspaper – will be dismissed as having fallen for tendentious science, or being in the pay of the oil companies, or simply not caring about the viability of the planet.

A few seconds' thought should reveal how asinine these accusations are. Surely we can take it as read that everyone is in favour of life on Earth.....

it is hard to avoid the suspicion that, for many on the Left, Kyoto is a handy way of advancing an agenda that has little to do with the environment: one that seeks always to blame the West, that is hostile to free trade, and that looks instinctively to state intervention.

The trouble is that governments tend to be inefficient. There is no reason to expect the state to be any better at protecting the environment than it was at making cars or running the Millennium Dome.

It is a pity that all three main parties have bought into the idea that state regulation is the answer. Market mechanisms have proved highly effective at delivering green goals.

....taxes should be used soberly, judiciously and reluctantly; never as a way of flaunting one's green credentials.

Take that as a slap in face with a GM farmed kipper Dave.


" being in the pay of the oil companies, or simply not caring about the viability of the planet."

Two points.

1) The government makes far more money from oil than the oil companies do. That's why I don't think oil production will decrease. The government is too dependent on it. (Besides, if we don't consume it, someone else will.)

2) This business about companies not caring about the viability of the planet doesn't add up. The boards of directors, managers, engineers, workers, contractors, shareholders, etc must all care for their own well being. Most of them will have families that they care for. It makes no sense for them to want to destroy the planet for the sake of a quick buck. That's why it doesn't make sense for them to lie. They are only hurting themselves in the process.

On the other hand, the alarmists have little to lose from lying. If we're aren't all going to die, then where is the harm in saying we do?

Consider two scenarios. In both, we have climate alarmists, who are made up of statists and socialists, looking to expand the influence of government on the unwashed masses, and the climate sceptics, who are made up of libertarians and free-marketeers, looking to make a fast buck.

The first is that the planet really is being destroyed. The alarmists and telling the truth, which suits their agenda. The sceptics are lying merely to suit them. Suppose the liars, the sceptics win, the result is that we do nothing and the planet is destroyed. Well, those libertarians and free-marketeers didn't really win after all because they're all dead along with the planet.

The second is the planet isn't being destroyed. The sceptics are telling the truth and the alarmists are lying. Suppose the liars, the alarmists win, the result is that we do something and the planet is believed to have been saved, although there was nothing threatening it. The result is that life goes on, although it would have regardless, except that now it is under the auspices of socialism, which is what the alarmists wanted anyway.

In the case where the sceptics were liars, they were dooming themselves. In the case where the alarmists were liars, they had nothing to lose.

That is why in the battle of ad hominems, the sceptics win. Their attack on perceived motives has more credibility.

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