Global Warming (was Re: Libertarian Economics)

Arjen Kamphuis (
Fri, 19 Sep 1997 13:24:07 +0200

Joao Pedro <> wrote:
>Voluntary actions? You're talking of voluntary, unselfish actions from
>the same species that constantly kills, destroys and robs other members
>of the same species? I don't think that's possible in today's world,
>there's just too many greedy and selfish persons.

Eeeh.. Joao. Listen... You've got to try to respect the *other* viewpoint.
I know, it's hard sometimes but if you want to convice anyone on this list
you'll have to show consideration and understanding for their opinion,
Otherwise you just get flamed or igored. Using words like 'kills' and
'greedy' in this context will make the discussion very emotional an hardly

Of course if you just want to vent some frustrations about the mess the
world is in that's ok too. Several list members do that regurlaly here. ;-)

> wrote:
>> If any corp starts exploiting...they go broke...(absent government
>> meddling)...monopolies are only possible in a controlled economy...can't
>> happen in a free market...negative feedback..

So Ev, you mean to teel me that in free market a company like Micro$oft
with a technically very faulty product and *no* customer support would
In that case: bring 'em on! I have some doubts on this howerver.

> wrote:
>> If the consumer wants environmental issues addressed, the consumer will
>> get environmental issues addressed.
>In this list, and even in the internet, the average person is from a
>much higher social scale and much higher intellectual level than the
>rest of the population. IMHO, most persons are stupid, plain stupid.

Shall we make that uneducated? That's a bit more respectful and I think
also more accurate.

>The consumer, the
>common citizen doesn't know and doesn't care about environmental issues.
>I'll give you an example, one of the first countries to urge for serious
>measures to prevent global warming was Holland. Why? Not for altruistic
>reasons, of course, but because part of Holland is below sea level, land
>conquered to the sea by dams.

Living in Holland (I did mention this before i think ;-) and having studied
Global Warming as part of the Science & Policy Program at Utrecht
University I feel obliged to make some comments here.

Environmental issues can be extremely complex. And many are not yet
understood by anyone. The greenhouse-effect (also known as global warming)
is a very good example of an environmental issue that could turn out to be
a very big problem or not a problem at all. We just don't know for sure.

Thing is, if we wait 'till we do know for sure and it turns out that it is
a problem it will be too late to remedy the situation. And although the
idea of planetwide climate-physics experiment does have some apeal (we like
experiments, right?) methinks it should be put off untill we have a back-up

The reason Holland is supposedly (so far practically nil) doing something
about the greenhouse effect is not because we fear the rising of sea-levels
so much. We don't. Large parts of holland are already 4.5 meters below
sea-level so another meter or so should not cause us too much difficulty.
If we just wanted to protect *our* coast-line it would be best for us to
*not* restrict the output of CO2 at all (our contribution as a country is
negligible in the global picture anyway) and retain maximum economic
growth. We'd use the money to further upgrade our dike-system. We will do
this anyway (we have spent about $1000 billion on this the past 30 years,
we'll spend another $500 billion in the next 20 years). We'll be safe &
dry, can do, no problem.

But there seems to be the matter of 'setting an example' that a lot of
Dutch politician are fond of (reflected also in drugspolicy, but that's
another thread). The fact that 200 million inhabitants of Bangla Desh (a
poor country unable to build dike systems) die of cholera and hunger is
somewhat disturbing, apparently.

If CO2 causes a climate change (no-one knows for sure at this point) the
country's that will be hit hardest will be those that already have big
problems. Coastal regions will suffer an increased frequency of flooding,
causing cholera epidemics. The rising of average global temperature will
improve living comditions for disease spreading insects, an estimated 50
million additional deaths per year by malaria alone could result (UN-ICCP
The Sahel country's will become unfit to support human life, were will al
these people go? Spanjards be afraid, 250 million Africans are coming for a

Today the world population is about 5,83 billion, doubling time is about 43
years and still decreasing. So in the real disaster scenario a fairly
sudden (10 year) climate change hits is by total suprise in 2040. And
voting for the other guy does no good of course. Global pop. is 10-14
billion, oil reserves are nil, natural gas has been depleted in 2030. No
more energy to make artifical ferilizer. Food procuction comes crashing
down. People start dying like flies, we're talking 8-14 BILLION deaths
here. After a while a new equilibrium will be reached, lots of room for
everybody. Still no oil but we'll figure something.

Then we (some of us, the live ones) rebuild, somehow...

Hey! don't worry, maybe it won't happen (I'll make a T-shirt of this for
the next climate-physics-team reunion, have a laugh!)

While in the Science & policy Program I spent a half a year working on
predictive models for the economical and eclogical effects of possible
climate change scenario's. The above was one of our less positive ones.
Having observed policy making-in-progress in both the Netherlands and other
country's like the US I have come to the conclusion that global warming
should be seen as a dinosaur-killer meteorite: we get hit, or we don't. We
stay lucky or most of us get dead.

Do not have the illusion that democratic governements can influence
problems of this magnitude. They cannot, neither can the free market.
Democracy has a planning period of about 4-years, politicians work to get
things right at re-election time. The free market has a *much* shorter
planning period than that, stockholders want a yearly return. For adressing
climate change you need to be able to plan 50 years ahead. Only a very
nasty totalitarian state could do such a thing. I do not want to live in a
totalitarian state.
I'll take my chances and support any politican who's pro-dike ;-)

Homo Sapiens will survive, but if things go bad not more than 5-10% of them.

Am I being a bit cynical here, yes I am. We are taking an awfully big risk
with the only planet we have. We do not *know* we'll have nano-tech or
nuclearfusion or a singularity to get us out of our troubles. I'm hoping
for it, but I'm not sure. So it worries me a bit sometimes.

So let's get some radical new tech before then, back to work! One of my
co-conspiritors in the Dutch Transhuman Society 'Excedo' is developing a
plan to set up a small nano-tech R&D company. We're busy, we're trying.
Woman and children first... and keep kicking!

Globally Warming Regards, (don't worry *too* much, I sure don't)

Joao, could you send me this document by E-mail to <>. I
might have some use for this knowledge in the future (I do a lot of 4000+
meter climbing), or it could be an intersting read. many thanks.

22-" High altitude-related neurocardiogenic syncope". J. Freitas, M.
Carvalho, O. Costa e A. Falc=E3o de Freitas. Am J Cardiol, 1996; 77:1021

Interesting page BTW (only read the english part ;-)

Arjen Kamphuis | Learn as if you will live forever. | Live as though you will die tomorrow.