What is it about environmentalism that suspends people’s powers of rational judgement? It’s a kind of talisman imbuing your cause, and your funding request, with an aura of sanctity and quasi-infallibility. Want to engage in some grubby vote-buying handouts or take a junket, say flying to the Caribbean on a private jet? Just be sure to say you’re “creating good jobs, and fighting climate change” and all will be well. Want to drum up excitement for your genetically engineered fruit fly? Just mention you-know-what: “We believe biotechnology has the potential for immense positive benefit on people and the planet, and new innovations in synthetic biology will be a key tool in our fight against climate change”. Then there’s entrepreneur Frank Stronach, who peddles cracker-barrel wisdom in the National Post including a recent mostly sensible claim that the Canadian economy is drastically overregulated and “We could easily slash half of the regulations that are on the books and nothing would change for the worse” only to panic with “The one exception in terms of removing regulations would be any rules or laws related to workplace safety and the environment. In my view, those should be untouchable.” It’s actually two exceptions, but never mind, because once you say abracadabra environment, things that used to be irrational become unquestionable.
Or do they? What possible reason exists for supposing that the very same tendency to overregulate in other areas does not exist here for the same “public choice” reasons from “regulatory capture” to the risk-averse nature of bureaucrats who pay no price for opportunities foregone unlike private investors? Plus sincere conviction; as the Manhattan Contrarian observes on this same subject:
“So far all indications are that bureaucracies — and environmental bureaucracies in particular — are utterly incapable of making reasonable tradeoffs. You don’t go into a career as an environmental bureaucrat if you think that your concern for the environment is something that can or should be compromised.”
He cites the EU’s recent regulatory attack on nitrogen in fertilizers, which he observes is especially obtuse, or insane, because every single amino acid contains nitrogen. Yet they label it “pollution” and there are not even the limited but real avenues through which Americans can fight such measures (including one regarding CO2 where he is involved as a lawyer).
In the real world, in this case the UK, the economic pain caused by such measures is becoming increasingly clear and urgent. And it’s not just the overall burden of climate policy but its capricious, incoherent and inefficient nature as, the Telegraph reports:
“Britain’s energy industry risks ‘death by a thousand cuts’ as tax raids, red tape and a constant ‘flip-flopping’ on policy deter investment, the head of one of Britain’s biggest power producers has warned.”
And how could it fail to be incoherent when, yet again, the far-left Guardian yaps that “UK shoppers slash spending as price rises and energy bills bite” but can see no connection between increasing energy prices and the relentless campaign it has championed to, um, increase the price of energy.
Still, if you want to avoid awkward questions and establish your moral superiority, say you’re doing it for the climate, the tundra, the polar bears, the kittens and so tornadoes don’t swoop down on a daily basis and churn up the flood waters of the drought.
Thus “Canada’s spy service warns that climate change poses a profound, ongoing threat to national security and prosperity, including the possible loss of parts of British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces to rising sea levels” and who could refuse to increase the CSIS budget to forestall that disaster, plus fighting in the streets “across the traditional left-right ideological spectrum” between climate alarmists and, who knows, Sons of Thor who want their furnace to turn on.
As Global reports:
“Among the other effects CSIS anticipates:/ The loss of biodiversity and habitat, coupled with environmental changes, will see people interact more with wildlife, increasing the risk of transmission of animal-borne diseases to humans and possibly more frequent pandemics;/ Arable land will be lost to pollution, human use and desertification, putting more stress on agricultural resources;/ Freshwater resources will shrink due to environmental degradation and climate change pressures at a time when they are increasingly needed. ‘Water may transition from an unseen commodity to one of the world’s most vital and contested resources.’”
Among others. This is no time for a cost-benefit analysis when “it is already underway and will incrementally build across decades to come.” What with Russia and China invading the Arctic, B.C. going whoosh gurgle glug and “Human migration might grow to unprecedented volume due to newly uninhabitable territory, extreme weather events, drought and food shortages, and human conflict zones, CSIS says.”
So no touching those regulations and give us more money to study and fight it. Lots more. Don’t ask questions, because aaaaaaaah:
“Overall, climate change will undermine global critical infrastructure, threaten health and safety, create new scarcity and spark global competition, and might open the door to regional or international conflicts, the CSIS brief says. ‘Put simply, climate change compounds all other known human security issues and serves as an accelerant towards negative security outcomes. No country will be immune from climate change or associated risks.’”
On a more prosaic note, admittedly not hard, when the City of Ottawa puts out “New Zoning By-law Discussion Papers and Surveys” to distract attention from the concrete jungle urban infill is creating and the massive potholes it once again cannot fix, along with its manky light rail, the first paper is of course “Climate Change, Resiliency, Public Health”.
Who could oppose resiliency or health? Give us more money.