Is climate change really that scary?

According to SkepticalScience, “rising sea levels are widely considered to be the greatest threat posed by climate change.”   For the purposes of this argument, we will ignore any kind of disagreement within the scientific community about other causes, or the extent to which humans have driven this warming, and treat the theory of anthropogenic climate change as scientific fact.  Due to the complex nature of the debate, we will also ignore any other adverse impacts of climate change, and focus specifically on what is “widely considered” to be the greatest threat posed by climate change — sea level rise. So, what does the science say about sea level rise?  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which broadly represents the scientific consensus on climate change, sea levels will continue to rise for the next century no matter what, but the rate at which they do depends on several factors.  Under the best case scenario, where governments take active measures to aggressively combat CO2 emissions, we can expect .28-.61 meters of sea level rise.  Under the worst IPCC projection, they expect .52 to .98 meters of sea level rise.  In other words, 1-3 feet by 2100. Now there are, of course, other projections which show higher rates of sea level rise due to Antarctica and Greenland contributing more in the next century (up to 2 meters in the worst case scenario), but these projections can hardly be described as the “consensus” of the scientific community.  Anyone familiar with even the basic fundamentals of the scientific method knows that outliers always exist and do not form the consensus.  If we’re gonna base our understanding of the issue on outliers, we would have to include those who don’t think the Earth will warm that much, or those who say the climate is less sensitive …

Climate Change Panel

Is the climate changing?  Is it man made?  And what should we do about it?  These where the topics addressed at the 2015 World Conference on Market Liberalization in Bali hosted by the International Society for Individual Liberty. The panel included David Friedman, Mary Ruwart, Leon Louw, and Barun Mitra, and the panel was hosted by Christopher Lingle. Watch the video here:

The Indonesian Potato Problem

Rainer Heufers gave a talk about forest ownership and management in Indonesia at the World Conference on Market Liberalization in Bali, Indonesia, 2015.  Rainer Heufers works with the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies and is a senior fellow at the Atlas Network. So this is the story about potatoes in Wonosobo. Indonesians know all about Wonosobo potatoes – it like, goes together.  Belongs together somehow. Well, there’s actually a problem with this, because if you look at the numbers, and I do a rough comparison only.  Potato prices in Indonesia in comparison to per capita income are extremely high.  You pay in Indonesia about 97 US cents per kilo compared to income levels.  Whereas, and I am from Germany, and we consume a lot of potatoes.  We are only paid in comparison – compared to our salaries and income – we are only paid 30 cents per kilo. So potatoes are extremely expensive in this country.  Philippines are even worse, and Vietnam, but let’s not look at those countries. The price is artificially high.  If you go to Alibaba.com, you can buy a metric ton of potatoes for very little money.  Just check now, you see several offers, five metric tons, ten metric tons, for about 200 US dollars per metric ton.  But the consumers here in Indonesia pay about 97 cents US dollars per kilo.  It’s very high. What’s the logical consequence?  Well, farmers – let’s grow potatoes! And that’s the problem in Wonosobo with an artificially high price, because there’s no free trade.  The farmers in Wonosobo grow potatoes.  All slopes look like this, and it’s all potatoes. Now, unfortunately, it’s a bit too bright to see it to clear, but you see all the fields here, this is all potatoes.  And some farmers have even started with vertical …

Who Will Be Hurt Most by Chile’s Carbon Tax?

As part of the tax reform put into law last month, Chile now has the “honor” of calling itself the first South American country to impose a carbon tax. Starting in 2018 Michelle Bachelet’s center-left government will attach a price tag of $5 to every ton of carbon emissions produced by the country’s large electricity generators. The law will apply to any thermal generators with a capacity of at least 50 megawatts – though biomass plants are exempt – and will reportedly extract $160 million out of the economy. Coincidentally the year the new carbon tax takes effect is the same year Chile is expected to officially become the first developed nation on the continent. The adoption of free market policies in recent decades – the Fraser Institute now ranks the Chilean economy as the 10th freest in the world – has made Chile a model for other South American nations to emulate. Squarely in line with her socialist philosophy, though, Bachelet aims to mold Chilean society according to her wishes. Unfortunately for Chilean citizens, especially the poor whose lots Bachelet claims to want to improve, this includes taxing electricity. Considering that some 30 percent of the country’s energy production stands to be affected, the carbon tax will likely have a serious impact on prices. Naturally those hit hardest by such price hikes are those spending the highest share of their income on energy, i.e. the poor. Enter the schizophrenia of left-environmentalism: advocating for forced wealth transfers to help the needy while simultaneously adopting policies that raise the prices those same people pay for some of the most basic necessities. Besides the obvious truth that a tax levied on any product or service raises its price, there is empirical evidence on environmental taxes we can point to and learn lessons …

Lava Threatens Homes Only Government Would Insure in Hawaii

Lava is flowing straight for the village of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii, and many residents are fleeing their homes.  It’s a dramatic disaster, with losses projected in the millions of dollars, and many folks are about to lose property that’s been in their family for generations.  However, as more than 1,000 people flee the area, it’s helpful to remember where the disaster came from originally — and it’s not the volcano. More than 20 years ago, there was another disruption on Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.  No, it wasn’t an earthquake, or a lava flow, but a government agency that was created out of nowhere, as if it came from the active volcano itself.  The agency was called the “Hawaii Property Insurance Association”, and its job was to insure homes in areas that private insurance wouldn’t touch.     In the 1990s, the town of Kalapana was swallowed by lava, and private insurance companies stopped insuring land near the active volcano, called “Lava Zone 1“.  Private insurance also pulled out of “Lava Zone 2”, which meant that it was impossible to get insurance anywhere near this high hazard area. Now, this might sound like a good idea, if you don’t like the idea of waking up in the middle of the night surrounded by lava.  If private insurance companies want to stay out of the area, it’s a pretty clear signal that everyone else should stay out of the area too. However, in 1992, the government created the Hawaii Property Insurance Association, which provided government insurance coverage to Lava Zones 1 and 2.  This resulted in a boom in the housing market in this area. By 2008, there were more than 2,400 HPIA policies in the area, and many more to come.  The situation became so …

Saving the Amazon From Socialism

As reported by the BBC last week, Brazilian authorities have dismantled a criminal organization believed to be the “biggest destroyer” of the Amazon rainforest. The gang stands accused of invading, logging and burning large areas of public land to put up for sale for farming and grazing. Their crimes, said to be worth more than $220 million, could land them up to 50 years of jail time if found guilty on all charges of invading public land, theft, environmental crimes, forgery, conspiracy, tax evasion and money laundering. Representing more than half of the world’s rainforests the Amazon is the largest and most biologically diverse tropical rainforest on the planet. Its millions of square miles are home to the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. While the Amazon is largely contained within Brazil, its 2.1 million miles span a total of nine countries from Peru on the Pacific side of the continent to French Guiana on the east coast. Given the vast size of the area it is little wonder that some (illicit) activity goes unnoticed. In the case of the Amazon, however, there is a major contributing factor. One of the aforementioned charges likely to catch a libertarian’s eye is invasion of public land. The real underlying problem, then, becomes readily apparent: no one owns the Amazon! Even the BBC’s correspondent in Brazil is quick to point out that political and police corruption coupled with the federal government’s ineptitude allows loggers and illegal miners “to operate with impunity”. So here we have a situation in which a lack of real ownership of land predictably leads to poor conservation of the area and its natural beauty. The solution, then, should be equally obvious. And it is. Contrary to mainstream environmentalist thinking examples of successful private management …