15 Feb 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Amish

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Carlos Alberto Montaner identifies the true identity of the sides fighting the battle over Global Warming, and proposes that the liberals, like Al Gore, who want to save us from Global Warming need to give up automobiles, electricity, and private jets first, before we start letting them apply new taxes to us.

On the surface the topic is global warming, but the issue goes a lot deeper. It is another modality of the near-cosmic debate that collectivists and individualists have engaged in for at least two centuries. The collectivists — in this case, those who look after the interests of the collective — assume that, because of industrial activities and the combustion of fossil fuels, the planet’s temperature will rise several degrees, bringing catastrophic consequences: a polar meltdown, coastline flooding, extinction of species, and the rapid expansion of deserts over large areas of the planet.

Individualists, for their part, affirm that climate predictions are closer to witchcraft than to science. Not long ago, for instance, Ãlvaro Vargas Llosa recalled sardonically that three decades ago the prevailing fear was the inevitable beginning of a glacial period that would freeze our bones, while George F. Will wondered which was better: today’s frozen and inhospitable Greenland, or the warmer and more hospitable island discovered by the Vikings one thousand years ago, where they established settlements and planted vineyards…

After the barely scientific debate — because it is based on educated guesses or questionable statistical probabilities, not on proven cause-and-effect relations — what remains is another form of the ideological and moral battle between the left and the right, or, broadly speaking, between those who defend society in the abstract (they usually write Mankind with a capital M) and those who focus their discourse on protecting human beings of flesh and bone.

That is why it is not surprising that in the ranks of the environmentalist collectivists, the Greens, you’ll find socialists of every ilk, the communists who survived the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, their clothes still covered with ideological rubble, and, in general, all the members of the happy-go-lucky, vast and illusional family of the “progressives,” while on the other side, the side of the individualists, you’ll find the liberals (in the European and Latin American sense of the word) who are more interested in the rights of people here and now than in the unforeseeable fate of future generations.

Read the whole thing.


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