Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Ottawa South by-election debate, July 17

This debate was organized by the Professional Engineers of Ontario and so focused on the issues of infrastructure, energy and regulation.  I had prepared written responses but time allowed only a minute or so for each, so I paraphrased and ad-libbed instead.  For the record, here are my full responses.

1.       Infrastructure - Ontario and Canada has under invested in infrastructure for the past 20 or more years. If elected what would you and your party do to establish secure long term funding for essential infrastructure projects?

I note that it is not Canada that has underinvested in anything, but rather it is government owned assets that are poorly managed and maintained.  This is because the only proper role  of government is the protection of individual rights and when it interferes in economic activities this naturally leads to a poor allocation of capital.  By taking capital away from the free market and healthy competitive forces, government owned or operated assets MUST be inefficient, less innovative, and ultimately serve customers worse than assets in a free market.  The idea that government should be building any infrastructure is one that comes from collectivist ideologies and not from those who defend individual rights and capitalism.

If elected, I would work to remove the thousands of obstacles government currently has in place that prevent Ontarians from planning, financing, building and operating all the infrastructure they need and want.  No project that is truly essential in a free market remains unconstructed for long.  In a free market, individuals and their companies seek opportunities to create value that is recognizable by large numbers of citizens being willing to pay for it.  

Let me give one example: hospitals.  In Ontario today, it is against the law for patients to choose experimental drugs they believe may help them, it takes tens of millions of dollars and many years for new treatments to be approved, it is against the law for patients to pay doctors, against the law for doctors to charge patients for services, against the law for companies to build and operate hospitals in a way proper for a free market.  Government has essentially declared war on innovative, efficient, competitive, lower cost and widely available health care.  Hospitals today contain massive inefficiencies and struggle to adopt technologies that are rapidly implemented in the more free market.  If Apple was run the way Ontario health care is run, it would still be trying to sell big, slow desktop computers.  If engineers were all forced to work in a government monopoly, bridges would be still made out of wood.

2.       Energy – Reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is essential in a modern society.  In the last several years the cost escalation for electrical energy has placed many Ontario industries at a competitive disadvantage compared to their trading competitors. If elected what would you and your party do to address the reduced electricity demand and the rising cost of electricity in Ontario?

Energy is indispensible for human life.  There is a direct relationship between energy production and quality and longevity of life.  Housing, clothing, food, education, transportation, work, health care and almost every other area of human life are improved dramatically with access to energy.  With discoveries of new ways to access energy, the industrial revolution lifted humanity out of a structural poverty that had persisted for all of history.

In a free market the natural trend is for products to become better at a lower cost and energy has been no exception.  Sources of energy undreamed of have been brought into reality by scientists, engineers and industrialists and new ones are being explored every day.  In just the last few years, vast new supplies of natural gas and oil have been identified, enormous supplies of methyl hydrates have been discovered below the ocean floor, nanotechnologists are working on ways to multiply the efficiency of photovoltaic panels, biofuels are being developed and it appears that safe, small scale and inexpensive fusion may be only a handful of years away.  In truth, energy is essentially limitless if humans are permitted to use their minds to explore for it.  

In contrast to a free market, Ontario has a monopoly electrical power system that makes a mockery of efficiency.  I have operated solar panels at my off-grid cottage for 20 years and know how inefficient they still are, despite large improvements.  Over ten years ago it was shown that with steady progress, solar panels would be able to compete with fossil fuels by around 2030.  The current government has spent billions of dollars on technologies that are far less efficient than existing standard technologies and saddled Ontarians with associated debt for decades. The government is taking money from all taxpayers, including those who can least afford it and paying it to relatively wealthy Ontarians and foreign companies to place solar panels on their roofs and accept giant windmills in their towns.  This money is completely wasted as Ontario has all the energy it can use and the excess produced by these projects is taken off our hands by New York and we have to pay them to take it!  Insanity.

The Freedom Party would move towards a free and competitive market for energy and remove all subsidies, programs and interference in the energy industry, except to protect citizens from physical harm.  The price of energy would go down dramatically while the variety and availability of energy would rise steadily.  New technologies that prove useful would be rapidly implemented.

3.       Regulation - On June 12th this year, the current government prevented implementing legislation in the manufacturing sector that would have ensured publicly accountable professional engineers oversee machinery that could cause harm to workers. Instead, the current government chose to favour the interests of business. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, Ontario is the worst province in Canada for worker safety in manufacturing, with worker deaths more than double the rest of Canada. If you were elected, what would you and your party do to protect Ontario manufacturing workers from bad engineering even if there was some cost to business? There are over 100 deaths in Ontario manufacturing businesses each year. Is saving one life or preventing one worker injury not worth putting this legislation in place?

The protection of citizens from physical harm IS the proper role of government - it’s only proper role.  This does not extend to regulating voluntary exchange.  In a free society every worker is be free to contract with any employer and to terminate that contract if he believes his workplace is not safe enough.  Similarly, every employer is free to run business as he sees fit.  If he does not offer a safe workplace he will not be able to compete for valuable employees and will suffer according to his degree of irrational business practices.  Unless it can be shown that an employer is using force against an employee then government should not interfere.  

On the other hand, a free society has lots of room for standards organizations and professional designations.  Professional engineers must have educational qualifications and maintain standards to hold their designation.  Their association may reprimand or eject them for violations and may publicize this.  In a free society you earn your reputation through good performance and serving customers, not through government approval.  

A free market ensures that the opinions of consumers are heard through their buying choices, the opinions of employees are heard through their wage preferences and that the most efficient businesses eventually succeed.  Ontario law is riddled with regulations that prevent many goods and services from being offered, or makes them so expensive they are not accessible to part of the population.  Some people may want the comfort of a certified professional for a job while others may be willing to risk using someone with lower qualifications.  No one has the right to prevent a buyer and seller from freely negotiating their own terms.  Many jobs have risks and in a free society compensation rises accordingly.  You can’t use government guns to make the world completely safe, and who would want to live in such a society?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How philosophy leads to position statements

Why are there so many contradictions between positions of the same political party and how can one arrive at positions highly consistent and very unique among the parties?  By starting with high level philosophical ideas and applying them to instances that are relevant.  

I view all the dominant political parties as leftist with only small shades of difference.  For example, facing massive deficits and debt, in the 2011 Ontario election the PC's said they would spend every dime the Liberals were spending, but would cut spending on half the budget items by 2%.  In other words, they would only spend 99% as much!  No wonder they were not elected despite massive abuses by the governing Liberal party.  In a recent TV interview, PC candidate Young was asked by Brian Lilley how his position on education was different from the Liberals and he said he would keep things just as they are, with two government controlled systems. The Liberals are left, the NDP and Greens further left and the PC's agree with almost everything the Liberals are spending money on.  Not much to choose from!

In contrast, the Freedom Party positions are clear and philosophically consistent. For example, the principle that government has no moral role interfering in citizens' freedom to make economic decisions leads clearly to positions such as:
  • an end to all business subsidies, tax incentives, and economic programs, especially the insane Micro-Fit program
  • restoring a free and competitive market for energy and ending the Ontario Hydro monopoly, leading to lower energy prices
  • restoring a free market in health care, leading to a more accessible, lower cost and better product as is the care in every industry that is even relatively free to innovate and compete
  • ending the LCBO and Beer Store monopolies and allowing free competition in the alcohol industry
  • a large reduction in government spending and quick end to the deficit and increase of provincial debt
  • a large reduction in taxation with the eventual goal of repealing Ontario's income tax.
To take a slightly different angle, focusing on problem areas politicians always talk about, the principle that government's moral role is to protect the rights of its citizens, not to violate them, leads to policies such as:
  • an end to interference in employment contracts such as minimum wage law (the problems of unemployment)
  • an end to the prohibition on low cost housing due to massive building code laws (the problems of homelessness and poverty)
  • freedom to contract for spousal or partner benefits as individuals see fit (the problem of same-sex marriage)
  • ending all hiring quotas, correctly identifying them as racist (the problems of racism, sexism, ageism etc.)
  • establishing full property rights for aboriginal people and an eventual end to all law and policy based on race (the problems of aboriginals and their communities).
Imagine how productive and happy a society could be if its government acted as a strong protector of individual rights and did not interfere in individual actions unless they represent a physical danger to others.  Such a society would be the envy of the world and a model to emulate.  In the 19th century, the U.S. and Canada approached this type of society but the principles of freedom were neither explicit enough nor were there enough defenders of these principles.  Instead, our societies have come to be dominated by the morality espoused by German philosophers such as Kant, Hegel and Marx.  While technological progress has continued because it often operates faster than government can follow, social and political progress has reversed and stagnated in many ways.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Feeling the burden of solar subsidies and the alcohol monopoly

Today I was out collecting nomination signatures and had just bought another solar panel for my off-grid cottage.  It struck me that I was carrying a symbol of the monstrous burden the Liberal government has saddled Ontario with for the next 20 years - the photovoltaic panel.

You see, the government has signed contracts to pay people about 80 cents per kilowatt for electricity they produce using panels at a time when Ontario has an excess of electricity that we can produce at about 5 cents or even less through hydro, gas, coal and nuclear power.  The excess produced by solar is forced into the grid because it cannot be controlled centrally, and so our excess power then gets sent to the U.S. and we pay them to take it off our hands.  This system is irrational, un-economic, wasteful, misguided and harmful to the citizens of Ontario, particularly those on a lower income who can least afford the high and rising electricity prices foisted on us by the government.

Note that the picture is taken in front on one of the Ontario liquor monopoly stores, the LCBO.  The province has outlawed all competition for retail alcoholic beverages, thus preventing the benefits of competition such as diversity of product and distribution, lower prices and wider availability.  Their unionized employees are paid outside of the free market and the corporation takes many millions of dollars every year and gives it to politicians and bureaucrats to spend on still more inefficient programs.

Solar subsidies and the LCBO - two very symbolic figures for the damage done when government interferes in the freedom of citizens to organize their own lives and business transactions.

A discussion of abortion and related issues

I was asked to respond to a series of questions relating to abortion and religion in health care. Here are the questions and answers.


Response to Campaign Life Coalition Ontario Provincial Election Questionnaire

1. Do you acknowledge that human life begins at conception (fertilization)?

No. The first thing to tackle when examining this subject is the definition of life. As opposed to many people who view life as something that is static, I believe that an appropriate definition of life must involve action. Thus I agree with the definition of life as “a process of self-generated and self-sustaining action”. The word “process” is included to denote that life is constantly changing and is directed towards the purpose, namely the sustenance of the beings’ own life.  

Life must be self-generated otherwise the entity is not an individual but a parasite that depends on the life of another for its existence. Note that this does not mean simply that it is supported by the efforts of another but rather that the life of another is all that enables its existence.

Life must also be self-sustaining, meaning that the beings’ own actions are responsible for its survival. Note that when a being is immature it may be supported by a parent or other mature adult, however its own biological system is that which sustains it, and not that of another entity.

If we apply the definition of life to humanity, it means that an entity becomes an individual human being at the moment when it emerges alive from its mother and is able to breathe on its own. Until that time it is a potential human being that relies entirely on its mother for all nutrition and oxygen and the death of the mother would automatically result in the death of the potential human being, known in science as a fetus.

Further to this it is important to recognize the nature of rights. A right is the moral sanction and recognition of the freedom to act in furtherance of your life so long as you do not violate the rights of other individuals. Therefore, only individuals have rights, whether they are acting alone or whether they are acting in groups with rights derived from their individuality. No group can have rights higher than those of an individual. In the case of a pregnant woman, her unborn child is an integral part of her body and not a separate individual.  Thus it is not proper to assign legal rights to this unborn child. Legally, a mother must be free to exercise her right to her own life and the full control of her body.

2. Are there any circumstances under which you believe a woman should have access to abortion?  If yes, please explain.

Yes. I think there is an important distinction to make here between what is legally right and what is morally right. When we say something is legally right, we mean that it is proper for the force of law to be applied either to prevent an action or to force an action to take place. When we say something is morally right, we refer to an action that is appropriate for the life of a human being. There are certainly cases where we may pass a negative moral judgment although there has been no objective law broken. This does not necessarily mean that the law is immoral but rather it recognizes that not all morals should be backed up with the force of law.

Abortion is a medical procedure undertaken to end a woman’s pregnancy. At the moment of fertilization of a human egg and for some time to come, the organism in question is simply a small and growing number of undifferentiated cells. It is not correct to refer to these cells as a human being as they exhibit none of the defining distinct characteristics of an individual human being. As a pregnancy progresses and the cells differentiate and specialize and the entity becomes what we refer to as a fetus, it comes to physically resemble a human being and eventually is fully formed, perhaps even being a viable individual if delivered prior to the natural process of childbirth. I believe there are suitable changes in the moral assessment of a person who has an abortion at different stages of the process of gestation. I do not believe that any individual other than the mother or any group of individuals found in society has the right to force a mother to have or not to have any particular medical procedure including abortion. Such a right would imply that others have the right to control your life and body and thus that you’re a slave to their wishes. Slavery is not proper for the life of a human being and is thus immoral.

3. Will you support measures to stop funding abortions with taxpayers’ money in Ontario?

Yes.  To answer this question I must first address a much higher level of question, which is the morality of funding any medical procedure with taxpayers money. In other words this question is more fundamentally about the morality of forced taxation under threat of seizure or imprisonment. In Ontario there are many kinds of taxation, such as sales tax, income tax and a wide range of other fees, levies and charges. I believe that any kind of taxation backed with the threat of force against an individual is immoral, thus any action that is taken by government with such funds is also immoral.

While it would require a large essay to fully validate, let me also say that it is immoral for any level of government to interfere in the free decisions of citizens unless a citizen is harming or threatening to physically harm another citizen. This applies in particular to economic activities such as all forms of work, employment, business and trade. In a free country all economic activities are voluntary and require the conscious consent of two parties. In the case of employment, it requires an employer who is willing to pay an employee, and an employee who is willing to accept that remuneration in return for work of a certain type and under certain conditions as specified by the employment contract. If the employee does not wish to do the work or does not find the compensation acceptable the employee must be free to not take on the work. If the employer does not wish to hire the employee or keep the employee on the payroll, then so long as the employment contract is followed the employer may terminate an employee as he decides is best for the business.

In the business of healthcare, this means that in a free society healthcare is an agreement between a patient and a healthcare provider and there is no moral right for any other individual or government agency to interfere in their agreement. The type of medical procedures and the payment made to compensate the healthcare provider are entirely a private matter and not subject to review by any other individual or organization. Thus we can see that using money taken from individual citizens by government through the use of force and then using it to pay doctors who have been conscripted by the state and whose practice is controlled, to perform or not to perform procedures on any individual is immoral at many levels.

In summary I would do more than support measures to top funding abortions with taxpayers money in Ontario, I would support measures to move in the direction of ending funding all medical procedures with taxpayers money and instead restore healthcare to the private agreements it used to be. While this would represent a major shift in the healthcare industry in Ontario it would soon result in vastly superior healthcare and a much more free society.

4. Do you agree women have the right to be thoroughly informed about the serious health consequences of abortion, the development of their child in the womb and the alternatives to abortion?

No.  The way the question is worded implies that an individual woman would have the right to something (such as information) from someone else even if someone else does not consent. Women have the right to ask all the questions they want and to learn all they want but they cannot have a right to any particular information from any particular person without that person’s consent. If another individual wishes to provide such information, he is certainly free to offer it, whether for no charge or with compensation, but he is also not free to force it upon anyone else. I believe that individuals have the right to choose their own path in life free of interference by other individuals or the state, unless they consent voluntarily.

5. Will you protect the rights of parents to educate their children according to their faith in matters of moral principles and beliefs concerning abortion, contraception and homosexuality?

Yes. Since I believe individuals have a moral right to determine their own choices in life so long as they do not cause or threaten physical harm to another individual, I believe this extends to parenting and especially the education of children. I believe there is a proper role for government to intercede in cases where a parent is physically harming a child, the details of which are a matter for the law to determine, but I do not believe it is proper for government to dictate any particular method of parenting or education, even in cases where one person may consider a parent negligent or even abusive in an educational sense.

6. Will you oppose euthanasia and instead support measures to promote palliative care, the purpose of which is to alleviate pain, and enhance the quality of life for terminally ill patients and those with disabilities?
*Euthanasia is the direct and intentional killing of a person by action or omission, with or without that person’s consent, for what people mistakenly believe our compassionate reasons.

First, I must disagree with the definition of euthanasia as given in the footnote to this question. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following definition of euthanasia: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. I believe this is a good definition of the word. I would further disagree with the definition given in the question because it states that euthanasia may be with or without that person’s consent. It is the issue of consent that is key in this discussion and the two conditions cannot be equated. Because I believe each individual human being has the right to choose his own path in life, this necessarily means he has the right to choose to end his life under conditions he considers unbearable and under which he considers life to be not worth living or even a form of torture. This is a corollary of a person’s right to life. If I do not have the right to choose to end my life then I do not have the right to my own life and therefore the word “rights” has no meaning.

I do believe that any act that involves another individual in the ending of a person’s life should be carefully scrutinized by the law and government to ensure a very high degree of compliance. For example, any laws referring to the act of euthanasia should be derived in an objective fashion and have objective and very clear standards of application.

On the other hand it is also not moral to force anyone, especially a healthcare practitioner, to participate in any such action. As referred to in a previous question I believe all individuals have the right to freely contract with other individuals, and this certainly includes the right of doctors and patients to form agreements voluntarily. Thus we can see that in a free country no doctor is forced to perform a procedure that is against his conscience or judgment and no patient can be forced to undertake a procedure that is against his conscience or judgment. The exception would be in the case where an individual patient has permanently lost the ability to reason and communicate or by another objective standard is no longer able to live a life appropriate to a human being, the distinguishing characteristic of which is the ability to think, and has left no instructions for end of life care. In a case like this the court may place responsibility for decision-making in the hands of another individual.

7. Will you support legislation to protect the right of healthcare workers who refuse to participate in procedures which are in violation of their religious or conscientious beliefs?

Yes, absolutely. The subject of this question (individual rights), is a perfect demonstration of how the extension of government force into the lives of innocent individual citizens and the economy necessarily leads to the violation of rights. As per my discussion in earlier questions it is not moral for government to interfere in healthcare unless physical harm is being done or threatened to an individual against his will. Thus any action that forces a worker to act against his will is immoral. On the other hand, an employer may contract with an employee and expect certain types of actions to be part of the job. If the employee does not wish to contract he is free to seek employment somewhere else or to leave the employer. This question is fundamentally one of contract law and not one of religious or conscientious beliefs.

8. Do you consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice?

Both, since this question presents a false dichotomy. Since I hold human life as the highest possible value I have to consider myself as a pro-lifer in the extreme. Referring to one of my earlier answers regarding the definition of life, I am totally in favor of the legal protection of individual human beings by government, since this is the single proper role of government.

For the same reasons I am also completely in favor of what is incorrectly referred to as pro-choice. A pregnant woman is most certainly an individual human being with the right to determine her own life and choose all aspects of it, especially any actions to be taken with regard to her own body or any part of it. I believe answers to previous questions provide more elaboration of this concept.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ottawa vs Eugene Melnyk in the Ottawa casino controversy

I created a four minute video to explain what is wrong with government controlling business decisions, using the proposed Ottawa casino as an example.

Ottawa South by-election intro video

I decided to record a short video to introduce myself and the Freedom Party of Ontario, tossing in a couple of ideas about the problems with government.  Sure, it's an amateur recording and cannot have a load of meaty information, but I hope it touches a few important bases and may prompt viewers to think a little more about the proper role of government in society.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ottawa South by-election August 1, 2013

Dalton McGuinty resigned as premier and now has resigned as MPP for Ottawa South.  During his years in power:

  • the Ontario debt grew by leaps and bounds, 
  • taxes rose despite specific promises to the contrary, 
  • spending went wild, 
  • the economy was harmed severely, 
  • energy production saw vast interference and rising prices
  • sweet deals were given to public service unions while regular citizens struggled to pay their bills and taxes,
  • scandals swept through one government department after another,
  • election riding wins were bought with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars,
  • and the list goes on and on.
This type of outcome is inevitable when government exceeds its proper, moral function, which is the protection of citizens' rights to life, liberty and property.  To do these functions requires objective law, a court system, a police force and a military.  

When government interferes in any economic activity it distorts the will of citizens, reduces quality, raises costs, reduces efficiency, reduces innovation and inevitably raises prices above those that would prevail in a free market.  Just try and think of one function that government does really well, aside from taking your money and wasting it.  Energy - nope.  Education? Not a chance.  Health care?  Don't get me started.  

It is time to start heading back in the direction of freedom.  It is time to end the health care monopoly.  It is time to restore free competition in energy.  It is time to get government out of the economy and let citizens make their own reasoned decisions and be responsible for their consequences again. 

The Liberals have been steadily wreaking havoc on Ontario.  The NDP wants to do the same, only faster.  The PC's want to do the same, only a bit slower.  All three of these leftist parties agree on matters of fundamental principle, which is why it has made little difference which party is elected.  Note that for a few years after the Rae NDP government Ontario boomed when there was a small movement in the direction of individual freedoms.  Imagine the shining example of progress that could be seen if Ontario actually adopted the principles of freedom and individual rights whole-heartedly and overtly!

My name will be on the ballot for the August 1 by-election for the freedom Party of Ontario, the only political party that offers a unified, principled position on every topic and whose founding principles project a society distinguished by its optimistic, peaceful and hope-filled pursuit of happiness.  To proudly support Freedom Party is to tell the world, unequivocally, that you hold rationality, ethics, justice, democracy and freedom as values upon which you will make no compromise.  

Friday, May 31, 2013

Property insurance and climate change

Have a look at this article about climate change and insurance.

It does make sense to be prepared for harsh weather events such as storms, freezing and heat waves, floods and droughts, since is makes sense to protect our property from damage.  However, to prepare for "climate change" is a whole other thing since it means gradula change over decades.  The variability of weather is much higher than that of climate, so being prepared for weather is most logical. 

Here in Ottawa, Canada's capital, the daily temperature sometimes fluctuates by more than 25 degrees celsius and this is ten times greater than the climate doomsayers claim will happen in the next century, even though there is no evidence it is occurring at anywhere near that pace, if at all.  We handle such changes as a routine part of life and have both heating and cooling systems.  Of the two, the heating system is far more important since fewer people die of heat than of cold. On a very hot day we simply open the windows, turn on a fan, use air conditioning or maybe even go for a swim.  On a very cold day, without heat, people would suffer enormously and their household water would of course freeze and burst the pipes.

The greater damage due to weather in recent decades is because humans have accumulated so much more wealth and placed much of it in harms's way for the sake of waterfront property.  Unless they study history a little more, people may not realize the frequency of great storms and other weather events in the past, and so may believe the present storm is an anomaly.  Modern technology has made most lives so much better that we forget how harsh nature is without the protections our energy and technology systems provide.

I hope Klinenberg will focus on the benefits of technology, the fantastic improvement in human life that a free market enables, and the desperate need to allow freedom of choice in energy, insurance and construction, among other areas.

Read more here:

The right of a business to exist and follow its own path

Take a look at

The scariest part of this article is not the validation of organizations bent on controlling larger parts of society through eco-scare tactics, but the philosophical base on which their ideas rest, as exemplified by the statement "their social license to continue business as usual" by President Stephen Mulkey of Unity College, Vermont.

Businesses are nothing more than individuals who have organized their productive activities into a particular structure.  In the case of the ones referred to by Mulkey, they are businesses successful enough, that provide enough added value to their fellow human beings that they are able to list their shares on a stock exchange. Most businesses never achieve that level of distinguished value creation and remain privately held throughout their existence.

Businesses, whether small or large, private or public, are always owned by individual human beings and so the rights of a business are nothing more or less than individual human rights being expressed in more complex ways. Morally, businesses right to exist is derived directly from the human rights to life, liberty and property. Just as individuals are morally right to pursue their own happiness and goals in life, so are businesses right, and have the right, to pursue their goals - so long as they do not initiate physical force against others.  Morally, there is no such thing as "a social license to continue business as usual" and to make such a statement is to imply that individuals right to exist depends on a social license.  This idea is the foundation of all the most monstrous regimes seen in human history, recently in Russia, China, Germany and North Korea. It is the idea that man must live for the sake of others (the morality of altruism) that must be purged if society is to survive, and it is the individual rights of the individual as identified by America's founding fathers, life, liberty and property, that must be upheld if society is to thrive.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A morality that is "Beyond human life"

I was asked for ideas about encouraging energy companies to work together regarding attacks on their business by those who oppose energy production in the name of saving the world from global warming.  The Sierra Club has campaigns called "Beyond oil", "Beyond natural gas" and beyond coal".  My quick response was as follows.

Most fundamentally, what must be attacked is their morality, which boils down to "beyond human life", meaning what philosopher Ayn Rand called a morality of suffering and death.  It is the nature of humans, as opposed to all other living creatures, to use our faculty of reason to find ways to re-shape the environment to meet our needs instead of adapting ourselves to suit the environment.  Thus, the nature of human life is to discover resources we can use and ways to improve our lives by using them.  It is precisely this approach, recognized by the thinkers of the enlightenment and implemented by the scientists and productive businessmen since the industrial revolution, that has allowed human life to flourish in both quantity and quality beyond all previously imagined levels.

What we are fighting for, but most people do not recognize, is our MORAL right to survive by the means we discover and choose and that standing up for this right is the only way to disarm opponents who try to claim the moral high ground.  If we cede morality all we have left is pragmatic arguments about which form of energy might be better at a point in time.  One of the staunchest defenders of this morality is Alex Epstein, founder of the Center For Industrial Progress, who engaged the Sierra Club in a debate.

It is the strongest philosophical ideas that dominate minds and rule the day.  If people believe they are acting morally they will be prepared to create and endure suffering if the morality demands it.  To offer more powerful ideas we must identify a correct morality, speak about it loudly and consistently and oppose incorrect morality whenever possible.  A morality of life, of reason, of rational self-interest, of productivity is needed.

Companies that supply energy are acting morally to provide life-giving energy to people who need it to maintain and improve their lives.  We need to recognize them for their productive virtues, thank them for improving life, support them by speaking publicly of their value to society and educate them to speak out about their moral validity.  If they join together to speak with a louder and more consistent voice then success is more likely.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Climate change science NOT updated in April 2013 Ottawa Library lecture

On April 18th I attended a lecture titled "Climate Change at a Crossroads: An Update on Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth" by David Rhynas at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Library.  I was disappointed to see that there was almost no science presented, that the science referenced was badly out of date, poorly referenced and explained only superficially.  I will explain with a few examples and references.

The presenter started off with a very apropos quote from Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.  It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Since Al Gore and his ilk claim the science is settled and almost no reputable scientist disagrees, his positions would fit into the latter part of Twain's quote, meaning they just ain't so.

Claim 1: CO2 is the predominant greenhouse gas.  This just ain't so because water vapor is the greenhouse gas with the highest concentration.  The concentration of CO2 is presently about 0.00038 and has been rising slowly.  The concentration of water vapor varies with location and weather but is 20 to 120 times higher. Unfortunately, the climate alarmists usually dismiss water vapor since it is not seen as a man-made gas, but research in the last decade has shown a crucial role for water and clouds in regulating the climate cycle - a role that is actually the opposite of what some earlier researchers thought. A recent mathematical discovery indicates that CO2 is actually irrelevant to global temperature since water vapor adjusts in a natural feedback to balance changes in CO2.

Claim 2: Greenhouse gases are pollution.  This is clearly wrong if CO2 is to be labeled as the predominant culprit, since CO2 is essential for all life on Earth and in history life thrives when the concentration of CO2 rises.  CO2 is an essential nutrient for plants and all higher forms of life rely on plants for their existence.  Eliminating CO2 from Earth's atmosphere would kill almost all life forms, humans included.

Claim 3: CO2 causes the Earth's temperature to rise, as indicated by hundreds of thousands of years of ice core data.  While some scientists initially looked at data from the Vostok ice core and saw the rise and fall of temperature and CO2 as one where CO2 causes temperature to change, subsequent analysis with higher resolution of time has identified other possible conclusions. The data below was presented by Gore and in this presentation by Rhynas, as two lines on two graphs.  When you superimpose them, it becomes apparent that temperature change often leads CO2 change.

This lead time is as much as 800 years, so it is plausible that changes in temperature cause ice to melt, glaciers to recede and free up C02 that was trapped in frozen vegetable matter under the ice and in solution in the colder oceans.  This CO2 then is liberated into the atmosphere to feed a new generation of plants and animals.  It could also be that another cause operates to change both temperature and CO2.  There is very convincing solar cycle research to suggest the latter is the most accurate.

Claim 4: Global temperature was stable for hundreds of years and then rose rapidly in the last 150 years.  This is known as Michael Mann's hockey stick graph and has been thoroughly examined and disproven almost since the time it was first published.  Mann not only used incomplete and selective data but used a flawed mathematical model that had to produce the hockey stick effect.