Green energy loss and nuclear power gain – was our government right or wrong?

The headline reads “UK Loses out as Government drags feet over clean energy policy”. Here’s the story.  

Essentially, because Britain hasn’t got its Eco-act together, we won’t be selected by foreign investors. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: government policies force unnatural restriction and manipulation of the mainstream market, and bribe otherwise marginal and unprofitable markets into being artifically profitable ones.

China, Germany, Italy and India now lead the way in attracting finance because of national policies that support renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.” In other words, some governments “support”, i.e. give special favours and grants to small and impractical energy industries, money that comes from the taxpayer, money that wouldn’t be dished out if the government kept its nose out, money that isn’t provided to mainstream markets but instead is bled from such markets. (In essence, the current successful market leaders are paying to finance their competitors.)

Regarding “green” energy, Dr Doug Parr of Greenpeace reckons “it’s completely possible for more than 80% of Europe’s power to come from clean renewable sources.” This may or may not be true, but I highly doubt it. Where are all the private enterprises looking to take advantage of this fact? They would make an astronomical profit surely, (or perhaps they are handicapped by government policies and State monopolies on the provision of energy)? Does anything more really need to be said about the cost and efficiency of mainstream energy vs alternative? No one denies that “Green” energy is cleaner; what us anti-Green people say is that it isn’t practical, and real human beings and their livelihoods in the here and now shouldn’t pay the price for the Green brigade’s delusion that conventional energy is just a life-style choice.

The Sky story concludes “… the pressing question for the Government now is, how many clean technology jobs have been lost in the UK through its failure to attract investment into the industry?” My answer would be: probably not as many jobs in total as have been lost or are financially impossible now, given the government’s all-time-high tax on VAT, all-time-high tax on fuel, continued military campaigns in other countries that don’t serve our self-interest, ever increasing consumption of private and business capital, excessive fees and costs in business start up, an impractical and unworkable cannibalistic healthcare “service”, a bloated vampiric public sector, the severance of paper money to actually-produced goods resulting in inflation, bribing banks and building societies to issue senseless loans, encouraging a consequence-free credit society, milking profitable people and businesses, rewarding failed ones with the money of the former…etc etc?

An even better question is: except in matters of national security or discernible public risk, why don’t governments just let the market decide which avenues it will pursue, based on terms of pure practicality and profitability? If alternative energy sources are profitable and efficient, the good will out.

Incidentally, the Sky article calls for (yet more) government action in the name of “clean” energy, and bemoans the lost jobs and money as a result of its “failure”. What it didn’t focus too much on is that “the Government has given the go-ahead for eight new [nuclear] plants, which it says are needed to guarantee energy security in the future.” So, the government hasn’t pursued inefficient and impractical “clean” energy, has created thousands of new jobs in Britain, and has helped secure long-term energy requirements. I take it back; maybe our government can do something right after all! (By the way, note how the “lost” potential (and artificial) jobs are mourned in the article, but the actual real practical jobs created are glossed over. But then, for the Greenies, human livelihoods are a small price to pay to please Gaia.)

Earth Hour is stupid, anti-human, and hypocritical

It’s that time again when the eco-fascist madness descends on us from the well-meaning, the ignorant, and any other celebrity or company looking to score some PR: Earth Hour. I think Earth Hour teaches us all a great lesson, just not the one that it’s intended to. I further assert that those who really support the principle behind Earth Hour should make it Earth Week, or Earth Year – and put themselves out of our misery.

Earth Hour, like the other Green (the Reds have simply died their shirts) notions of today is supposed to sound nice, full of candy sticks and puppies, but it’s just an example of looking for something to feel bad about; trying to heap guilt on those who enjoy good standards of living in the technologically-advanced parts of the world…as a result of their usage of said technological advancements. Worse, it gives the Eco-fascists and certain bureaucrats a chance to get positive publicity, which will make their market regulations and eco-taxes a bit easier to sell in the long run. Worse still, it’s an insipid attempt to get the ignorant (especially children) to buy into what is really a political ideology by making it a fun “let’s all take part” awareness event. It’s like equating communism with sharing; (the kind of ‘sharing’ a bank-robber has in mind.)

You know what the really dumb thing about Earth Hour is, and I haven’t researched this but it seems like common sense to me: when you take into account the planning, production, construction, marketing, advertising, maintenance, plastic, paper, posters, video and sound equipment; everything involved in an event this size around the world, I’m pretty sure all the fuel and electricity needed along the way dwarfs what is actually saved during the Hour. Which of course means that we’d be doing the planet more good by not having an Earth Hour…

I looked a bit further to identify the principle behind Earth Hour. Apparently it was started as a “protest” against climate change. Notwithstanding the fact that “climate change” is a wishy-washy catchall expression that covers any possible variation in the earth’s climate which is attributable to many factors, some of which are out of our control (solar flares, sun spots, asteroid impacts etc), and the ones which are within our control that are disputed science. The problem for someone with genuine doubts over the claims made by climate change commitees, is that there are far too many Bonos, and other nauseatingly fame-desperate “celebrities”, and everyone else with government-funded grants to maintain, clammering to support it. (The current ‘official’ scientific position* on climate change is not comparable to the “global cooling” scare of the 70s, but it is an example of how certain people will run with whatever current crisis appears to aid their careers.)

Now, the idea of a principle is that it’s a moral rule of thumb that guides your decision-making because it’s impossible to hold all past and any possible future knowledge in your head all at once and make every single decision every time from scratch based on this. The beauty of principles is that, if they are true, they will generally work out for the best over the long-term. That is, they can be applied consistently without contradiction.

With this in mind, if the Earth-Hourers really believe that they are harming “the planet” (as opposed to say, a particular area of land that belonged to another human being and therefore eligible to legal protection), why turn off your lights and power for only an hour?

It’s like saying in order to “protest” against the end result of using the toilet you will stop eating for an hour. What kind of fairyland pie-in-the-sky fantasy world must your head be in to imagine this is anything other than a pretentious publicity stunt? Oh, right…

If you really felt that strongly about “polluting” The Earth™ why not refuse to visit the toilet for a few days, or a week?? What’s that? You’d die? I see. And how is that any different to skipping electricity for that long?

Let’s ask ourselves: even if human activity is affecting the overall climate of this planet in some long-term noticeable way – so what? If “interfering” in nature is wrong on principle (as if human activity itself wasn’t the result of natural biological activity consistent with our requirements), then surely lighting a fire to keep warm is wrong? Surely we should dismantle the factories and break the dams and knock down our sky-scrapers and demolish supermarkets and warehouses? Let’s each and every one of us pick up a spear and go hunt our own food, kill it, cook it (but you can’t store any – no fridges allowed). Of course you have to kill animals to eat, even though that would be interfering with their habitat, but that’s ok – whereas destroying a forest so thousands of human beings can live in modern centrally-heated water-supplied houses without dying of pneumonia or dysentery is wrong. (You know, like in those Third World countries where nature is allowed to “win” over humans every day, in the form of millions of dead children. Although, dead children can’t emit carbon dioxide, so every cloud and all that.)

If the Earth-Hourers really want to protest Any-Slight-Variation-In-The-Earth’s-Short-Or-Long-Term-Aggregate-Temperature-Caused-By-Any-Possible-Factor-But-Which-Must-Be-‘Our’-fault™ why not stop driving their cars…altogether?? Don’t stop driving for an hour. Stop driving for a week! Better yet – scrap your car and walk. What’s that? Inconvenient? Too impractical? Your job/family/life revolves around globalisation and mass transportation? Yeah, thought so. It’s a bitch when your own “principles” are totally unworkable in real life. Of course, if you’re already a multi-millionaire, whether it be an aging hippie whose music career is dying and needs another way to stay in the public eye, or a hypocritical failed politician with several massive homes, cars and huge swimming pools, then it’s much easier to preach to the Common Man who is looking for something to latch onto, since you’d be the last ones hit by any regression to pre-industrial civilisation anyway.

It’s easy to speak of sacrifice or giving up modern conveniences when you can rush out for a takeaway or flip the heater on, but I don’t see many of these Greenies and celebrities rushing off to Ethiopia to experience the raw reality of nature without technology.

Speaking of countries almost reverting to pre-industrialisation, Earth Hour’s official website had this ludicrous comment: “With Earth Hour almost upon us, our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and sad time for their country.” Hmm, and yet, I doubt the Japanese will be foregoing electricity and industrialisation over the coming months and years as they attempt to rebuild their civilisation. Do you think the average Japanese person who’s lost their home is going to give a damn if the Earth’s ambient temperature over the next 75 years is predicted to rise 0.2 degrees (unless it was predicted by a research post in Norwich, in which case the prediction is less than worthless), if the power of modern civilisation restores his home and quality of life in a few short months or years? (Pssst it will take A LOT of energy to rebuild Japan.)

The people behind Earth Hour (and worse, those who jump on the bandwagon) remind me a little of what Ayn Rand said about socialism: ‘assume all the benefits of capitalism are here to stay, and then undermine every single thing that makes capitalism possible’ in the name of its enemies. It’s the same with Earth Hour: let’s just PRETEND that the amazing quality of life, housing, healthcare, computer-industry, transport-system, jobs we have in the Western world are a given (given, by whom?) – but appease the hydra of Green Radicalism and its Eco-Warning of the Week™ (my royalties after this post are going to be huge!) by cashing in (well cashing in if you’re a politician or celebrity), or cashing out (cashing out if you meet the following criteria: a) are a human being, b) have to actually work to earn your money, c) can’t rely on gimmicks or government grants for survival, d) enjoy a standard of living greater than that of a mother feeding her baby cholera-infected water.

Radical? Actually no. I’m not the radical (well except for freedom) or exaggerator. I don’t deny that man can affect the planet. Actually ALL man does is affect the planet, but that’s how human beings live. It’s natural for us to exploit available resources to further our lives.  We don’t become animals and try to bend to nature (some isolated tribes notwithstanding) or pray to sky gods to change the laws of nature (some isolated tribes, Muslim countries, and States of the USA notwithstanding), no – we INVENT and PRODUCE. Sure, some parts of “nature” get lost along the way, but is this a “loss”, and if so, to whom? Is it a loss if we produce 10,000 new jobs and build 1000 homes? Is it a loss if we build a medical facility that invents the cure for cancer? I’m sorry but if WE have to lose so an animal can carry on pooing in the middle of the woods in peace, I say screw the animal. But then, I don’t hate human beings like the Greenies do.

But why does it have to be “all or nothing?” I hear you say. Technically it doesn’t; there is a very practical argument to be made for turning out the lights when you’re not using them, turning off the tap when you’ve finished with it, turning the engine off when you, you know, get out the car…but I like to call this: the COMMON SENSE ARGUMENT!

The Earth Hour argument is like saying “let’s be nice to nature…but only for an hour.” Well, way to show some backbone there. Is a course of action right or wrong, and if it’s right – why is it right only for an hour? And if a course of action is self-destructive, why even take one step in that direction? It’s like smashing one of your fingers with a hammer and saying “well, it’s only one finger” – oh well that’s ok then. Is a “little” poison ok? Is losing “only some” of your money to a scam artist acceptable?

Earth Hour is not a rational appeal to common sense (there’s no profit in that – well not for the type of people who look to make a profit off this Eco stuff); it’s an emotional appeal to stop living like a human being, in deference to a dodgy political (semi-scientific) claim, which is rabidly backed by pressure groups who’d rather see us living in the mud than build another power station.

I propose something else: Human Hour. But the beauty of Human Hour is that none of your money is wasted, nor do you help massive corporations or bureaucrats score brownie points. And the beauty of Human Hour is that you can apply it every single hour for the rest of your life, guilt free! Here’s how it works: ask for nothing more than you’ve earned, and demand nothing less. Pay for what you use and no more. Use only what you can afford, and no more. Give to other human beings the same standards of dignity, honestly, and respect that you expect, and demand nothing less from others. If you do all this, you won’t need to be taken in by a world gone mad with silly vacuous publicity stunts. During Earth Hour, think of those around the world starving and dying, and those in the Dark Ages in the freezing cold, and imagine what your life would be like without industrialisation. Show your appreciation for the beauty of modern life: flick that light switch ON.

*****

Addendum: Earth Hour has one redeeming characteristic: it’s supported voluntarily by people and private companies all over the world. Groups like this further prove that ever-expanding government regulations are unnecessary, exploitative, and simply never as effective as what chosen cooperation can accomplish (no matter how dumb). (When you realise the truth of this statement, you’ll realise why the Greens in Parliament and Washington are always mysteriously far more interested in pushing new Eco-taxes than anything else.) In fact, IF the earth was facing a real threat from the general combined effects of human activity – whilst that still would not justify hurling ourselves back to the Stone Age in the here-and-now, this is precisely how the free market can act to make things change on a global level, appealing to individuals, and all without the use of force.

PPS: The more I think about this, the more blatantly stupid and evil this Earth Hour becomes. Think about it, all around the world there are those suffering and dying because they don’t have access to the modern technology we take for granted provided by…electricity. They would give anything to live one hour of our lifestyles, hell I suspect even 10 minutes – but here we are, in our Ivory Towers, feeling so very guilty about our technology – but not guilty to other human beings who don’t have access to industry and technology (that would be bad enough, as there’s nothing to feel guilty for), oh no – guilty to freaking mindless nature! Is this a slap in the face to the poorer countries in the world, an example of gross stupidity and ignorance, or an act of moral treason?

We have half the world’s population crying out for industrialisation, and the Eco-lunatics in positions of power in the other half (made possible by industrialisation) ever arrogantly and self-righteously declaring the turning off of our power in worship to Nature. Despicable would be an understatement.

Take a look at Japan and tell me Earth gives a damn about human life. After Earth Hour, will Mother Nature stop arbitrarily wrecking our cities and wiping us out in the hundreds of thousands? Earth Hour is pissing from a great height on the Japanese, poor people, and every intellectual and industrialist that led the way to put a hot meal on your plate, so that these ungrateful nutcases should throw it away to please Gaia.

* The scientific consensus is that the earth’s temperature has increased over the last century: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6321351.stm

Having said that, five years ago, the U.N. predicted that by 2010 some 50 million people would be fleeing climate change, rising seas, mega-hurricanes and so on. Instead, no islands have sunk and their populations are booming: http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/569069/201104131900/The-Climate-Refugee-Hoax.htm

And I’m not exaggerating that the eco-radicals really do hate human beings and see them as a plague on earth: http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/569072/201104131900/Our-Infected-Planet.htm

If we need to “wean ourselves off oil”, government should lead the way

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary reckons: “getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East.” My response is simple: if it’s so important to stop our dependency on oil, YOU go first. Please show us how it’s done. And you can start by getting rid of the current tax on fuel.

Tax on fuel in the UK is the highest it has ever been. For every litre of petrol (unleaded average at present is 131.38p), 58.95p is tax. And 20% of the final price includes VAT (also a record high of 20%). There are those who vilify the oil companies when they see the exorbitant profits they are enjoying. Let’s think about this for a moment: the oil companies are the ones who scan the earth for oil (drilling locations are heavily restricted due to “green” regulations), construct oil platforms, drill for the oil, refine it, ship it around the world, and deliver it to your local petrol station overnight, and require all the overheads of any business, versus: a government of powerful vote-whoring politicians who are practically answerable to no-one, with a track record of breaking promises, lying to your face, taxing you at every single possible opportunity, more than doubling the price of petrol itself, and invading your privacy. If we are going to point fingers, let’s be honest over who the real villains are.

Another obvious (and pretty silly) myth being perpetuated here is that oil is an addiction we can just get over. No, we can’t. And we shouldn’t. The quality of life we enjoy in the West is dependent on our demand for power. This isn’t something to be guilty about, but proud. It’s what separates us from savages in other parts of this world. There is no viable efficient practical alternative to oil as a power source at this moment in time. If and when the circumstances necessitate a shift, you can be sure that private companies (the ones who meet our demands now) will find the answer. That is how it always works. That is the only way it can work. (Even if somehow it doesn’t work out, the government does not hold the keys to a golden room where all our necessities are stored for emergencies. The power to tax is not the power to create.)

Incidentally, having a job title with the words “energy and climate change” seems like a contradiction to me. It’s like being a pro-Semitic Nazi or an anti-abortion individualist. The cult of climate change is fundamentally opposed to human well-being and industry. All this meddling in the economy simply wastes taxpayers’ money by pushing impractical “green” alternatives that can’t meet our demands. Why don’t these politicians realise that you can’t force a shift in the market, and if you do, the laws of economics will only come back to bite you? You can say we need to get away from oil all you want. For that matter, you can say we need to get away from our reliance on oxygen – but wishes aren’t horses. (Interestingly, other governments in the past like Soviet Russia and North Korean have had a desire to “wean” their citizens off another commodity they were heavily reliant on: food. It sort of worked; they ended up running out of food anyway, but had several million less mouths to feed.)

The current fuel costs are crippling businesses and draining investment capital – the very thing that would be used to fund any change in the energy industry in the future. This is the unconscionable irony for governments and ecologists alike: if you care about the future, leave private companies free to exploit the present.

Rumours of my demise

…are greatly exaggerated!  I haven’t been blogging much lately.  Initially this was because I was devoting my literary creativity to a work of fiction, latterly because my passion for writing had diminished due to other things in my life, but mostly because I’ve been playing a MMORPG to death!

 

In the coming days and weeks I plan to get back onto the regular blogging scene, but I hope to make my posts shorter and more current-affairs based, instead of detailed essays that cover general issues.  This is mostly because I feel I’ve already written about almost every important matter in great detail.

 

Today I’d just like to mention a complaint several colleagues were having over new congestion charges in Manchester.  The Council is introducing charges merely to enter the city by road, and further congestion charges aimed at reducing car use, pollution etc etc.  Most people who know me are aware of my political stance, which is an application of my morality, and my morality from my philosophy, so on this occasion I didn’t bother entering the discussion.

 

The interesting thing is that only last week we were discussing government interference in the market.  The typical mixed-economy supporter believes government should interfere in a market where there is a genuine “life-or-death” need, such as healthcare, food and drink, or power.  One of the usual arguments in favour of government interference in the departments of Water and Power is that is lowers prices and ensures competition, when actually the exact opposite is true; government endorsement of one or two companies is actually the ONLY way for coercive monopolies to exist, and even if the cost to the consumer is apparently cheaper, higher taxes and inflation are the result (e.g.: the NHS).

 

Of course, the very question that mixed economists don’t (and cannot) answer is this: what gives government the right to interfere in the transactions of private businesses and individuals?  There is no legitimate political answer to this question, because there is no moral justification for it.  Government’s sole purpose is to protect the Rights of its citizens, not to deny the “haves” in order to supply the “have-nots”.

 

This is why the same mixed economists who complain about yet another needless tax are reaping the seeds of their own doing.  They want a government that has arbitrary power to violate the Rights of its people, yet they complain when it actually does so!  But of course, they only complain when THEIR rights are violated!  Who cares about the businessman, whose creativity and industry provides the foundations of society, because he has money anyway?  Who cares about the people who take care of the bodies through good health practices and rarely require healthcare, because they obviously have too much money in the first place?  Who cares about the profitability of companies who can provide water and power, because people “need” these things?  The mixed economists don’t care – they want it THEIR way.  But of course, the only way to force other people to suit you regardless of the cost is by government force, a two-edged sword.  So when inflation soars and government needs even more money to fill the hole created by its interference in the market, it looks to squeeze even more money from its citizens by ridiculous fines and charges.

 

The mixed economists don’t even question the absurdity of charging ANYONE for using their own property, regardless of what the alarmist environmentalists threaten will happen (which changes from year to year, decade to decade).  Compare the pollution caused by cars to that of enormous power plants.  If polluting the air is wrong (it’s negligible anyway) let’s close the power plants.  Instead we’ll just light fires to keep warm.  But wait, burning fuel releases carbon dioxide, and we can’t have that…

 

Anyway, the point is to highlight the contradictions inherent in any socialist’s politics.  A typical socialist wants government interference, and doesn’t want it.  A socialist wants government to have enormous discretionary power, and then complains when HIS rights are violated.  This is because a person’s politics are derived from their morality, and the morality of the socialist (which is the true name for a mixed economist) is that of collectivism and altruism.  And the collectivist denies that any man has a right to live for his own sake; that his sole purpose for living is to serve others.  They must believe this, because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be collectivists, and would necessarily embrace the ONLY political system that totally respects individual Rights: capitalism.

 

So before you moan about more taxes and congestion charges etc, check your politics, check your morals.

Objectivist Round-Up 30

Objectivist Round-Up #30

Welcome everybody to this week’s Objectivist Round-Up. This is my first time hosting this carnival and it’s a privilege to give Rational Jenn a well-deserved rest for a week!

Here are the accepted submissions for this week, in no particular order:

RationalJenn wants to know which states are currently complying?, and says…

Somehow, this whole thing snuck past me when it went through Congress nearly 3 years ago. It looks as if the Feds are going to come down hard on states that refuse to comply fully with the federal “security” guidelines for the issuance of state ids. Not only that, I fail to see how on earth this will protect me from Bad Guys. But I see quite clearly how much information our federal government will have about me and everyone else who wants to drive a car or ride in an airplane.”

Nicholas Provenzo at The Rule of Reason tells us Why Boycotting Berkeley is Important.

Stella Daily at Reason Pharma reckons it Would be Cheaper if You Were Dead!

Gus Van Horn presents Heartland on VanDamme

Evanescent exposes the Nihilism of Subjectivism.

That’s all for now! The next round-up is over at The Crucible & Column, where the theme will be “Best of 2007!” You can submit your articles here.

 

Animals Have NO Rights

I’ve recently explained what morality is and where rights come from. When discussing what human rights mean, we must define exactly what we’re talking about, and justify our definition. When doing so, another interesting topic arises, which is that of animal rights. I have always held the belief that animals have rights, of a sort. For example, the right “not to suffer”. I was wrong, because animals have no rights at all.

First of all, consider individual rights. A human being is a creature that makes decisions based on reason. Unlike an animal which is automatically equipped with the knowledge to select its values, human beings must discover, through a process of reason, what is good for our lives and what is bad. We discover rational values with our ultimate value, life, as the standard. This code of values to guide our decisions is Objective Morality. Therefore, man, to function as a man, must be a moral being. If he is anything less he is living like a beast, not a human. But in order to make moral decisions he must be free to do so. A man who is coerced to do good or evil, at the point of a gun, is not being allowed to act like a rational being, in other words, like a human being. Where force is present, morality becomes impossible. A man needs his morality to guide his actions whether he is alone or in a crowd. However, when a man is in a social setting, he and the others around him need the freedom to act in order to function as rational beings. What guarantees a person the freedom to act without force in pursuit of his goals? Rights. Therefore, Rights are a moral principle that exist in a social setting to guarantee freedom of action for rational beings.

There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfilment and the enjoyment of his own life.”The Virtue of Selfishness

Because Rights are moral principles they apply only to moral beings. The purpose of government, in fact the only morally legitimate role of government, is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. To violate the rights of another innocent individual is to be a criminal. Now, because animals do not act based on morality, to give them legally-enforceable rights to guarantee their freedom of action is an egregious contradiction in terms.

Rights apply only to action; to the right to act. For example, no one has the “right to love” – one has the right to seek a mate and win the heart of a member of the opposite sex, but no one has a free entitlement to love. One has the right to sustain one’s life by any means necessary, assuming one doesn’t violate the rights of others; in order to live one needs a job. One is free to act to seek a job; one has NO right to a job. The right to support your own life does not incur an obligation on other people to support your life. Rights only impose a negative obligation on other people, that is: you may not violate MY rights, and I may not violate YOURS.

There is no such thing as the Right “to not suffer”. To quote Leitmotif:

So, say we grant these animals the right to “protection from torture.” Are we now going to arrest all other animals who break this law by inflicting “torture” on these protected group of animals whom we have just granted these rights? Or does this law only apply to humans, to restrict human activity so that animals can “enjoy” greater freedom and “rights”?”

Suffering is the end result of a course of action, just as happiness is. But, a course of action is dictated by one’s morality. So using suffering or happiness as the standard is to flip the nature of morality on its head. This is the problem with utilitarianism (suffering) and hedonism (happiness). Just because something causes happiness does not make it right, and just because something causes suffering does not make it wrong.

To use an example (I can’t remember the source so any readers are welcome to elucidate): suppose we encounter a sapient alien with all the rational faculty of a human being, but without the capacity to experience any pain or harm. Would this creature still have rights? Of course it would, so the capacity to feel pain (or any level of it) is an invalid standard from which to derive morality, and therefore Rights.

Granting Rights to animals, that would be enforced by government, is to limit the activity of humans, in other words, to prevent the total freedom of mankind in doing whatever he sees necessary to further his life or allow him to flourish. But, remember that rights exist only to protect the action of moral beings. Granting rights to animals is necessarily to sacrifice the rights of humans, which is not only totally irrational, it is grossly immoral. It is immoral, because it treats humans like criminals.

This does not mean that it is “okay” for humans to torture animals. A human being who takes delight in torturing animals is immoral, and such people should be condemned. But there is a difference between the moral and the legal. Fox-hunting, bull-fighting, cock-fighting etc may be deemed immoral, but they are certainly not illegal.

 

(I’ve not gone into excessive detail here so that any minor issues can be settled in any discussion that follows…)

Edited to add the following, which I posted on a discussion forum on this topic. This is in response to the arguments from an environmentalist pro-animals rights position that tried to resort to evolutionary science to justify morality and animal rights:

“Misanthropic Scott is still ignoring everything I’ve said on this subject for the last few days. I have no problem with science explaining human behavioural trends from an evolutionary point of view. The problem, and this is the last time I’m going to say this, is that it is explaining the wrong thing.

Evolution selects for the success of procreation, whether right or wrong. It has side-effects, whether right or wrong. The affinity of humans to think magically and superstitiously is undeniable, and yet a side-effect of our pattern-recognition faculty in our brains. The very thing that has allowed us to evolve as pattern-seeking creatures and drive our intelligence, has an unfortunate side-effect: magical thinking. Now, no one would call magical thinking “moral”, it is a part of our behaviour that can be explained evolutionarily.

Now, animals that do not attack each other; animals that form social contracts; animals that remember acts of generosity; animals that sacrifice themselves for the “collective good” etc; are NOT, and I repeat NOT acting morally. They are NOT acting immorally. They are acting as a result of evolutionary pressure to behaviour in a way that their genes have selected for. Richard Dawkins has shown that “selfish” genes can produce affects that are apparently “altruistic”, because it indirectly furthers the propagation of particular genes; natural selection will favour any system this is evolutionary stable (ESS).

Now, human behaviour that some people call “moral” can be explained in evolutionary terms. However, this is a faulty use of the term “moral”, and here we are talking past each other. The Objectivist ethics holds that morality is a system to be DISCOVERED, it is a philosophy for living on this earth; for each man and for every man; it is a code of values to guide actions. Morality is a topic that belongs in philosophy, but in seeking to explain what morality is and its source, one must check one’s philosophical premises. If one’s premise is that morality is altruistic/collectivist behaviour, one will seek to explain it scientifically, and how evolution selected for this behaviour. But if one rejects the notion that morality is altruistic, and that MORALITY is the rational decision making and action of thinking beings, any attempt to explain it evolutionarily is irrelevant, because, as I keep explaining, one is trying to explain the wrong thing.

It comes down to the fundamentals of one’s philosophy; the basis of morality for example. Now, the morality of altruism etc is rife in society today, and that is why Humanists and atheists, even the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens etc, accept it. We have the likes of Kant to thank for altruistic “duty” ethics, and altruism is at the core of religion ethics; it is curious that atheists don’t even realise this themselves. Altruism/collectivist ethics are subjective, and any subjective ethics reduce to nihilism, in which case morality becomes impossible. Only an objective morality can make morality possible. That is why we must reject any system of ethics that is not objective and not derived from reality. But we must make sure we’re talking about the right thing.

This talk of brain studies and human behaviour is largely irrelevant; morality is not acting in a way that evolution has selected for. Humans largely have the capacity to control their behaviour; this is because we can think rationally, something no other creature can do. ONLY a rational being can act morally, so only a human being can be a moral being. Therefore, Rights (legal protection against the use of force) can ONLY apply to moral beings, because it is only moral beings that need freedom for force in order to act as the TYPE OF BEINGS THEY ARE.

I encourage any further discussion to be centred philosophically on the concept of morality and rights, and leave the beauty of evolutionary science (of which I’m a fan) out of the discussion. One must start with one’s premise of morality. Using evolution to explain morality begs the question; it assumes that you know what morality already is: I’ve explained what Objectivist morality is, what is YOUR alternative?; that is the proper focus for discussion here. Any other comments about evolution that ignore what I’ve written here will just be ignored by me.”

Open Thread: Anthropogenic Global Warming

Ok I need help.

Why is there so much controversy over climate change, and what are the facts?

There is so much debate between legitimate scientists, I have become very sceptical when reading anything that puts forward a strong opinion, either way, on human effects on global warming.  I find I am increasing unable to take either side very seriously anymore.

Note: I am not denying global warming at all.  My question is this:

Does human activity add significantly to global warming?

The Royal Society seems to think so.  This is the leading scientific authority in Britain that, in a peer-reviewed analysis, claims that humans are contributing significantly to global warming:

http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=4761

Yet, why have 19,000 American scientists signed a petition stating that this is not the case, and produced a comprehensive analysis of the trends of global temperature against industrial activity (and found no correlation):

http://www.oism.org/pproject/

Why have JunkScience.com offered $125,000 (as yet unclaimed) to anyone who can scientifically prove that humans are causing global warming:

http://ultimateglobalwarmingchallenge.com/

 

Bloggers that I share very many opinions with, believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming:

http://www.blacksunjournal.com/climate-change-facts/

And bloggers who I often agree with and respect a lot reject AGW:

http://ergosum.wordpress.com/category/environmentalism/

 

Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has become very popular in advertising man’s putative effects on the planet.  But, when the film is replete with lies and distortions, I’m more inclined to think of it as something akin to creationist propaganda and politicking, than credible science.  You see, if the facts of mankind causing damage were that self-evident, why would so many people on both sides need to lie and attempt to deceive others about the evidence?

I am trying to keep my sanity here, so can someone tell me why there is even a debate?  Scientists don’t argue over the fact of gravity, or evolution, or heliocentrism etc?  In fact, scientists aren’t even debating that global warming is occurring.  The debate is whether it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that man’s industrial activities are the primary cause.

As a rational thinker, I must go wherever the evidence leads.  However, I have no intention of getting swept up in purely political debates or emotionalism.  In other words, let’s propose for the purposes of this discussion that I don’t actually care if we are harming the environment or not.  I just want to know if we actually are.  At this moment in time, the only reasonable position I can take is one of agnosticism toward AGW, which means, I won’t accept it unless the evidence convinces me.  That is, I’m going to assume there’s not a problem unless someone can prove to me that there definitely is.  Call this naive if you will, but please be assured my only interest is the truth.

To any commenter’s: I will play Devil’s Advocate both ways; don’t take it personally!  😉  Who knows, by the end of this thread I will have reached a conclusion!…