In this post, I'll talk about the chapter on "Global Warming" in Ron Paul's Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom.
Paul labels himself a global-warming skeptic. Paul says on page 139
that change in climate has been occurring for millions of years, and
that there is even evidence that temperatures may be falling. Paul
appeals on pages 139-140 to Dr. Arthur B. Robinson, who, along with
other scientists, contends that "climate change and temperature
variations are related to sunspot activity and water vapor" rather than
hydrocarbons (Paul's summary). According to Robinson, the increase in
hydrocarbon use since 1940 has not affected noticeably either
"atmospheric temperature or...the trend of glacial length" (Robinson's
words). You can read about Dr. Arthur Robinson here. I think that believers in human-made climate change would highlight that Dr. Robinson is not a climatologist but a chemist.
Ron Paul is a strong advocate of nuclear power, and he does not believe that wind power will meet America's energy needs. Paul
says that he has a windmill and that it saves him a few dollars on his
electric bill, but he contends that "To replace one nuclear power
generator you need windmills to cover an area the size of Connecticut"
(page 135). Paul says on page 141 that windmills and solar
panels, were they to replace hydrocarbons, would destroy a lot of
acreage and not even meet our energy needs.
Paul also argues that
certain attempts to save the environment have a counter-productive
effect. The cost of cap-and-trade, for example, pushes companies to
leave "more efficient conditions and [to be] pushed into third world
countries where the cheapest form of fossil fuels is used" (page 138),
resulting in an increase in CO2 emissions. And Paul states on page 140
that recycling "consumes more energy than it saves", citing this article for
support. Paul goes on to say that "Recycling aluminum makes economic
sense, but that would happen even without the demand to recycle
everything from paper to glass and plastic."
I thought that Paul made fairly decent arguments. His arguments are good, in my opinion, but not so much on the scientific front,
for I believe that many climatologists have made a good case that
global warming is happening, and it also makes sense to me that carbon
traps heat, that the increase in CO2 emissions would make the weather
warmer, and that the growing number of hurricanes and the winters that
feel like tundras (on some days) indicate that global warming is
occurring. But Paul did well to question whether windmills
could cut the mustard, and also to note that certain measures to protect
the environment could have counter-productive effects. But I wish that
Ron Paul had spent more pages detailing how his libertarianism could
actually help the environment, as other libertarians have done, rather
than focusing so much energy on criticizing environmentalists.
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