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Global Warming, Fanatics, and Freedom

People who claim to be making the world a better place have often delivered misery. The Soviets, for example, said they were building a more equal society. Instead, they murdered tens of millions.

The environment is important. But so are other things. The freedoms that generations of our forbearers sacrificed and died for cannot be brushed aside in the name of saving the planet. Do we want to live in a world:

  • where asking questions is considered immoral?
  • where industries that have helped us achieve long, prosperous lives are demonized?
  • where elected politicians who think differently than unelected activists are jailed?

Most people concerned about global warming are sensible individuals who know the ends don't justify the means. But every movement has its extremists. And in this case, those extremists are hearing some disturbing messages about our right to hold different points-of-view.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, the United Nations' Special Envoy on Climate Change, insists:

"It is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation we are in."

[p. 2, paragraph 3]



James Hansen, NASA's activist scientist and Al Gore's science advisor, thinks oil company bosses should be put on trial for challenging the global warming hypothesis.

"I'm not a lawyer, I don't know how you do it, but it seems to me that it is, indeed, a crime against humanity and nature."

[news story here]
[quote comes from mp3 here]

David Suzuki, a Canadian activist scientist who is critical of elected officials' response to global warming, has advised audiences:

"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act."


Environmental activists who believe their cause is more important than other people's free speech aren't hard to find. DeSmogBlog.com argues that alternative perspectives on global warming amount to a plot to confuse and mislead the public. In other words, everyone else is a deliberate liar who has no right to be heard. Declares DeSmogBlog: "Free speech does not include the right to deceive." [read a critique of DeSmogBlog here]

The American Library Association says:
Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.

Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system.

Green activists who attempt to silence the voices of climate skeptics threaten intellectual freedom as well as free speech.


It's difficult to dismiss the DeSmogBlog group as fringe players who don't represent mainstream environmentalism. Its founder, James Hoggan, is currently the chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation and the author of Climate Cover-up - which has received rave reviews from Leonardo DiCaprio and NASA's James Hansen. DeSmogBlog's operating officer, Kevin Grandia, was "trained by Al Gore."

Nor do environmentalists stop at repudiating free speech. Democracy itself is now being presented as a problem that must be solved in the interests of saving the planet. According to the authors of The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, liberal democracy must give way to "a form of authoritarian government by experts." [Experts have often been spectacularly wrong. See herehere and here.]

The online description of another book, The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty, indicates that its author proposes "constitutional and multilateral arrangements that could help transform the liberal democratic state into a postliberal green democratic state." In other words, if we can't convince the electorate to undertake the measures we believe are necessary, we'll have to replace democracy with a re-jigged system that ensures our own point of view prevails.

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman has argued in the pages of the New York Times that human-rights abusing China's system of government is superior to American democracy. In his words, its leaders are "a reasonably enlightened group of people" who (because they don't have to worry about that pesky matter of getting re-elected) "can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century." Such measures, in Friedman's view, include promoting clean power, energy efficiency, and "boosting gasoline prices, from the top down."

Individual freedoms are also imperiled by the concept of personal carbon rationing, which has been discussed seriously since at least 2006. This means that ordinary people's vacations, educational opportunities, and job prospects could be restricted for the good of the planet. In a blog post on May 28th, 2007 [near the bottom of the list of comments], one person illustrates such thinking:

"The cases [sic] for exemptions on the grounds of educational benefit or overseas charitable work sound weak to me. In the case of students, there is nothing stopping parents or relatives from saving or transferring their allowance to the student..."

Again and again we're told that global warming effects every part of our life - and that individuals, communities and nations must now do everything differently. A 2009 report commissioned by the British government declares: "Global, national and local systems...must be re-engineered" [p. 2, paragraph 2]. The authors of the report say a new world order is inevitable, and that countries that choose not to participate in international carbon reduction programs could be excommunicated.

Such countries would "sit outside the international system and [be] effectively barred from all forms of international cooperation" including trade [p. 29, 3 paragraphs from the bottom].

Vaclav Klaus, the current President of the Czech Republic, is the author of Blue Planet in Green Shackles - What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? Klaus involuntarily lived most of his life under Communist rule and is, therefore, sensitive to the notion that there is "only one permitted truth" in  public debate. He is also suspicious of a movement "which puts nature...before and above freedom."

While he believes we have a responsibility to protect the environment on behalf of future generations, he considers it another matter altogether to embark on "ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior and our values."

Global-warming activists say we must act for the sake of our children and grandchildren. But how grateful will those children be if we leave them a planet in which:

  • free speech and other democratic rights have disappeared
  • voters in individual countries are no longer able to chart their own destinies
  • government bureaucrats decide whether you'll be permitted to take a flight to visit a dying friend - or whether your child has sufficient carbon credits to study abroad


In May 2010 BBC radio devoted an entire 30-minute program to a discussion of whether democracy should be abandoned so that governments can impose anti-global-warming measures. Here are some of the scary comments made by those appearing on the show:
  • Mayer Hillman: "I think itís irrelevant how I sound. Iím just trying to talk commonsense...there are times in history when democracy has to be set aside because of our wider obligation."

  • Michael Jacobs: "I donít think itís right to call something anti-democratic if it has the consent of the public, even if you couldnít say that they were actively in favour of it."

  • Halina Ward: "We donít have to be driven by what 50% plus 1 of the population wants [in order] to say that we represent a majority view...I think what this really points to is in a democracy are there issues where the sum of individual views can be overridden by something else..."


>> Bullies need not apply
>> Green time capsule: 1970 eco ideas not pretty
>> Climate skepticism is free speech
>> Can we recycle Bono?

[last edit: Sept 23, 2010]