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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Sustainable economics and the free market


The issue of sustainability is one that I was introduced to by Dr. Mark Forskitt over the course of the recent Senator elections in Jersey.

A recent comment posed the question -
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I am fascinated by your love in with greens. Green parties in Europe are distinctly left wing and often prop up socialist parties in government. How does that fit with libertarian right politics?
It is true and often commented that European Green parties are like water melons, green on the outside and red in the middle, because of this a lot of the 'green' literature has a distinctly left wing slant to it, however one should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's not forget that the Conservative party recently adopted a lot of 'green' policies and recently re-branded to reflect this new approach.

The sustainability issue is a valid one; in Jersey just take a look at our reservoirs and you begin to understand that water supply will become a major issue if the climate continues to change as it is doing and the government continues their unrelenting policy of unlimited immigration. Similarly looking at the sheer number of people in the world and the precarious nature of our food production which could be upset by something as simple as an inevitable shift in the magnetic alignment of the earth causing bee populations to decrease.

Understanding that the supply of oil is likely to become restricted and thus the price is likely to continue to rise is a consideration of the free market. I believe that necessity is the mother of invention and that when the profitability is sufficient, alternatives will be more widely used and of course when it becomes necessary who knows what future solutions will be found to meet our energy consumption. Whilst oil prices are so relatively inexpensive, dependence on oil will continue. There is the unknown of how much oil which is not 'peak oil' (where we can get at it) will be forced up through the earth to become 'peak oil' over time.

I do not consider whether the recorded temperature change around the world is part of a natural cycle of temperature variance or is as a result of the actions of humanity. But it is impossible to argue with scientific data and say that things aren't changing, irrespective of the cause of those changes.

In the development of the modelling of weather patterns it has been discovered that simply by allowing twelve known scientific equations to interact with each other given set starting data a series of data is produced that never repeats itself. Weather patterns are of course far more complex than can be defined with just twelve equations.

I see no reason why the same should not apply to temperature variations over the millions of years that the Earth has been around. To me it seems the ultimate arrogance to suggest that we either are capable of understanding such complexities or that we can control them. As a Libertarian I would further ask, why do we want to control them? I am happy knowing simply that I do not know and that I will never know what the weather is going to be.

Libertarianism itself is not a right wing philosophy, but as the 'greens' in Europe are predominantly left wing, Self-proclaimed libertarians are predominantly right wing and so the Libertarian literature has a right wing slant to it.

Fundamentally the left/right cleavage in societies is becoming less and less relevant and the Libertarian/Authoritarian cleavage is becoming the pre-eminent battleground as it becomes ever more apparent that bureaucracy and central planning is a far less effective method of driving growth in the modern world where knowledge and opportunity is more open to anyone who chooses to pursue it.

The world wide web is perhaps the greatest ever advancement for our species and all the more important because it is relatively unregulated, multi-jurisdictional and available to all. Both Libertarian and Green ideas have blossomed as they represent the genuine concerns of individuals rather than governments and the internet provides the means of exchanging these ideas around the globe.