Be Very Scared

by Don Boudreaux on October 24, 2007

in Environment

The October 29 issue of The New Yorker has a brilliantly insightful and funny cartoon.  (If the caption is difficult to read, it says "And now here’s our environmental correspondent with some alarming news about the sky.")

Nyrcartoon_5

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{ 18 comments }

muirgeo October 24, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. But teach a man how to fish, and he'll be dead of mercury poisoning inside of three years. ~Charles Haas

jmklein October 24, 2007 at 5:43 pm

The New Yorker eh? Looks like the denial is spreading :)

Billy October 24, 2007 at 5:56 pm

They say if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish…then he has to get a fishing license. But he doesn't have any money, so he has to get a job and enter the social security system. And he has to file taxes, and you're gonna audit the poor son of a bitch because he's not really good at math. You pull the IRS van up to his house and take everything. You take his velvet Elvis and his toothbrush and his penis pump and that all goes up for auction with the burden of proof on you because you forgot to carry the one. All because you wanted to eat a fish, and you couldn't even cook the fish because you need a permit for an open flame, and then the Health Department is going to start asking you a lot of questions about where you're going to dump the scales and the guts. This is not a sanitary environment. And ladies and gentlemen, if you get sick of it all at the end of the day… not even legal to kill yourself in this free country of ours. ~Doug Stanhope

I admit it may not be absolutely on topic, but this is one of my favorite quotes, and given the nature of most proposed "solutions" to the alleged climate crisis, it may be pertinent after all.

Mesa Econoguy October 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Here’s one of my favorites:

“One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday, stressing the need to pass the Democrats’ comprehensive energy package.

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/
wildfires-get-personal-for-lawmakers-2007-10-24.html

What an idiot.

brotio October 24, 2007 at 7:38 pm

Hey Mesa,

It's even better! Just minutes after Reid made that quote, he denied saying it. He's quicker to contradict himself than Kerry. Or even Muirgeo! :p

SheetWise October 24, 2007 at 10:52 pm

I like the title "environmental correspondent" –

I wonder if this person is an "objective" reporter. It's possible — just possible, mind you — that they may be either for or against.

Tim October 25, 2007 at 3:49 am

Speaking about the sky falling, 'Nature' now says that Kyoto is kaput, or at least, should be. See here.

a Duoist October 25, 2007 at 5:23 am

The best thing about the cartoon is that no name is mentioned and yet EVERYONE knows who 'Chicken Little' is.

lowcountryjoe October 25, 2007 at 12:58 pm

The best thing about the cartoon is that no name is mentioned and yet EVERYONE knows who 'Chicken Little' is.

But of course. It's a frequent poster here at The Cafe. In fact, it led off with the first comment this time.

tiger October 25, 2007 at 4:30 pm

"THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!" A paraphrase of Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize winning film maker.

Billy October 25, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Below is a letter from today's wsj.com that nicely illustrates the thought process and some of the fallacies of the true believers. I particularly love the part following the admission that action on GW "may be" a misallocation of resources. I guess if we didn't misallocate those resources, they'd just sit there idle. Better to put resources to bad use than no use at all, huh?

Mr. Botkin is very correct in assuming that we do not know the full extent of global warming and its true effect on our society. However, there is a risk that global warming could have negative consequences to our environment. This risk, whether real or imagined, is enough to take action. The action, as Mr. Botkin states, may be a misallocation of resources; however, the associated research and development and the creation of a new industry will grow the global economy. This action will also raise the awareness of other potential environmental issues, which Mr. Botkin feels is more pertinent. Second, the growth in the economy from the creation of this new industry will allow for even greater resources to be set aside for such things as habitat preservation and other environmental initiatives. Only good can come from battling global warming, whereas standing idle only exposes our society to additional risks.

happyjuggler0 October 26, 2007 at 4:36 am

the associated research and development and the creation of a new industry will grow the global economy

That is pure bovine scatology (b.s.). Without commenting on the merits or demerits of fighting AGW, what you have outlined above is commonly called the broken window fallacy. By all means link to my classic 150 year old link. But if you choose to bypass it, the underexplained shorthand for this classic economic blunder is the notion that by destroying someone's property you can induce a net new creation of wealth because he has to spend monye to replace his destroyed property, and the person(s) who replaces his property gets paying work and thus this is wrongly viewed as free money.

But there is no such thing as a free lunch, someone has to pay for it out of money that would've been spent on something else. Thus there is no net gain, that side of the equation is a wash, but the destroyed property is a negative, so on balance there is no gain.

All of which is a long way of saying that environmental spending is not good for the economy as you stated. It may or may not be good for the environament as you seem to think an you may be right, but we the people will definitely pay for it with money we would have spent for something definitely useful from our own points of view, and thus we are poorer as a result, and most definitely not wealthier.

vidyohs October 26, 2007 at 6:29 am

Hey billy,
LOL, I wonder what Mr. Botkin will think of his new global industry geared to fight global warming, when the Earth decides suddenly to swing the other way and it is discovered that instead of building refrigerators we should have been building heaters.

Midas Mulligan October 26, 2007 at 3:22 pm

"However, there is a risk that global warming could have negative consequences to our environment. This risk, whether real or imagined, is enough to take action."

How is that any different from the justification used for the War in Iraq? Why is acting on a possibly "imagined" threat ok for progressives, but not for conservatives?

Darren October 26, 2007 at 3:33 pm

happyjuggler0,
You're absolutely right about the broken window fallacy, but you should have been addressing the letter writer that Billy was quoting (in a negative light), not Billy himself.

vidyohs October 27, 2007 at 8:11 am

"How is that any different from the justification used for the War in Iraq? Why is acting on a possibly "imagined" threat ok for progressives, but not for conservatives?

Posted by: Midas Mulligan | Oct 26, 2007 3:22:50 PM"

MM,
Buncha libertarians here, except for the odd sock puppet or village idiot.

I think you'd see if you read closely that the folks here agree with neither trumped up justification for combatting global warming or Iraq.

happyjuggler0 October 28, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Hmmmmm. Darren you are right of course, I killed the messenger. Oops. Sorry. I can only think I had a little too much booze in me and missed that it was a quote.

Billy October 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Heh, no harm done, hj. I recognized the intended target of your response. I've carried the lesson of the broken window with me ever since my high school economics teacher introduced us to Hazlitt in 9th grade. That's still the only econ class I've ever taken, but each year I realize how fortunate I was to have a teacher willing to use "Economics in One Lesson."

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