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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • That article is transparently wrong on several arguments.

    When he brings up endangered species, he fails to consider keys issues:

    1. Wild cows and thoroughbred horses barely exist anymore. The specimen that do exist are effectively organic machines: their contribution of these species to the ecosphere is human-mediated. But it is this contribution of a species to an ecosphere that matters, not the existence of the species as a whole.

    2. A narrow range of species are useful to humans so they have been domesticated and thus their continued existence is ensured. There is also a huge array of species that have already been extinguished. I guess self-interest sometimes – what surprise! – actually fails.

    I have no beef with his argument about limited oil supplies.

    When he talks about global warming, he says:

    Most of the increase happened in the first four decades when industrial output was quite modest, while worldwide temperatures actually dropped during the massive postwar industrial boom.

    This completely ignores the possibility that global temperature reacts to sustained large-scale only with a large delay. If the effect from industry wasn’t to be felt for a couple of decades, it would hardly be surprising that temperatures managed to drop while industry kicked into high gear.

    And then he asks:

    After all, which countries are more polluted – those in relatively free Western Europe, or those that suffered under communist rule in Eastern Europe?

    No shit, Sherlock. Germany is the leader among industrialised nations with respect to pollution reduction. Guess what? Germany has (in)famuously strict governmental regulations. Guess what? The communist coutries had zilch nada nary a line about such matters in their legislations.

    Capitalism as a whole doesn’t have to suffer for regulations, btw. In Germany, the strict evironmental laws have created entire industries and large segments in exisiting ones that feed on providing the infrastructure necessary to meet regulations.

    But industry couldn’t be trusted to avert the extinction of species *that had no market value*. When will the climate as such attain market value? And if the climate is indeed a significantly time-delayed system, will that be soon enough?

    • Please excuse the fractured grammar in some of the sentences. I edited a bit too much, a bit too sloppily.

    • But industry couldn’t be trusted to avert the extinction of species *that had no market value*.

      A deeper criticism along the same lines might ask "Do there exist valuable entities and ideas which reject our ability to attach market prices?" Of course, that's an attack on strict utilitarianism which will start long debates. Good luck avoiding relativism then!

      The premise of using market value to achieve similar goals does have some appeal, however.