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Ron Paul on the environment and energy

1.  There is an excellent interview of Dr. Ron Paul now up at Grist, the environmental news and commentary site, that explores some of his views on environmental and energy issues. I am with him in principle but think he has underestimated the seriousness of the climate change problem and not seriously thought through the issues yet.


Selected remarks on international issues include the following (emphasis added):

If it is air that crosses a boundary between Canada and the United States, you would have to have two governments come together, voluntarily solving these problems.”

Q:  “What’s your take on global warming? Is it a serious problem and one that’s human-caused?”

A:  “I think some of it is related to human activities, but I don’t think there’s a conclusion yet. There’s a lot of evidence on both sides of that argument. If you study the history, we’ve had a lot of climate changes. We’ve had hot spells and cold spells. They come and go. If there are weather changes, we’re not going to be very good at regulating the weather.

“To assume we have to close down everything in this country and in the world because there’s a fear that we’re going to have this global warming and that we’re going to be swallowed up by the oceans, I think that’s extreme. I don’t buy into that. Yet, I think it’s a worthy discussion.”

Q:  “So you don’t consider climate change a major problem threatening civilization?”


A:  “No. [Laughs.] I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus — those are immediate threats. We’re about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then that’s going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.”


Q: “What, if anything, do you think the government should do about global warming?”

A:  “They should enforce the principles of private property so that we don’t emit poisons and contribute to it.

And, if other countries are doing it, we should do our best to try to talk them out of doing what might be harmful. We can’t use our army to go to China and dictate to China about the pollution that they may be contributing. You can only use persuasion.”

Q:  “You have voiced strong opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. Can you see supporting a different kind of international treaty to address global warming?”

A:  “It would all depend. I think negotiation and talk and persuasion are worthwhile, but treaties that have law enforcement agencies that force certain countries to do things, I don’t think that would work.”

Q:  “You believe that ultimately private interests will solve global warming?”

A: “I think they’re more capable of it than politicians.”

Q:  ” What’s your position on a carbon tax?”

A:  “I don’t like that. That’s sort of legalizing pollution. If it’s wrong, you can buy these permits, so to speak. It’s wrong to do it, it shouldn’t be allowed.”

[Note:  This seems ambiguous, but I suppose RP intended to disagree with the concept of permits as well as taxes.]

Q:  “You’ve described your opposition to wars for oil as an example of your support for eco-friendly policies. Can you elaborate?”

A:  “Generally speaking, war causes pollution — uranium, burning of fuel for no good purpose. The Pentagon burns more fuel than the whole country of Sweden.”

Q:  “Do you support the goal of energy independence in the U.S.?”

A:  “Sure. But independence does not mean to me that we produce everything. I don’t believe governments have to provide every single ounce of energy. I see independence as having no government-mandated policy: If you need oil or energy, you can buy it.”

Q:  “What about being independent from the Middle East, so we’re not buying oil from hostile countries?”

A:  “I think it’s irrelevant. We wouldn’t be buying it directly, we would be buying it on the world market. I don’t think the goal has to be that we produce alternative fuel so that we never buy oil from the Middle East. The goal should be to provide all useful services and goods through a market mechanism instead of central economic planning or world planning. That system doesn’t work.”

2.  Dr. Paul also discussed energy and the environment in an interview in June, when he said the following:

Q:  “Especially after the release of Al Gore’s global warming documentary, the environment has been very much on people’s minds.  Where do you stand on global warming?”   

A: “Global temperatures have been warming since the Little Ice Age.  Studies within the respectable scientific community have shown that human beings are most likely a part of this process.  As a Congressman, I’ve done a number of things to support environmentally friendly policies.  I have been active in the Green Scissors campaign to cut environmentally harmful spending, I’ve opposed foreign wars for oil, and I’ve spoken out against government programs that encourage development in environmentally sensitive areas, such as flood insurance.”

Q:  How about KYOTO?  

A:  “I strongly oppose the Kyoto treaty.  Providing for a clean environment is an excellent goal, but the Kyoto treaty doesn’t do that.  Instead it’s placed the burden on the United States to cut emissions while not requiring China – the world’s biggest polluter – and other polluting third-world countries to do a thing.  Also, the regulations are harmful for American workers, because it encourages corporations to move their business overseas to countries where the regulations don’t apply.  It’s bad science, it’s bad policy, and it’s bad for America.  I am more than willing to work cooperatively with other nations to come up with policies that will safeguard the environment, but I oppose all nonbinding resolutions that place an unnecessary burden on the United States.


3.  The New York Times has a new article on the views of the Republican candidates on climate change, but somehow they managed to miss Ron Paul:


  1. TokyoTom
    October 22nd, 2007 at 03:51 | #1

    Martin, man’s activities – GHGs, soot, tropical deforestation, albedo changes) – are very clearly forcing the climate (even if we do not know with certainty what other facors are at work) and oceans is a geologically rapid way and with effects that are already evident in advances of the seasons/climate zones/growing days in the US and in the much higher temps and thawing of the Arctic. This is having a big impact on natural systems, as well as human systems. Moreover, there is a huge amount of inertia in the system, so we will see increasing impacts for some time, even if we were to do the impossible by stopping at GHG emissions tomorrow.

    Here is a decent summary: http://www.carbonequity.info/PDFs/Arctic.pdf. The IPCC summaries are also useful, but are already out of date due to rapid changes.

    If one country controlled the world’s thermometer and was cranking it up, you can bet many people would be upset, and those adversely affected demanding compensation. But the fact fo the matter is that as nobody owns the atmpsphere, we simply have no control mechanism, so we face a tragedy of the commons situation and complex, difficult negotiations about what to do. Opposition comes various sources: those who benefit most from the status quo (free GHG emissions and freedom to pass costs on to others), thos who oppose ANY government meddling in the economy or, worse, the creeping creation of a world government (even though internationally there simply is no government fiat, but voluntary multiparty negotiations), and those who enjoy the partisanship (hating socialists, enviros etc.) and as a result have a hard time seeing the real facts.

  2. martinf
    October 20th, 2007 at 20:30 | #2

    In what ways Ron “has underestimated the seriousness of the climate change problem” in your opinion?
    Do you think climate change problem is serious and real?
    I’ve seen you’re quite interested in environmental issues, I guess you’ll have some scientific knowledge about this…

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