Sunday, November 29, 2009

Attempt at a dialogue


If we SAY we are for democracy, then object to the suggestion that the people at large should have the power and responsibility to set overall limits on pollution and other environmental impacts, arguing that scientists should decide for us, aren't we acting more like a technocrat than a democrat?

Do you think we have a system now that ensures overall levels of pollution and rates of taking of natural resources are set by scientists operating in the public interest? I understand that this is the system that you want.

It seems to me that, on the contrary, what we have now is more tailored to the interests of industry than to sound, dispassionate science.

You never responded when I asked whether the people's preference should hold sway if popular opinion pointed to a more strict limit on pollution levels and other environmental impacts than what established scientific opinion called for. Your objection seemed based on a fear that the people at large, being non-experts and generally not educated about the particulars, would make bad judgements about acceptable levels of pollution and rates of taking of resources.

If a random-sample survey were to show that the people at large actually supported more strict limits on environmental impacts, would you be willing to reconsider your objection to the random-sample survey as an instrument of policy?



Saturday, April 25, 2009

In the 44 months since the first post to this blog, there have been about four or five comments.

If you agree that a society that respects public AND private property rights could mean an end to grinding poverty in the world and bring human impacts on the environment into line with what most people feel is acceptable, then I hope you will put a comment to voice your support of the idea. You could tell how you can help to spread the idea. Or tell how this paradigm shift might help to alleviate a particular problem.

If you see that this proposal, (charge a fee to polluters and those who take natural resources - give the proceeds to the people), could not work because it contains serious flaws or invalid assumptions, please share your critique in a comment.

When Kevin Hickey and Demetri Kantarelis said that they would not publish this proposal to a wider audience as part of the Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association conference, (after inviting me to share the proposal at the conference), they did not explain their objection other than to say that this paradigm shift would require "changes in human nature".

(The reviewer of the paper did say that the paper was a "radical proposal" with "leftist tendencies", but they knew that when they invited me to attend and present, so it hardly seems fair that they would reject it for publication on those grounds.)

Only if someone other than the author of the proposal asks them to explain will they know that anyone other than the author actually cares.

Kevin Hickey (

Demetri Kantarelis (

(If you want to communicate to those professors, I hope you will cc: or bcc: to me, or cut and paste to my comments section. Thanks!)


P.S.: Is it a fair assumption that, if no one objects when professors say "We won't publish this", that the goals that might be achieved are not really that important, or that the proposal has fatal flaws? If you see flaws, please tell me. If the goals are important, in your mind, please speak up. Thank you.