the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Precautionary Principle

Posted by Jeff Id on February 8, 2010

This is the kind of thinking which get’s us down the wrong path.  The precautionary principle from Wiki stated below:

The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. Effectively, this principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is evidence of potential harm in the absence of complete scientific proof. The principle implies that there is a responsibility to intervene and protect the public from exposure to harm where scientific investigation discovers a plausible risk in the course of having screened for other suspected causes. The protections that mitigate suspected risks can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that more robustly support an alternative explanation. In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement.

I’ve seen several writings lately on the creating green jobs lie.  Now keep in mind, I am president and owner of a green company and as such should have a bias.  But as a small business of less than 100 employees, our company doesn’t have the sway with government officials to receive the breaks and incentives.  What’s more, we, like any honest business, recognize that our customers buying power determines our sales to a large extent.  Adding cost to energy, necessarily and absolutely will affect the cost of every single product on the planet, everything.  This is a reduction in buying power which will separate further the haves and have nots.  I plan to be on the have side of the line, but if our costs go up, our sales will go down from where they could have been.  Across the world economy limiting policies will result in less purchasing and less consumption and of course LESS jobs.

The economics of the massive taxation’s proposed by the extremist leftist IPCC are absolutely economy crushing.   It’s not even a close call, but this economic limitation is a large part of the openly stated goal of Greenpeace. Now my correct opinions are not shared by a number of readers here.  I’ve heard that even though warming isn’t as severe as stated, we should still tax CO2 out of precaution.  It’s wrongthink in my opinion, but as often noted, agreement here is not a requirement for opinion.   I won’t have much time to join the discussion today again, but this is one of my biggest frustrations, the precautionary principle tells me that we should do nothing which would damage our economy and limit technology.  It does NOT say we should limit CO2 through adding of cost.

This is especially true when you consider that CO2 output must go to zero to prevent a couple C of warming.  One of the favorite claims of the defective envirowhacko IPCC is the CO2 won’t get removed from the carbon cycle for hundreds of years.  This means CO2 output MUST go to zero, which it won’t  and therefore the warming cannot be stopped with our current technology.  How simple is that! Problem solved.

My proposal would therefore be to open the floodgates of oil and coal to the limit and give incentives for cost effective technology developments which meet milestones.  I would eliminate entirely, ANY subsidies for implementation programs of any kind other than nuclear because nothing really works.  I would fund research on programs to cost effectively use waste products only to make biofuel, improve solar, improve batteries,  and improving of other alternative options.  I would not fund “biofuel only” farm research (such as algae) because the photosynthetic efficiency is too low and will always be too low to be useful so is not a solution to anything, unless your goal is to waste land and water.  Cheap fuel from waste food production bio-material would be ok though.

So with that said, I fully believe any of the ‘limiting’ output actions so preferred by the left will result in an increased TOTAL amount of CO2 being released before alternatives can be implemented.  This happens simply because of the reduction placed on corporate funding for technology, lengthening the time for a suitable alternative.  In addition, limitation policy guarantees increased cost for everything and additional poverty worldwide–a known goal of the power hungry.  There simply isn’t another possible outcome from CO2 limiting policy.

So it seems that while agreeing with the concept of the precautionary principle, a fiscal conservative’s solution to the exact same problem, is the polar opposite from the extremist IPCC polyscienticians.

42 Responses to “Precautionary Principle”

  1. RB said

    In the face of uncertainty, I think there are 3 possibilities: do nothing about emissions, cut down emissions, or invest in geoengineering.

  2. Jimchip said

    From a chemical (and engineering) point of view, there is a reason why ‘Big Oil’ (Really, Big Energy) would want CO2 mitigation laws and subsidies. BP and Shell have a bunch of dry natural gas wells in the North Sea and they can just sit where they are and freeze CO2 out of the air. They can then let it sublimate and force it into the empty wells down the same pipes. Easy money. Exxon has been buying natural gas companies like crazy. (Ahem, they were a little slow on the CO2 subsidy angle, a little like Microsoft ‘missing’ the Internet). Easy Money. Like Tata CO2 trades playing EU vs.India.

  3. JAE said

    FWIW, I entirely agree with the post. And I would add a couple of things:

    1. The DOE’s Natural Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden CO has been spending millions and millions of $ for about 37 years now, trying to come up with some method of economically producing “alternative energy.” AFIK,there have been no big breakthroughs. Pouring more billion$ into more research of same is not likely to be a good investment.

    2. It has been demonstrated that MORE CO2 is produced by screwing around with corn-ethanol as a fuel. It’s stupid and time to stop subsidizing it.

    3. I still have not seen good studies showing that the production of solar cells or windmills (complete with the grid systems that allow them to function) do not also use up more energy than they produce, let alone the CO2 balances for these forms of “alternative energy.”

    4. Burning biomass to generate electricity is an economically proven alternative and is being done on a rather large scale. Let’s continue with that means of using “wastes.”

  4. CarlGullans said

    #3: We have a large garbage burning power plant where I’m from (long island), but doesn’t burning organic matter produce just about as much CO2 as burning coal/oil? It’s good, but if CO2 is a problem, then it doesn’t solve anything; if not, coal/oil will continue working just fine and there is no problem (at least for a few hundred years).

  5. PhilJourdan said

    I thought that was the Type I and Type II errors? When did they change it to the Precautionary principal?

  6. David Shipley said

    Agree absolutely. The only sustainable jobs are in businesses that make or sell stuff people want, at a price they are prepared to pay. Anything else is trying to make water flow upstream, a favourite pastime of socialists since 1848.
    My two-pennorth: cap-and-trade belongs firmly in what I call Universe B, which is where people seek to create the impression of beneficial activity, as opposed to Universe A, where people actually do stuff, like your green company making things. Under cap-and-trade the activity expands to fill in the gaps in the emission limits, as anyone with spare capacity has suddenly been given the licence to print money, and anyone over their limit can to buy the capacity if it makes economical sense to do so. So it was always predictable that emissions would go up at least as fast in countries operating cap-and-trade as those outside the daisychain, and scams like Tata’s shoud be no surprise. To be a supporter of the system therefore requires either ignorance of both science and economics, or opportunism/dishonesty.

  7. RB said

    To say that cap and trade won’t work is at odds with conservative statements about incentives and “if you tax anything, you get less of it.” This is because cap and trade is in fact economically equivalent to a carbon tax . The reason cap and trade is more likely to occur under a “reduce emissions policy” than Greg Mankiw’s revenue-neutral carbon tax Pigou club policy is because cap and trade is more politically palatable since it is an indirect tax.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #7 I agree C&T will add cost, but the real purpose is to distribute cap’s for favors. It’s an alternative money having a fuzzy value which can be legislated around. For instance, GE put’s in a new energy efficient lighting system in exchange for more credits, in reality the system was $1 million and makes no progress toward eliminating CO2, the credits were worth 5 million and ten politicians received contributions of 100,000 each. It’s impossible to track, and that is the reason politicians feel it’s more palatable IMO.

  9. JAE said

    Carl, #4: Some people consider combusting biomass as carbon-neutral, since the carbon is just part of the natural carbon cycle (you can argue that idea, of course). Remember that there is a great deal of carbon “invested” in all the alternative energy schemes, also. It takes a lot of carbon-based energy to produce a ton of copper or a solar cell.

  10. Andrew said


    To say that cap and trade won’t work is at odds with conservative statements about incentives and “if you tax anything, you get less of it.”

    It’s not so much conservative as obvious. (incidentally, Hansen has not taken Scugman’s critique lying down:

    The problem you are having is understanding how such a scheme could fail to actually result in less of anything. It’s simple. In a closed system-let’s say globally we institute such a policy-you’d get less of what you tax, generally, due to an increase in the cost. HOWEVER! The problem is that this view of taxes and incentives only works if they apply everywhere. Otherwise, to use a truly conservative observation, people “vote with their feet”-businesses will just move production overseas to avoid the tax. So a tax or a cap or what have you-it will reduce our emissions but it won’t work (by itself). We do get less. But somebody else would just get more.

    Now, that’s not even discussing whether the (imaginary) decreases you would(n’t) get would achieve a significant fraction of the alleged goal. They wouldn’t.

  11. Check out this paper: “Applying the Precautionary Principle to Global Warming.” Center for the Study of American Business, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., Policy Study 158. It’s old, but the bottom line is still valid. It’s available at:

    Abstract follows:

    The precautionary principle has been invoked to justify a policy of aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission controls that would go beyond “no regrets” actions to reduce global warming. However, this justification is based upon selectively applying the principle to the potential public health and environmental consequences of global warming but not to the adverse consequences of such a policy.

    This report attempts to rectify this one-sided application of the precautionary principle. It finds that such a policy, despite its claim to be precautionary, would, in fact, be incautious in many areas because it has a high likelihood of increasing overall risks to public health and the environment. Specifically, GHG emission reduction requirements that go beyond secular improvements in technology and elimination of unjustified energy subsidies could retard economic development, leading to greater hunger, poorer health, and higher mortality, especially in developing countries. Moreover, higher oil and gas prices would reduce food availability and would also retard switching from solid fuels to more environmentally benign fuels for heating and cooking in households of the developing world. Indoor air pollution resulting from current heating and cooking practices in these nations is a major source of premature deaths.

    A truly precautionary principle argues, instead, for focusing on solving current problems that may be aggravated by climate change, and on increasing society’s adaptability and decreasing its vulnerability to environmental problems in general and climate change in particular. These could be achieved by bolstering the mutually-reinforcing forces of technological change, economic growth, and trade. Moreover, enhancing adaptability and reducing vulnerability will raise the thresholds at which greenhouse gas concentrations could become “dangerous.”

  12. RB said

    One professor’s game theory perspective :
    Here’s what will happen instead: Over the next several decades, world leaders will embrace tougher emissions standards than those proposed — and mostly ignored — in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But real support for tougher regulations will fall.

    And …
    First, the rhetoric of the next 20 or 30 years endorses tougher standards than the ones put forward in Kyoto in 1997. We know this because the predicted value through 2025 is above 50. That’s the green part of the story. Second, support for tougher regulations falls almost relentlessly as the world closes in on 2050, a crucial date in the global warming debate. When we get to 2050, the mandatory standard being acted on is well below that set at Kyoto. By about 2070 it is down to 30, representing a significant weakening in standards. By 2100 it is closing in on 20 to 25. There’s no regulatory green light left in the story by its end.

  13. Retired Engineer said

    In the extreme, the Precautionary Principle would prevent us from doing anything. There are risks everywhere, even breathing. Since anyone could commit a crime, should we lock everyone up?

    The PP is a fallback position. Since the alarmists can’t prove what they claim, and thus justify their plans, they use this ruse: “Well, it might happen”. The end is the same, destroy Capitalism. Sadly, they fail to realize they will only destroy themselves, because for all it’s faults, the big C is the only thing we’ve come up with that generates wealth. Without that, it’s all downhill, to a very bad landing.

    An unapologetic Capitalist: What’s good for the economy is good. (for everything)

  14. John F. Pittman said

    Jeff, I don’t think this is a leftist (=liberal) issue. It is a nanny state issue. Policy Study 158 has it right. The IPCC ignore that there may be credible, sustainable good from global warming; and they ignore that dollars taken from the economy to purchase more expensive and less efficient energies (wind and solar for example) hurt buying power, which will affect the poorest first and most. Since general welfare is something us liberals support, have you ever wondered why liberals support such a scheme that will worsen the conditions who can least afford to address it? Perhaps they are not liberals. Leftist yes, liberals no.

  15. Chuckles said

    @14 JFP is correct, it is very much a nanny state initiative.
    It is also absurd, since the PP applied fully is self negating – A complete implementation of the Precautionary Principle leads inevitably to the conclusion that one should not implement it, as implementing it introduces more risk that not implementing it.

    My experience is that it stifles any form of initiative or entrepeneurship – too risky, and is often used to get rid of highly skilled positions. These are typically replaced with several layers of process followers and box tickers.

    My advice is avoid it like the plague, unless you see yourself as Harrison Bergeron.

  16. Mike Riordan said

    It is surely worth reminding ourselves that the precautionary principle isn’t a principle at all – it is a merely a rhetorical device. The whole point of the AGW debacle is the inability of some scientists, many journalists and almost all politicians to distinguish science from rhetoric.

  17. POUNCER said

    RB said
    “To say that cap and trade won’t work is at odds with conservative statements about incentives and ‘f you tax anything, you get less of it’ This is because cap and trade is in fact economically equivalent to a carbon tax .”

    Well, if the money goes to market it’s trade, but if the money goes to government, it’s a tax.

    RB do you argue that (A) there is no economic difference between a market price and a tax? and (B) that taxes work just exactly as efficiently as trade in producing public goods?

  18. Jeff Id said

    #17 if you’re mandated to trade something which is normally free, it’s a tax.

  19. RB said

    #17, in the sense that the cost of energy for the consumer will be higher in both cases, it is equivalent to a tax, IMO. Of course, even Krugman argues on (B) that even though it would encourage speculation , it would employ market forces to come up with alternatives. I really don’t know – Jeff and Hansen make similar counter-arguments which seem to have validity.

  20. RB said

    Actually, the Hansen proposal is revenue neutral – i.e., the tax doesn’t go to govt. but is paid out in debatable form to households.

  21. John F. Pittman said

    The worse aspect of capNtrade is that it is a model chosen from a past success that the present problem does not fit. The SO2 model had four parameters or conditions that CO2 does not:
    1. Technological solutions that already existed without changing the base material;
    2. Alternatives that were almost as effecient, and/or the costs to industry were offset by measurable benefit such that small changes or costs solved the problem for the particular facility;
    3. Technological solutions could be added with little cost increases, or with incremental adaptation at an individual site; and
    4. The sites that could not adjust could buy credits from similar sized facilities that could until they could adapt, and these were controlled within the regulatory community.

    Note how this does not occur with CO2. Solutions (1) do not exist, because of 2, and 3. It is not like a major CO2 can necessarily put up on its site (2) the windmills, solar that would be required to power its activities. The amount of solar and wind needed for a large facility does not come with little cost. CO2 generation is everywhere (opposite of 4) and without 1,2,3 what we have is a regulated form of “Russian roulette” because the CO2 emissions can not be controlled within the regulatory framework i.e. too many people and corporations do it.

    Any one of the four would mean that the SO2 model is suspect. All four means that the odds of it working at all are about 8% or less. But in fact it is worse than this, because each of these 4 make each of the other three MUCH less likely.

  22. CNY Roger said

    Re cap and trade – Most of the “cap and trade” proposals I have seen for CO2 are not the traditional cap and trade SO2 model described in 21 by Mr Pittman. Instead the proposals are for cap and auction in which the CO2 allowances are auctioned and have to be purchased by the affected sources so that they can comply. The lobbying that is going on is to try to grab as big a piece of any allowances allocated to sources and to line up at the trough for the auction revenues. IMO that lobbying will not be for the common good and subverts the concept so much that you might as well go for a carbon tax replacing some other taxes.

  23. John F. Pittman said

    Now the advantages of a tax versus capNtrade. The first that should be obvious is that you don’t have a regulated “Russian roulette.” Even worse, than Russian roulette, Congress has already been picking the winners and the losers. Even if one should make the claim that somehow they chose this year’s deserved winner (exceptions), to make the claim that they have correctly determined the future’s deserved winners is ridiculous. But you can bet your life savings and your children’s lives that lobbyists will be trying to get their client exempted, at the expense of the other members of the group. So the real competition will not be in innovation, but in lobbying. Although taxes are similar in the lobbying, the better competitor in energy use will directly benefit from it. If it is enacted at the well head, at the mine, and other uses have to file annually for legitimate exemption, like you do for other similar activities, all who use energy pay. In this scenario, since the richer maintain their lifestyles usually directly or indirectly using energy, they will pay for it. Though the poor may hurt, the costs will fall on everybody, not just the consumer. The poor typically have the highest consumer consumption to earned pay ratio. Though it will still effect them, it should be less a problem since we are already funding their incomes through the tax structure or with other means.

    It also gets rid of the leeches. Don’t know about you, but I will go a long way to avoid making Al Gore, or any others, close to a billionaire by destroying our economic base. The modern world’s economy is energy use. If you don’t go nuclear, and I mean in a way that is totally unprecedented, such as one nuke plant approval per week, and ramping up to what ever it takes, you are simply trying to blow sunshine up my butt. This is 1950/60 ecology.

  24. JamesGardiner said

    Meanwhile we can already plasma blast garbage and produce syngas in real time that we can generate electricity with.
    Biofuels seem a bit passé to me and so does coal. The immediate future imo is in converting everything to gas – coal, shale oil, sewage, garbage. Pipe it, compress it or just turn a turbine with it in situ.

    I don’t know why we can’t have carbon dioxide traps on stacks either. For gawds sake if it dissolves in rainwater we should use that fact. Is it really so difficult to spray a fine mist through the exhaust and collect it as carbonic acid? They spray mist over lettuces in my local supermarket.

    I think I’ve seen the future of cars too:
    “..the Capstone C30 microturbine quietly fires up and recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to 500 miles. The diesel fueled C30 microturbine requires less maintenance than traditional combustion engines and produces ultra-low exhaust emissions.”

    Now I’m in the majority skeptic-wise I’ve decided to come out too. Funny thing though, like Mark Twain, when the majority starts to agree with me I tend to have second thoughts 🙂

    Actually i was a bit skeptical about the leftist/green agenda being a halt to economic growth but I’m convinced now you’re right about that. This is what convinced me – actual confessions no less:

  25. John F. Pittman said

    CNY Your point is valid, but that is why I compare it to being regulated “Russian roulette.” We don’t have the solutions available that meet the criteria that complying with SO2 did. But I think you err on the effect of the exemptions that are being proposed. I cannot figure any way that it means either it is simply an expensive fig leaf that will do nothing but cost jobs, or it is as I describe, the winners and losers have already been chosen. The winners are the ones who got the exemptions.

  26. CNY Roger said

    24 – I agree. It is regulated Russion roulette and society will be worse off with it than a carbon tax.

  27. POUNCER said

    Jeff Id:”if you’re mandated to trade something which is normally free, it’s a tax”

    The CAP part comes into play. The government creates an artificial shortage of disposal space. The “trade” part seems to apply to various would-be disposers bidding on the remaining space.

    My question is whether spending money to compensate for an artificial shortage is actually equivalent to spending the same money to bid on real resources. (This, assuming the government doesn’t rig the market to steal some of the remaining disposal sites (carbon credits) to award to politically favored players.)

    Or,(shorter Pouncer) What does Krugman think about Coase?

  28. John F. Pittman said

    Pouncer, you are describing an ineffecient market. On the short term these typically have a short life and limited effect. However, this one is long lived, and worse the ineffeciency will get larger as the years go by. The easiest way to show that it is a cost is to assume that wind and solar keep the same price. If we replace all energy with these two and use natural gas as $10/decatherm, we will all be 1/2 poorer at the current estimated $20/decatherm counting replacing the natural gas infrastructure, marginal utilization, and capital costs. All things being equal can we afford a 50% unemployment rate, or can you pay your current life with half the money. If the energy costs twice as much it costs twice as much. Notice there is no real communication of worth or value like in a real market, but it still costs.

  29. Gary said

    Assuming the precautionary principle (PP) is valid, there’s some reasonable chance that a decision by policy makers will be wrong and do harm. It’s logical, therefore, that the PP has to be applied to itself because “there is a responsibility to intervene and protect the public from exposure to harm…” At the very least there must be some insurance against damages to be paid by the policy makers since they’re invoking the principle in the first place.

    Why don’t we ever see that factored in? Because the PP isn’t about damage mitigation, of course.

  30. […] Continue reading here: Precautionary Principle « the Air Vent […]

  31. Tom Forrester-Paton said

    Anyone invoking the Precautionary Principle to justify CO2 mitigation should first read Kesten Green’s strctural analysis of (I paraphrase) Great Big Scary Predictions that Haven’t Yet Come True, and the Awful Results of Government Efforts to Prevent Them. Apart from slottng the AGW scare nicely into the hippy-dippy, airheaded company in which it belongs (including such worthy stablemates as Eugenics, and that earlier folly of the egregious Al Gore, the DDT scare), it analyses government “response” according to a made-no-difference/improved-matters/made-things-worse structure. It’s not a good look for PP-ers – they tend to leave redundant, costly, worthless and often damaging legislation on the statute books long after the scare has faded from public awareness.

  32. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim, Medical Cumulus. Medical Cumulus said: Precautionary Principle « the Air Vent […]

  33. JohnH said

    When Europe first introduced carbon trading each indivdual country set its own limits, all where high estimates especially the German one if my memory is correct. This was to protect their heavy industries whilst being able to say ‘we are doing something’, but as there was surplus (and still is) they are actually just adding cost for costs sake. The form filling at the factory I worked at was huge and we had one factory with surplus and another 50 miles away short, could we just swap, no we had to sell to a broker at one price and buy it back at a higher price.

  34. Doing nothing is probably not a great option, mainly for bigger picture reasons. Cleaner, cheaper energy is good (hence solar water heating in tropical locations is a no-brainer). I’m all for cheaper LED lighting and more efficient heating – if only the development of technology wasn’t constrained by legislation.
    Where the precautionary principle goes awry is in failing to consider the cost of the actions which are being proposed as being beneficial. Biofuels, biodiversity and food being the most obvious issues. CO2 has an imaginary cost associated with it which is displacing many other important factors. We are ignoring the effects that land management can have on climate too.
    We should certainly do things which are cheap, doing nothing really isn’t an option – but we should be very careful about what we do do, and how we justify it. We also need to remember that there are other disaster scenarios which we have no chance of controlling.

  35. PhilJourdan said

    Jeff Id #18 – and if you then give that mandate to others, it is welfare. While Caps may not be, more often it becomes one as “squatters” sit on rights they have no intention of using for the sole purpose of selling them to ones who need it.

  36. Jeff Id said

    Well the climategate laptop died last night so I wasn’t able to blog. It’s the harddrive so I’ll be ordering a new one in a few minutes.

    #33 Why is doing nothing not a great option? It may be the best in my opinion so rather than claiming we should do something which has no effect, can you explain why doing nothing isn’t the best?

  37. For what it’s worth, I think the precautionary principle is a terribly small-minded approach to any problem, but most especially complex ones. Even at its most mellow it’s still useless, because as you suggest here, caution is not free.

    As soon as you start to try and compare ‘minima of harm’ or similar, we get a much more interesting and useful set of possibilites than the ‘ban fossil fuel’ mantra. My own take is that Greenpeace et al start with that mantra and work backwards to find a plausible case for it, then wind the hype up around that until you have what appears to be Real Work.

  38. jcspe said

    Breast, ovarian, uterine, and testicular cancer are very common and kill a great many people. Why aren’t advocates of the precautionary principle immediately having radical double mastectomies, hysterectomies, and castrations? It will suceed in preventing those forms of cancers.

    I suspect the answer is that they really don’t believe their own BS, but they want the rest of us to do so. When they choose to undergo painful and destructive surgeries personally to prevent possible cancerous outcomes, I will begin to take them seriously. Until then, my BS meter will continue to clang loudly whenever they write or speak.

    So far, I have never actually had anyone advocate the precautionary principle to my face. If and when it happens I intend to suggest that the advocate undergo voluntary castration and/or mastectomy. Any side bets on how the suggestion will be received?

    Yeah, I got the same side bet. Still, I expect it to be entertaining to watch their face as they realize fully what I am suggesting they do.

  39. JohnH said

    #33 Why is doing nothing not a great option? It may be the best in my opinion so rather than claiming we should do something which has no effect, can you explain why doing nothing isn’t the best?

    My example was one of a ‘Doing nothing dressed up as doing something’, currently in Europe carbon trading only has one effect and that is manufacturing being driven outside Europe. There is no reduction in carbon globally, in fact the extra transport back to Europe is increasing Carbon emissions. The only gainers are the Traders who get there cut whatever happens.

  40. Doing nothing about what? Maybe that is a better question… I’d be quite happy to ignore atmospheric CO2, but there are plenty of ‘green’ issues which are not entirely without merit. Artificial distortion of markets seems like a bad thing, but funding research into nuclear fusion probably scores high enough to be worth considering. Atmospheric pollution in places like China probably is a problem too. Most easily solved with existing technology, not by declaring coal as the work of the devil.
    Advocating the ‘do nothing’ approach suggests a lack of interest about if there is a problem or not. Should we do nothing about the next big asteroid strike which is statistically predicted?

  41. Kriek said

    I always draw the parallels with the Iraq War and Pascal’s Wager with the precautionary principle applied over AGW.

    The main issue is that if there’s too uncertainty you are unable to quantify accurately what level of response is appropriate. If you get this wrong it has the same effect as buying home insurance costing more than the house.

    The only time where acting makes some sense is by delaying the introduction of something that is unknown until the risks are better understood. A good example here is GM foods. With situations like these, the uncertainty is on the correct side. The problem with the precautionary principle in AGW is that it requires a lot of actions with uncertain consequences to be implemented, this is the wrong side. We should really be applying the precautionary principle on the risk of the actions of ‘doing something about it’, not the risk of ‘doing nothing’

  42. mua chung said

    mua chung…

    […]Precautionary Principle « the Air Vent[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: