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Politicians and lawyers want rules, but include catch-all words or phrases that allow them to do anything. These are necessarily undefined. It’s a good idea to cover unusual circumstances, but assumes it is applied with facts and logic. More frequently, it’s become an excuse to defy facts and logic for an agenda.
Environmentalists quickly faced the problem as they distorted facts and logic for their political agenda. They needed something to deny the need for facts and logic required by science and adopted the Precautionary Principle. Wikipedia says,
This principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from taking a particular course or making a certain decision when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking.
What is “extensive scientific knowledge” and how much can be “lacking”?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are 90 percent certain, but they examine only human causes of climate change and produce consistently incorrect climate model predictions. Physics Nobel winner Richard Feynman said,
It does not matter who you are, or how smart you are, or what title you have, or how many of you there are, and certainly not how many papers your side has published, if your prediction is wrong then your hypothesis is wrong. Period.
A few scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), who effectively controlled the IPCC, corrupted science to prove human-produced CO2 was the cause. Although their malfeasance was exposed, it won’t stop the political juggernaut, because the Principle is part of the UN mandate on environment and climate.
The Conference will focus on two themes:
- a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and
- the institutional framework for sustainable development.
These are the ojectives pursued from the start, but green economies have failed everywhere. Sustainable development is a political creation that means everything to everyone and nothing to anyone.
Rio 1992 was the political manifestation of the Club of Rome objectives. Scientific evidence, required to ‘prove’ humans were destroying the planet with capitalism and its fossil fuel driven technology, was already underway through the IPCC. The political roadmap was formalized in Rio as Agenda 21. Annex 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development lists the basic Principles. Most are specific, but the catch-all is Principle 15:
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
It’s a naked, incorrrect, application of the Precautionary Principle. As one person said,
Proponents of the Precautionary Principle are trying to smuggle in a default position: The environment trumps all other values.
The vague phrase, “lack of full scientific certainty” easily pushes science aside; then you steal the moral high ground by claiming to protect the environment. It allows the challenge, “shouldn’t we act anyway just in case?” The correct answer is no, as I explained before the Canadian Parliamentary Committee investigating the Ozone question. Scientists can extrapolate a multitude of potential threats from a few facts. Political leaders must determine the most pressing and what they can afford. Lack of scientific understanding makes that infinitely more difficult.
Principle 15 effectively allows action with no scientific evidence. They don’t care if the climate science is falsified as with global warming. What is the purpose of applying the precautionary principle? Wildavsky provides the answer.
In a free society the individual is presumed to be free to act unless the state can prove harm or the potential to do harm. The precautionary principle says that no individual person is free to act unless that individual can prove to the state that the action can do no harm.
This is a perceptive academic analysis. Green and Armstrong put it more bluntly.
In practice, the precautionary principle is invoked when an interest group identifies an issue that can help it to achieve its objectives. If the interest group is successful in its efforts to raise fears about the issue, the application of the scientific method is rejected and a new orthodoxy is imposed. Government dictates follow. People who dissent from the orthodox view are vilified, ostracized, and may have their livelihoods taken away from them. Consider the case of “climate change”.
It’s another of the many circular arguments. Catch-all words or phrases provide for unusual circumstances, but assume it’s confirmed with facts and logic. Climate change is usual, but IPCC climate science falsely ‘proves’ it isn’t, which allows them to misuse a sound principle.