Minireviews: Mill on Liberty, Lawson on global warming
July 10, 2012 3 Comments
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty (1858)
The only legitimate reason for restricting a person’s liberty is to prevent direct harm to someone else. Or if they belong to a backwards or barbaric society. Or if the state perceives itself in peril. Or they’ve offended against decency. But apart from that, I mean.
Recommended: Of course. You could drive a T-72 tank through the loopholes here, but this book presents some of the clearest arguments ever made for individual freedom, (although promising more than reality could deliver). I last read it 15 years ago, and was surprised to recognize ideas that I didn’t consciously pick up then, but have arrived at later.
Nigel Lawson – An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (2009)
The climate change scenarios for the year 2100 do not justify drastic action on our part. The future will be richer than we are, so why make a large investment just to improve the already high GDP of our super-rich grandchildren? The other negative effects of global warming will be slow in coming, and can be compensated for in the same way humans have always responded to negative change: By adaptation. Besides, there’s really nothing we can do without India and China, and it is absurd to expect them to take on this expense.
Recommended: Yes. Lawson’s mild skepticism of AGW is superficial, but “it’s too expensive, plus futile” is a pretty strong argument against abandoning fossil fuels. Stronger than “we’re taking a risk with a downside of unknown size”? I don’t know.