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OpenMarket: Risk and Consumer Freedom

  • Oversize clothes need warning labels?

    December 15, 2006
    Here's a contender for the Nanny-State story of the day: A British academic says that plus-size clothes should carry labels with obesity helpline numbers and calls for the government to implement this and other measures to combat obesity. Professor Naveed Sattar said that such actions are necessary because: "People clearly have some responsibility for their health, but society and government have a responsibility to make the preferred, easy choices healthier ones." (Tip from Megan McLaughlin)
  • CEI makes Weather Channel’s “Top Ten” – greatest impact on climate change discussion

    December 13, 2006
    The Weather Channel today announced its “Top Ten” list — those people or organizations that have had the greatest impact on climate change discussions. Not surprisingly, former Vice President Al Gore topped the list (he's also trying for an Academy Award). Not surprisingly too is that CEI is the only organization or person on the list that is not part of the “consensus” about global warming policies — that there's no question about global warming science and it's better to beggar the world with energy restrictions rather than focus on adaptation and resiliency strategies. Here's the list: The 2006 ONE° Hot List The Year's Most...
  • Incoming Judiciary chairman to defend privacy rights

    December 13, 2006
    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), perhaps more famous for his defense of the Vermont dairy industry and the Northeast Dairy Compact, is incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and says he's going to be a privacy champion. A Reuters headline proclaimed: “Leahy vows to guard privacy rights.” It may not be widely known that Sen. Leahy has been a supporter of civil liberties in relation to the war on terrorism for some time and pushed for the creation of a Civil Liberties Board to help strike a balance between security concerns and civil liberties. He also has...
  • REACH and the Perils of Precaution

    December 13, 2006
    Today, the European Parliament voted a final time on the new regulation of Europe's chemical industry. With this vote the proposal is almost certain to become law when the European Council of Ministers votes next week. Called REACH—which stands for registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals—this legislation is based on the precautionary principle, and it represents the most substantial application of this principle ever. The principle essentially allows regulators to limit the freedom to sell technologies simply because a technology might have adverse impacts. Regulators need not demonstrate any actual harm before taking existing products off the market or to preventing introduction of new ones. They can just do it. Imagine a world in which all laws are based on perceived potential for harm. In this world you could be put in jail because you ...
  • Affordable air travel? How dare you!

    December 12, 2006
    The UK government, which this week doubled air passenger duty to about $20 a flight in a sop to global warming alarmism, wants to go further and impose extra costs on airlines.  So far, British airlines like the flag carrier, British Airways, its rival, Virgin, and the budget champion, Easyjet, had acquiesced, making green-sounding noises about corporate responsibility and so on.  No longer:
    Carriers thought to include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have walked away from talks on a proposed carbon-offsetting scheme being put together by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)...
    Airline executives are thought to have been concerned that the Government was trying to create a scheme that would treat all businesses in...
  • Eco-censorship continued

    December 12, 2006
    Two interesting posts on Roger Pielke Jr's excellent and open-minded Prometheus blog today speak to the subject of my recent New Atlantis essay, "Eco-censorship."  In the first, a Chancellor of a Canadian university is chided for giving "poorly-considered credence to widely discredited extremist opinions such as these."  What discredited extremist opinions?  These:
    And in science there's almost never black and white. We don't know what next week's weather going to be. To say in 50 or 100 years, the temperature is going to do this, is a bit of a stretch for me.
    ...
  • Miliband's disingenuity

    December 11, 2006
    I should have drawn attention to this interesting phrasing in David Miliband's enthusiasm for carbon rationing:
    "He said: 'It is a way of pricing carbon emissions into individual behaviour and it would recognise carbon thrift, as well as economic thrift. Twenty years ago if I had said 8 million people would have a Tesco loyalty card, no one would have believed me.'"
    With respect, Minister, it's "if I had said 8 million people would choose to have a Tesco loyalty card." One suspects the element of personal choice will be conspicuously absent in Miliband's little scheme.
  • Black marketeers rejoice at UK government plan

    December 11, 2006
    The UK government is seriously thinking of introducing individual carbon rationing:
    Every citizen would be issued with a carbon "credit card" - to be swiped every time they bought petrol, paid an energy utility bill or booked an airline ticket - under a nationwide carbon rationing scheme that could come into operation within five years, according to a feasibility study commissioned by the environment secretary, David Miliband, and published today. In an interview with the Guardian Mr Miliband said the idea of individual carbon allowances had "a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift".
    It's hard to think of a crazier plan. The UK has a very small black market in comparison to most countries, but this would almost certainly make it a...
  • Thanks, UN, for Shrinking My Carbon Footprint by 25%

    December 11, 2006

    The latest iteration on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on global warming it being eagerly awaited. While we bide our time, however, the leaks have begun. According to the Telegraph, it contains some bad news for the alarmist crowd:

    Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year.

    The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent.

    So this means past...

  • Do global warming fears justify protectionism?

    December 10, 2006
    Ever since the United States decided to push for "sustainable development" concepts to limiit free trade under the Shrimp-Turtle decision (for internal political reason - the traditional Baptist and Bootlegger phenomenon that Bruce Yandle long ago developed), thoughtful proponents of free trade have been aware that the WTO (World Trade Organization) rules were open to a form of pernicious green protectionism. The Shrimp-Turtle Case (see, for example, here ) was a dispute between the United States and several southeastern Asian nations regarding our desire to limit imports of shrimp from these nations. Our "case" was that their shrimp harvesting practices (their "failure" to use TEDs, turtle exclusion devices) were endangering "endangered" sea turtles (...

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