Montreal, May 13, 2007 • No 225




Harry Valentine is a
free-marketeer living in Eastern Ontario.




by Harry Valentine


          News reports abound that the earth is undergoing global warming. Typing the words "global warming mars" in Google reveals that the planet Mars is also undergoing global warming (or so scientists believe). The polar ice caps on both the earth and on Mars are showing signs of melting. Most politicians and several scientists on earth have identified excessive emissions of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere as being the primary cause of global warming on earth.


          Human industrial activity over the past century has been blamed for increasing the carbon dioxide content of the earth's atmosphere. It makes up for less than 0.04 percent of that atmosphere and has been identified as being the leading cause of global warming. Many governments around the world are seeking ways by which to reduce carbon emissions. One of the options is the trading of carbon credits where an emitter of carbon dioxide in one country can buy carbon credits elsewhere by investing in carbon-free energy production.

          Canadian governments have chosen to tackle the global warming problem from within the country and disregard the fact that the major proportion of global warming may originate from beyond the earth. This is ultimately what global warming on the planet Mars suggests. Such evidence is going to be rejected by Canadian government officials who will implement new programs of regulation and coercion on industries and people across Canada. There is the option of using a property rights approach to dealing with exhaust emissions of all kinds.

          Governments suspended property rights during an earlier period to encourage new industrial growth and economic development. Under such a regime industries had unrestrained freedom to dump whatever byproducts and waste substances they had on their property into waterways and into the atmosphere. Neighbours just had to live with whatever ended up in their rivers and air. A regime of property rights would otherwise have given the neighbouring property owners the right and freedom to launch class action lawsuits against polluters and demand compensation for lost property value.

          The threat of such action could have discouraged industries long ago from dumping their byproducts on the adjacent properties whether via the atmosphere or via the waterways. Non-coercive economics has actually encouraged a wide range of industries to progressively reduce the output of byproducts. There are industries that actually recycle much of their waste material internally and use it productively. Such internal recycling is common in sectors of the metal and glass industries.

          Private efforts are underway by some industries to profitably recycle carbon dioxide into a usable product. It can bond chemically with several metallic oxides to form a metallic carbonate. Research is also underway in the USA involving a strain of algae that rapidly consumes carbon dioxide and produces oil that can be used for a variety of purposes including fuel for engines. However this type of productive use of carbon dioxide is far from the political agenda of most countries where officials want to be seen by the public as doing something to allegedly help the environment.

          Perhaps elected officials may wish to consider the merit of the property rights approach to the so-called problem of carbon emissions causing global warming. Mars is showing signs of global warming despite an absence of human industrial activity. The most effective way to encourage the growth of carbon free technologies is to totally deregulate the use of such technology. There is the chance that the growth of such technology could flourish under a regime that is free from all economic regulation and that upholds property rights.

"Canadian governments have chosen to tackle the global warming problem from within the country and disregard the fact that the major proportion of global warming may originate from beyond the earth."

          Landowners would regain ownership to whatever resources may lie in the earth under their property. Neighbours would have the freedom to connect power lines across shared property lines. Recent breakthroughs in solar photovoltaic technology promise to drastically reduce its cost and increase its versatility. New developments have occurred in wind power conversion and include kites that generate power while remaining aloft in the wind. New designs of water turbines that can be installed in fast moving streams and generate small amounts of power are being tested worldwide.

          It is possible to produce small amounts of power from low-grade geothermal energy during some seasons in some parts of Canada. Property rights would bypass the red tape of centralized control and give large numbers of people the freedom to install such technology on their premises and to sell power to their neighbours. Provincial governments may balk at the idea of owners of private property connecting power lines across shared property lines. The alternative would be to use an emerging new wireless technology that can transmit small amounts of electric power over short distances.

          Such technology was originally conceived by Nikola Tesla and is beyond the scope of provincial power regulation across Canada. Federal telecommunications regulation focuses on the broadcasting of information and not electric power. It would be totally counterproductive for any provincial authority to seek or be granted regulatory powers over the airwaves. People need to be free to engage in peaceful and mutually beneficial trade. Peaceful people are quite able to do so in an environment that is free from state economic control.

          New types of megapower generation technologies are emerging that are carbon free. One such technology is being developed by Clean Power Systems of California. The fastest way to introduce such technology into Canadian service is to allow it to operate in total freedom from economic regulation. A large carbon-free power station could serve the needs of an entire region. Ontario will need to replace several of its aging thermal power stations over the next two decades. Ontario's refusal to allow carbon-free power stations to operate without economic regulation could see such power stations being built elsewhere in Canada.

          Such a power station could theoretically be built on an island in the south of Hudson Bay and export electric power or hydrogen to either Quebec or Ontario. It is possible for oceanic turbines to be installed in some of the channels in Hudson Bay where powerful tidal currents occur. Those turbines along with the power station could produce hydrogen that could be carried in an undersea pipeline under Hudson Bay and under James Bay to markets in Ontario and Quebec. Such an undersea pipeline already carries natural gas from Norway to the United Kingdom.

          The total economic deregulation of carbon-free power generation in Canada could be viable. It could also avoid the massive malinvestment that is likely under a regime of state regulation of carbon emissions across Canada. A regime of property rights could theoretically take care of atmospheric pollution since nearby property owners could initiate class action lawsuits against the polluters. Global warming on Mars suggests that since the phenomenon does exist elsewhere in this solar system, its cause on this planet may be something other than atmospheric carbon emissions on earth.