To the Editors:

In last week's Orient, Steve Robinson argued that the green movement threatens our liberty. We think he's right about that but, unlike him, we think that our liberties should be abridged. New technology, when utilized by industry without regulation, has increased the harm that we do to others. This harm is mostly unintentional and does not derive from a single source, and yet future harms are easily foreseeable.

Even Mr. Robinson believes climate change will harm people: he says that the "crisis is inevitable." He attributes the "looming disaster" to "habits" which have "great inertia." If he is talking about human habits, then he's admitting that humans are partly responsible for the perceived harm that will result from climate change. Why, then, does he not think that we are liable to incur some harm—in the form of emissions regulation—to indemnify the harm we cause to others? Presumably he doesn't think we should be allowed to harm others with impunity. It seems to us that liberty is a moral good to be weighed against others moral goods. But if it takes precedence over every restriction morality can place on us, then it becomes amoral.

We believe that government regulation is the most effective way to quell the inertness of our habits, and so we welcome such action. We find Mr. Robinson's slippery slope argument—that if we allow government to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, then "the reach of the regulatory arm is boundless"—to be ridiculous.

In "On Liberty," John Stuart Mill writes that "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." This condition ensures that a free society does not devolve into an amoral one. If Mr. Robinson truly thinks this will lead to authoritarianism, then all we can do is favor him an incredulous stare.


Anthony Colabella '11

John Bunke '12