Be Very Cautious of the Precautionary Principle

There are critics of the PP, as found here, who state:

“There is no agreed definition of the precautionary principle. One of the more authoritative versions comes from the 1992 Rio ‘Earth’ Summit. It contains a rather cumbersome triple negative, to the effect that not having evidence is not a justification for not taking action.

If we undo a couple of the knots, then as two negatives make a positive, we are left with ‘action without evidence is justified’. That’s it, in a nutshell. The precautionary principle is, above all else, an invitation to those without evidence, expertise or authority, to shape and influence political debates. It achieves that, by introducing supposedly ethical elements into the process of scientific, corporate and governmental decision making.”

As to the thrust of this paper, is the use of the PP as a reason for acting to change climate change justified? What are the motives of those who advocate invoking the PP as a reason to act? Thus one must scrutinize to see if the PP is justified in this case.

The definition in Wiki has two important aspects of the PP. Morals and politics. Both of these are highly abused and twisted depending upon the political bent of the people wheedling the PP sword. This is most definitely the case of AGW as one only has to look at the political affiliation of those who side on action to stop climate change ‚Äì generally far left “romantic” environmentalists. One only has to read their documents to see the ultimate goal of these groups ‚Äì bring down democracy and/or capitalism and building a new world order in its place.

Putting those individuals aside in their rightful place, on the whole does the PP require us to act to stop climate change? I would argue no. There are two simple reasons for this.

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