Losing NaNoWriMo (again)

Skyrim - night with northern lights at High Hrotgar

A land of magic, borderline beauty and weathered remnants of golden ages long past, faded into myth. Skyrim – or my current writing project?

I could still “win” the National Novel Writing Month, if I were to write a “supernarrative” tying together my disparate (not desperate) stories. Say, a few paragraphs in which the main character is bored and drops by the library. He starts reading a fantasy book (insert story 1) but grows bored and picks another (insert story 2), but after a few chapters puts it back and starts reading a third. After the fourth, he gives up and goes home. :p

Not doing that, though. I am pretty happy with what I have learned from my stories, but none of them got anywhere close to 50 000 words this time.


I could blame Skyrim, I guess, although it is anybody’s guess whether I had just come up with more new stories instead of extending the old. Certainly the last (and still ongoing story, Oktagonien, is inspired by Skyrim. When I say “inspired by”, as usual I don’t mean some kind of fanfic. Rather, as I have described before, what happens when I make a derivative work is roughly as follows:

1) I get acquainted with the original work, which is usually not a book but some other medium.

2) I condense the story down to a short paragraph or even a long sentence.

3) I expand that short paragraph into a whole new story, which has little in common with the original work except for that paragraph. In other words, you could boil both of the stories down to the same paragraph, if you approached them from just that angle. But you would probably not think of the original story while reading my story. The forest may have roughly the same shape when seen from a plane, but the trees are all different.

In the case of Oktagonien and Skyrim, this really happened subconsciously, so I don’t actually have that paragraph. Let’s see if I can reconstruct it.

A continent where several sentient humanoid races live, mostly in separate territories, filled with magic and the remnants of civilizations dating far back into prehistory and fading into myth, is visited at key points of its history by heroes from a higher, more real world, who change the flow of history forever. This is the story of one of them.

The lore of the Tamriel (the continent where all the Elder Scrolls games take place) has grown steadily over the course of the series, and the latest game has a large number of books written at different times, some of them more reliable than others. This is one of the things I like about it, and a major inspiration for my Oktagonien story. In my story, the main character needs to delve into the prehistory of the land in order to learn what happened to the earlier visitors, so he can find out how to get back to the real world. The question not asked from the beginning is: Once he has learned the history of this world, will he still want to leave it?

Of course, the same could be asked about a lot of people and Skyrim, these days. It seems to be amazingly popular. I think this may be the first time in a great many years that I am actually having the same fad as other people at the same time. I did not really discover lolcats, caramelldansen or numa numa until they were already very nearly a blockable offense on the social networks. -_- But I think I had the Rubik’s Cube reasonably on time…

LED day

LED lamp, dark blue light

A light in the darkness – in the dark blueness in the non-darkness… what is this, I don’t even…

It is no secret that I have loved LED (light-emitting diode) lamps almost since they were in the labs. They appeal to my “because it can be done” side. I latched on to LED flashlights and head lamps almost as sure as they came in the shop. But only this year have LED bulbs become reasonably affordable and available here in Norway, and this is the first house I systematically set out to replace incandescent bulbs with them when the former attain their planned obsolescence. This summer I replaced the one in the bathroom, then in fall one in the kitchen, and today one in the bath and one in the living room. They still cannot replace the main light in a working room, such as my home office, but are great for smaller lamps.

While in the shop I came across one LED lamp with 768 colors and remote control. Needless to say, there is no reason to buy that. It probably requires illegal drugs to fully enjoy even if one is young*. But I bought it anyway. Because it could be done. A lightbulb with uncountably many colors and a remote. I love living in an alternate future.

*) I still have my lava lamp. But I only enjoy it partially!


Your stupidity, my rent

Skyrim - Khajiit chopping wood

What happened to honest gold for honest work, or simple, affordable housing? Oh, they both moved to Skyrim, leaving the real world to the money-movers.

If you are reading this shortly after I write it, you can hardly have avoided all the talk about financial crisis. Both the USA and the EU are teetering on the brink of a breakdown, after the governments decided to bail out various large banks and similar institutions. The roots of this goes deep into the past, but it should be obvious around the turn of the century, with the “dotcom bubble”. People invested in shares in companies that barely even existed, much less ran a profit. Some of these companies went on to fame and fortune (Amazon and Google found their place in this time), but most did not.

When the bubble burst, the central banks decided to keep interest rates low to avoid a painful recession. Looking back, a painful recession was probably what was needed. Certainly I predicted it beforehand. But instead, we got permanent low interest rates, and the housing bubble. Now people grew richer simply by selling the same houses to each other. Even a child could have seen that this could not last. But people kept hoping that it would last at least long enough that they could take their profit. It didn’t.

Then came the next misjudgment, in my opinion at least. Governments decided that the economy could not survive if the banks were forced to take their losses from the rotten loans. (You may remember the word “subprime”, loans that would normally not have a chance to get paid back, but were given anyway since everyone thought the rising prices would pay back the loan.) People left their homes or were evicted, but there were few new buyers and prices collapsed. This influenced those homes that were not being sold as well, their value fell dramatically. The governments decided that to avoid disaster, they had to bail out the various banks and such.

They did not have to. There were a couple other alternatives. When Scandinavia met the same challenge in the late 1980es, the State generously offered to buy the failing banks for 20 cent each. Not 20 cent for each share, but 20 cent for each bank. The banks that could in any way refinance without this, did, obviously. There were a number of mergers. Those that couldn’t were bought up by the State, which fired the leadership and slimmed the staff, but kept operations running until the crisis was over. The banks were later partly privatized at a nice profit for the State, which always can use money for one thing or another.

Another alternative is to lend, rather than give, the necessary money. In that case, people would obviously be reluctant to buy stock in the banks for quite some while, since all their profit would go to paying off their loans. But such is life. At least they would have the chance to continue. And at least ordinary people’s tax money would not be given as a gift to people who were used to living in luxury both before and after the crisis.

Now we have, after the “dotcom bubble” and the “housing bubble”, a new “government bubble”. Now it is the governments which are mired in debt and can’t find their way out. And who are they going to go to? Well, Greece is going to the EU, but where will the EU go? Or the USA? In God you trust, but will He lend you trillions of dollars? So far the Chinese, the Arabs and of course my native Norway have had that dubious honor. But it won’t last forever when you show no plan, not even a vague idea, of ever paying back or even to ever stop borrowing and spending on yourself.

So the rich world is in a well-deserved crisis.  And because of this, interest rates are just above zero. And because this is the case among all our allies, we have these ultra low interest rates here in Norway too, even though our economy is overheated and direly needs sky high interest rates to cool things down. But we can’t, because the market would immediately buy up our currency. We may be a rich little country, but we are still a small country, with a population half that of Greater London.  Drawing too much attention would disrupt our economy completely.

And so the interest rates stay ridiculously low while people keep feeling richer, and doing the exact same thing as the Americans and Spaniards did before the crisis: Selling the houses to each other for ever higher prices. This again runs over into the rent market, so I have to pay more and more rent for each passing year for the same standard of housing. For years now, the rent has been taking up more and more of my disposable income, doubling in about a decade. This is to no small extent thanks to the stupidity of people in completely different parts of the world.

I can handle it. I am working longer hours, I have moved further and further from the city, and am ready to move to a smaller apartment or a house out in the woods the next time the rent goes up. My desires are pretty easy to fulfill at this stage of my life. But the irony of the situation is still there. I am paying the price for the stupidity of people around the world. Consider my eyes very, very dry when the USA and the EU get the fate they have been hurrying toward for quite a while now.

Grace & the Alpha Point

Early cosmos, from anime Ah My Goddess

This great space, in what form was it created?

When we believers talk about “grace”, it is probably just a sound to the outsider, a word devoid of meaning. Traditionally we understand grace with the heart. But as I discussed the topic with my Invisible Friend on the bus today (silently, for the benefit of my fellow passengers), I think we found a partial aspect of grace that can be understood mostly with the head, without too much heavy lifting by the heart. Here we go.

You may perhaps have heard about the “Omega Point”, a concept associated with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a point at the end of time and the collapse of space where everything will be accomplished. But my topic today is the opposite “Alpha Point” at the very beginning, where time and space explode out of an unimaginably small particle that contained all that would ever exist. At this point, everything was literally one: Not just in the same point of space in the same point of time, but of the same nature. There was no difference between energy and matter, nor between the tree that falls in the forest and the ear that doesn’t hear it, nor us and the farthest star. Yet everything we see, everything we are, everything that has been and will ever be, was contained in that moment.

This was the first moment of everything we know and much we don’t, for according to the most respected theories today, energy and mass barely make up 5% of the universe, the rest being dark matter (of which we know nothing) and dark energy (of which we know less – it should not really exists by all we otherwise know). It is as if the whole visible universe with even the most remote galaxies, billions and billions of them, is just The Sims running in windowed mode on a cosmic computer mostly dedicated to something unfathomable. The reality we inhabit, of matter and energy in all their forms, is not even a particularly significant part of this one universe, the only one we can even hope to know anything about.

All this, the known and the unknown and the unknowable, were contained in that tiny point, far smaller than a mustard seed, at the first moment of time, beyond which we cannot ever see, anymore than we can go further inward than to the center of a sphere. It is not that there is nothing beyond there, there is no “there” beyond there.  And yet, from that arises everything, in a singular moment.

This is a breathtaking moment even if you are a goddamning atheist. Or perhaps especially then. For the moment we mention “God”, unbidden jumps to the modern mind the cartoon image of some jolly white-bearded fellow, and this seriously spoils the magnificent image we just had. It is not for nothing that Judaism and Islam prohibit religious imagery, very strongly, ranking the practice alongside idolatry and blasphemy. I think they have a point, although I officially oppose the practice of beheading everyone who practices it. I do understand the sentiment though, for the damage these cartoonists have done to the modern soul is horrifying. To teach religion in the west today has become similar to trying to convince people to accept Spiderman as their personal savior. Most will laugh at you, and those who don’t are the ones you should worry about.

That said, there still live people who have met the Living God, the personification of the Supreme Being if you will, and have some kind of personal relationship to this. I have no problem with that either, seeing how that was pretty much all I had for the first decades of my spiritual adventures, and I would probably have thought that anyone not having roughly the same experience would be doomed to a very sad life in this world and the next. But that is beside today’s topic. Today’s topic is how to understand a particular aspect of grace.

What we need to zoom in on is the possibility, the overwhelming energy that is, at the moment of the Alpha Point, quite ready to in an instant bring into being anything and everything, although some of those anythings would take 13.7 billion years to unpack into their particular form.

This readiness to make the impossible come true is one of the key elements of grace, as perceived by us believers. Even if some of us express it as  a kind and loving father (of which there are some) giving us something reasonably useful, it is really the same thing. The overwhelming creative force utterly unfazed by the sheer impossibility of what lies ahead. The bringing about of that which was not and could not be without it.

Another important element when we talk about grace is that it is really a one-way thing. The universe could for obvious reasons not ask to come into being, and neither could any of us. It is the same with what we call grace: It already exists in its full form. It does not come into existence due to our asking, rather what we can ask for is to become able to attune to it, to perceive it, to find it and to latch on to it. A human can no more produce grace than the universe can produce its own Big Bang. This is the lesson of the Alpha Point.

To believe in grace is voluntary, and requires at least a minimal exertion of the heart. As such I cannot, and probably should not if I could, convince you. But I hope the brightness of the first mystery of the universe will remain with you for a while even if you choose the path of oblivion, as is your right.



Black Friday

"I'd rather pay double than have to put up with this kind of crowd!"

I hope you all had a wonderful Black Friday.

"Bargains and time sales can go rot in Hell!"

Ah, yes. Black Friday is the most recent of the American customs that have leaked into my native Norway over the Internet, along with classics like Helloween and VD. I am not sure whether this actually is the first year I’ve seen it here, but it just might be. The name certainly seems well chosen from the perspective of the porcupines among us, don’t you think? ^_^

Thankful to not be American

Well, to be honest I am more precisely thankful to be Norwegian and live in Norway, the world’s best country for years now according to the UN. Those who live in Congo, Somalia or even Colombia probably regard the USA as pretty much Heaven on Earth, and not entirely without reason. But the disturbing fact is that for years now, the US has been in decline, while the world as a whole has been growing healthily. Even after the onset of the Financial Crisis, the emerging economies (much of what used to be the Third World) have been growing at a brisk pace.

What is more important is that the growth in the emerging economies is largely real growth, caused by investment in infrastructure such as roads, railroads, education and telecommunication. In contrast, the growth in America has for a long time now been false growth, caused by growing consumption based on borrowing.  The “dotcom” bubble was quickly replaced with a housing bubble, which exploded spectacularly in the so-called Financial Crisis, impacting many other rich countries to some degree. But what is less obvious yet is that this was followed by yet another bubble, which is still growing: The government bubble.

The government is issuing ever more debt, and we are now talking about truly astronomical amounts, where trillions come and go. There is no plan, not even a vague idea, for how to pay back any of this. In fact, there is no plan for how to stop borrowing, ever. In fact, there seems to be no one who sees this as a need, or even a goal, or even a possibility. It is assumed that for the foreseeable future, America and its government will be financed by borrowing.

Unfortunately, that means the foreseeable future is getting shorter.

Unbelievable as it may seem, there are over 6.5 billion humans who don’t particularly think that the US is God’s chosen  country and is entitled to getting money for nothing. But as long as everyone else is also playing along, as long as you can sell American debt or use it as collateral as if it were gold, it is in everyone’s interest to continue to lend. The day someone big throws the cards and back out of this charade, it will be quite unpleasant to live in America for a while.

Not that it is particularly pleasant now, from what my friends there tell me. High unemployment has become a feature and is taking its toll: There are still many people slowly unwinding their life savings while trying to get a new job, even one that pays less than they used to have. There are still people living in houses they cannot really pay the mortgage for, putting off bills and racking up credit card debt while they hope for better times. But the better times don’t always show up, and so people slowly sink down into poverty. Neighborhoods gradually turn into slums. Schools deteriorate and teachers are fired.

Meanwhile, police is beating up protesters on a regular basis, and public parks are becoming like Palestinian refuge camps, permanent spots of squalor and anger.  In several states, recording police brutality has itself become a crime punishable with years in prison. Some of the latest police crackdowns seem to have been organized on a federal level, something that is against the constitution. (Let us leave aside whether or not it is a good idea to beat up leftists, in  principle, if they give the slightest excuse to do so.)

The culture war goes on, with the enmity between “blue” and “red” growing ever stronger, slowly inching toward an actual civil war with blood on the streets. (Not that the streets in America are free from blood even at the best of times, with the violent crime in the country being several times higher than in other first-world countries, and a general acceptance that you choose to risk your life if you walk into areas populated by people of a different skin color.) While the economy is in chaos, and infrastructure falling apart, the political parties are latching on to obscure pet projects that serve little or no useful function, but simply demonstrate their loyalty to their side of the culture war.

It is not that many years since people around the world looked up to America as a shining example of what a modern society should be. But something has gone horribly wrong. I would be surprised if it is not the same thing that always goes horribly wrong with every empire that has a golden age: Hubris. Overweening pride. A sense of being entitled to privilege. Well, at least you had your days in the sun. I hope you enjoyed them. Your golden age is over – so say your analysts.


Oktagonien worldbuilding

Colorful landscape with sky

A magical world, still in the process of being defined into its true form.

This is a bunch of internal notes for one of my fantasy stories, so it is only of interest for the extremely curious with a particular penchant for that kind of literature, I guess. Still, if I am writing it anyway, I may as well write it here in case that combination of interest really exists out there. There are 7 billion people in the world, after all.


So, Oktagonien. It is the name that corresponds to Earth in this particular story. Actually it has many different names in different languages, but the Emperors (human visitors) call it Oktagonien because they reach it through a pattern consisting of two octagons one inside another, each with different markings. In The 1001st Book (which will probably have a different name if I work long enough on this since I already used that name in the Thoth story), the two octagons are depicted side by side. Only by drawing the smaller inside the larger can you open the path to Oktagonien. And the book is only given to one person at a time, well at least recently.

Unfortunately you cannot travel back the same way, so you cannot return to Earth – and the universe Earth is in – without learning the Secret of the Return, which will typically take many years. The current visitor, however, somehow passed through the octagon first in his dream, which means he returns to the more real world when he wakes up. That, however, is not often.

Time flows differently in Oktagonien. A rough approximation is that it moves one thousand times as fast, so one year on Earth is 1000 years in Oktagonien. (It is probably 1024, if we use astronomical years and ignore the whole leap year thing.) Oktagonien was created by ascended humans (or the metaphysical equivalent) in a sister universe of ours (or rather of the main character’s), so Oktagonien is basically a niece universe. As such, it is less real, more fluid, more magical, more random, and more malleable. And time flows much faster, like in a dream. In fact, in a certain sense it is a dream, but it feels quite real when inside it. Then again, so do dreams.

One day (24 hours) on Earth is approximately 2.8 years in the world of Oktagonien, so if you sleep for a bit over 8 hours you’d spend a year inside Oktagonien.

The inhabitants of Oktagonien are furries, anthropomorphic animals. Or at least that is the case now and on the twin continent, where our hero lands. The western continent is inhabited by dog-people, who are strong and brave and quite social. Their southern subcontinent is inhabited by mouse-people, who are pygmies, but the smartest of the three races. East of the strait is the continent of the cat-people. In the frozen lands to the north and on mountain ranges live the spider-people, who are not all that spidery really but have some traits that may remind one of spiders, like four long, thin arms and four eyes, three in front and one in the back of the head.

The previous hero, the New Emperor, is the hero of the book our main character reads before travelling to Oktagonien. Inside Oktagonien, the New Emperor arrived a bit over 2000 years ago, so the book must be no more than two years old. He saved the furries from a large-scale invasion of the spider people, who had been unknown in the lands before. The spiders still live in the north, but are no longer considered a threat.

The spider invasion happened after the three races bombed each other back to the stone age in the Great War of Destruction, some 2500 years ago. The Great War was followed by a century of chaos, where people fought over magical artifacts from the past but ended up killing the only people who knew how to maintain them or even use them. After this they got used to living in the stone age, and the population was just beginning to bounce back when the spiders arrived with their superior alchemy and enslaved the furries. The spiders are very sensitive to heat and cannot stay long in the south or in the lowlands without constantly using potions to cool themselves down. Now that they no longer have a monopoly on alchemy, they live only in the coldest parts of the land and give no trouble.

Before the Great War of Destruction was what the book calls the Age of Legends, but which is now called the Age of Myth. The current Age of Legend is the rule of the New Emperor, which common people have already taken to be identical to the Eternal Emperor, who lived in the era before the Great War. He was called so because he ruled for several hundred years. When he left, however, his empire only lasted for a few generations before the civil war destroyed it.

The current hero, the New Emperor and the Eternal Emperor were all humans from Earth, and speaking English. However, the furries speak their own languages which our hero magically learns in a couple days, what with him being a moderately supreme being in this lower world.

Only about 500 years passed between the leaving of the Eternal Emperor and the coming of the New Emperor, so it is perhaps not so strange that people 2000 years later begin to think they were the same person. The Eternal Emperor arrived some 3500 years ago. He forged the Empire and raised civilization to a very high level, but evidently that was not such a good idea, since the furries used their advanced magic in the Great War of Destruction.

Before these Emperors, some myth-shrouded human arrived around 10,000 years ago. This hero is today considered a god. I am not quite sure what he did, but he did not create the furries. They were supposedly created by the twin gods who came before him, some 18,000 years ago. Through overwhelming magic, they transformed animals into the current sapient races. The furries today don’t know that this happened 18,000 years ago, but there are remnants from the Golden Age that contain clues to this. As far as we know, the twin gods – one male and one female – were the first humans to arrive in Oktagonien.

However, they were not the creators of Oktagonien, nor its first visitors. Before the coming of the first humans, there were the Elder Gods. They created the Elder Races, which probably includes the spider people, unless they were some failed experiment of the Twins. The elder races live on other continents. They are sentient, but are less similar to each other than the anthropomorphs.

Oktagonien has had intelligent life for at least 50 000 years, and empires have risen and fallen repeatedly in many ways and in many places. Generally a civilization is either created or saved by an avatar from a higher world, first from the mother world and now the last 18,000 years from the aunt world of Earth.

Has the mother world given up on Oktagonien and abandoned it? Or have they given it to our world as a gift, or possibly as a test? I can’t answer that yet. Only when my hero uncovers the ruins of the age before the age of the gods, may we possibly find out more about the mysterious people of the mother world.


Summary of the ages:

Age of Legend: Started by the New Emperor, 2200 years ago.

Age of Myth (the previous Age of Legend): Started by the Eternal Emperor, 3500 years ago.

The Golden Age: Started by the Great God (alias the Young God) 10,000 years ago. The first known Empire.

Age of Gods: Started by the Twin Gods 18,000 years ago. The creation of the Three Races. Fading into the era of the Lesser Gods, who are variously believed to be heroic furries, or descendants of the Twins, or heroic furry descendants of the Twins.

Age of the Elder Gods: Pre-human civilizations reaching at least 50,000 years back in time, possibly twice that or more. The creation of the Elder Races. Avatars from the mother world.


Oktagonien is a world very rich in magic, but the magic seems to vary both by time and by place, and perhaps to be gradually fading. There may be a single underlying principle that fuels all magic, but if so, nobody alive knows what it is. Perhaps it is only visible for someone from outside…


Global warming politics

You can get away with anything by saying "the Word of God"

In the past, you could get away with just about anything by saying “The Word of God”. These days, you can get the same effect by saying “Climate Change”. People will focus on whether or not they believe, not on whether or not what you say makes sense.

American politics are unique, as far as I know, in that the very fact of man-made climate change is a political issue. Not whether it is a bad thing or what to do about it, but the actual temperature measurements, not to mention the models used to predict future changes.

In a way it is understandable that American conservatives flat out deny man-made climate change. After all, liberals believe in it. In the current poisonous political atmosphere (which is far more dangerous to the country that whatever happens in the physical atmosphere), if your opponent claims the moon is not made of cheese, it probably means they have secret plans to eat it.

There is also the unfortunate tendency for an unholy alliance of progressive politicians and mass media to hype current weather aberrations as proof of climate change. But the truth is that we have literally seen nothing yet: The world is slowly heating up, but from a record low in the 17th century. These things literally happen at a glacial speed, as glaciers are a big player in the process. So we are now back to around the Viking age in temperature, and the Bronze Age was warmer than that, and the late Stone Age warmer than that again. So we have literally not seen anything yet that hasn’t been there already.

In the past, singular weather events like a bad storm or a year of drought were hyped by religious groups as divine punishment. The current behavior is essentially the same, God being replaced by a more nebulous force. But it is still some higher force punishing us for our greed, and people react in much the same way: Not very much at all, since people generally like their greed.

Again, we have literally seen nothing new yet, but we are probably past the point of no return where we will see change on a whole new level – some day in the future when gas-driven cars seem as quaint as horse-driven carriages. And by then, it would probably have changed anyway, either becoming hotter or colder or wetter or drier.  So conservatives are perfectly right to redefine “climate change denier” as “someone who, despite overwhelming proof, refuses to believe that the climate has always been changing.”

A hot summer or cold winter or a particularly devastating tornado or three are weather, not climate. But these are the things that get attention, and the press is adding to the confusion. The press – and presumably TV, for those dumb enough to watch that – is trying to stir up intense emotions, because that’s what sells. Spring coming two, then three weeks earlier to Norway or Canada is not going to compete with the latest sex scandal or grotesque murder. You have to have cities swallowed by the ocean and stuff, so that’s the angle you get. But then you come to the beach and it is exactly where it was last year, and it is kind of hard not to dismiss the whole thing as a hoax.

It is not a hoax. Science has known for over 200 years that carbon dioxide retains heat, because it lets light through but scatters infrared (heat) radiation. Light comes down during the day, and is absorbed to some degree by any surface that is not pure white (or a mirror), more the darker the surface. Light that is absorbed does not disappear, but is radiated as heat. (This can take its sweet time if it is absorbed by plants, of course, since these must be eaten or burned or some such to release the heat. And a lot of the planet is covered in plants, but they actually store only a minor part of the energy that hits them. Nobody calls for more efficient plants though. There are actual differences even between existing species, without genetic engineering.)

So if we increase the carbon dioxide and methane content in the atmosphere, it will hold back more of the heat that would otherwise radiate into space. This is what these gases do and they can’t help it. You can see them in action on our sister planets Venus and Mars, and the atmosphere already keeps Earth 19 Kelvin warmer than it otherwise would be, which is very much a good thing. That’s why nobody complained during those 200 years that we already knew about the greenhouse effect. Even children could read about this in any serious book on astronomy, and it was in no way controversial. It shouldn’t be now.

What should be controversial is the notion that if the planet is getting hotter, we need more socialism, more taxes and more regulations of everything from banks to children’s books. Seriously? No, seriously? If we are facing a massive environmental challenge, don’t we need the most flexible economy we could possibly have? History has already shown us just how great socialism is to protect the environment: It left Eastern Europe an ugly, poisoned dystopia at a point where the forests were already beginning to spread again in North America. If your house is on fire, you don’t call for a pyromaniac. If your environment is in trouble, you don’t call for socialism.

Now, don’t get this wrong. Taxing carbon dioxide emissions is a perfectly reasonable approach, if you think your country will suffer from the global warming. (If you think it will profit from it, that’s a bit different. Scandinavia, Canada, and Siberia will probably all benefit greatly from an ice-free Arctic, for instance.) Taxing carbon emissions from the industry might cause the industry to move elsewhere, so is somewhat less efficient than taxing gas-driven cars or coal-driven power plants. But you can still tax goods on the border for the carbon dioxide emissions made during production. There is nothing controversial about this from a fiscal conservative point of view. Taxing negative externalities is a staple of conservative economic theory, believe it or not.  Laissez-faire does not actually extend to looking the other way when someone dumps their garbage in their neighbor’s backyard.

So yeah, most countries will probably want to tax carbon fuel in order to discourage its use, but should then pass this money back to the people by cutting other taxes or subsidizing positive externalities (like painting your house white, installing solar cells etc). There is no reason to use it to finance your weird culture wars.  Stop doing that, so people can take you seriously.