Why is it that the precautionary principle is only and forever applied to climate politics? Advocates of anthropogenic climate change have used arguments involving this principle for many years now. They assert that the potential dangers connected to climate change demands that we act according to their most dire predictions. Policy implications and policy prescriptions that flow from this are expensive and far reaching. To a certain extent it is easy to agree with this line of thinking. In general, I’m risk averse myself, and being careful can serve one well in life. One issue I have with this line of thinking is that it is rarely if ever applied to other political issues.
First, I want to bring up the merits of the precautionary principle. Acting as though potential dangers have been confirmed early on in a scientific inquiry regarding a potential hazard can save a tremendous amount of money and hurt. It takes a lot of time before scientific conclusions can be drawn and proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we take smoking as an example, I’m sure that some scientists warned about the potential and still unconfirmed dangers of smoking early on. A lot of harm was cemented in the time period between these early warnings and the definite conclusion. So far following the precautionary principle seems meritorious.
The problem with applying the precautionary principle to environmental issues comes from the dishonesty of its advocates. It is clear that many of the dire warnings put forth a few decades ago have failed to materialize. We haven’t run out of oil, not even close. Mass starvation isn’t an issue outside of impoverished third world regions, instead lifestyle related disease connected to obesity is a major health concern. Global cooling has been replaced with warming. Famously, applying the precautionary principle to DDT has resulted in millions of deaths, especially in poorer regions. From the evidence I’ve seen, DDT isn’t the bogeyman chemical it was claimed to be. Had DDT been allowed to proliferate, a lot of impoverished people living in difficult circumstances would have remained alive, free from diseases like malaria.
This brings me to the civilizational conflict between the West and Islam. I question why the precautionary principle hasn’t been applied to Islam when it comes to immigration and the islamization of the West. We have concrete examples of harm that has been inflicted on Western countries as a consequence of the rise in the Islamic population. Besides the obvious terrorist attacks, we have fundamental values such as free speech that are coming increasingly under pressure. Western political leaders have shown a deferential posture towards Islam in questions related to free speech. They failed to defend the principle in the famed cartoon crisis and in other instances. We also have the question of protection for women and sexual minorities.
It is well known that their treatment in Islamic counties leaves a lot to be desired to put it mildly. Doesn’t it make sense to be cautious when it comes to preserving and defending their rights and place in society facing a rise in Islamic prevalence? If the precautionary principle can be applied to climate politics, then surely it makes even more sense for immigration policies to use it in regard to Muslim immigration. As Douglas Murry points out in his excellent book “The Strange Death of Europe”, even the most dire predictions about the rise of Islam in Europe have been overtaken by actual events. Not only have Western political leaders failed to address terrorism head on, they are more concerned about alleged “islamophobia” than the safety and security of their peoples and their liberties. If the precautionary principle has any merit at all, surely it must be when facing problems connected with Islam.