Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Law of Unintended Consequences: The UK flooding version

Everywhere and at all times, government intervention into people's lives -- and in this instance, the environment -- has unintended consequences that are so severe, that it typically swamps the positive, intended consequences.  From the blog, Cato-@-Liberty, here's a great example involving flooding in the UK:
Both the economy and the environment are complex ecosystems. Governments often upset the natural balance and cause damage because they combine limited understanding with an excessive zeal to mandate and subsidize.

In Washington , we have snow and cold, but I can’t blame that on the government. However, Britain has been suffering from river flooding, and a Daily Mail article explains how subsidies are a key culprit: “Thought ‘extreme weather’ was to blame for the floods? Wrong. The real culprit is the European subsidies that pay UK farmers to destroy the very trees that soak up the storm.”
So here's how it works: the centralized, socialist agricultural arm of the EU pays farmers subsidies as long as their land qualifies.  UK farmers, wanting subsidies, remove trees so their land qualifies.  This, however, also eliminates an important variable in flood control, the net result of which is, of course, an increase in flooding.  And politicians and environmentalists, of course, refuse to acknowledge (or, just as likely, are ignorant of) their culpability in the process and instead, blame the increase in flooding on the effects of mankind and global warming/climate change.  Great stuff, huh?