From the world’s largest gathering of hypocrites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, we have learned that a personal carbon footprint tracker is in the works. In the wrong hands, it would be the equivalent of the ankle monitors used to ensure that criminal offenders don’t escape their house arrest.
“We’re developing, through technology, an ability for consumers to measure their whole carbon footprint,” J. Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group USA, said Tuesday while on a panel discussion on responsible consumption. “What does that mean? Where they are traveling. How they are traveling. What are they eating. What they are consuming on the platform.”
This will excite the virtue signalers who will be happy to post their carbon footprint scores on social media. But for the rest of us, those still wishing to live freely, who don’t want elites establishing the limits of “responsible consumption,” it’s deeply troubling.
Evans described the tracker as if it were just another way for people to keep up with their activities – like a smart watch that monitors health.
But the existence of the technology plays straight into the hands of the wrong people, which in the developed world is roughly half of all elected officials and nearly all of the regulators and bureaucrats of the administrative state. Don’t think that they will decline the opportunity to someday require, in the name of saving the climate, each of us to have a carbon footprint tracker so that our lives can be monitored, and our behavior adjusted as needed.
Before anyone says we’re overreacting, that there’s no reason to be concerned, please consider this short list:
- Yuval Noah Harari, a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has said, in the words of the BBC, that “COVID-19 may bring (a) new surveillance era.” “Governments want to know not just where we go or who we meet, above all they want to know what is happening under our skin,” he said.
- A black box on automobiles that would be used to track mileage to determine how much drivers should pay for the roads in lieu of standardized fuel taxes “could lead to a very slippery slope of the government knowing our whereabouts at any given moment,” says the Pacific Research Institute’s Tim Anaya.
- “Thanks to a new provision in the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill,” a couple of op-ed writers tell us in The Hill, “your car will be used against you in a court of law. Under this long-ignored provision, carmakers will be required to start monitoring drivers by 2026 using unspecified technology to search for signs of drinking.” Flaws in the system will inevitably lead to innocent drivers being flagged and punished.
- We’ve been told the government would never control residential smart thermostats to reduce energy use, but in 2017, a local Los Angeles radio station reported that in “a growing number of Southern California homes,” smart thermostats were “changing the temperatures automatically.” The customers had given Southern California Edison permission to adjust their homes’ temperatures, but the leap to political control, once those smart thermostats are more widely installed, is a short one.
- Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, also in Davos for the World Economic Forum, said that his company is working on a tablet that contains a chip, which “sends a signal that you took the tablet” and provides patient information to trackers. It’s an advance that used properly would likely be helpful in treating patients. But it’s chilling to think the pills could be wrongly used by power-mad elites.
It’s inevitable that the elites-governmental industrial complex will use technology to control the growing number of smart devices in our lives. Politicians and regulators have already determined how much water can be used to flush toilets and flow through our shower heads; set limits on electricity and water use in dishwashers; made gasoline cans more expensive and difficult to use; and ruined automobile design. It will be their pleasure to continue to increase their authority over our lives.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board