MichaelJ

John Coleman - Founder of the Weather Channel condemns Global Warming

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Here's my very rough thinking on the matter, which I believe should satisfy both individual property rights and industrialization, thus supporting the legal precedents you have mentioned.

[...]

Medical impediments are a matter of measurement and thus a matter for medicine and the law.

This is not as clear and well-defined as it would have to be in order to be the basis of objective law so I would like to propose another way of looking at this issue.

I did say it was "very rough thinking."

A property right is a specific type of right: the right to use and dispose of particular physical entities such as your house, your land, your car, etc. The only way a genuine right can be infringed is by physical force -- i.e., physical contact made by another person with your property without your consent. If someone else makes noise or odors or sends smoke or poison gases onto your property without your consent, he has violated your rights and physically interfered with your ability to use your property as you see fit.

But, this, it appears to me, would cause all kinds of bureaucratic issues in practice, leading to an explosion of government interference.

Consider the following: barbecues, neighbor's parties, and the construction of plants, apartments, factories, and homes. Does this mean that smoke wafting over from a man's house into another man's compound would now be a violation of property rights? How about the aroma of a neighbor's 'exotic' cooking in an apartment complex?

What if a person were to maintain that the construction of any new homes within 20 meters of his was a violation of his right to "clean air and silence"? How would industry prosper if such instances were to become frequent?

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Consider the following: barbecues, neighbor's parties, and the construction of plants, apartments, factories, and homes. Does this mean that smoke wafting over from a man's house into another man's compound would now be a violation of property rights? How about the aroma of a neighbor's 'exotic' cooking in an apartment complex?

What if a person were to maintain that the construction of any new homes within 20 meters of his was a violation of his right to "clean air and silence"? How would industry prosper if such instances were to become frequent?

In the case of the barbecue, if your smoke was wafting into your neighbor's yard, he absolutely would have the standing for a civil case, same for noisy parties and any smell deemed "obnoxious" even if the person responsible for its origin finds it perfectly fine and dandy. Since it is a civil case as Betsy pointed out, both parties would be heard in a slightly informal environment. It would be more of an "arbitration," or at least it seems that way to me based on the cases I have been privy to. An apartment complex is a unique situation where the person complaining about the aroma of exotic cooking would probably be held accountable for the fact that an apartment complex has a certain nature that he must abide by if he lives there. In the case of the aromas, it would probably be held that the "air" in the apartment belongs to everyone, since that is the nature of an apartment building. In fact, an apartment building might properly require that tenants exercise a certain measure of discretion in regards to air quality or face consequences. I have never lived in an apartment so I have no idea if this is practiced, but it seems proper, unless the builder took measures to separate each apartment from the other.

Noise is an interesting issue in that I think it highlights particularly well the case for "dosage" since low levels of noise are commonplace and would not warrant a civil case, whereas loud, or even disturbingly "unique" noises might. An example is a couple in a Denver suburb that were fans of the local football team. At the couple's home, in the backyard, they had a series of electric horns hooked up to a car battery, and whenever the hometeam scored a point, they would blast the horn, which was EXCEPTIONALLY loud. Three blasts for a field goal, seven blasts for a touchdown w/ extra point. For years, there was no problem, as the neighborhood they were in was filled with fans as well. In fact, most of the time the neighbors would go outside just so they could hear the horn better. Just this last year they were finally asked to cease with the noisemaker, due to one man who did not like the horn, and whose house the horn was pointed directly at. It was learned that he had been asking them privately for some time to simply point the horn away from him, and in the end after it went to civil court, they just decided to auction off the horn and be done with the issue. They weren't happy, but all sides had come to an agreement based on property rights.

The idea of opposing construction near you properly shouldn't have any standing, since there is no harm done nor intended. If harm occurs at any point, standing will be granted, but not before then, not even if a pig farm is being built down the road. Pig farms don't have to smell, its just simpler if they do. B) I know where I grew up in Idaho, the property was esteemed for the "views" it offered. A loud legal battle was fought between property owners who owned some of this "view property" and the owners of property down in the valley below. Where it was originally a valley of farms and ranches, after it was subdivided and new construction was begun, it looked like any other suburb. The "view" owners complained that one of the assets of their property, and part of why it was so expensive, was the "view" and they sought an injunction against construction in the valley below. Regardless of the sound and fury over the case, it ended rather quickly by being tossed out, as it should have been.

Alternatively, I was thinking about temporary noise, like new construction. It isn't the current norm for a piece of property, nor is it expected to remain at that level, so how best to mediate these types of situations? I don't think I, as a builder, would have any problem with actually entering into contracts with neighbors which represented an agreement between us, something along the lines of establishing times when I absolutely must be building and times when I absolutely cannot, "swing" times, limits to the amount of men or equipment that I am using, and of course a timeline for the construction with set dates for re-evaluating the contract or cancelling it. I may even have to pay the neighbors for some of these priveleges. Now, this isn't to say that I would HAVE to enter into these contracts, or even that the property owner I am working for couldn't enter into the contracts on my behalf. If I chose not to work out the agreement ahead of time I would simply have to be careful and acknowledge the fact that if my business which is noisy and disruptive by its very nature upsets the neighbors, I will probably be seeing them in civil court. I don't see the government being highly involved in either case outside of its proper functions, i.e., arbitrating civil cases and upholding contracts.

Another example the leaps to mind, that is similar to this case, in that it is a "temporary" case of pollution is if any of you are familiar with living near a paper or pulp mill. I lived near one in Albany, OR. and twice a day the mill would do something that made it stink something awful. Everyday you would catch a whiff and look askance at the person sitting next to you like they farted, while they were looking at you the same way. Then you both would realize that it must be two o'clock. Sorry if that was vulgar. B) As far as the pollution is concerned, whether you liked it or not, most people you asked wouldn't have traded the smell for the loss of the mill, since between the mill and the vast number of mill-dependent businesses in Albany most people were making money off of that smell. Those that weren't tended to be appreciative of the fact that others were, and of course there were those who couldn't stand the mill and wanted it gone, despite the fact that no mill meant no Albany. To my knowledge that mill, and the property right it rests on, is still going strong. Hooray!

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If you were there first, you have a strong case to argue against the introduction of uncontrolled odors or high noise levels, at least without compensation from the newcomer who's creating the problem. If the farm or airport was there first, you know, or should know, that the probem already exists, so buyer beware.

This doctrine is called "Coming to the Nuisance," and has been a part of English Common Law for centuries. Like everything else in objective law, it is misapplied, denigrated, or under attack. See this four part article: 1 2 3 4

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Consider the following: barbecues, neighbor's parties, and the construction of plants, apartments, factories, and homes. Does this mean that smoke wafting over from a man's house into another man's compound would now be a violation of property rights? How about the aroma of a neighbor's 'exotic' cooking in an apartment complex?

What if a person were to maintain that the construction of any new homes within 20 meters of his was a violation of his right to "clean air and silence"? How would industry prosper if such instances were to become frequent?

[...]

Another example the leaps to mind, that is similar to this case, in that it is a "temporary" case of pollution is if any of you are familiar with living near a paper or pulp mill. I lived near one in Albany, OR. and twice a day the mill would do something that made it stink something awful. Everyday you would catch a whiff and look askance at the person sitting next to you like they farted, while they were looking at you the same way. Then you both would realize that it must be two o'clock. Sorry if that was vulgar. B) As far as the pollution is concerned, whether you liked it or not, most people you asked wouldn't have traded the smell for the loss of the mill, since between the mill and the vast number of mill-dependent businesses in Albany most people were making money off of that smell. Those that weren't tended to be appreciative of the fact that others were, and of course there were those who couldn't stand the mill and wanted it gone, despite the fact that no mill meant no Albany. To my knowledge that mill, and the property right it rests on, is still going strong. Hooray!

Thank you for your comments. They shed a lot of light on the matter and have largely eliminated my concerns of government expansion with respect to civil cases.

In your last paragraph though, the issue the viro woman brought up still peeks through: How does one fight those who want the Albany mill closed owing to their "right to clean air"? What moral principle, apart from the self-interest of the town's citizens, may be asserted? This is what I need to clarify.

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If you were there first, you have a strong case to argue against the introduction of uncontrolled odors or high noise levels, at least without compensation from the newcomer who's creating the problem. If the farm or airport was there first, you know, or should know, that the probem already exists, so buyer beware.

This doctrine is called "Coming to the Nuisance," and has been a part of English Common Law for centuries. Like everything else in objective law, it is misapplied, denigrated, or under attack. See this four part article: 1 2 3 4

Thanks for these articles, Piz. Assuming they are correct, it is this "Coming to the Nuisance" principle in law which must be abstracted, I think, to its counterpart in morality. What moral principle (immediately?) subsumes "coming to the nuisance" or, at least, the legal category "coming to the nuisance" belongs in?

I hope I'm applying the proper methodology here. Thinking out loud can be weird. B)

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In your last paragraph though, the issue the viro woman brought up still peeks through: How does one fight those who want the Albany mill closed owing to their "right to clean air"? What moral principle, apart from the self-interest of the town's citizens, may be asserted? This is what I need to clarify.

As I understand it, the complainant must demonstrate harm. As with all such things, "the dose makes the poison" - there are levels of "pollution" of the air that are perfectly safe, so complaints about "dirty" air at those levels and below have no standing.

Anyone arguing for "perfectly" clean air would have to sue nature itself, if for nothing else to order it B) to shut down all the volcanoes that spew tons of particulate into the atmosphere. There's no such thing as "perfectly" clean air. There can't even be such thing as a fixed, consistent composition of "clean" air, if for no other reason than that the humidity (amount of water vapor in the air) varies all the time.

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In your last paragraph though, the issue the viro woman brought up still peeks through: How does one fight those who want the Albany mill closed owing to their "right to clean air"? What moral principle, apart from the self-interest of the town's citizens, may be asserted? This is what I need to clarify.

As I understand it, the complainant must demonstrate harm. As with all such things, "the dose makes the poison" - there are levels of "pollution" of the air that are perfectly safe, so complaints about "dirty" air at those levels and below have no standing.

Anyone arguing for "perfectly" clean air would have to sue nature itself, if for nothing else to order it B) to shut down all the volcanoes that spew tons of particulate into the atmosphere. There's no such thing as "perfectly" clean air. There can't even be such thing as a fixed, consistent composition of "clean" air, if for no other reason than that the humidity (amount of water vapor in the air) varies all the time.

And this might ultimately be what I'm looking for, i.e., the Nuisance man comes to is Nature. So, it seems there is no right to clean air, as such. There is only the broad right to property, which subsumes the right to seek the reduction of, or compensation for, olfactory and auditory assaults over one's property.

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A property right is a specific type of right: the right to use and dispose of particular physical entities such as your house, your land, your car, etc. The only way a genuine right can be infringed is by physical force -- i.e., physical contact made by another person with your property without your consent. If someone else makes noise or odors or sends smoke or poison gases onto your property without your consent, he has violated your rights and physically interfered with your ability to use your property as you see fit.

But, this, it appears to me, would cause all kinds of bureaucratic issues in practice, leading to an explosion of government interference.

Consider the following: barbecues, neighbor's parties, and the construction of plants, apartments, factories, and homes. Does this mean that smoke wafting over from a man's house into another man's compound would now be a violation of property rights? How about the aroma of a neighbor's 'exotic' cooking in an apartment complex?

What if a person were to maintain that the construction of any new homes within 20 meters of his was a violation of his right to "clean air and silence"? How would industry prosper if such instances were to become frequent?

Since this is a civil issue and not a criminal matter, there is no need for a bureaucracy of government interference. If someone thinks his rights have been violated by someone else's actions, he can sue him. All he has to show is (1) there was some physical contact with his person or property, (2) he did not consent to it, and (3) he suffered damages. If the damage is only potential, he can go to court to get an injunction to stop someone taking actions which provably threaten physical harm.

There are already precedents in common law covering the situations you mention. When you live in a residential area, there are certain things the law assumes you consent to and others you do not. Sometimes this is made explicit (the CC&Rs) in the deed to your property. If you move into a house next door to a factory belching smoke, the assumption is that you consent to it. If you were there first and engaged in activities the smoke would interfere with, it is assumed you do not consent.

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Assuming they are correct, it is this "Coming to the Nuisance" principle in law which must be abstracted, I think, to its counterpart in morality. What moral principle (immediately?) subsumes "coming to the nuisance" or, at least, the legal category "coming to the nuisance" belongs in?

"Coming to the Nuisance" establishes consent. It proves that the damaged party knew of the potential damage and consented to it. He then has no basis to win a suit if he is damaged.

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