On Conservative Skepticism Of Climate Policy

I’m pretty much on the same page as Jonathan Adler:

Hendricks’ effort to scare conservatives into supporting big government now to avoid bigger government later rings particularly hollow. Why is it that everything requires bigger government? Climate change is a threat? Extend government tentacles throughout the economy. Climate change is already happening? Ditto. Adaptation is necessary? More of the same. Were climate change not happening at all, I suspect Hendricks would still endorse a substantial expansion in government power.

Admittedly some on the right are equally reflexive, assert government is never the answer, and go to lengths to deny climate change poses any threat whatsoever. Yet there are also plenty of conservatives and libertarians who are deeply skeptical of government intervention, but are nonetheless willing to believe global warming might be a problem. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that reducing greenhouse gas emissions does not require the enactment of monstrous, pork-laden, regulatory statutes like Waxman-Markey. And it’s not at all clear that climate adaptation necessitates a massive expansion of government power. In many areas, such as water, climate adaptation requires more reliance on markets, not less. Climatopolis author Matthew Kahn also blogged here about how successful climate adaptation will be driven by market forces, not government planners.

I share Hendricks’ and Farber’s frustration that more conservatives don’t take climate change or other environmental concerns seriously. But I also believe some of this is the environmentalist movement’s own doing. If everything calls for the same big government solution, why does it matter what the problem is?

Concern about the environment has always been hijacked by socialists, going all the way back to the early “progressive” movement, and the trend just got worse with the end of the Cold War, and socialism discredited, after which they changed brands and became watermelons. Policy has to be based on a rational calculation of the costs and benefits, rather than simply using every perceived crisis as an excuse for further accumulation of government power.

3 thoughts on “On Conservative Skepticism Of Climate Policy”

  1. Somewhat atypically for VC, the comments over there made my brain hurt.

    I am, somehow – even though I should know better – still shocked that there are people who are both regular blog readers and who “care” about climate science… who still, today think that Something Must Be Done About Climate Change Right Now.

    Did they just spend a year dead for tax reasons or something?

    Or is it that VC is the only not-dogmatically-Left thing they read (or are they there just to poke the Crazy Conservatives Or Libertarians), so they never got to see any questions about the entire house of cards in any context other than “look at the crazy stupid deniers act like all this fraud matters”?

    I’m afraid that it might be a case of accepted wisdom that will never change, regardless of what the New Scientific Consensus (This Time Based On Actual Evidence) says.

  2. What is it about lefties that they always try to tell conservatives what to think and do? But the debate on this subject is never without some version of this quote “and yes, the science is quite solid that it will.” I love it when people see such certainty in sand. Truth be told, there would be no way to identify the signal of any human effort to cool world climate, since there is no way to isolate the signal of humanity in current weather and climate patterns.

    Adler gets it exactly right to point out that any insurance policy needs a reasonable premium, while those who worship the God Green would bear any cost and reject even the hint of conducting a price vs. benefit comparison of different scenarios. Nothing conservative about THAT. Plus there is always the possibility that we are headed for an ice age, and need all the CO2 we can get.

    As we head into what all sentient weather forecasters foresee as a pretty hard winter coming right up, one might even feel sorry for what heavy snows in unusual places will do for the popularity of this wing of the Green religion, but I’d rather pass on that one, and give thanks that we seem to have dodged another statist bullet – I hope.

  3. Plus there is always the possibility that we are headed for an ice age, and need all the CO2 we can get.

    Or that maybe higher CO2 and slightly warmer temperatures might be beneficial to humanity.

    Two very real possibilities that are treated as nothing more than blasphemy.

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