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.