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Must Free-Marketers Reject Global Warming?

August 29, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

GISS_temperature_2000-09_lrg

You can’t make this stuff up. Someone at the UK Guardian named David Grimes has declared that “economic liberalism,” by which he means the ideology of laissez-faire, “clashes” with “scientific evidence.” Which scientific evidence, you might ask? Well, the unassailable scientific dogma of global warming is one:

Climate change illustrates this well, because despite overwhelming evidence of anthropogenic influence, there is a tendency for those with pronounced free-market views to reject the reality of global warming. The reason underpinning this is transparent – if one accepts human-mediated climate change, then supporting mitigating action should follow. But the demon of regulation is a bridge too far for many libertarians.

There is no doubt that some people who purport to be advocates for free markets reject arguments of anthropogenic global warming out of hand without even considering the evidence. I’m agnostic on the matter myself, although I certainly reject the ludicrous assertion that there is such a thing as “settled science” and that the matter is not debatable. And unlike many allegedly great men and women of scientific inquiry, I refuse to agree that global warming “deniers” are heretics who should be burned at the stake (or the modern equivalent of having one’s career ruined). To anyone capable of logical thought, it should be obvious that one’s support for free markets is utterly independent from one’s opinions on the matter of global warming. There’s no reason at all why someone who accepts the reality of anthropogenic global warming would have to support government regulation of all energy usage. To argue such would be like arguing that one’s acceptance of the Bering Strait theory determines one’s opinions about the minimum wage. So why would Grimes think this? We can see it in his quotation above where he says:

The reason underpinning this is transparent – if one accepts human-mediated climate change, then supporting mitigating action should follow.

Ah, so there it is. Acceptance of global warming = acceptance of “mitigation” = acceptance of government regulation. Case closed.

Grimes packs many assumptions into just this one statement. Let’s look more closely:

If one accepts that global warming is a grave danger, is it nonetheless necessary to support “mitigating action” even if it can’t be shown to actually improve anything at all? Even assuming that global warming were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof of success is still on those who want mitigating action. Specifically, they need to be able …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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