A libertarian response to global warming

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


So here’s the deal. Over the past 100 years, industrial plants and vehicles have been burning fossil fuels to the point where the total atmospheric content of CO2 has increased by about 30%. Because CO2 is a heat-trapping, or “greenhouse” gas, the Earth has started to warm up. This warming could become very inconvenient, expensive, and even deadly if it continues at its present rate. Because of this, a number of solutions to this problem have been proposed. Almost all of them require a huge governmental program.

This is very odd, because global warming is one of the few modern-day problems which is not caused by government. But government solutions abound. And most of these solutions require unrealistic levels of diplomatic co-operation, corporate welfare of stupendous proportions, and very little consideration for personal liberty or the principles of limited governance.

The principles of a libertarian government are simple.
A government exists to protect people’s liberties.
A government does not have the power to limit people’s activities, as long as those activities do not cause harm to other people.
If a person is harmed by another person or corporation, he has a right to seek compensation for that harm.
A government should be the minimum size necessary to fulfill these limited roles.

Can these principles be applied to the problem of global warming, allowing a solution without massive government spending, rules, and treaties? I don’t see why not. And I don’t see why they can’t be applied using branches of government that already exist, thus precluding the need for new bureaucracies.


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