A libertarian response to global warming

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Statement of purpose

Over the past 100 years or so, the global mean temperature (as best as it can be calculated) has risen by around 0.5 degrees C. Over the same time period, the concentration of CO2 has increased by about 30%. Since CO2 is known to absorb certain frequencies of IR light, it has been postulated that the CO2 increase, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is the cause of the warming.

Scientists will continue debating the details of this process as long as the climate continues to vary. In the mean time, a wide variety of suggestions have been made as to what, if anything, should be done to address global warming.

Almost all of these views, whether denialist, alarmist, or circumspect, have one underlying similarity. They all approach the political response to the problem from a social-democratic point of view, not a libertarian one.

In a social-democratic system, everyone in a society gets together and argues, studies, proclaims, debates, and eventually votes (either directly, or by proxy through elected representatives) on a course of action that then binds everyone.

In a Libertarian government, a government does not aim to pass laws that restrict individuals, under the rationale that the government knows what is good for people, even if they do not. Instead, the government aims to protect the liberty of the citizens it represents; they can then decide for themselves what is or is not in their interest.

In this blog, I will attempt to develop a system that has the ability to address climate change, while adhering to the following libertarian principles:

  • Non-compulsion. The banning of behavior will be avoided as much as possible.

  • Diplomatic independence. The efficacy of the proposed system will not require the co-operation of foreign social-democratic, totalitarian, or ineffective governments.

  • Personal responsibility. People and corporations will be held responsible for their actions, including any harm that they may do to other people or corporations.

  • Transparency. All stakeholders should be able to understand and participate in the system if they feel they are being affected.

  • Market assessment of cost. This solution will assume that market forces will be more adroit at determine the true cost of a good or service than government prognostication.

  • No Groupthink. I will try to avoid the use of the word “we” as much as possible. A libertarian system should protect the rights of individuals and voluntary cooperatives according to their individual wishes, not according to some blanket, bureaucratically-mandated need.


At 5:24 AM, Blogger Misha said...

I can't see how this will work... This year has been the warmest on record globally. Many businesses have suffered. How can they prove that this is not wholly or partly a statistical variation? Who will have the best lawyers -- the ski resort owner or a conglomerate of oil companies? Innocent until proven guilty is the way the law works... there is no way to prove scientifically that man made pollution causes global warming -- there are only very strong correlations in the evidence which suggest very strongly that there is a connection... how long did it take to "prove" that cigarette smoke is harmful? This is very superficial analysis in my opinion...


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