Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

Loading Table of Contents...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Libertarian Answer to Global Warming

Remember Cowen’s Second Law: There is a literature on everything. In this case, the man who wrote the book on environmental libertarianism is a member of our local Santa Clara County LP: Dr. Fred Foldvary, economist at San Jose State University. His article on the Green Tax Shift is still the best single public policy essay I've ever read.

That and many other articles on green libertarianism (a.k.a. ecolibertarianism a.k.a. geolibertarianism) are at

I'll only add a couple points about short-term tactics and long-term perspective:

Short-term: environmentalism is an irresistible force in our modern culture -- similar to increasing social tolerance, or the weakening of religion. Libertarianism benefits from the latter two, but opposes environmentalism at its mortal peril. Luckily, economic analysis demonstrates that the best environmental policy is to use pricing -- - music to libertarian ears! So libertarians need to learn the tune, or else become a bug on the windshield.

Long-term: Warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gases is real, but the risks are overblown. Since the Cambrian explosion, life on Earth has handily endured periods much warmer than now and much cooler than now. Even in its brief tenure, H. sapiens has endured much bigger differences in temperature and sea level than what we now face. Heck, it's probably worth a few feet of sea-level rise to defrost the wastelands of Siberia and Canada.

The only greenhouse problem we can't engineer our way out of is species loss. Global warming may very well be causing an extinction spike that dwarfs the Columbian Exchange and rivals the Quaternary extinction (overkill by human hunters migrating to new continents). Handling species loss is a poorly-developed area of libertarian ethics and policy. But when the species loss is primarily due to greenhouse-gas emissions, the answer is clear: add a pollution cost to the price of polluting products/transactions. (This doesn't require world government, any more than worldwide low tariffs after WWII have required world government.)