Saturday, October 11, 2014
Climate change is in the news again, with the liberals renewing their call for collectivist action, and the anti-science branch of conservative practicing various forms of do-nothingness. As a goal-oriented, pro science conservative, I am not really comfortable with either of these approaches. And the lack of a broad tent conservative response irks me, so I suggest we go with the following, simple yet powerful principle as a sensible, potentially unifying response to climate change:
No climate bailouts.
This is a good conservative approach for the following reasons:
1. It is uniting. Under this approach, it doesn't matter if you believe in climate change or not. Those who do not can oppose climate bailouts with the same principles which impel them to oppose bailouts for unicorn farmers. So we can all stop arguing about climate science and respect each other’s differences.
2. It differentiates us from the liberals. Al Gore and his ideological descendants basically push the following line: “Global Warming means we have to all turn into collectivists” Needless to say, this upsets a lot of people. By denying bailouts, we are placing the costs and risk assessment firmly in the hands of the polluters. The market is the best way to determine the probability of climate change, and the associated cost. Let the polluters deal with insurance and risk assessment and lawsuits associated with potential damages. While any costs will of course be passed on to consumers, if those costs are too high, then we can buy our energy from a non-polluting source. That’s how free markets work. The important thing is that it does not commit us to open ended government spending to bail out polluters.
3. It is flexible. Drawing a line in the sand on bailouts does not prevent public or private action. There are many creative ways in which governments, companies, and people can tackle climate change and save money instead of spending it. Whether it is streamlining approval processes or increasing government energy efficiency or requiring utilities to compete for the lowest energy price available, the list of potential actions goes on. Similarly, this approach allows principled, can-do compromise on climate action, provided that the core principle remains intact.
There are several other proposals for how conservatives should react to the climate change issue. While they are sensible, none are this simple. Polluters have known about the possibility of climate change ever since Al Gore was thin and dark haired. They’ve had plenty of time to study the issue and prepare based on the most likely outcomes. If they are not competent to do that, then they don’t deserve to be propped up with our hard-earned money.