Here’s a reality very few people in the libertarian or conservative movements want to admit: Global warming is a thing.
Global warming is clearly caused in part by humans. It can be a threat, but perhaps not as much of a threat as that in Al Gore’s fantasies. But it does exist, and it is a threat. Carbon dioxide is something that absorbs heat and the use of fossil fuels, over breeding of animals for food production and deforestation of trees reducing CO2-to-oxygen conversation is a serious threat to humanity in the future. It could damage glaciers, hurt plant life globally, damage the coral reefs, cause flooding and also cause droughts. It’s a human disaster and something that must be stop. Yet like the worst of problems, it’s something government is causing and capitalism can stop. For that, it’s time we ‘get green’ and talk about how libertarianism can combat global warming.
I’m aware Ted Cruz might not buy into the concept, and many conservatives/libertarians don’t, but it’s without a doubt a real thing. The reason I feel many conservatives/libertarians have for years tried to ignore or deny it, is people think it was caused by capitalism and requires a government solution. This narrative is false. The government is the subsidy train to the oil industry, the mega subsidizer of the ethanol industry, the regulator to the American logging industry, the killer to the nuclear industry and the group which subsidizes big gas-guzzling auto. The government is why global warming and many other forms of pollution exist, and it is the job of libertarians to change this narrative and explain how the state is the problem.
And getting to my suggestions, let me mention that I used to support – but do not any more – carbon fees.
For a while I didn’t think a negative externality fee on the carbon emissions of a product such as gasoline or beef was a bad idea. They damage the environment; and putting a penalty on it wasn’t such a bad thought. I’d also only do it if it wasn’t a tax. Instead of just an empty extra quarter on gasoline that goes to line the pockets of groups who donated to politicians for government contracts, I wanted a fee that goes back to people and can reward low carbon users while penalizing hard users.
This is how it works:
Say there is a community of 300 people who we will monitor for the span of 100 days. There is also a 10% fee on gasoline – and in this world it costs $1.00 per gallon – thus a $0.10 fee placed per gallon. The first group of 100 people use 2 gallons a day of oil, having $0.20 in carbon fees a day, bringing in $20.00. The second group of 100 people use one gallon a day and will pay $0.10 a day, bringing in $10.00. The third group of people, for whatever reason, don’t drive or use oil products, and pay $0.00 a day. This in a community of 300 people brings in $30.00 daily and over 100 days will bring in $3,000. This $3,000 doesn’t go to the government, but instead will just be evenly distributed among all people in the community. Meaning every person in this community of 300 people is now given $10.00. This means the that group A, which used 2 gallons of oil daily, had every person paid $20 in fees a month, and got $10 back. The second group, which used one gallon, broke even over 100 days. And the third group, which used no carbon products, made $10 for doing nothing.
This isn’t a tax model and is a fee where people who are carbon users pay a penalty, but non-carbon users get rewarded. It is a flat model and doesn’t allow the government to take money out. I supported this model for a while.
But the devil is in the details and my issue with it came under the realization it only works when the world works together. Which well, it doesn’t. China won’t do it. India won’t do it. Mexico won’t do it. Probably a lot of America would try and fight it as well. With that, it would just be companies who are fossil fuel users leaving America over the fees, going to other countries with way worse emission standards. The lost use of gasoline lowers American prices, stopping any lower use in oil anyway.
I’m not totally opposed to this idea now, but not totally for it. It’s something I’m still mixed on and see pluses and minuses. However, this list below includes six ideas I’m confident can be ‘very libertarian’ methods to combat global warming:
- Deregulate fracking, nuclear, wind and solar
This is a simple one, and I cannot imagine any libertarian or conservative who would really have a problem with this. The simplest pitch is that nuclear power is the future that should have been. If big oil didn’t lobby and create a false public scare that it was dangerous, America and the world now would probably be borderline fossil fuel-free with every home powered by nuclear power. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and nuclear power didn’t becoming anything other than a joke on the Simpsons.
With regards to fracking, it is a close cousin to nuclear in the sense that big oil is trying to destroy it. It’s not OPEC or the huge oil companies who do this, however. It is smaller $5-50 million companies that pop up, use older wells, build off them, take risk and introduce the cleaner product of natural gas that produces a third less of the carbon footprint.
The next obvious one is just taking down the maze of regulations on installing solar panels, installing wind turbines and just generally deregulate that space altogether, cutting costs. America has it more expensive over any other nation to install, and the reason is regulation.
- End foreign aid to nations without property rights
When it comes to fossil fuels, it’s a problem, but not the biggest one. The biggest issue right now in the Amazon and many other forest areas globally, is that they are having trees chopped down every single day. In America, the lumber industry has businesses owning their own property and they scale that property to ensure growth by taking care of the land and mounting trees properly to grow more. It is why American lumber is plentiful and there’s no shortage. It’s why the lumber yards today have more trees over a century ago. But in the Amazon and other places, they just have government grants to chop. Private companies don’t own the property and there’s no incentive to redevelop or even replant. The result being less plants on Earth and less oxygen converting CO2.
The answer is simple. Tell these nations that foreign aid dies unless property rights are established or strengthened. Tell them the billions in aid and benefits sent yearly go away unless they privatize their forest lands and begin allowing the ownership of property by companies and citizens, similar to an American model.
- Embrace veganism
One of the coolest technologies around which will change everything in a few years is this: Meat not made from meat. Companies such as Impossible Foods using special machinery and formulas have developed ways to make burgers and other meat products which cook and taste nearly identical to meat, but with one catch… They aren’t meat.
How does the government help them out? It has offices… It has the military… It has public schools… Offer a prize for any company capable of developing a good enough meat-free meat which is cheap enough and easily manufacturable with the auto promise of a large government contract. This incentive could be tens of billions sold yearly for the company to win and could push venture capital to a vegan meats category unlike ever before.
The outcome will be technology made to help wipe out this reckless practice of hoarding billions of animals yearly producing CO2 and contributing a third of the Earth’s CO2 emissions. This is the unheard of cause for global warming and must be countered.
- Deregulate the auto industry
Want to manufacture and sell a car? Get ready to spend twenty million dollars on safety testing for likely proven models. The auto industry working in bed with government has turned needless safety test into a regulatory hell zone stopping countless companies from doing well or being established in the first place. Prohibitive measures such as this are why Tesla was the first auto company in five decades to go public on a major market exchange. It’s why companies such as MDI which are developing air powered vehicles, don’t get into America.
Deregulation is clearly needed in this sector as a priority in the long list of others which also need it.
- End ethanol subsidies
This has been beaten to death countless times, but I’ll say it again: Ethanol is a scam… It just incentives the overproduction of corn which produces high amounts of CO2 and methane while also not being an effective fuel. It’s dumb and is made so politicians can get votes in Iowa during the election season.
- Deregulate logging
One simpler idea to ending foreign aid for nations without proper property rights? Strengthen American logging! With countless regulations such as the Endangered Species Act to needless permits on lumber, the government has made opening up new plants to grow and chop down trees for use of lumber a difficult task. In this, the world, where it should be going to other nations, instead falls to ripping apart the rain forest.
These are a basic blueprint of ideas. They are simple, but it’s enough of a pitch. Above all, I’d ask every libertarian reading this to please take science seriously. Global warming and climate change is a thing and this denial of it should be coming from the believers of big government. They are causing it and stopping the carbon-free future.
Go green and go liberty!
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Charles Peralo, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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