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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Libertarian environmentalism is not a contradiction of terms - nor is free-market environmentalism (another good summary can be found here). Free-market environmentalism, however, is too focused on property rights and tort reform. While these are both highly productive and praiseworthy measures, I believe a broader approach is necessary. Simply put, libertarian environmentalism seeks to improve the environment without the use of force.

Many environmentalists today (I dare say a majority) rely too heavily on force to achieve their goals. They look to government to punish and coerce individuals to behave a certain way. The government often acts in accordance to their will, as the government has grown accustomed to using force to achieve other goals.

Environmentalists and the government justify their use of force by reason of market failure. To the contrary, it is the government's failure to allow the market to correctly function.

Rather than relying on force, libertarian environmentalism encourages environmentally-friendly actions through economic incentives. You could replace the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the Environmental Incentive Agency (EIA), replacing negative reinforcement with positive reinforcement.

Critics of both libertarian and free-market environmentalism are quick to bring up global warming. While I am more inclined to believe in climate change over global warming, I made my feelings clear in yesterday's post on the topic:

If a cap-and-trade system (hereon more accurately referred to as a "carbon quota") were implemented in the United States, the level of emissions would be completely arbitrary. No scientist knows the level of carbon dioxide at which the atmosphere become irreversibly unstable. Without knowing the upper limit, any restriction in quantity will necessarily be made through guesswork (or, even worse, through politics - i.e. what sounds politically popular).
Do not allow the supporters of cap-and-trade ("carbon quota") mislead you by stating they are "creating a market" for carbon. They are using force to achieve an unscientifically-based goal.

I will not completely ignore the climate change issue. In a previous post on climate change in Africa, I stated:
I won't deny the existence of climate change. However, it is more a regional phenomenon than a global one. For example, many environmentalists cite the melting glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro as a sign of global warming. These people overlook basic science. The area surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro has been largely deforested by the local population. Due to the deforestation, less water evaporates from the trees, providing less snowfall to replenish the glaciers each year on the mountain.
A 2006 study by Quan Li and Rafael Reuveny found that increased levels of political freedom have been shown to lower CO2 and NOx emissions, decrease rates of deforestation and land degradation, and reduce water pollution. If force was the appropriate means to achieve environmental goals, authoritarian countries like China would have spotless environmental records.

As I mentioned previously, factors such as deforestation are major contributers to climate change. Forcing a carbon tax or carbon quota on the economy is not the most efficient way to tackle problems like deforestation that directly contribute to climate change.

However, I will not deny the role of increased carbon emissions on climate change. I previously blogged on private sector solutions to this problem, including a group of UK and US scientists who plan to create wind-powered ships to increase cloud cover, reflecting the suns rays, without affecting regional weather patterns. The plan costs $9 billion to test and launch 1,900 ships (a cost of less than $5 million per ship). There's no need for the government to force individuals' behavior when private sector solutions are available.

Posted by Eleutherian

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4 comments

  1. bbrian017 Says:
  2. I like your idea about removing the word protection with incentive. When I read that part I picture a whole different company inside my head. Interesting how word affect and determines what our ideals are about something like that.

    Perhaps we used protection because initially was a form of protection and perhaps not even for people but trees or other environmental elements such as land, water or trees.

    You’re points are very valid. Do you mind if I ask what it is you do for a living?

     
  3. bbrian017 Says:
  4. oh never mind I read your about us page!

    nice to meet you :)

     
  5. pcd2k Says:
  6. I don't believe governments are "forcing" individuals' to adopt green energy utilities ?

     
  7. When the government subsidizes an industry with taxpayer dollars or places an excise tax on a good/service, it is using force. Any mandate is force. Coercion is force. Taxing is force.

     

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