by Judith Curry
On several previous threads, there has been considerable discussion of libertarian perspectives, some of which were rather heated. This comment by Gary M convinced me that we need a thread on this topic:
I don’t find most libertarians terribly interesting. Take conservative economic policies, stir in liberal social policies, flip a coin on foreign policy, add a heaping helping of Randian rationalization for complete self-absorbtion and let stew. By and large, scratch a libertarian and you’ll find a conservative who doesn’t want to feel guilty about his pot, porn or polyamory.
Libertarians defy such stereotyping. And the role that libertarian political philosophy has played in the climate debate is an interesting one.
If you are unfamiliar with Libertarian political philosophy, check out the Wikipedia article. Alignment of Libertarianism along the left-right spectrum doesn’t work: there both conservative and left libertarians, anarcho capitalist libertarians, and libertarian socialists (and of course evangelical libertarians and atheist libertarians). I know a little bit about libertarianism, having read some of the classics 35+ years ago (e.g. Hayek, Rothbard, Nozick).
Specifically with regards to environmental issues, green libertarianism “places a high importance on achieving environmental goals via the free market, property rights, and tort law as opposed to state intervention.” (Wikipedia). Libertarians view themselves as rational and supportive of science. Seems like Libertarian support for cap and trade would be a natural.
So why do Libertarians seem generally to be opposed to the idea of AGW and policies like carbon cap and trade? Libertarian think tank/advocacy groups that are vocally opposed to AGW and cap and trade include Cato Institute (e.g. Pat Michaels), Competitive Enterprise Institute (e.g. Chris Horner and Myron Ebell) and the Heartland Institute (e.g. Joe Bast). Prominent libertarian blogs that address climate/energy issues include the Air Vent and MasterResource.
Some thoughtful analyses that I’ve come across discussing this issue include:
There seems to be a large number of libertarian among the Climate Etc. denizens, I look forward to your thoughts and insights.