Thursday, October 12, 2006

More On The Lonely libertarian's Global Warming Position

Writing the last entry got me thinking as to why I take the stance I do when it comes to global warming. It's simple really. As a libertarian, I'm skeptical of claims associated with government regulation. I have no real scientific interest in whether the world is warming, cooling, or not changing- what I care about is public policy. So for me, and for most of us who are not climate scientists, the global warming debate is not one about science, but about public policy.

From what I understand, more scientists have come to the point of view that yes, global warming is occurring, and yes, man made carbon emissions do contribute to global warming. I believe there are still skeptics out there, but we'll go with man made global warming as the majority view.

Here is my problem- I'm unclear how we get from global warming science to public policy recommendations. As far as I understand, there is not scientific agreement on the three following points:

1- To what extent is man responsible for the current global warming trend?

2- How much warmer is the earth going to get?

and 3- What will be the effects of the earth getting warmer?

They all go hand-in-hand, really, but each report I see in the media on global warming seems to say something different. And given that there is no consensus and no agreement on these issues, how is a Mansfield public policy about global warming supposed to be formed? The policies we have recommended to us are a variety of measures designed to "reduce the effects of man made global warming," but there is nothing remotely scientific about any of these proposals. And how can we possibly balance the economic costs of proposed regulations when we have absolutely no idea as to what the long term gains of such a regulation might be.

If someone tells you "the debate is over," they're dead wrong if they're talking about global warming policy. Once again, don't let science scare you out of making policy choices that all Americans are rationally capable of making.


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