Libertarians and Climate Change

Brad Plummer writes about an attempt by the Cato Institute to present a case that climate change is not a problem. As usual their conclusions were based upon their biases:

Now this is amusing: The Cato Institute recently got 100 Ph.D.s to sign one of those “skeptic” letters sneering at the science behind climate change, complete with a short footnoted statement about how there’s no warming, the models suck, blah blah. They ran it as an ad in the Times, the Post, etc. So the climate scientists at Real Climate took a closer look at Cato’s footnotes and noticed that none of the papers the think tank cites support their conclusions. The ad’s method boils down to: “Ignore the facts you don’t dispute, pick some others that are ambiguous and imply that, because they are subject to some debate, we therefore know nothing.”

This comes as no surprise. Libertarians have a hard time if they admit to a problem which the market alone might not be able to fix, and therefore many of them will deny the existence of such problems. The Bellows describes this as an Existential Crisis for Libertarianism:

…confronted by a problem demanding solutions inimical to libertarian beliefs, libertarians were faced with the choice of reneging on their beliefs or turning their back on science. Tellingly, they chose the latter. One might think that’s a rather drastic decision, given the role scientific endeavors have played in delivering the material prosperity so dear to the hearts of the libertarian world, and one would be right.

A belief system that cannot grapple with the fundamental reality of a situation is, quite simply, not a belief system worth having. If I were a part of a movement that demanded I not get out of the way of oncoming cars, and that challenged the conclusion of the fields of physics and biology that an impact between the car and my person would leave my person badly damaged, I would begin to suspect that this movement was maybe full of crazy people with very bad ideas. I suspect most people, and perhaps nearly all people would arrive at this conclusion. And if that movement couldn’t come up with a better way to approach the problem of the oncoming car, well, it would eventually find itself abandoned, destroyed by the insistent encroachment of reality.