The problem with climate change alarmism

Jeffrey Tucker, a.k.a my pick for the most interesting man in the world, writing at FEE on the “amazing arrogance” of the Paris Accord:

But the “globalists” of the type that tried to make Paris work have a stunning lack of self-awareness. They pretend to be oblivious to the populist resentment they breed. They act as if there is not a single legitimate doubt about the problem, their analysis of cause and effect, the discernment of their selected experts, or their proposed coercive solution. And there certainly isn’t a doubt that their mighty combination of power, resources, and intelligence can cause all the forces in the universe to adapt to their will, including even the climate that King Canute himself said could not be controlled by kings and princes.

Now my own two cents…

Fighting man-made climate change is about two things:

  1. Identifying the true extent of man-made climate change and locating the point (not necessarily non-zero) at which it’s effects on the earth become a net drag on humanity’s collective quality of life.
  2. Determining the optimal trade-off between the alleged benefits of regulations designed to curb man-made climate change and any detriments they might have on our quality of life.

It’s simply wrong to say that we must do everything we can to prevent climate change. Frankly, stopping man-made climate change is not necessarily our most important short-, medium- or long-term priority. If it were, then what’s our response if scientists prove it’s in the planet’s best interest for mankind to simply cease to exist? Or if they say that automobiles, on net, are damaging and that we should stop using them immediately?

The problem with alarmist language on the Paris Accord (CNN today: “mass extinction”), and climate change generally, is that it throws out all other considerations. It ignores obvious trade-offs.

Indeed, everything is about trade-offs. If it’s true that regulating carbon emissions here and now will benefit the planet as a whole, those benefits need to be weighed against the harms of short-term job loss and other industry-killing mandates inherent in such laws.

In short, we need a balanced approach, not alarmism. What Trump and his supporters argue is not ridiculous or ignorant. They make reasonable arguments about the trade-offs inherent in regulations designed to curb climate change.

Finally, a related note on climate change from a previous blog post of mine:

Any serious discussion of climate change ought to talk about why global warming is bad—not take that idea for granted. Maybe such talk is about there, but I don’t see it from popular commentators except insofar as they paint scary pictures of flooding coastal cities and stronger hurricanes. That doesn’t sound good, but what happens to the world on net? What happens, if you will, to the human race’s prospects for long-term survival (if you like thinking in such terms…I don’t)? Is it possible that things will improve in this regard?

Let’s first establish exactly why climate change is bad, then talk about whether it’s worth fighting. Because neither of those goes without saying.

Why Mises admired Freud

An interesting little note from Jeffrey Tucker in The Freeman:

It makes sense if you think about it. Mises was the great champion of subjectivist economic theory, with its radical observation that the whole shape of the world of economics is ultimately traceable to values residing in human minds. Freud did the same for the discipline of medicine and therapy. They both went beyond materialism to find explanatory power in how and what we think. Both highlighted the awesome power of the inner life of the individual mind.

Trump’s secret plan

From the genius mind of Jeffrey Tucker:

Because Trump is the only one who speaks this way, he can count on support from the darkest elements of American life. He doesn’t need to actually advocate racial homogeneity, call for a whites-only sign to be hung at immigration control, or push for expulsion or extermination of undesirables. Because such views are verboten, he has the field alone, and he can count on the support of those who think that way by making the right noises.

What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is non-leftist in its cultural and political outlook and yet still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and places no limits on state power. The left has long waged war on bourgeois institutions like family, church, and property. In contrast, right fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

Trump believes himself to be that man.