An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that global warming is heating the planet, there’s no doubt about that. The repulsion that most people feel when it comes to climate science isn’t really about the facts, it’s about the conclusion that politicians and climate advocates take.
The world has ended several times already, be that through acid rain, global cooling (remember when The Day After Tomorrow was a thing?), the broken ozone layer, BSE, the STEC virus, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, the list goes on. Al Gore’s ‘inconvenient truth’ of completely melted ice caps by the year 2014 didn’t turn out to be true at all.
All the while, the acceptance of anthropogenic global warming is a political consensus, bringing a myriad of rules and regulations with it. Banned plastic bags, carbon taxes, waste disposal inspections, emissions trading: environmental protection agencies have become the second tax collectors and enemies of individual liberty. The rhetoric is unmistakable: the general population has fucked up with its irresponsible consumerism and disregard for future generations. In light of all the environmental catastrophes that this can produce, a patronising judgement can only be fair.
The political class has adopted this patronising top-down method, in which’s rage it hampers innovation, for instance in the development of techniques for hydraulic fracturing. The climate change movement has started off with the noble intention of preserving environmental balance. Today, it has characteristics of a cult, unfearful of crushing every opposing voice. It’s this exact attitude that people take issue with.
If anthropogenic global warming is really taking place or not, is, as I’d claim, irrelevant. There are plenty of other good reasons to not waste resources and to save before investing.
In fact, theories of free market environmentalism show that individuals tend to act more responsibly when there’s less regulation. Let’s take the example of waste disposal: instead of obsessively legislating in favour of sustainable recycling, the right economic incentive could come from privatising waste disposal. As for now, if a supermarket chain prefers plastic or paper bags is, for them, fairly irrelevant, as their waste disposal is dealt with through taxation. If we were to privatise their disposal, and we were to presume that the disposal of a paper bag requires lower costs than that of a plastic bag, then the relative cost for the supermarket would be higher for the plastic bag. This bag would evidently not disappear as one of their options, yet companies offering them free of charge until now, will be more inclined to charge for them, or make them more expensive than the paper option. The invisible hand of the market will then guide consumers to make a rational price-oriented choice, instead of collectivising environmental costs and creating more of them.
The future of environmental protection lies in the essence of free-market capitalism. The Nanny-State approach of today’s governments will face the inevitable opposition of ordinary people: grow up, or die.