WaPo: ‘Yes, conservatives can be environmentalists. Here’s how.’

Poor Jonathan Adler, formerly of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute and now a law professor at Case Western University, has forgotten whatever it was he learned while at CEI and has now embraced free market-flavored central planning.

Note in the interview, that Adler also embraces climate alarmism and a carbon tax.

Read more at the Washington Post.

13 thoughts on “WaPo: ‘Yes, conservatives can be environmentalists. Here’s how.’”

  1. Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.
    Frederic Bastiat
    Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
    Frederic Bastiat

  2. Conservative obstruction is rooted in rejection of the premises. For example:

    The EPA decides that PM 2.5 is dangerous.

    Mr. (Dr.?) Adler chides conservatives for not proposing their own solution.

    Never mind that it’s all made up BS. No solution is required for a made up “problem.”

    The EPA is attacking the coal industry. That’s a problem. The solution is to constrain or eliminate the EPA. Who says conservatives don’t have solutions!

    Conservatives provide good solutions to REAL problems, and are not given to playing along with made up ones, like global warming/climate change/weirding weather/extreme weather.

    In the WaPo interview, Adler says:

    “At the very least, folks on the right should be talking about things like whether the United States should be indemnifying poor parts of the world that are likely to be flooded and help them adapt.”

    The “right” sees sea level rise as slow and natural. “Indemnifying poor parts of the world” is just wealth transfer ideology. Of course the right doesn’t have their own suggested solution. The right isn’t going to use some hokum to justify wealth transfer. “Likely to be flooded” is so lame it is transparent that the actual program is wealth transfer.

  3. Jonathan,

    Property rights can be enforced through the rule of law (as opposed through the heavy hand of government regulation). The doctrine of nuisance ought to suffice for noxious pollution. That is enforceable everywhere, all the time. But however you slice it, CO2 is not noxious pollution. You can’t see, smell or taste it.

    Any other effects of CO2 emissions remain speculative. Assuming what you assert about Michaels/Balling is accurate, they are merely speculating (i.e., their own personal opinions) on the effect of 100+ years of global emissions, plus all the other human land use that has occurred. The impacts on global climate (although their undoubtedly are some, especially on a local scale) cannot verified in any scientific manner. So there is an evidentiary problem.

    Taxes, whatever they’re form, ought to be minimized and not used to discourage lawful and/or productive activity. Government ought to be minimized and localized — that was the founding idea and it was a good one, the peak of the Enlightenment.

    It’s not just climate policy that has caused the right to recoil from government — its virtually every policy.


  4. BenofHouston — There are few people out there that have been more critical of excessive regulation than I have. The issue here is not whether much environmental regulation is excessive — it certainly is. The question is whether there are better ways to protect environmental values consistent with individual liberty, and I believe there are.

  5. Sorry for stepping into your dialog, but I’ve seen the effects of regulation in the industrial world. The sheer cost of compliance for nonsense is getting ridiculous. I’m not meaning controlling flares or fugitives, I’m meaning particulate emissions from cooling towers (ie: salts from evaporated water), fines for sub-pound emissions of dust or non-toxic VOCs. Water regulations so stringent that tap water fails them. Dioxin emission limits on the order of milligrams per year. The entire guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude of the regulatory agencies directly undermines the concept of justice.

    The problem isn’t the regulations that help the environment. The problem lies in regulations that come at huge cost for no gain.

    Even worse than anything that occurs locally are the anti-development crowd, who actively work to prevent development of effective industrial economies in developing countries. The most direct actions are by attempting to deny them fossil-fueled electricity. The establishment of a reliable electrical grid is the foundation of a modern society, enabling a 5-10 fold increase in production, bringing wealth, health, and longevity. The actions to prevent the World Bank from funding coal power plants is effectively murder.

    I apologize for the rambling post, being an engineer and neither politician nor writer, I’m not exactly best at this. However, I find your position extremely narrow-minded.

  6. Somehow my query posted twice — sorry about that. Feel free to delete the second one.

    As for your response, free markets and individual liberty require the creation and protection of property rights — and that means extending property rights into the ecological realm and includes the protection of property rights against pollution. It violates the principles of property rights when the government takes or occupies your land. But it also violates property rights if your neighbor trespasses on or interferes with your land – -and it’s no defense if your neighbor says “but I was doing something that makes us all better off.” So if even skeptics like Pat Michaels and Robert Balling concede that human contributions to climate change will increase the degree of sea-level rise (as they have) it seems to me they are acknowledging that climate change is a problem — even if it’s not a civilization threatening catastrophe.

    Finally, when I was in D.C. it was an article of faith among conservatives and libertarians that a tax on consumption is preferable to a tax on income. it’s a shame that fears of climate policy have caused so many to recant from what was such a sensible view.

  7. Jonathan,

    Aside from conceptualizing climate change as some sort of “problem” that deserves government meddling and supporting an energy-use discouraging carbon tax (regardless of revenue neutrality), you say, “folks on the right inside the Beltway spend far more time attacking regulation than articulating a positive vision.”

    But individual liberty and free markets are a positive vision — one that requires not much further elaboration.

    We all agree that some regulation can make sense, but the “positive vision” you advocate hints of some sort of free-market central planning. No, thank you.

    You seem to want to make government work better — but as government power is always corrupting — the only good government is going to be minimalistic government.


  8. So what exactly is contrary to what i “learned” at CEI? CEI always supported catch shares and other property based fishery reforms when I was there, and my earliest work on the superiority of incentive systems to land-use regulation was done there as well.

    As for the climate, none of my climate recommendations are based on climate “alarmism.” As I’ve written extensively elsewhere, even if one takes a rather skeptical view of the science — say that articulated by Pat Michaels — if one believes in property rights one must still conclude climate change is a problem (and note I said “problem” — not “catastrophe”).

  9. Steve —

    And what in that interview is contrary to what I “learned” at CEI?

    I don’t embrace climate alarmism at all. As I’ve written extensively, if one believes in property rights — and one accepts skeptical assessments of clmate science (such as the assessments provided by Pat Michaels) one will recognize climate change as a problem — and note I said “problem,” not a catastrophe.


  10. A tax on the air that we breathe does nothing to the climate. Just ask Australia. All it does is cause higher electricity prices with all of the consequential flow on… and oh yes it also causes companies to go bankrupt.

  11. When I was in my l last year of my Ph.D. studies I looked at going into academia. They surgically remove your initiative and replace it with ‘grantsmanship’ when you sign on to a faculty anywhere.

  12. The Supreme court is turning away from Unconstitutional agency laws aka rules and regulations, None of these agencies are included in the Article I Section 8 enumerated powers . . The entire Federal government is in usurpation and WE THE PEOPLE must put them back under as Jefferson said the heavy chains of the Constitution.


    Read the real Constitution and the founders papers, letters and works at this free library and see the project to Restore Liberty.


  13. The responses seemed to me to be incoherent at times.
    Market-flavored central planning is economic aspartame.

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