“Climate Change” – An Austro-Libertarian Analysis

“Climate Change” – An Austro-Libertarian Analysis

By Duncan Whitmore

In my most recent essay posted on this blog, we noted that the COVID-19 hysteria is giving way to a ramping up of climate alarmism of the kind on full display at the recent United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow (“COP26”). (Or at least it was until the so-called “Omicron” variant ignited a fresh wave of viral panic).

Needless to say, like most of those who value prosperity and freedom, I do not waiver from the view that the trumpeted calls for “action” to abate human-induced climate change (once known as “global warming”) are scarcely concerned with protecting the planet as such; rather, they are little more than a ruse to expand state control over industry and lifestyle choices, a convenient excuse that has become more prominent since the economic case for such expansion died along with Soviet communism. In a handful of previous essays, I have outlined both the fundamental misanthropy of the environmental movement and the epistemological errors of what passes for “The Science”, in addition to demolishing the underlying, Malthusian myth that human overpopulation is driving us to the brink of disaster.

However, much of what else could be said with regards to the facts of climate change has been said elsewhere, and in a way better than what I could reproduce here. Thus, to do something different, we will look not at whether human-induced climate change (through carbon dioxide emissions or whatever) is happening. Instead, let us take as our starting point the notion that is, indeed, happening – in other words, for the sake of argument, let us concede absolutely every climate related disaster for which eco-fanatics claim human industry and prosperity is responsible. Is there anything within libertarian theory that would grant anyone the right to curb industry and private decision making in the manner in which states are seeking to do?

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On Externalities, Integrated Assessment Models, and UK climate policies

On Externalities, Integrated Assessment Models, and UK climate policies

By Neil Lock

This is a follow-up to my recent essay, “On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment.” As I said there about the economic impacts of global warming: “I’d expect that some probing by independent experts into the economic calculations, and the assumptions on which they are built, might bear fruit.” But where are these calculations, and who are the unbiased experts who have quality controlled them? I couldn’t find any such calculations, or the names of any such experts. Perhaps, I thought, I’d better take a look at this myself.

So, I set out to learn as much as I could about the economic calculations which – so we’re supposed to believe – justify the extreme measures proposed, all the way up to total de-carbonization of the UK economy, to avoid alleged catastrophic damage from global warming. This essay is the result of that exercise. If it reads like a cross between a layman’s guide to the economics of global warming and a political rant, that’s because it’s both!


Here are the main points of what I found out:

  1. In 2009, the UK government ceased to value carbon dioxide emissions according to their social cost [1], in favour of using numbers based on political commitments they had previously made. In effect, they abandoned doing cost versus benefit assessments on policies that are expected to increase or decrease CO2 emissions.
  2. Recent empirical estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), when run through assessment models like those used by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), suggest a considerably lower social cost of CO2 emissions than earlier estimates, such as the UK government’s Stern Review.
  3. When the beneficial side-effects of CO2 emissions, such as increased plant growth, are taken into account, it’s possible that the social cost of these emissions may even become negative. That is, CO2 emissions become a nett benefit not a nett cost.
  4. Calculations based on a 2017 paper by Dayaratna, McKitrick and Kreutzer suggest a social cost for all UK CO2 emissions as at 2020 of 0.05% of GDP (optimistic) or 0.31% of GDP (pessimistic). Using the social cost numbers for 2050 from the same paper, the figures are 0.08% and 0.52% respectively. All these numbers are substantially lower than the 1-2% of GDP put forward as the cost of “net zero” policies.
  5. There is a need for urgent action to prevent the imposition of costly, draconian and lifestyle-destroying policies on people in the UK in the name of a problem, which is far less serious (if it is a problem at all) than is claimed by the promoters of those policies.

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By Duncan Whitmore

The pervasive issue of human-induced climate change has been hotting up again lately. The recent birth of “Extinction Rebellion”, which pursues the strategy of civil disobedience and economic disruption in order to force governments to “act” on climate change, as well as the creation of a mascot in the form of teenage activist Greta Thunberg, has helped to drive the once fledgling issue back to the forefront of political attention. A “Global Climate Strike” held on September 20th saw children – many of whom have been terrified into the belief that their world is about incinerate – allowed to take the day off from school in order to participate (an unlikely occurrence had they wished to protest against, say, mass immigration). Although Britain has emerged from what has actually been a fairly standard summer in terms of temperature, a handful of record breaking days helped to push climate fear to a high of 85% of the UK population, according to a recent poll.

Fortunately, the latest antics of “Extinction Rebellion” – which have included targeting ordinary East London commuters on their way to work – betray one of the reasons why Murray Rothbard split from his alliance with the left in the early 1970s: that you don’t win any support by attacking, with violent disruption, the very people whose hearts and minds you are trying to convert.1 The fact that these incidents targeted the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway only added to their irredeemable stupidity given that most people accept electrified public transport as a sufficiently green alternative to cars. Nevertheless, the issue itself is a lingering one and government policies committed to tackling climate change remain prominent. Continue reading

“Our Common Future” Revisited

Thirty years ago, in April 1987, a new United Nations report was published. It came from the recently established World Commission on Environment and Development, and its title was Our Common Future. It was 300 pages long; and its preparation, which took two and a half years, had involved 23 commissioners and 70 or so experts and support staff. In addition, they solicited inputs from people and organizations, in many different countries, who had concerns about environmental and development issues. You can find the full text of the report at [1].

Today, most people seem unaware of this report. That’s a pity. For this is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had such a huge, adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. The 30th anniversary is, I think, a good time to look back at, and to re-evaluate, this report. Not only in its own terms, such as asking how significant the issues it raised have proven to be, and how well these issues have been dealt with in the meantime. But also from a broader perspective, asking how well the process, both scientific and political, has measured up to the reasonable expectations of the people who have been subjected to its consequences.

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Bait-and-switch “charity” in progress…

Christopher Houseman

As the snow piles up outside my front door (among many others), The World Wildlife Fund is currently broadcasting a weepie, Warmist TV ad appealing for money to save the polar bear from extinction.

I fail to understand:

  1. How the WWF can even think about broadcasting AGW agitprop to a population that’s having trouble dealing with yet another snowy day. Even if AGW were true, has nobody at the WWF heard of Marketing 101?
  2. Why sending money to the WWF will cool the climate for polar bears in any case.