Once again, "What would a libertarian do about global warming?"
The simple answer to my correspondents' question was put in that roundtable by Julian Morris in suggesting that what best enables "adaptation to climate both now and in the future" is the "universal adoption of the institutions of the free society." That is, free and open debate and inquiry, the free and unrestricted operation of resources and of the pricing system and of land use, and the free and open use of technology and science to inquire into and adopt new technologies.
Or in other words, as George Reisman has been saying all along, rather than loud and long calls for government "action" -- "action" that consists only on bans or restrictions on private action -- we should let human ingenuity and the price system of the free market work out solutions to whatever problems do arise, in exactly the same way as human ingenuity and the price system of the free market has done in the past. Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek says simply enough that when it comes to what governments should do about global warming we should "shrug."
One legitimate reason for refusing to endorse massive, worldwide government-led efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is that any such effort will inevitably be politicized. Even if the possibility exists for such regulation to make the world a better place, this possibility is remote compared to the likelihood that grandstanding politicians, special-interest groups, arrogant environmentalists who are intolerant of commercial values, and well-meaning but misinformed voters will combine to generate policies that do more harm than good.
More fundamentally, the relevant question – as always – is ‘compared to what?’ The polar ice caps might well be melting, the earth’s temperature might well be rising, and human industry and commerce might well be the culprit. But this ‘culprit’ is also humankind’s great savior. It keeps us from the fates suffered by the vast majority of our ancestors: famine, plague, filth, drudgery, and ignorance. If global warming is a consequence of capitalism, I agree that it’s likely one that should be registered as a cost (although not everyone agrees that global warming is undesirable).
To challenge [the warmist consensus] is not a job for scientific inquiry, since that is not really what such prejudices are based upon, but for political argument. The pressing need is to recast notions of human agency, and develop a future-oriented vision based on a belief in our ability to tackle problems through economic and social advance.For a species -- us -- whose means of survival consists not in adapting ourselves to nature but by adapting nature to ourselves, that's almost a truism, isn't it. Or at least it becomes a truism when you accept that fact about human nature.
For starters, here is one straightforward historical idea that might sound ‘revolutionary’ today: the more control humanity is able to exercise over nature, and the larger the ‘footprint’ we make on the planet, the better the future is likely to be.