The suspicious assumption of climate-change hysteria is that if the proclaimed science is accurate, then the policies of the hysterics obviously follow. We should question whether an economic system that restricts rights and consolidates power would be the solution at a time when the world especially needs ingenuity and progress if we rightly avoid such a system when we aren’t in desperate need of innovation. (The inference of alarmists’ attitude, of course, is that freedom and inalienable rights are luxuries with which we must dispense once they’ve proven their science.)
In an op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, David Henderson and John Cochrane of the Hoover Institution suggest a different attitude:
… spread over a century, the costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem. Rotterdam’s dikes are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Most buildings are rebuilt about every 50 years. If we simply stopped building in flood-prone areas and started building on higher ground, even the costs of moving cities would be bearable. Migration is costly. But much of the world’s population moved from farms to cities in the 20th century. Allowing people to move to better climates in the 21st will be equally possible. Such investments in climate adaptation are small compared with the investments we will regularly make in houses, businesses, infrastructure and education.
And economics is the central question—unlike with other environmental problems such as chemical pollution. Carbon dioxide hurts nobody’s health. It’s good for plants. Climate change need not endanger anyone. If it did—and you do hear such claims—then living in hot Arizona rather than cool Maine, or living with Louisiana’s frequent floods, would be considered a health catastrophe today.
Some methods of conning people involve a manufactured sense of urgency to whisk the victim past the opportunity for reflection. Henderson and Cochrane have it right: “Strategic waiting is a rational response to a slow-moving, uncertain peril with fast-changing technology.”
Especially in sluggard Rhode Island, if time really is of the essence, we should stop binding our people with ideologically derived restrictions and allow dynamism to get us to a surer economic footing.