If You Believe In The Free Market You Should Totally Believe In ‘Climate Change’ Or Something
Being the last day of 2016, I’m breaking the Laws Of The Internet and using “Or Something” in a second headline. It’s worth it
Are you someone who has faith in the power of free markets? Then you should naturally accept the evidence that human activity is bringing about climate change.
Free and competitive markets work efficiently in large part because they are phenomenal information aggregators, gathering and sorting facts about consumer preferences and business production costs, and guiding market participants to engage in actions that provide benefits to both sides. Markets can easily help figure out the most efficient way to deliver coffee to people’s homes, for example, or to reduce air pollution in cities. Markets also determine which ideas succeed (the iPhone, for instance) and which ones fail (Kool Kardashian Kard).
Likewise, scientific ideas thrive or perish in a marketplace of their own. Whereas participants in an economic market are rewarded for delivering goods or services well, participants in the marketplace of scientific ideas get rewarded for overturning conventional thinking. This is because the scientific method works not by proving theories but by disproving them: Scientists pose and test rival explanations, and ultimately, the concepts that are disproven fall away while those that aren’t prevail.
Of course, that’s not what is happening with those who are in charge of “climate science”, where there is a preconceived notion, and the data and methodologies are changed to conform to those notions.
After more than 25 years, the idea that human activity has led to greater greenhouse-gas emissions and, thus, greater climate change has won out over competing theories to explain how the Earth’s climate system operates. Over time, the number of rival explanations has declined, rather than increased. And refinements to the dominant theory have strengthened, rather than weakened, the case for it. At a meeting I recently attended, the chairman of a university’s department of Earth and planetary sciences announced that he would no longer hire scholars in climate science because “the science is done.” While important measurements and observations will continue, the theoretical questions at the frontier have been answered.
This is just another way of saying “the science is settled, no one is Allowed To Question It.” Because science.
In the end, then, it is inconsistent to simultaneously accept that markets are powerful ways to allocate goods and services in the economy and also deny that human activity is causing substantial climate change. There’s room to argue over the economic implications of climate change or the best ways to mitigate and adapt to it, but the scientific consensus is no longer a matter of debate.
Of course, the so-called free markets have massive government interference, and the science of climate does, as well. Regardless, it is a cute, yet false, allegory. Most climate scientists are under the pay of governments, at least those in positions of power. They aren’t going to get funding, much less keep their jobs, if they start saying “um, guys, really, CO2 isn’t doing that much, our models are failures, and we sound more like a doomsday cult than a scientific community. Plus, this whole thing about increasing government power and raising the cost of living on people really doesn’t play well.”