2011-11-12 07:00:09What the right gets—and the left doesn’t—about the revolutionary power of climate change.
John Hartz
John Hartz

"What the right gets—and the left doesn’t—about the revolutionary power of climate change." is the subtitle to:

Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein.

Klein’s article is one of the best-written explanations of the "politics" of climate change that I have ever read. 

2011-11-15 14:27:43cultural revolution now?
Tom Smerling


In the long run, Naomi K may be right that truly tamping down carbon emissions will require a cultural revolution to overcome the dominant values of growth-fetishism, consumer capitalism and extreme individualism.  

In the short run, I'm pretty sure that following her prescription would narrow, rather than broaden, the base of support for action on climate change.    It's not as if a call for cultural revolution has never been tried; it  just has never succeeded.

If the climate movement adopted the ideology and language of the anti-capitalist left, we would have a base of support the size of the anti-capitalist left.

I do agree with her, however, on this important point:    It is useless to try to convince ideologically-driven skeptics with more information.    We have to somehow engage them is at the level from which their fear stems:   fear of government overreach.    I'm actually rather curious to hear how an intellectually-honest libertarian -- there's gotta be some, right? -- deals with the problem of pollution, and externalities in general.  

2011-11-16 11:51:29Tom Smerling
John Hartz
John Hartz

You make excellent points. Good luck in finding a "intellectually-honest libertarian."

2011-11-16 18:43:14


I'm not really a libertarian, but I have wondered before about the issue of externalities from the libertarian perspective: as far as I can tell, they way they handle externalities is by privatization:

- Want to protect a forest? Buy it, and file a lawsuit against anyone that causes harm to it.

- Want to prevent emission of carcinogenic pollutants? File a lawsuit for damages.


They seem to think that establishment of property rights will fix the fundamental problem, and the rest will follow automatically. It's not a terribly practical approach, but liberarians are not terribly practical people.

I don't think I've seen any libertarian discussion of health insurance, but I think that situation is even less libertariable.

One of my reading projects next year is going to be Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: I would like to hear, from the horse's mouth, this magical doctrine that has entranced so many apparently intelligent people and turned them into ideology-bots.

2011-11-17 07:42:21libertarians & externalities
Tom Smerling


@nealjking    I think you've got it about right re: the libertarian approach to externalities -- create property rights, and then let the property owners build fences and sue to enforce those rights.   (Notice how well that worked after the Exxon-Valdez spill...)

But I do think we have to be prepared to engage ideological skeptics (i.e. most of them) at that level -- because that's the wellspring of their skepticism.    Ifwe aren't not engaging them at the level of their ideology, then we're not really engaging them at all.   Needles to say, they dont' give a hoot about science.    

Maybe it's time to contact my old grad school prof, who worked at CEI (yes, that CEI) and had strong libertarian leanings.

BTW    Ayn Rand -- I was actually for a couple of years a huge fan of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, back in my early 20s.     It had an invigorating, simplistic appeal (particularly the erotic passages :)   ).  Alas, then I grew up and found that things weren't so simple. . .  

2011-11-22 07:00:54
Paul D


There is a basic problem with 'property rights', it assumes that culturally everyone accepts that land should be owned. There are traditional cultures whereby land is not owned.
That actually contradicts libertarian views that everyone has a right to individual liberty. It is a catch 22 situation that can not be resolved.

Libertarianism is bollocks, always has been IMO.

Another problem is that libertarianism is either incredibly naive or intentionally deceitful. It is naive if it assumes that individuals care about the greater good of the community. There are so many cases where this has been proved wrong. Taking that idea to an extreme, what if one person owned all the world, could that person be trusted to serve the needs of 7 billion?

No of course not. Humans are basically untrustworthy, you have to have laws and regulations to keep a place liveable.

I really don't think any current political ideology is environmentally sustainable.

2011-12-12 01:53:20Naomi Klein’s Inconvenient Climate Conclusions -- Andrew Revkin -- DOT Earth
John Hartz
John Hartz

In many respects, Revkin's post is a sequel to Klein's original article, He engages Kieln in a very thought-provoking and timely Q&A session. 

It's well worth a read.