There are times, in public debate, when the sides seem to switch and they begin to look like their opponents from the past. It’s sort of a “through the looking glass” moment when I see the same people saying the opposite things or the critics of a certain practice now engaging in it themselves. Is it hypocrisy? Is it jumping the shark? Is it just the weird side-effect of a changing debate?
Any way you slice it, it’s time for a fresh consideration of the topic.
Bjorn Lomborg wrote a fascinating op-ed in the Wall Street Journal here about how some business leaders are becoming advocates of government intervention to deal with climate change. Whenever you see something unexpected like this, it’s always a good rule to follow the money. As Mr. Lomborg points out, these companies see an opportunity to sell products and services to those who are forced to deal with new government regulations. This is simply a recognition of a new market being created by government intervention. The obvious comparison to the classic “military-industrial complex” mentioned by President Eisenhower is drawn and, actually, I think it’s more apt. In the case of the Cold War, at least the government was doing a job that it was constitutionally empowered to do. I don’t see where the government should be telling us how to live, work, and produce based on shaky science.
Didn’t the environmentalists used to be the underdogs? Weren’t they supposedly the voices crying out in the wilderness about how we were cluelessly destroying our planet? Wasn’t the case being made that we were blindly marching to oblivion because we wouldn’t pay attention?
Now, I feel like the populace is that voice in the wilderness. Every day, the evidence mounts that we are not responsible for climate change. Now, it’s the government and big business leaders who are demanding punitive taxes and subsidies for technologies that aren’t ready. They demand these ostensibly to solve a problem that cannot be solved by man. Now, it’s our government that is marching into danger with our money because they won’t listen to the evidence.
Mr. Lomborg finishes his op-ed with precisely the same sentiment I have, so I’ll let him have the last word here:
The partnership among self-interested businesses, grandstanding politicians and alarmist campaigners truly is an unholy alliance. The climate-industrial complex does not promote discussion on how to overcome this challenge in a way that will be best for everybody. We should not be surprised or impressed that those who stand to make a profit are among the loudest calling for politicians to act. Spending a fortune on global carbon regulations will benefit a few, but dearly cost everybody else.