Sunday, November 07, 2010

Failure to address climate change will lead to big government

"We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We're going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be."

- John Holdren, White House science director.

Here is an interesting article in today's Washington Post making the important argument that avoiding serious action on climate change due to fear of large government is precisely backwards. Some people committed on principle to small government (which is not a bad principle) see the regulations associated with most climate policies that take the science seriously as their worst nightmare. Yet the truth is that failure to minimise ongoing and accelerating climate disruption is much more likely to lead to governments being increasingly called upon to respond to crop failures and costly "natural" disasters (perhaps we'd better just called them extreme weather events, since it is becoming increasingly inaccurate to consider such disasters natural). Climate instability is highly likely to lead to social instability, which will either result in big government, or societal collapse.


Milan said...

Joseph Romm makes the same point.

byron smith said...

Yes, I was going to give a hat tip, but I think I've seen the same point made by four or five different commentators now and it makes sense.

I do think that one of the (many) political challenges of coming decades will be authoritarian/centralist vs local/anarchist responses to the social consequences of ecological degradation.