The Corner

Taking the Fight Against Global Warming Seriously

I don’t know how many conservatives share my perspective on this, but I suspect it’s more than a few. One of my nagging problems with anti-global warming activists is that they seem to be using the problem as an excuse to smuggle in a lot of anti-capitalistic, anti-technology ideas which have endured close to the surface for generations. It seems the problem with fossil fuels is only partially their role in global warming. There’s also all this rhetoric about how oil is the lifeblood of the global capitalistic system the left dislikes. When the Greens call for “weaning” the West off of oil, it often sounds like they’re calling for the West to wean itself of a lot more than just oil. Also, some see global warming as a yet another excuse for empowering the state to make decisions the left doesn’t want left to the market place. The story of economic debate for the last century and a half is largely a tale of a bunch of people greeting every new problem or challenge and saying “Aha! this proves the state needs to do more economic planning.” These two motivations only loosely overlap, but uniting them somewhat is the general Green yearning for the West to shed capitalistic individualism, live more communally, and live in a more “natural” state.

The most obvious illustration of what I’m getting at is Green opposition to nuclear power. Global warming, we’re told,  is the end of humankind, a threat to posterity, prosperity and hope. But, we’ll be damned if we’ll have nuclear power! (Some Greens, it should be noted, are coming around).

Another might be how environmentalists respond to ideas like these. If time demonstrates that global warming is the threat the alarmists claim, I would much rather spend money trying to fix the problem than trying to fix humans. But putting a giant mirror in space wouldn’t provide nearly the satisfaction of restoring mankind to a state of nature and chasing the energy company oligarchs from the temple.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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