There is a common misconception that true adherents of the free market – libertarians – are “pro-big business” and do not care about the environment. This came up recently on the Rush Limbaugh show as he admonished libertarians to explain to Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s presidential hopeful, “what libertarianism is.”
Now Bob Barr has many embarrassing deviations from hardcore libertarianism, but what had enraged Limbaugh was Barr’s flip-flop on global warming. A month ago, on Glenn Beck, Barr said unequivocally that global warming was a “myth.” Now Barr is hanging out with Al Gore and saying global warming is a “reality.”
To Limbaugh, believing in global warming makes one a liberal and not a libertarian. The truth is that there are libertarians who believe in man-made global warming and there are skeptics — but true libertarians are unanimously opposed to pollution, which is seen as an act of aggression against the rights of property owners.
In fact, this makes free-market libertarianism the most hardcore environmentalist creed there is. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a leftist-environmentalist and National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) leader, has pointed out that “regulations” – for which leftist-environmentalists lobby – are really just permissions to pollute, whereas free-market environmentalism would hold polluters accountable for the damage they caused in civil court. This is the true free-market approach, and trust me, Exxon Mobil wants no part of it!
This is not, necessarily, what Bob Barr is calling for, and thus, Limbaugh’s admonitions – though perhaps inappropriately inspired – may have been no less on-the-mark. But for advocates of the free market, whether global warming is a “myth” or a “reality” is unimportant: Property rights are absolute, and they should not be abrogated by the Left’s regulations or by the Right’s indemnity for aggressive polluters.
Finally, the issue of climate change should be put into perspective. Even if it is real, it is not the be-all, end-all issue. After all, we have plenty of more immediate concerns that are just as threatening as the apocalyptic vision offered up by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Here’s what Ron Paul, a global-warming moderate, said when asked if he thought climate change was a “major threat to civilization.”
“No. [Laughs.] I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus — those are immediate threats. We’re about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then that’s going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.”
Now that, Rush Limbaugh, is what libertarianism is!