Tens of thousands of Americans recently marched and rallied in support of evidence-based science and the acknowledgment of human-caused climate change. It was a good start toward the goal of bringing honest, science-based policymaking back into our government.
The most pernicious opponents of evidence-based policy with respect to environmental science are free-market fundamentalists. These ideologues are self-appointed guardians of freedom who abhor any government regulations that inhibit free markets. Free-market forces are wonderfully effective, but they ride roughshod over the natural environment. We Americans have a strong tradition of striving to strike a balance between free markets and environmental protection, but that balance is currently under assault by the free-market true believers.
The debate about anthropogenic climate change is not a debate about science; it is a debate about the role of government. It is a debate about whether free markets should be allowed to operate unfettered, without regard for environmental effects. Persuasive evidence of an anthropogenic fingerprint on global climate change was identified as early as 1995 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the evidence has gotten progressively more robust. The science is unambiguous: Humans are changing Earth’s climate by burning fossil fuels. For tactical reasons, free-market fundamentalists refuse to concede this point, and they duplicitously confuse the issue.
Be wary of statements about climate change coming from free-market crusaders and from think tanks such as Cato, Heartland and Heritage. Their mission is to thwart any government regulations that inhibit their pursuit of the free-market Holy Grail — scientific evidence and environmental consequences be damned.