The environmentalist community has a tendency to blame climate inaction on the funding and lobbying efforts of fossil fuel companies. In his latest op-ed for the New York Times, famed economist Paul Krugman argues that while it's true that monied interests like the Koch brothers aggravate the issue by funding climate denialism, the real reason for the government's failure to address emissions is a “toxic mix of ideology and anti-intellectualism.”
That is to say that, according to Krugman, the answer is less economic than philosophical. “[T]hink about global warming from the point of view of someone who grew up taking Ayn Rand seriously, believing that the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest is always good and that government is always the problem, never the solution,” he writes. “Along come some scientists declaring that unrestricted pursuit of self-interest will destroy the world, and that government intervention is the only answer. It doesn’t matter how market-friendly you make the proposed intervention; this is a direct challenge to the libertarian worldview.”
He also addresses those raising concerns about the economic impact of tackling emissions from coal plants. As he explains, coal mining jobs have vanished over the years because "strip mines and machinery in general have allowed us to produce more coal with very few miners”:
The real war on coal, or at least on coal workers, took place a generation ago, waged not by liberal environmentalists but by the coal industry itself. And coal workers lost.
It's another clear-headed missive from Krugman. Read it at the New York Times.
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