Elections and Climate Change

Many people profess to be afraid of climate change. They foresee terrible effects of global warming. And they are so afraid that they propose to give governments sweeping powers over economic and social life, powers whose exercise would certainly entail far-reaching disruptions of the world’s economies and enormous costs and might still fail to alter the world’s climate in a beneficial way. Every aspect of this “fighting climate change” is fraught with great uncertainties. The science is anything but settled. (Indeed, genuine science is never settled; that’s not how science works.)

Strange to say, however, no such fear appears to attend the impending elections in the USA. Yet there is absolutely no uncertainty in this case. We know that a gang of lying thieves and murderers will be elected and thereafter will exercise the powers of their offices to wreak horrible social and economic damage, including the certain destruction of many lives and the trampling of liberties. Unlike climate change, this event and its consequences are not matters of speculation; the future that will follow the elections is, in its main outlines, as predictable as anything in human life can be. Nor is it something that we must wait decades or longer to appreciate with confidence. Many effects will occur almost immediately, and others will follow like an uninterrupted series of hammer blows.

Despite the impending horror of this election and its consequences, hardly anyone fears it and many look forward to what they foresee as highly beneficial consequences of their favorite candidates’ having been elected. But mark my words, amigos: this election is certain to bring politicians into power — in most cases, back into power in offices wherein they have already demonstrated that they are utterly unqualified to rule even their own passions, much less to dominate the rest of us.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.