Why Focus On Global Warming?

Part of my personal skepticism causes me to discount the validity of dire predictions. When someone’s telling me only about the worst case scenario, I immediately think they’re trying to scare me into going along with their wishes. It’s probably not true, but as the race doesn’t always go to the strongest, it’s worked out well to bet that way.

I don’t believe much in global warming. But I do believe in smog. I don’t particularly want to live somewhere where the air is nearly chewable. When I look up at the sky and see brown, I have to think it can’t be good. My wife’s parents live east of LA, in a town right below the mountains. I look at the air in the summertime, and it’s absolutely disgusting. I’ve been told that 20 years ago, it was far worse, but even as it is now, I’d never live within 10 miles of an area with brown sky.

And you know what? Smog has been proven as a health risk that affects human respiratory systems. It seems to me that it would be a lot less politically charged to try to do something that is proven to reduce health risks than to try to cripple our economy in order to forestall potentially catastrophic effects that we don’t know we’re causing and barely are sure we can stop.

When I see things like this, I think that the people that refer to modern environmentalists as watermelons, “green on the outside, red on the inside”, might be on to something. I’m a big fan of finding effective ways to help preserve the environment. In fact, the idea of “internalizing the externality” of pollution is regularly debated by libertarian in order to find ways to help cut pollution in a way consistent with libertarian values.

If the environmental movement worked to show people how their policies would improve their day-to-day lives, they might find a receptive audience. But when they’re asking people to drastically change their behavior in order to solve a problem that they can barely prove exists, and which won’t manifest itself for 50-100 years, why do they think we’ll listen?