People from all sides of the political spectrum are concerned about climate change and rightly so. There is an overwhelming abundance of evidence that the climate is changing in ways that will make it harder for the Earth to sustain its current population levels. There is also an abundance of evidence, contrary to what the Trump administration would like you to believe, that humans have played a role in accelerating climate change.
Many consider climate change an issue that libertarians cannot address without violating the non-aggression principle. Since it’s always more advantageous in the short term for a country to be using fossil fuel resources, every country will do so unless some coalition forces everyone not to. It’s the old tragedy of the commons example writ large. The tragedy of the commons is the observation that with commonly owned resources, some percentage of people will take actions that benefit them in the short term, but leave few or no resources for anyone else. Common examples are unsustainable fishing practices or dumping of toxic waste.
The situation is not as hopeless as it first seems, though. There are ways to save the environment that do not stray from deeply held libertarian principles. You just need to be a bit clever and audacious. One solution to the tragedy of the commons is to simply not have commons. If all land is privately owned, then someone is responsible for every single square mile of the earth. This extends to the oceans as well; one can easily imagine someone buying a section of the ocean to secure fishing rights or salt mining rights. There’s even a certain amount of gold and other precious metals suspended in the water column. Who’s to say they won’t be mined one day? (more…)