Twenty-one years ago I kicked off my job at the Reader with a monstrously long profile of the then-newborn Heartland Institute and the philosophy of libertarianism.
For years now, Heartland has been frittering away its credibility, wasting its resources, and discrediting libertarian thought in general by claiming there’s no such thing as climate change–and that if there is, people have nothing to do with it.
Libertarians pride themselves on dealing with the economic world as it is, not as do-gooders wish it was. Why should it be different where other sciences are involved? Real climate scientists agree that there’s a problem here that we need to deal with. Hell, even Lloyd’s of London has figured that out. There are ways of dealing with climate change that will enhance government power, and ways that will harness the power of the market to improve matters. Those are the issues worth debating, instead of presenting Michael Crichton–a fiction writer with a flimsy conspiracy theory–as if he were some kind of authority on the planet’s climate system.
A good deal of my writing over the years has been influenced by libertarian thinking, much of which I learned at Heartland. These days I find myself hesitating to mention their good stuff because of their crackpot position on climate change. It gives the impression that libertarianism really is a right-wing philosophy, lined up with anti-science Republicans who think evolution is some kind of dubious hypothesis. What possible reward could be great enough for intelligent people to seek such company?