Changing climate patterns around the world (aka “climate change”) is a real problem. Serious people can disagree about how much of a problem, how much we know and don’t know, and how devasting the impacts will be if we stay on our current course.
But rather than argue about the scientific projections, whether we should panic or sit on our hands, why don’t we focus on a “no regrets” approach that results in turning down the heat on climate change (and the politics) and putting the pedal to the medal on innovation and prosperity?
Call it the “Greta Thunberg, Steve Forbes Alliance for a Prosperous Planet.”
At the annual World Economic Forum in 2019 held in Davos, Switzerland, a 16-year-old by the name of Greta Thunberg made world news by scolding world leaders: “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.” She went on to say that: “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day and then I want you to act.”
Panic is not something I would recommend. Particularly for a teenager. Humans, no matter what their age, don’t make good decisions when they are panicked. But Thunberg made her point. The world needs to act. So, what actions are going to best address the problem and not create worse unintended consequences?
Enter Steve Forbes and economic freedom.
For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, Steve Forbes was the face of capitalism. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, twice presidential candidate, even SNL host, and frequent commentator and speaker on Fox News and at Heritage Foundation events for all things free markets.
“Throughout history, open markets have helped the poor and everyone else by unleashing unprecedented creativity, generating wealth and raising living standards,” is the way Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames put it in their book Freedom Manifesto. “Promoting trust, generosity and democracy, economic freedom has been a more powerful force for individual rights, self-determination—and humanity—than any government bureaucracy.”
Don’t believe him? Take a look at the history and the data.
In a paper on analyzing the connection between economic freedom and the environment, the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions wrote that “embracing economic freedom unleashes free enterprise to improve the human condition and the environment.” Our research shows that “correct economic and policy environment cultivates a system that rewards innovation, efficiency and stewardship. A system rooted in economic freedom generates more wealth for individuals and societies, so they can invest in protecting the environment.”
In other words, economic freedom is the best weapon against unnatural climate change.
Contrary to an increasingly popular belief, socialist, global tax-and-spend, or wealth redistribution programs are bad for the environment. When the Cold War ended, for example, the world found out that collectivist nations such as the Soviet Union and East Germany were the most polluted on Earth. Meanwhile, innovations developed in free markets such as the United States led to a cleaner environment with ample, affordable energy.
That was then and this is now you say? Look no further than Cuba for an example of today’s context. And lest you think it is an outlier, the list goes on of countries that have hurt their environments at the expense of economic freedom. Look at Venezuela, Russia, North Korea and, yes, China.
To be clear, the free market doesn’t mean free entirely from all government, but rather free from excessive government. An appropriately limited government can play two important roles in helping to accelerate clean energy innovation: first, by investing in early research and development; and second, by removing barriers that get in the way of innovation. Much is being done right now in Congress on the first priority. Much more needs to be done on the second.
To deal with climate change, the planet needs a “no regrets” “all of the above” clean energy strategy that promotes an “all of prosperity” people approach. In addressing climate change, we should lift more people out of poverty, not the other way around.
If we are really serious about climate change, then it’s time to get serious about economic freedom around the world. People and our planet deserve nothing less. People deserve every opportunity to thrive and be prosperous. Our planet deserves to be stewarded and flourish, just as our Heavenly Father commanded back in the days of the garden.
Thus, it’s time for a Greta Thunberg, Steve Forbes Alliance for a Prosperous Planet.