There is a man called Myron Ebell who is referred to in mainstream media as a “climate change skeptic”. In a press conference I saw him saying that regulations designed to help mitigate or reduce the pace of climate change were a restriction on liberty: “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”.
This is the equivalent of saying that regulations designed to prevent one person from flooding another person’s house are a “restriction on liberty”. Or it is like saying that laws designed to prevent one group of people from poisoning another group by contaminating the air are a “restriction on liberty”.
It would not matter very much if a man called Myron Ebell said such things, if it were not that Mr Trump, the new president, has invited him to lead policy on environmental issues in his transition team, and Mr Trump now proposes that a man of similar views, Mr Scott Pruitt, should be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.A. But the U.S. Senate does not have to accept this. They have the responsibility of voting one way of the other on Wednesday.
There are threats to freedom and prosperity associated with climate change, but they are in precisely the opposite direction to the one claimed by Mr Ebell. Economic studies repeatedly indicate that we and our children and their children will be better off if we act now to mitigate the problem. There is an international consensus on this. This is not a consensus designed to make life worse! It is a consensus designed to make life better!
I have written about this because climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. It is no longer appropriate, if it ever was, to cross our fingers and hope for the best. We do not have to, and should not, accept the proposed appointment of Mr Pruitt.
American friends: why not send a quick email to your Senator? British friends: let’s find ways to help people be more reasonable about climate change.