There are good reasons to begin with a presumption against government action. As coercive monopolies that spend other people's money taken by force, governments are uniquely unqualified to solve problems. They are riddled by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and self-serving. The synthetic-fuels program during the Carter years consumed billions of dollars and was finally disbanded as a failure. The push for ethanol today is more driven by special interests than good sense -- it's boosting food prices while producing a fuel of dubious environmental quality.
Even if the climate really needs cooling down, government can't be counted on to accomplish that. Advocates of carbon taxes and emissions trading talk about reducing CO2, but they promise no more than a minuscule reduction in temperature. Temperature reduction is supposed to be the objective.
In fact, even drastic plans to cut the use of carbon-based energy would make only a negligible difference. As John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a member of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal:
"Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10 percent of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent."
I agree with Stott, who says, "The right approach to climate change is adaptation -- and the way to do that is to have strong economies."
We will have a strong economy if we don't give up our freedom and our money to fulfill the grand schemes of big-government alarmists.
Next week: How the private sector could deal with a global-warming problem.