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Can a Free Society Solve Global Warming?

Gene Callahan has an interesting post, entitled “How a Free Society Could Solve Global Warming”, in the October 2007 issue of The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, at the website of The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE): http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=8150.

I will revist this and post comments later.

Thanks to Fundamentalist, who brought this to our attention on the Malthus and Mein Kampf thread.

[Update:]  It seems to me that one particularly interesting takeaway from Callahan’s article is the following:

One way negative externalities can be addressed without turning to state coercion is public censure of individuals or groups widely perceived to be flouting core moral principles or trampling the common good, even if their actions are not technically illegal. Large, private companies and prominent, wealthy individuals are generally quite sensitive to public pressure campaigns.

To cite just one recent, significant example, Temple Grandin, a notable advocate for the humane treatment of livestock, asserts that McDonald’s is the world leader in improving slaughterhouse conditions. While many executives at the fast-food giant genuinely may be concerned with the welfare of cattle, pigs, and chickens, undoubtedly a strong element of self-interest is also at work here, as the company realizes that corporate image affects consumers’ buying decisions.

But that self-interest does not negate the laudable outcome of the pressure McDonald’s has applied to its suppliers to meet the stringent standards it has set for animal-handling facilities. Similarly, to the degree that the broad public regards manmade global warming as a serious problem, companies will strive to be seen as “good corporate citizens” that are addressing the matter. And this isn’t ivory-tower speculation on my part—I can see the “green friendly” ads already.

(emphasis added)

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