Commentary Magazine


Topic: Keynes

RE: Will the Warming Debate Cool Off?

When investigating financial matters, the old adage is “follow the money.” That works in politics very often as well. As John Hinderaker points out over at PowerLine, billions of dollars flow from government to scientists who espouse the mantra of climate change and nearly none to those who doubt it. So it’s not surprising that climate scientists tend to believe in the climate change hypothesis: It’s in their self-interest to do so.

But there’s another reason both government and climate scientists love the idea of anthropogenic global warming: power.

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When investigating financial matters, the old adage is “follow the money.” That works in politics very often as well. As John Hinderaker points out over at PowerLine, billions of dollars flow from government to scientists who espouse the mantra of climate change and nearly none to those who doubt it. So it’s not surprising that climate scientists tend to believe in the climate change hypothesis: It’s in their self-interest to do so.

But there’s another reason both government and climate scientists love the idea of anthropogenic global warming: power.

Let’s accept for a moment the predicate that global warming is a real threat and caused by human activity. That would be a problem that could be addressed by government only. So it would greatly increase the scope of government’s reach into the economy and peoples’ lives. That, in turn, would greatly increase the power of politicians. But politicians would need the help and advice of experts in order to formulate policy. So they would need climate scientists to advise them. Getting to whisper in the ears of the powerful is itself a form of power. And as James Madison explained, “Men love power.” So politicians and climate scientists love the idea of anthropogenic global warming.

The exact same phenomenon happened two generations ago when Keynesian economics swept through the profession and then through government. Keynes advocated having government actively work various economic levers in order to keep supply and demand in balance and thus keep the economy humming along smoothly. But in order for politicians to take on the new and empowering role of being the engineers of the economic locomotive, they needed the advice of economists, who were only too happy to give it. Within a generation the line “We are all Keynesians now” was born. 

So follow the money, but also follow the power.

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