Government Spending

How Free Markets Will Beat Climate Change: Q&A with UCLA's Matthew Kahn


"My unsexy bumper sticker for adapting to climate change," says UCLA Professor of Economics, the Environment, and Public Affairs Matthew Kahn, "is 'Give free markets a chance!'"

Kahn, the author of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future , argues that "well-meaning government actions" designed to combat the effects of global warming need to be scrutinized more than they have been. Despite the hostility to markets and economic development shared by many green activists, Kahn says that "free-market capitalism" provides the most flexible—and most progressive—solution to environmental issues. Climate change is coming, he avers, and raising the urban poor's standard of living and generating new technological innovations will do far more to improve things than top-down attempts to control energy use and consumption patterns.

About 7 minutes. Produced by Sharif Matar.

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  1. Climate change is coming

    That seems like a safe prediction on any day in the history of the earth.

    1. The only difference being that deniers deny even demonstrable (however small) trends. They seem to think that the current world climate is unchanging. Not hotter, not warmer, but exactly the same. Denying the evidence is a form of religion, too.

      1. I guess there are no deniers here then. That’s good to know.

      2. Do they really? There’s a difference between believing the current trends are just noise, and believing that the climate doesn’t change.

      3. Skeptics – not the freighted and prejudicial “deniers” – are skeptical of the implied claim that anthropogenic global warming is predictable using a methodology that’s verifiable.

        Since there’s been no verification of the methodology used to predict anthropogenic global warming, and indeed no methodology put forward as being capable of predicting that warming, what other response is reasonable but skepticism?

        The point of science is prove what you believe and so far anthropogenic global warming advocates are just that, advocates. Advocates argue, hector, threaten and impose but they don’t prove. The driving purpose is compliance not verification so pardon me for stating what ought to be obvious but when you’ve got the proof get back to me. Till then, I’m not a customer.

      4. Has anyone done a survey to find out how many people actually believe climate never changes?

        Anyone who look at the geological record will have to acknowledge that climate changes.

        This has little to do with the actual debate over claims of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

  2. One of the more amusing aspects of the CAGW cult is their steadfast devotion to the bizarre notion that climate is controllable at all and that humans can only function in climactic conditions that existed circa 1950 – 1970.

    Had the enlightenment and subsequent industrial revolution occurred during the medieval warm period, or at the beginning of the little ice age, it would not have mattered – the result would have been an improvement in the human condition because it is through free markets that health and prosperity are flow.

    1. Edit fail:

      First sentence should have finished:

      and that humans can only function in will benefit most from climactic conditions that existed circa 1950 – 1970.

    2. Humanity will have considerable difficulty thriving after a 2C rise. We are .7C into the rise already, and there is already another .7C rise baked in, due to the 30-year lag between CO2 emissions and warming. A 4C rise by 2100 is now considered likely. (We are already far warmer than the Medieval Warm Period.)

      Increasingly erratic weather will make agriculture substantially more difficult. In America that will be an annoyance; in the Third World, that will be catastrophic. But hey, we’re for life, liberty, and property, right? I mean, it’s not just a slogan we ignore when it inconveniences the prejudices of culturally conservative white American computer nerds, is it?

      1. Given up your gas-powered vehicles yet, Jersey?

      2. Somehow I think the global average temperature has varied by more than 2 degrees C in the past 100,000 years of human existence, what with the ice ages and all, and somehow we survived.

      3. exceot that research shows that CO2 has actually a small effect on rising or falling temperatures, indeed, it rises after the temperature increase. That’s from Al Gore’s own graph. Water vaper, H2O is a much more potent green house gas than CO2. CO2, btw, is what sustains plants and studies have also shown that as the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen, so have the agricultural output. There is very convincing research that shows that ocean currents, which change just like the weather, and solar highs and lows are much more likely causes of climate change. Not much mankind can do about those two factors except adapt, which is what free markets are best at.

      4. All those predictions and not a methodology in sight.

        Could you, perhaps, reveal the methodology used to arrive at those predictions and, if it’s not too much trouble, how that methodology was verified?

        You can make all the predictions you want about how much fun it’ll be to fly with a bed sheet tied around your neck but you’ll excuse me if I don’t join you jumping off the barn roof until you’ve verified the aerodynamic qualities of a bed sheet.

      5. Citation for that “increasingly erratic weather” you claim. Every time something happens of late (Katrina, forrest fires, etc) I hear this claim, but have seen no empirical evidence to support it.

      6. Humanity will have considerable difficulty thriving after a 2C rise.

        Can you verify this claim with anything substantive?

  3. I agree with the comments that we could adjust but that does not change the fact that the whole AGW argument is an unproven joke. What gets to me is the fact that many of the true believers seem to ignore the fact that the IPCC, Greenpeace, WWF, or any of the numerous promoters of the myth have yet to show any empirical evidence that links HUMAN EMISSIONS of CO2 to GLOBAL WARMING. In fact, if you look at all of the evidence you can make a case that it is temperature change that drives changes in CO2, making CO2 levels the effect, not the cause, and that the natural factors such as solar activity, AMO/PDO, and changing ENSO conditions have a far greater effect than CO2 does.

  4. Kahn, the author of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future

    I have a new book in the works. It’s called Gerontocracy: How Our Old Folks Will Thrive in the Hotter Future

  5. If it gets too hot, I’ll just take my top hat and monocle and move somewhere with better weather. Duh.

  6. This is very reminiscent of what Paul Polak is doing in places like India to combat poverty.

  7. Now why didnt I ever think of that? Wow

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  10. Am I the only one who couldn’t pay attention to what Kahn was saying, because his intonation was so odd and strained?

    1. The audio quality was poor.

  11. environmental issues. Climate change is coming, he avers, and raising the urban poor’s standard of living and…..-c-30.html generating new technological innovations will do far more to improve things than top-down attempts to control energy use and consumption patterns.

  12. Climate change is coming, he avers, and raising the urban poor’s standard of living and generating new technological innovations will do far more to improve things than top-down attempts to control energy use and consumption patterns.

  13. What in hell’s name did you guys do to the audio on this?

    1. The room was echoing and the mike was likely too far from the speaker.

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