Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Propertarian Solution to Climate Change

If climate change is real and is not a hoax (and that is a very big "if") then there is a distinctly libertarian solution. Imagine this world: all of the world's oceans and seas, and every cubic acre of air space in the sky, which right now are unowned, are put into lots and sold at auction. Then the sky and the sea are not public, instead they are privately owned. Each sky owner could post a drone sentry in his lot of air to monitor it. Now what would this mean for the pollutor who wants to dump poison into the air? The process would not be to lobby politicians and get a permit from the EPA. Instead, if a pollutor emits pollution into a privately owned lot of sky without permission, that is a violation of the rights of the owner. The pollutor must buy the right to pollute. And if the owner firmly decides "no", then that is the end of pollution in that air space, with no cost-benefit analysis weighing death against profits. If a robber wants to rob a home owner, we do not conduct a cost-benefit analysis to judge whether to issue a permit to the criminal, so why do we for pollution? This system would curtail pollution, and, if the rich liberals buy air, could end all climate change carbon emissions completely. A separate but related theory holds that if you breathe in or drink pollution you should have a legal cause of action for having your privately owned body poisoned under propertarian theory; this is probably true but the climate change argument is conceptually different. If we can license wavelength spectrum or govern ownership of lots of land, which we can, then auctioning and administering sky and sea lots should be logistically viable.