As a certified curmudgeon, I glowered and ostentatiously kept my lips zipped during one of the petitions in last week’s “prayers for the faithful” in church.
We were asked to pray that we would have the courage to live with whatever supposedly draconian restrictions are necessary to address climate change.
Why not ask instead that we overcome whatever challenges we face through human ingenuity?
I suspect for many on the left the regulations and restrictions supposedly demanded are the point.
But if you are more open-minded, there is a less drastic tool for addressing climate change that does not involve returning to medieval living conditions: capitalism.
Nicolas Loris explains (“Breathe Free: Capitalism Helps Protect the Environment”) at the Daily Signal:
Truth be told, capitalism has helped cleanse our planet—improving living standards while protecting the environment. Rather than eliminate capitalism, policymakers need to unleash it.
Markets incentivize efficiency by rewarding people for coming up with ways to do more or do better with less. People choose—and businesses make—more efficient products because it saves them money while delivering what customers want.
Over the past decade, market forces have driven a massive transition within the energy industry. In 2008, coal provided roughly half of the country’s electricity generation. Now, coal’s share is about a quarter. Increased production of natural gas has driven energy bills and emissions downward.
In direct response to cheap gas, the Nuclear Energy Institute organized nuclear power plants nationally to find operating efficiencies that have reduced costs by 19%, saving consumers $1.6 billion and keeping emissions-free electricity in the marketplace.
The energy industry is far from the only sector that has made positive economic and environmental contributions. For instance, the cement industry is collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to explore how to refine its processes in ways that will improve resiliency, reduce emissions, and save lives. Investments in cement, steel, plastic, and other building materials will make our houses and highways sturdier and our products more durable—with a smaller environmental footprint.
All of these activities result directly from free enterprise—companies providing consumers with the goods and services they want while using fewer resources and emitting fewer unwanted emissions.
As a country prospers, its citizens are better able to care for the environment and reduce pollutants emitted from industrial growth. In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index show a strong correlation between a country’s environmental performance and economic freedom (i.e., its embrace of capitalism).
That the lefty view found its ways into public prayers last week shows how absolutely pervasive their critique has become.
Let us hope the argument for capitalism will become part of the debate.