Washington, DC–On Tuesday evening, PBS premiered Heat, a Frontline documentary exploring the economics and politics of climate change. After travelling the world interviewing corporate CEOs and political leaders, Frontline correspondent Martin Smith argues that a “huge and concerted push from government” is necessary to prevent a major catastrophe. But according to Keith Lockitch, fellow of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights: “A huge push from government on climate change would be a major catastrophe. “One thing the documentary shows pretty clearly is the repeated failure of government economic intervention–especially in the form of policies aimed at centrally planning energy production, such as government subsidies for corn ethanol. These have distorted world food markets by diverting billions of taxpayer dollars away from investments that market participants would have freely chosen and into the production of corn for burning up in our gas tanks, with the resulting distortions to world food prices causing food riots and starvation. “Government policies aimed at severely restricting carbon emissions would inflict a major blow to the economy. Industrial-scale energy is an indispensable, life-saving value, and currently there is simply no practical way to produce abundant carbon-free energy. Nuclear power could generate substantial amounts of electricity, but environmentalists have consistently fought it tooth and nail. And even nuclear can’t fuel the internal combustion engines of the world’s 800 million oil-powered vehicles. “The more important point is that there is no need whatsoever to restrict carbon emissions,” said Lockitch. “The scientific jury is still out on the extent of man’s contribution to global warming. But even if we are causing large-scale changes to the climate–this is not a planetary emergency. If individuals on the free market can smoothly absorb the major transitions that occurred in moving from the horse and buggy to the automobile or the rapid population growth that accompanied the Industrial Revolution, they can adapt to large-scale climate change. The freer we are from the burdens of government intervention, the more we can continue to produce wealth, economic growth, and the means of adapting to whatever changes occur, if any. “The irony is that the very policies that people are pushing for in the name of fighting global warming–such as a massive expansion of government control over the production and consumption of energy–would severely reduce our ability to cope with nature. This would inflict upon us an economic catastrophe far worse than anything the climate could deliver. “The real threat we face is not the possibility of large-scale changes to the climate, but the much more dangerous possibility of drastic government policies enacted in the name of climate change.”

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