No, New York Times, Capitalism Is Not Destroying the Climate

The New York Times published an editorial last week blaming capitalism for causing a global warming crisis. While the far left is always looking for problems for which to blame economic freedom, objective evidence shows Western free-market nations are the greatest single force mitigating the ongoing rise in global carbon dioxide emissions.

The editorial, titled “The Climate Crisis? It’s Capitalism, Stupid,” argues, “For anyone who has really thought about the climate crisis, it is capitalism, and not its transcendence, that is in need of justification.”

Former Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Former Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault,” the editorial adds.

Assuming for the sake of argument that rising carbon dioxide emissions are a serious problem, we can gauge the accuracy of the Times editorial by looking at the emission trends of nations that largely respect economic freedom.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a 35-member organization of nations supporting economic freedom and democracy. The organization, created in 1961, is a near-perfect embodiment of the capitalism the New York Times blames for rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Objective data show global emissions have risen approximately 40 percent since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, the 35 OECD nations committed to free markets and democracy emit less carbon dioxide now than they did in 2000. The entire increase in global carbon dioxide emissions this century is coming from nations that have not joined the global organization committed to free markets and democracy.

The New York Times and other leftist entities enjoy blaming capitalist nations – and the United States in particular – for every problem, real and imagined, confronting the world. Yet the United States during the past decade has reduced emissions more than any other nation in the world. The primary reason for this, as even the Obama administration documented, is the market-driven replacement of coal power with natural gas power. Ironically, the anti-free market left largely opposes natural gas production and natural gas power plants. Capitalism is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A greater commitment to market forces will clear the path for even more inexpensive natural gas power replacing coal power. For people believing in an imminent climate crisis, the empirical evidence shows nations committed to economic freedom and democracy are the cure – not the cause – of the problem.

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