I have read ideas saying to some effect that global warming is about the goverment getting more power and control. My question is in what ways (if any) would global warming potentially give more power and or control to the government.

Please note: I am not asking if global warming is real, human-caused, etc. - that is irrelevant to this question.

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    IF you mean more regulations on air pollution, smog, carbon dioxide etc...than I would say it does. – Noah Apr 27 '17 at 22:44
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    This is confusing: "global warming is about the government getting more power and control." Are you saying the government is CAUSING climate change? As you probably know, the problem started long before people were even aware there was a problem. If you're suggesting the government is IGNORING or MANIPULATING for political gain, then it's a fair question. – David Blomstrom Apr 28 '17 at 4:21
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    @Noah - That's a little disingenuous. In a sense, new laws do give the government greater powers. But at the same time, these laws are an additional burden on the government and its corporate puppeteers - unless the laws are carefully designed to stick it to the taxpayers (e.g. laws that make ordinary citizens pay to clean up pollution caused by corporate entities). Climate change is a reality, and it unfortunately can't be mitigated without legislation and regulation. – David Blomstrom Apr 28 '17 at 4:24
  • @DavidBlomstrom No, the question is not suggesting or asking if the government is causing global warming. The answers given so far are great and address what I was trying to ask. (I will accept one soon.) – jlars62 Apr 28 '17 at 15:28
  • I'd say that unrestrained polluters drastically altering the environment that we were adapted to after billions of years of evolution would be giving those polluters a lot of power they aren't entitled to. – PoloHoleSet May 23 '17 at 18:58

It's a fair question especially because it's often argued by people who question the science and think the government is behind global warming. There's not much evidence behind it.

First, we need to define what government power really is, because it's a phrase that is thrown around like a Frisbee a lot, but usually not well defined.

I've heard it argued that social security numbers when assigned, some people said "this is bad, the government can track people with them" and the counter argument was "no, this is just for social security payments, we're not going to use these for tracking individuals, but today, you can't have a conversation with the government without listing your social security number. Is that a true story? I have no idea, I only use it as an example.

There's generally speaking, 2 kinds of control, information and restriction. Information is simply "I know everything you're doing. I have recordings of all your phone calls, all your texts, all your medical records. I'm big brother and if you did it, I know about it."

Restriction (for lack of a better word) is more direct. "If you chop down that tree, shoot that animal, jump over this fence, walk onto that base, stay out past curfew or hack into that website, you will be arrested". Enforcement of laws that limit behaviour.

Climate change laws can take a few approaches. A tax on fossil fuels, a tax on incandescent lights, a tax on larger cars. Tax breaks for driving an electric car or installing solar panels. While it could be argued that any kind of tax is restrictive, it's not a very good argument. If that was the case, then larger government expenditures like military spending, and entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid & social security should be argued as government over-reaches. The people who say climate change is a government over-reach rarely extend it to taxation and government expenditures, so that part of the argument doesn't really fly. Taxation certainly can be restrictive. Over-taxation can certainly be a form of restrictive/controlling government, but if climate change works out to be a 1%-2% increase in taxes for an average person, that's pretty far from a compelling financial argument.

Laws that require carpooling might be seen as a nuisance, but again, that's hardly something the government does to "control" people, it can be done to reduce traffic congestion. A nuisance isn't necessarily a power over-reach. People accept the nuisance of greater airline security for example for increased peace of mind.

If the government was to track individual carbon output, which, there's zero plans to do, only corporate output, then what would that tell them? How much people drive? How hot they keep their homes? None of that information is particularly useful, as opposed to bridge tolls and EZ-Pass, which can tell governments a lot about when and where you are. Total carbon footprint in and of itself says very little. If they got super-anal, maybe they could see how many miles a person drives, but not where too. Again - that's not very useful information for spying on someone.

Any tax and any information gathered can be regarded as some degree of government power-grabbing, but ignoring the upside and just looking at what the government potentially has to gain by trying to tax and/or reduce carbon footprint, there's not enough information there. There's also the factor that the government has to direct resources and man-hours on this new task.

If the government tracks my internet surfing, and they do this to try to find Isis sympathizers, so they do it with everyone. If they record all my cell phone calls, again, trying to find terrorists or drug dealers by looking for key-words - that gives them a ton of information about me. If they know how much fuel I use - that doesn't tell them very much. If they forbid me from buying incandescent light-bulbs and I have to use those hideous florescent ones, that's annoying, but such actions to address an environmental threat aren't what I'd call a power-grab so much as a beneficial sacrifice (and last time I checked, I can still buy incandescent bulbs and if their cost goes up - I don't think a doubling of my light-bulb budget will kill my bottom line).

People are afraid of government over-reach, perhaps justifiably. But climate change and the proposals to address it, isn't a good example of that. That won't stop some people from making that point though. Fear, faux outrage and repetition often trump common sense.

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    Comments deleted.This is not the place to debate if global warming is real. Please only post comments which address the content of the answer. – Philipp Apr 28 '17 at 11:10
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    "The power to tax is the power to destroy" Marbury vs Madison. Still think that the power to tax isn't restrictive? And it's not a good argument? – K Dog May 23 '17 at 20:02
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    Show me a government that operates without taxes, and we'll talk. Till then, that's just sensationalism. If we accept taxes as an unavoidable part of government, with the intention to operate the common good and by democratic process, then we need to look more deeply, which is what I tried to do. My answer is wordy, I admit. I cringe reading it, but to simply quip that tax has power to destroy, is to miss the point. Tax also has the power to create fairness, safety, equality, representation, national parks, monuments, win wars, land on the moon and promote education. – userLTK May 23 '17 at 20:42

Turn the question around: what powers would acknowledging global warming give governments that they don't already have? The power to levy a tax on fuels? Already got it; already using it. The power to regulate emissions? Already doing that one too. Anything you can think of that governments might do in response to global warming is something they already have the power to do and are already doing to some extent. All global warming does is change how they exercise those powers. So, for example, instead of taxing fuels by volume (as they do now with gasoline taxes), they might choose to tax them by carbon content. Or, in addition to chemical scrubbers on power plants (already required on coal-fired plants), governments might also require carbon capture and storage.

None of these are new powers, and none of them represent any kind of increase in government intrusion into private enterprise; they are just changes in the details of how existing policies would be applied. That's not to suggest that policies to counter global warming wouldn't have very real costs; they certainly would. However, "increased government power" wouldn't be among them.

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The things a government would need to do to limit the environmental impact from its territory generally rest on monitoring and limiting things that are currently free. IE to limit carbon from burning wood we might make laws limiting fireplaces, an expansion of existing powers.

Pretty much all environmental laws require making new laws or using old ones in new ways. So trivially giving government power to limit global warming gives government more power. Clearly limiting your ability to damage the planet limits your freedom.

However, generally the people who worry about this mean environmental laws leading to government better controlling people and economies for other purposes. This is less certain and has attracted close votes.

It really depends on what policies are made and how they are enforced and managed, but it's hard to imagine global warming people will call for getting farther up your butt than the security people already are.

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    And, if we get to semantics, it is not as much the government "getting more power" as "using the power it already has in new ways" (i.e., I guess few governments needed to change their country Constitution to get themselves more powers in order to enact the laws). Nice answer anyway. – SJuan76 Apr 28 '17 at 9:34
  • @SJuan76 I was meaning powers enforced rather than potential powers allowed. I'm not totally convinced constitutions are meaningful limiters of potential powers. – user9389 Apr 28 '17 at 13:09

Power, not really. I am not aware of any country that would have extended the powers of the executive branch because of global warming.

Regulations and public investments, yes.

There is a simple reason behind it: fossil fuels are generally a little cheaper. It may not be the case in a few years, both thanks to research on cheaper renewables and more expensive fossil energy extraction. But until then, without a public incentive (tax break or investments on renewables), there would not be much efforts done to reduce CO2 emissions. After all, the whole point of a liberal economy is to let companies choose the way of production, assuming the "invisible hand" will make them do the right choice, and they always go for the cheapest.

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TL:DR Current schemes to "curb" "global warming" give the government more power, using the United States as a proximate for other countries.

I will first look at current law, then Obama's proposed plan whose aim it was to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, and then at some of the players on the global warming scene that might cause any scenario to descend into something rather frightful.

Current Law:

the current law in the United States, while in flux because of the change in Administration, is based upon A) regulating Carbon Dioxide emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act based upon case law (judicial proceedings); B) numerous EPA regulations, too many to list here.

The current schema works mostly like a tax on energy paid by citizen consumers. This has marginal effects on both the cost of energy, taxes paid, economic losses and opportunity costs to citizens in terms of lost jobs.

. Our analysis shows the cumulative GDP losses for 2010 to 2029 approach $7 trillion. Single-year losses exceed $600 billion in 2029, more than $5,000 per house¬hold. Job losses are expected to exceed 800,000 in some years, and exceed at least 500,000 from 2015 through 2026. It is important to note that these are net job losses, after any jobs created by compliance with the regulations–so-called green jobs–are taken into account. In total, the “climate revenue” (read: energy tax) could approach two trillion over eight years. Keep in mind, this is all for negligible environmental benefits.

Other relatively recent government interventions include regulating everything from lightbulbs, to shower heads, to toilets, to dishwashers. If you wonder why, say dishwashers were better 10 years ago, it's because of Energy Star EPA requirements. If you wonder why your two-stroke engine falls apart over the winter, it's because of Ethanol mandates.

Proposed Law/Laws in Flux:

Obama's Clean Power Plan was his tactical method for achieving the Paris's Agreement goals, requires a reduction in man made carbon emissions of 80 percent. Think about that for a moment. Reducing what you do everyday by 80%. That's approximately like going to 1950s level of energy consumption, but with over double the population. In 1950 the global population was 3 billion, versus 7.4 billion today. Unless a carbon free energy source can be found, to achieve that level of compliance would mean:

  • Restrictions on travel and movement, Converting roadways to tollways and instituting congestion pricing is already being considered
  • Restrictions on energy usage and/or rolling blackouts
  • Restrictions on the food you eat, especially meat and dairy
  • Restrictions on family size and how, where, and in what you live
  • Restrictions access to technology, data, and internet usage

So extreme has the EPA gotten, Professor Lawrence Tribe, Obama's Harvard mentor, would go on to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the EPA's energy policy [trying to enforce Obama's plan] was "burning the Constitution." Same source

A NOAA scientist is actively advocating that you have a zero carbon footprint if you think what I am postulating is absurd.

I encourage everyone to read the Left wing Nation article below that stipulates just how much intervention into the economy and way of life there idea of fighting Global Warming warrants.

Totalitarians and the Green Movement

Finally, there is an affinity between Environmentalists pushing the global warming narrative and communists. This has been going on since the early days of the global warming initiatives. For example,

Red isn’t green. Strange thing about Flood Wall Street, the financial-district protest that followed the People’s Climate March: Nobody had much to say about the climate — what they came to talk about was capitalism. “Stop Capitalism,” “End Capitalism,” “Capitalism Kills,” the placards read. Kshama Sawant, the socialist Seattle city-council member who funds her crusade against capitalism by being married to a man with Microsoft money, called for a “radical, militant” movement linking environmental concerns to such traditional socialist enterprises as heavy government intervention into targeted industries, including energy and transportation.

Link The closeness of far left socialist groups and climate change advocates does not bode well for future calls of restraint of government power.

From the Nation

So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it’s not because they are paranoid. It’s because they are paying attention.

So let’s summarize. Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process.

Other examples of the end goal of Global Warming to be communism:

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model. Source

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    What's the "rather frightful" part you allude to? Cleaner air? – user1530 May 23 '17 at 20:49
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    @blip Communism has only killed 110-120 million people world wide. We should definitely give it just one more chance. – K Dog May 23 '17 at 21:01
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    @KDog air pollution kills about 7 million people annually. Global warming is adding about half a million deaths per year. But that's besides the point...are you seriously connecting carbon emission regulation to...communism? That's tinfoil hat territory. – user1530 May 23 '17 at 21:03
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    @Blip UN climate chief: Communism is best to fight global warming This is an argument you will not win – K Dog May 23 '17 at 21:05
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    -1 specifically for attempting to demonize the environmentalist movement as "totalitarians" and "communists". Almost tempted to flag as "rude and offensive". This sort of stuff has no place in respectful discourse. – user11249 May 23 '17 at 23:41

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