A Christian Libertarian View on Environmental Protection

I’ve just finished reading “Faith Seeking Freedom – Libertarian Christian Answers to Tough Questions“. The authors are Dr. Norman Horn, Doug Stuart, Kerry Baldwin and Dick Clark.

It covers 12 different subjects, plus one chapter on “Christian misconceptions on Libertainism”.

Here, I’m just going to concentrate on chapter 12: “What about the Environment and Creation?”

Here are a few quotes from that chapter:

The natural world in the beginning [of Genesis] is described as a garden. Gardens are meant to be worked, and that work inherently means that the garden is incomplete.

Therefore, the destiny of the whole earth is not pure wildland, but cultivation by its inhabitants.

Now, that does not mean we should be utterly wasteful and foolish with those resources, but it also means we do not have the right to assume we know better than our neighbor how he can use those resources that he rightfully owns.

As we use the resources that God has seen fit to grant us, we should use them as mindful stewards of a divine blessing (Matt. 25:14-30). The righteous take care to leave something of value for future generations (Prov. 13:22)

When property boundaries are clear and unambiguous, neighbors can more readily hold each other accountable.

Too often, in a system where environmental regulation is provided through government, political decision making can lead to wasted resources. Under modern environmental regulatory regimes, polluters and other bad actors may even be able to defend their harmful actions legally by pointing to government licensure and compliance with relevant regulations.

In a free society, property owners would have a better chance at holding others accountable for the environmental damage that they cause.

It is important to point out that governments do not just fail to protect the environment; in fact, they are among the worst polluters. A 2020 report concluded that the United States military is the “largest single institutional consumer of hydrocarbons in the world”.

Private property owners have a strong incentive to conserve their privately owned resources. Unfortunately, when government owns and manages natural resources, there is an incentive for private parties to attempt to get as much as they can until the resource is exhausted.

It is rational to maximise profits, and for as long as human beings live in a fallen world with scarce resources, they will seek to do so.

We must recognize that some pollution is inevitable simply because of entropy.

The bigger concern, though, is hazardous waste. [Whoever damages] someone else with their pollutant, they are liable for those damages in form of a tort (a civil lawsuit). The polluter would have to pay restitution for those damages and resotre the property (or health) of the claimant.

Models of the future are massively uncertain, and their predictions of global climates and the need to “fix” the predicted issues are dangerous at best and unjust to billions at worst.

Encourage efforts that move land and resources into private hands rather than the state.