If Global Warming Is ‘Existential,’ Will Larry Fink Ration?

If carbon emissions are a world-historical crisis, if they threaten the end of modern civilization, and if the only way to respond is to end those emissions, then we must all sacrifice, equally, the liberties and comforts that carbon emissions afford us – most especially those most loudly and aggressively demonizing carbon and demanding the end of emissions on rapidly approaching, activist-generated schedules. If those doomsayers are unwilling to make that sacrifice themselves, they have no business demanding anything at all from the rest of us.

Scott Shepard

Scott Shepard

As an initial matter, carbon emissions are not a world-historical crisis. The most accurate science suggests that we people make mild contributions to global warming through our collective activities, that many of the results of that warming are good, and that it can be reasonably responded to by human diligence and flourishing – which is supported not by decarbonization on activist schedules, but by reduced regulation and interference incentivizing increased inventions, productivity and flexibility. But that’s certainly not the view among too many government and corporate elites.

A wide array of business executives – the sorts most likely to frequent Davos – have told us for years now that carbon emissions constitute an existential crisis such that they must be ended according to schedules that do not attend to technological or economic realities or consequences. Moreover, they’ve openly colluded – from positions neither elected nor appointed by elected officials – to force other private actors to adopt these politicized decarbonization schedules or be cut off from capital.

This capital, of course, isn’t theirs, but belongs to savers and investors. Nevertheless, they have happily usurped influence that should run to the ultimate savers and investors in order to enact their own personal policy preferences and climate-catastrophist neuroses. As Larry Fink – that avatar of the corporate-executive insurrection – put it, he’s seizing the influence that rightly belongs to investors to “forc[e] behaviors” consonant with his personal whims throughout the Western business world.

Well, Larry, force runs in all directions, not just from your not-regal (whatever you might imagine) offices out to the rest of us. In fact, force should not run from your offices at all. Force is the monopoly of the government, a monopoly granted by the people of a polity in exchange for their tight control over it. To the extent that you have and use force – especially force built on your expropriation of influence that rightly belongs not to you, but to those who invest in BlackRock – the appropriate response by the constitutional monopolists of force should be to end your ability to improperly expropriate that influence.

They could achieve this by more clearly establishing that you breach your fiduciary duty by self-dealing (and therefore are personally culpable) when you use the power of all the assets invested in your company to push things like political-schedule decarbonization – in which most of your investors have demonstrated no interest and that you never have nor could demonstrate is in the objectively determined best interests of the target companies on the basis of complete and unbiased research.

If the civil authorities – meaning the American people themselves, if elections here are still free and fair – come to  accept your and your World Economic Forum (WEF) friends’ claims that humanity faces destruction unless net-zero carbon emissions are achieved by 2050 (at the latest), then those civil authorities must respond as they did the last time that the world faced the real possibility of an imminent “sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”

If your position is correct, then we must institute strict, universal carbon rationing, right now. And if you honestly believe your position, you must support it.

Yes, Larry and friends, this is the only way forward. We cannot allow you to continue to live like royalty while the rest of us face ever narrowing, ever contracting quality of life. Because that is certainly what your plans mean for the rest of us.

Europe led the way in decarbonizing (and, even more absurdly, denuclearizing) in ways much less drastic than those you gleefully admit to “forcing” on the rest of us. And the results in Europe have been dire. Russia was enticed into invading the Ukraine. Germany faces massive reductions in industrial output, a cold winter, and as the New York Times recently reported with obvious and nauseating relish, “[d]ry fountains, [c]old pools [and l]ess beer.” Spain will henceforth swelter in the summer (with minimum air-conditioning temperatures fixed at 80 degrees nationwide) and shiver in the winter (with maximums at 66) even as its already feeble economy takes another gut punch.

If you are successful in “forcing behavior” here in the States, the results will soon be as dire as, and then much worse than, what is now happening in Europe. And it is wholly illegitimate for you to force all of this on all of us while escaping it yourself. Your WEF friends are calling for carbon limits, carbon footprint trackers and carbon wallets. This is nothing more or less than modern-day rationing.

If that’s what’s called for, Larry, then those who will have to sacrifice the most will of course be you and your friends, which is only proper. For you who are demanding these constraints should not be exempted from them.

Needless to say, the first thing that will have to go is private jets – all of them. With everyone limited to a fixed and equal number of digital carbon ration coupons, no one will be able to “afford” even a single trip on any private jet ever again. And since no one will be able to make use of them anymore, there won’t be much of a market for them, will there? I guess that makes them the sort of “stranded assets” that you, with your absurd assumptions and biased research, are so eager to label vastly more valuable things, such as natural-gas pipelines and energy plants. Guess you better get rid of those jets right away then, long before the formal rationing starts. Can’t have any stranded assets there, pal. (I’m pretty sure I’m quoting you about that.)

Meanwhile, keep in mind as you get used to flying commercial again that you have no business whatever taking business class – much less first. No, no. As a carbon warrior, you have to be back in coach with those of us whose lives you’re so eager to immiserate. In fact, once the rationing starts, all the business and first-class cabins will have to be retconned into coach themselves; those pesky, universal carbon ration coupons sure are going to have as big effect.

And to set the pace, to be a role model, you really should eliminate all air travel and conduct all your work meetings by video. Of course, all those servers that keep the internet running are pretty energy hungry, so having too many even video conferences will really fill up your carbon ration book. So perhaps we better start thinking about the other ways you’ll need to carbon economize.

First, your mansion, and those of all the other malefactors of great (and usurped) influence, will have to go. How does 800 square feet per person sound to you? You may well be able to manage that within your carbon limit if you go without air conditioning and much heat – the way you intend for the rest of us to do. I know you’ll celebrate all of that, though, because once you’ve evacuated your carbon-criminal mansion, it can be converted into housing for the poor. That will contribute greatly to equalities of outcome – a goal which you regularly embrace as the other “not woke, not partisan” forcing-behavior project: equity.

Likewise, you’ll have to downsize your cars, your diet, and just about every other aspect of your life. But I know you’re not just willing but eager to make all those sacrifices, right now, because you really do believe that the world community faces an existential threat, and we all must constrain ourselves equally and fully to face it.

Of course, if you weren’t eager to embrace these inconveniences, if you aren’t excited to act as a leader in shrinking your and BlackRock’s carbon footprints down to what will be required of all to achieve the goals that you’re forcing on others, then I guess we’d have to conclude that you’re both a hypocrite and a fraud, and wonder why you’re working so hard to force behaviors on the basis of premises that you manifestly know to be nonsense.

Wouldn’t we, Larry?

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Director of its Free Enterprise Project. This first appeared at RealClearMarkets.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.