Can Libertarians Be Environmentalists?

Socio-economic freedom and environmental concern are rarely perceived as traveling hand-in-hand. The “green” movement, generally existing on the political left, tends to favor increased regulatory and financial authority at all levels of government as its preferred vehicle in prioritizing environmentally sustainable ends. So deeply is this approach engrained, that discussion about environmental issues at all levels seem to only be concerned with ways government can do more.

Grassy Field

Libertarians, on the other hand, generally take a different approach to these types of questions. And because heavily leveraged government solutions are widely accepted as the only path to achieving environmental ends, our general principles favoring liberty are nearly universally seen as anti-environmental.

Libertarians, themselves, shoulder some of the blame for this perception. When discussions about any issue start and end with maximizing individual autonomy, we short-sell the positive outcomes, both philosophical and practical, as well as the broad, positive consequences that our approach can have. The idea of “green libertarianism” is an emerging and exciting philosophy within the larger libertarian movement, drawing deep parallels to other social issues, such as poverty and education.

Can we conclude that if you care about the environment, you should be a Libertarian? 

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