Libertarians do math: the war on covid + climate change = the end of civilization!

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a program to study the health effects of climate change, especially on disadvantaged communities (NYT):

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which the administration announced on Monday, will be the first federal program aimed specifically at understanding how planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels also affect human health.  It will fall under the Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s an area that medical experts have urged the government to take more seriously, and public health leaders said the new office was long overdue.

What should we make of this?  Without studying this in any detail, I think a reasonable person could be initially inclined towards any of the following views:

  • This is a good idea, because climate change is real and health disparities are important.
  • This is basically a PR stunt and it won’t do much good but it won’t do much harm either.
  • This is a distraction from what really matters, which is limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

But wait!  Maybe this program is a threat to the existence of civilized society!  Donald Boudreaux:

The Risk is that Civilization Will Be Destroyed Under the Pretense of Protecting Public Health

Uh huh.  The Grey Lady continues:

President Biden has requested $3 million to fund the climate office next year, a sum that still requires congressional approval. Those setting up the office have been brought in from other agencies drawing on existing funds. John Balbus, the senior adviser to the director of the National Institutes of Health on climate change, will serve as interim director.

The road to serfdom is a libertarian trump card.  To state the obvious, $3 million is not even rounding error in a $20 trillion economy, but the road to serfdom has to start somewhere, and of course it’s possible that this apparently trivial program will end up destroying liberal society.  Just asking questions.  I mean, one can never be too careful . . . (unless one is trying to prevent people from choking to death in the ICU, in which case one is just being a covid hysteric).

Unfortunately, to be continued . . .