Flooded homes

If you cause a flood that destroys someone else’s home, it’s considered a property rights violation.

“And it shouldn’t matter whether or not that’s a consequence of building a dike or a dam, or generating emissions that produce increases in sea-level rise,” says Jonathan Adler, a prominent conservative law professor at Case Western Reserve University.

“A lot of the expected and predictable consequences of climate change are things that we recognize to be violations of property rights and have recognized as violations of property rights for centuries,” he says.

Adler says framing the issue this way could inspire more support for climate action, especially among groups that prioritize individual property rights.

“If we accept that climate change is a problem,” he says, “if we accept that it’s causing the sorts of rights violations that libertarians normally think justify government intervention, that should shift our discussion from whether there’s a case for government intervention to what type of intervention and how do we maximize the likelihood that that intervention produces the sorts of results that we’re trying to get.”

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.