I’ve speculated on this before without up to now coming to a conclusion. I don’t see any intrinsic contradiction between accepting the evidence for climate change and a concern for individual liberty. Of course many who call themselves libertarians are not that, but apologists for state capitalism. Even so there are enough genuine ones around to make me wonder what is going on.
I think I’m beginning to understand why. Accepting the reality of climate change means by and large accepting that somewhere there is a role for the state in addressing it. The scale of the task facing us makes that almost inevitable. This terrifies the average libertarian since here is a potentially massive threat to our lives and to our long term prosperity that isn’t easily amenable to the standard nostrum of private property and less government. They respond to this state of cognitive dissonance, not by looking for ways to reconcile their political-economic theories with the reality of the world around them, but by denial.
I know that ‘deniers’ has been used in deliberate parallel with holocaust deniers to attack those who refuse to accept the evidence for climate change, but that is not my intention in this case. I am talking here of psychological denial, although whether those to whom it applies will be grateful for the distinction I don’t know!
EDIT (3/11/06): On denial see this