October 20, 2009

What type of risk?

One of the classic economic global warming denier arguments has centered around how it is better to spend today's money on anything else but addressing climate change. Here's how Bjorn Lomborg put it:

Future generations will be much richer than current ones, and it thus makes no sense to make current generations 'pay' for the problems of future generations.

Levitt and Dubner seem to have absorbed this lesson as this is what they say about the economics:

Do the future benefits from cutting emissions outweigh the costs of doing so? Or are we better off waiting to cut emissions later — or even, perhaps, polluting at will and just learning to live in a hotter world?

The economist Martin Weitzman analyzed the best available climate models and concluded that the future holds a 5 percent chance of a terrible-case scenario ...

In this piece, Paul Krugman clarified the position of Weitzman, who Krugman asserts would not agree with Levitt and Dubner at all, because in looking at the effects of global climate change the uncertainty of risk (how bad it could really get) compels us to do more not less.

The problem for Levitt and Dubner is, the risk for catastrophic climate change isn't a simple 5%, it is more like the risk for a magnitude 8 earthquake hitting the San Francisco in the next 20 years. If you live in San Francisco, you darn well hope that someone is going to spend some of "your money" on retrofitting the buildings and bridges even if you don't get the full benefit because the chance that there will be a catastrophic incident isn't maybe, but when.

Levitt and Dubner aren't in Bjorn's camp yet because they do agree that global climate change is a problem. They just think some future high-tech solution might work better. But unfortunately, they truly do not understand that we have to begin addressing the risk right now (and we have many, many tools that can be used right now), and we cannot afford to wait for some magical future time when planet-wide geoengineering technical solutions are ready to rescue us all.

Levitt and Dubner really do need to go back and rewrite this chapter before they find themselves being suborned as acolytes of Bjorn Lombord and his ilk.

Posted by Mary at October 20, 2009 01:21 AM | Energy | Technorati links |

The Global warming is a serious issue that needs to be looked into this article is a good indepth resource on the issue

European Cruises

Posted by: Ricku at October 20, 2009 12:23 PM

Maybe this German study might share some insights. Without government spending in this area, the people wouldn't have any of it.

Posted by: peter at October 20, 2009 04:14 PM

Or maybe we ought to listen to our UK brothers at the Guardian

"For all the global love-in, the new president has led rich nations to neglect principled action and row back from climate deals"

And I loved her conclusion: "Of course, Obama has made some good moves on the world stage – like not siding with the Honduras coup government, or supporting a UN women's agency. But a clear pattern has emerged: in areas where other rich nations were teetering between principled action and negligence, US interventions have tilted them toward negligence. If this is the new era of multilateralism, it is no prize."

Yeah, at least the world could/would argue with a President Bush. Not with this president, he'll just lead the world down the gopher hole of complacency.

Seeya Kyoto....

Posted by: peter at October 21, 2009 05:19 PM

How did you handle multi disciplinary project? ,

Posted by: Merlin24 at October 22, 2009 03:25 PM

From The Times
October 24, 2009
"President Obama won’t talk climate change in Copenhagen"

It's official, according to Timesonline, he will not attend, preferring to receive his Nobel Prize over global warming talks that won't lead anywhere. Priorities are showing...

Posted by: peter at October 23, 2009 09:15 PM

i think it too @ peter

Posted by: markus at October 28, 2009 01:17 AM

Its about time these Govts were held accountable for the potentially irreversible damage they are doing to this planet!

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Posted by: Steve at October 28, 2009 08:55 PM

People always talk a lot about it and want to do well enough, but so far little has been done. I'm curious what time there still is in store for us.
greetings Marie

Posted by: Marie at November 2, 2009 01:42 AM