It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Policy Naysayer Makes His Case

...with Lomborg grinning enthusiastically from the panel

 

Peter Huber’s video is interesting and worth watching.

He expresses the Prisoner’s Dilemma aspect of the situation very well. His conclusion “chasing the impossible is never worth the money” is of course a tautology.

But there are other players than individual economic interests and national economic interests. There is the interest of the whole world. And the collective interest at the global level is profoundly opposed to the sovereign national interests in a classic tragedy of the commons setup.

Economically, leaving the carbon in the ground is a hugely losing proposition as long as there is no accounting for the diffuse but accumulating and persistent damages of fossil fuels. Specific interests will always look for ways to continue this lack of accountability. The market will continue to slowly but hugely damage our collective future as long as this accounting is neglected.

Huber, like most people with an axe to grind, considers only one side of the ledger. So while most of what he says explicitly is right, his implicit selection of evidence is profoundly biased, and his conclusion is distorted by the blinders he is wearing. Others looking only in the other direction see the transition to carbon free fuels as an economic boon, which is, if anything, even sillier.

The energy/climate future will be expensive, difficult, and disruptive. It’s too late to avoid that. The longer we pretend that changes will be either unnecessary on one hand or easy on the other, the more expensive, difficult, and disruptive the future will be.

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