"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nick Kristoff's NYT Op-Ed

Nicholas Kristoff has issued the first of a promised sequence of New York Times op-eds, urging action on climate change, especially on the part of the US. Oddly and unfortunately, the Times has decided to hide these calls to action behind their subscription firewall.

The big splash seems to be coming from Kristoff's reporting Al Gore's expectation that today's youth react in some way comparably to how us boomers would have:
"I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers,” Mr. Gore said, “and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.”
It's an interesting question, but I don't think it's Kristoff's biggest contribution. I think the concluding paragraphs are especially salient. This is where I'd like to direct your attention:
Critics scoff that the scientific debate is continuing, that the consequences are uncertain — and they’re right. There is natural variability and lots of uncertainty, especially about the magnitude and timing of climate change.

In the same way, terror experts aren’t sure about the magnitude and timing of Al Qaeda’s next strike. But it would be myopic to shrug that because there’s uncertainty about the risks, we shouldn’t act vigorously to confront them — yet that’s our national policy toward climate change, and it’s a disgrace.

1 comment:

tidal said...

At least for the time being, Kristoff's editorial is available in full here: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_6641726