Adjust or ATTACK?
By Alice Temnick
Do we Attack or Adjust to climate change? Is it our tendency to readily believe that a good cause justifies any means? Is the enormous expenditure toward reducing carbon emissions the best way to address climate change?
Bjorn Lomborg encourages us to consider scientific studies of geo-engineering and other approaches to global warming and importantly, perhaps somewhat brazenly, to question and prioritize this global threat. In this episode, host Russ Roberts and Bjorn Lomborg (president of the Copenhagen Consensus) discuss policies of global issues and how cost-benefit analysis, in a world of scarcity might propel us toward improving people’s lives or perhaps “getting it slightly less wrong”. We hope to read your thoughts as you respond to any of these or your own thoughts about this charged topic.
1- Why should deliberation about choices and actions toward bad climate outcomes – the tail probabilities of climate change impact – include equivalent consideration of seemingly unrelated global threats such as asteroid destruction? (Hint: This Econlib Article by Pedro Schwartz might provide some more food for your thoughts.)
2- Roberts challenges Lomborg on his use of “we” when describing public policy as representing how individuals feel about the state of the planet. What do you believe collectively measures attitudes toward care for the planet? (Hint: And perhaps this Econlib Article by Pierre Lemieux.)
3- If and when geo-engineering was employed to mitigate rising temperatures, what role might markets and/or governments play in allocating the required resources? How does Lomborg compare investment in this technology to the alternatives of reducing carbon emissions such as solar energy?
4- Climate-related deaths have plummeted over the last century as has poverty, particularly in the past 40 years. How does Lomborg support his argument that further wealth creation and its link to climate change adjustment is a more prudent goal than minimally reducing rising temperatures?
5- “Imagine if we could make a green technology so cheap everyone would just buy it. Not because it was green, but simply because it was the cheapest energy.” Lomborg sees lack of investment in research and development of green technologies as a market failure. If in charge of public policy, how would you consider shaping incentives for tomorrow’s innovative outcomes?
6- Roberts challenges Lomborg’s menu portrayal of cost-benefit analysis as inaccurate due to what is not monetarily measurable. In addition to the difficulty of measuring tails, how might we think about what is left off of the menu on collected ways to improve humanity?