Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gyrating around No Se Nada

Kevin V. has a well thought-out post warning against technological fixes to counteract global warming, and I disagree with much of it. In particular, my policy conclusions lie on Kevin's political right, for reasons that lie on his political left.

Kevin thinks the unforeseen consequences of a poorly-understood attempt to create cooling technological forces acting on the climate could be catastrophic. No disagreement from me here, but I disagree when he adds that it's lunacy to consider doing it. My reason for disagreeing is that I think the consequences of not acting against global warming will be catastrophic, while Kevin doesn't place it at quite that level. Given our different perception of the scale of the global warming problem, I'm willing to consider risky solutions that Kevin won't.

OTOH, Kevin's point, "God forbid we should actually deal with the risk of anthropogenic climate change by dealing with the root causes" is spot on, but America won't allow the world to do it (and nobody's flocking to my trade-agreement solution for this problem). Given the lack of political will, we may have to take risks.

Finally, Kevin suggests the mostly-urban First World is more at risk from catastrophe than the agrarian Third World. I guess I'd agree if we're talking about serious fire-and-brimstone, Lovelockian catastrophe. I think more likely, still very bad scenarios will drive down the margin of comfort and safety in the First World (and kill thousands in storm events), while more-catastrophically upping the mortality level elsewhere.

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