I know I’m meant to be having a break (I plan to continue – also VTG has offered to write a post, so this doesn’t get him off the hook 🙂 ) but I couldn’t resist posting this TED talk by the UK’s leading climate economist. It’s a broadly optimistic talk and discusses how we have the ability to make sensible decisions if we wish to do so. What I liked is that he seems to understand, and discusses, the basics of climate science. Of course, maybe I’m biased as he does say
We couldn’t just turn it off. You can’t make a peace treaty with the planet, you can’t negotiate with the laws of physics,
which is something that many who discuss climate economics appear to fail to acknowledge.
I’m not really wanting to write a lengthy post, but I thought I’d make a broader point. There are some who try to portray themselves as pragmatic realists. This irritates me for a number of reasons. One is simply that this is often framed in a manner that suggests that they understand the realities of the world and know what will work and what won’t, and anyone who disagrees with them has their heads in the clouds and just doesn’t realise that what they’re promoting simply won’t work. What’s particularly galling is when such people gloat when something doesn’t work. It’s a little like someone who says “It won’t work, it won’t work, it won’t work, it won’t work…..see, I told you it wouldn’t work”.
Additionally, as pointed out by the quote above, the physical world doesn’t care about the reality in which we’d like to live. It’s not that I think that everything that these “pragmatic realists” say is necessarily wrong, but if there are factors that could have a major influence on the world in which we live, and which we could choose to do something about if we wished to do so, ignoring these realities just seems remarkably short-sighted.
As I’ve mentioned before, though, I do think that the climate policy aspect of this debate is extremely complex, and is much more difficult than the science itself. I don’t think there are easy solutions or trivial decisions. We do, however, need to be willing to discuss the possible risks and what we should do, given these risks. Burying our heads in the sand, hoping that there won’t be any significant risks associated with climate change, and pretending that – if there are – something magical will happen to save us, is – in my opinion – very definitely not what we should be doing.