December 18, 2007
Climate Policy as Farce
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Technology Policy
According to The Telegraph to deal with the issue of climate change the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir David King, has encouraged a "cultural change" among women to prefer men who save energy, rather than hog it, such as by driving Ferrari's. And for those of you unfamiliar with UK newspapers, it is important to point out that The Telegraph is not the UK's version of The Onion.
Here is an excerpt:
Professor Sir David King said governments could only do so much to control greenhouse gas emissions and it was time for a cultural change among the British public.
Meanwhile, Europe is divided about strengthening regulations on emissions from autos:
Emergency talks aimed at setting EU targets to reduce CO2 car emissions are being held today amid fears that bitter wrangling between car manufacturing countries could delay or even derail the process entirely.
What is lost among this empty moralizing and trade disputes is that a zero-emission Ferrari would require no need to change the libidinal desires of young women (granting Prof. King's dubious premise), nor an embarrassing trade dispute between countries committed to reducing emissions.
These anecdotes -- frustrating and farcical as they may be -- illustrate a serious underlying point: Much of climate debate is exactly backwards. Advocates are spending far too much time arguing over how important that it is that others change their behavior, usually in ways that those doing the advocating would want regardless of climate change. In this way climate change becomes not a problem to be solved but a political weapon in service of other goals. The alternative to the dominant approach to climate change would be to initiate those steps that will actually make a difference, thus enabling political compromise. As Dan Sarewitz and I have often argued it is often technological advances that enable compromise rather than vice versa. And in the case of climate change those steps that will actually make a difference begin with making the costs of producing alternative energy cheaper than fossil fuels (as Shellenberger and Nordhaus have argued, and now Google), and working to make people and ecosystems more resilient/less vulnerable to climate impacts. Of course many groups are doing exactly this, but they are certainly not those leading the charge on climate policy.Posted on December 18, 2007 09:32 AM
My brother's-in-law jointly own a Ferrari, and they report that absolutely no young women have made any advances at them during car shows. (And it's a nice Ferrari that often wins competitions.) They report similar results for the collectible Corvette.
I could ask them to poll all members of the Chicago chapter of the Ferrari club of American. My bet is that the owners will generally report that Ferrari's are not exceptionally good chick-magnets.
Posted by: lucia at December 20, 2007 09:41 AM
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