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Post Do "We" Know What to Do with Climate Change?
Created by John Eipper on 07/05/19 5:16 AM

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Do "We" Know What to Do with Climate Change? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 07/05/19 5:16 am)

JE commented on July 3rd: "We know what to do about climate change. All we need to do is act. Politics, not technological limitations, are getting in the way."

It's not that simple. We don't know how much is the optimal amount to spend on reduction of carbon emissions, and to some extent cannot know, because we cannot know how quickly technological change will reduce carbon emissions anyway. Moreover we don't know how bad the problem is--the extent to which positive feedback loops (thawing tundra emissions; increasing solar gain from darker colors of land freed from ice) will make it even worse, or the extent to which the opposite types of mechanisms will reduce the effects. It's hard to make policy with regard to this kind of question; it's hard to ask people to make sacrifices for goals which are so hard to measure (or which can't be measured).

Technology plays a BIG role, because technological improvement is the source of that part of the solution which does not require sacrifice. A sacrifice which hits poorer people harder, than richer ones. That's what people mean, when they say "technological limitations" stand in our way. The problem is not, realistically, going to be solved without a great deal of technological progress.

So no, we don't know "what to do" about climate change.  Knowing that we need to do something, is not the same, as knowing exactly what it is, practically, that we need to do, or how much of that, we need to do, when.

JE comments:  Alas, sacrifices always hit poorer people the hardest.  At the very least, we can acknowledge that a problem exists--and here politics play a larger role than science.

Next up on this topic, Tor Guimaraes.

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