23 February 2009

More bio-foolery

The use of crop-based biofuels could speed up rather than slow down global warming by fueling the destruction of rainforests, scientists warned Saturday. Grist News, 18 February

Exactly so. Climate change is one of the many complex, urgent challenges about which scientists don't know everything - and politicians know hardly anything. Does it make sense to invest everything in our current best knowledge, while knowing that we don't know much and that our knowledge is expanding prodigiously? I think not, but that is what we are doing, and one result is bio-foolery; another is Kyoto.

As a society, when it comes to solving complex social and environmental problems, we need more humility. Targeting outcomes, without prejudging which array of solutions will work best, is one way of accepting that our current knowledge is limited, but nevertheless not being content to stand by and do nothing. Issuing Climate Stability Bonds would inject the market's incentives and efficiencies into solving what is probably our most urgent environmental problem, while accepting that we don't yet know what will be the most effective and efficient solutions.

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