27 November 2015

Climate change, again

I posed this question before but it bears repeating: are we more concerned about climate change, or about the impacts of climate change on human, animal and plant life? The popular assumption is that the most efficient way of mitigating the negative impacts of climate change is to reduce that which current science suggests are one of its major causes: greenhouse gas emissions. But we don't know that for certain, and we don't know the degree to which we can do anything about it. And we'll never know whether any of the costly policies suggested in this article will have had any impact whatsoever. It would seem preferable to spend our scarce resources on dealing with the impacts of adverse climatic events - whether they're caused by greenhouse gases or not. Floods are just as devastating whether caused by greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions or not. Climate Stability Bonds would, in fact, encourage ghg emission cuts if they are found to be the most efficient way of dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change on human, animal and plant life.

When I wrote along the above lines to an internet comment forum, one respondent said: 'What you don't do is cause a problem, then ignore it while you "fix" the symptoms.' My response is that we should not be dogmatic about whether we tackle causes or symptoms. The 'cause' of a large proportion of the crime problem is 'young men': we don't force all boys to undergo a sex change just so we can save money on a justice system.

There are undoubtedly symptoms whose root causes we can identify readily and address. There are others whose root causes are currently unknown or too expensive to tackle. We could still, with Social Policy Bonds, target the symptoms for solution and motivate bondholders to work out whether or not the best way of dealing with them is to go after possible root causes. There are problems whose root causes might never be unambiguously identified. But if we issue Conflict Reduction Bonds, for instance, there's no need to resign ourselves to living on a planet wracked by war.

No comments: