Saturday, May 30, 2009

Civilized Discourse

This is the sort of thing I'd like to see a lot more of!
And I think that though I ask you to read the whole thing, this captures the issues.
I’d like to compare where I think Dr. Krugman stands on various elements of the strategic question I posed, and compare them with my own views. We differ in our concern about the risks and costs of severe climate change, and that difference leads us to radically different policy recommendations.
I should state at the outset my views on the science and risk of climate change. There is a significant amount of evidence that there is a long-term risk of severe climate change. But there is little discussion about the numbers: How big of a risk? How much warmer? How quickly? How certain are we? And the numbers matter a lot. If we knew with certainty that Earth would warm 10 degrees over the next 20-30 years, I would be screaming for an immediate big carbon tax. If instead we think Earth is likely to warm one degree over the next century or two, then climate change is a trivial concern and we needn’t worry about it. The problem is that nobody knows where we are between these two extremes. This uncertainty matters a lot, and it makes the problem hard.

And I cannot leave the theme of civilized disagreement without the hat tip to Greg Mankiw, who occupies more my position on this, but pointed me to this excellent discussion explaining why his views did not prevail in the White House.


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