Friday, April 9, 2010

Krugman on climate

I urge one and all to read in its entirety Paul Krugman's piece on climate change policy and economics for the NY Times Magazine. It is the best non-technical article on the subject that I have read, and I say that as someone who has tried to write one myself. Suppressing his inclination to shrillness and partisanship, Krugman has produced a piece that is clear, accurate, fair (not impartial, but fair), and essential.

If I were to add anything to his article, it would be a greater emphasis on the likely disproportionate impact of climate change on the world's poorest, many of whom live in arid or low-lying areas, and who will lack the resources for adaptation to rapidly changing conditions. If I were to change anything, I would strike a less negative tone on China. Despite the dangers of China's growing dependence on coal, there are also very promising signs of Chinese leadership on clean technology development. (They may even build our high-speed rail for us here in CA.)

If I were to draw a single political lesson, it would be that we on the political left (you know who we are) should be prepared to hold our noses and pay what it takes to buy off the energy industries and the politicians they own. Cap-and-trade provides an easy mechanism for doing so. Too much is at stake to get hung up on moral purity. Besides, to paraphrase a certain LSE-educated singer: "I shouted out, who killed the climate? When after all, it was you and me..."

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