21 February 2009

Climate Change Denialism considered as a fear of economic competition

Various folks have been noting that being a climate change denier is a very bad long term strategy because the change is happening, will keep happening, and is not going to get less obvious to people in general, but more; eventually it's obvious you're either an idiot or very malicious, and bad things will happen to you as a result.

The usual explanations for this are philosophical; anthropogenic global warming is a market failure, so if you believe in markets you mustn't believe in AGW, and so on.

I think this is view, while it obviously has some truth in it, is missing something. It's not just that people want to continue making money in the accustomed way; it's that they're very aware that they won't be the ones making the money in the replacement economy.

Replacing the fossil carbon energy economy is not actually technically difficult; it could be done now if the necessary political will existed. (Not optimally, but you can always do a better job in the future than you can do now.) It is in sober truth of fact an immense economic opportunity.

Replacing the whole physical plant is a lot of work, and here we are with a chance to have a generation of moderate labour shortage (which always drives innovation); four different fusion schemes; no smog (which kills thousands to tens of thousands, annually, depending on where you are and how you count it); and a new physical plant designed by and for an information economy. That can and should drive a general increase in prosperity.

Someone—many someones, almost certainly—will make a lot of money off of the new technologies required to do this. It's just going to be different someones. And the people who are currently in control of the core economy through their control of oil really would prefer general global disaster to loss of relative status. (Though it isn't likely that they're thinking of it that way, that is the result.)

Ground-ape band status rules, rather than civilized conduct.

No comments: