Monday, April 25, 2011

My Return to "Book TV"

A few years ago, I interviewed Edward Hums about his book "Eco-Barons" on Book TV.  Now, I will get my chance to discuss my Climatopolis on Book TV.  I hope my mom watches!

While it is self-serving, I've been frustrated that people have not engaged with the key themes of Climatopolis.
Conservatives don't care about climate change because they view it as a "Al Gore" issue and liberals are worried that even starting to discuss adaptation is to admit "defeat" in the war on carbon. So, my readership has been my son, my mom and some angry critics who don't think I'm funny and who haven't taken intro econ.

To repeat the book's key themes;

1. The world is moving to cities
2. In these cities, people participate in the market economy
3. Urban growth has caused climate change because billions are achieving the American Dream and the global free rider problem precludes internalizing the nasty externality.
4.  Thus, climate change will take place and the key question is how it will affect urban quality of life in rich and poor cities.

5.  Most people on the political left look to "government" to protect us from climate change.

6. In contrast, I look to individuals and entrepreneurs and capitalism in general to help us to adapt to climate change.  We have strong incentives out of self interest to anticipate the challenges we will face and to look for individual solutions and market solutions to help to protect us against scary future scenarios.

7.  Government will only be part of the adaptation solution if politicians have incentives to help their cities to adapt. For example raising water prices in drought areas to reflect true resource scarcity.

My book highlights how a free market environmentalist thinks through how capitalism evolves in the face of an ambiguous and scary threat.  We know that we do not know and this creates opportunities to protect ourselves. My optimism is based on my confidence in human ingenuity and freedom of choice. Freedom to migrate, and participate in the multiple urban markets available to us.

My book seeks to show intelligent readers how a free market economist views the world and the basis for our "magical thinking" that our standard of living is rising over time and will continue to do so despite the very real threat of climate change.

I look forward to participating on Book TV.