Sunday, November 20, 2011

Of Birds and Men

This piece published in the Sacramento Bee is not about pepper spray use at UC Davis.  Instead, it focuses on how California's birds are and will adapt to climate change.   There are several interesting patterns as some birds are becoming bigger while others are becoming smaller.  A small bird needs less food to survive. If food supply is becoming more volatile then this is a wise evolutionary strategy.  Recall that in my 2007 paper on surviving POW camps that shorter people were more likely to survive in the U.S Civil War.  Same  idea!

At the end of the Sac Bee article, there are some charming commentators whose views are welcome but highlight the ideological divide.  Environmentalists need to think harder about why this divide has taken place.  Why did climate change mitigation become an ideological issue versus when could it have been an "insurance  issue"?  I can imagine an alternative galaxy where a people agreed that climate change could be quite risky  and thus chose to adopt the prudent strategy of buying some insurance by reduce GHG emissions.  Environmentalists deserve a lot of "credit" (I'm being sarcastic) for turning off the other 50% by pointing fingers and "tsk-tsking" about the Hummer, suburban, BBQ life-style.  Yes, the net result of these choices is more GHG emissions but only Santa Claus knows who is truly "naughty" and "nice".  Smart greens should have anticipated that the typical Republican would have a price incentive (i.e his expected high carbon tax bill) to oppose such "green" incentives and thus to design policies to attract such an individual to support this regime shift.  One way to have done this would have been to tie revenue collected from carbon taxes to reductions in capital gains taxes.