Sunday, February 10, 2013

Al Gore Changes His Mind on the Beneficial Role of Climate Change Adaptation

Circa 2009, it was politically incorrect to speak of climate change adaptation.  Hurricane Sandy and the inability of the U.S Congress to make progress on climate change mitigation and India and China's ongoing growth have all shifted the discussion to climate change adaptation.  Like a minor league Hari Seldon from the Foundation, I anticipated all of this and this is why I wrote Climatopolis.

Today, Michael Lind reviews Al Gore's new book and the Vice President has some reasonable things to say about the potential for climate change adaptation.

"He shows a willingness to rethink positions and admit errors that is as rare among prophets and pundits as among politicians. In speaking, for example, about the possibility of adapting to global warming even while trying to minimize it, he writes: “For my own part, I used to argue many years ago that resources and effort put into adaptation would divert attention from the all-out push that is necessary to mitigate global warming and quickly build the political will to sharply reduce emissions of global warming pollution. I was wrong — not wrong that deniers would propose adaptation as an alternative to mitigation, but wrong in not immediately grasping the moral imperative of pursuing both policies simultaneously, in spite of the difficulty that poses.”"

Note that the Vice President places "policy" front and center here.  For a man who has made tens of millions of dollars from capitalism, why does he narrowly focus on government as the key to adaptation?  Where is the free market as the key innovative source for helping us to adapt to climate change?  

In my ongoing research, we argue that there are cases where well meaning government policy can impede climate change adaptation and that government price ceilings on water and electricity prices and land use zoning certainly do impede adaptation. I discuss all of this in Climatopolis.