Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Preface to the Paperback Version of Climatopolis

Back in September 2010 when Climatopolis was first published, climate change adaptation was not a politically correct topic for conversation.    I wrote this book because I anticipated that neither the United States nor China nor any other growing nation would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  Urban growth causes greenhouse gas emissions to rise but city living offers us our best chance to adapt to the new challenges we will face.

Political conservatives dismissed my book as silly because climate change was not a serious issue.  Liberals dismissed my book as dangerous because any talk of successful adaptation would lull political moderates into opposing costly carbon mitigation strategies such as raising gasoline taxes.   

A silver lining of the horrible damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012 is that a serious national debate has begun focused on how we protect urban people and urban places from the “known unknowns” posed by climate change.   To protect coastal urbanites, should we fortify coastal cities or encourage individuals to move to higher ground?  Should federal tax payer money be used to protect such cities?  What role will the private sector play in creating new products to help us to adapt to the “new normal”?   Will government efforts to protect cities potentially backfire and place more people at risk from “fat tail” events posed by Mother Nature?  Climatopolis embraces a free market environmentalism viewpoint to answer all of these questions.    At a time when free market capitalism has been blamed for causing the Great Recession and increasing income inequality, I argue that capitalism offers us the opportunity to rebuild our cities to increase our resilience and quality of life despite the serious challenge we have unleashed.