Saturday, March 01, 2008
If there is anthropogenic global warming but we continue in our current energy consumption patterns, we continue to enrich petro-states and lead our economy teetering toward an economic precipice of short supply, high priced oil. If there is no anthropogenic global warming but we switch to carbon neutral energy sources, then we become more economically stable and self sufficient while paying ourselves to develop new energy infrastructure.Of course, I'm not the first to think of think of such a thing. Apparently the idea goes by the name Global Warming Wager or the Precautionary Principle.
It looks like the arguments against the idea run along the lines of:
- This proves that environmentalism is a religion.
- This is yet another convenient excuse for the government to take your money and liberty.
- The cost of switching energy infrastructure is too high given the possibility that it's unnecessary.
- It overstates the current damage and understates the ability of future technology to reverse that damage. Pascal's wager works because the costs of modifying a finite life are always overwhelmed by the possibility (regardless of likelihood) of eternal damnation. The environmental argument doesn't work because the risk-reward ratio is nearer parity.
I think my statement differs from the normal formulation because it intertwines the political aspect. Our current course has resulted in a trade imbalance and a reliance on countries with which we often find ourselves at odds.
What do you think?