Saturday, March 01, 2008


Pascal's Wager for Climate Change

Reading an email thread arguing about the reality of human caused climate change I accidentally analogized the situation to Pascal's Wager. Both are premised on the probability and risk-reward ratio of unknowable situations.
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:

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?

Interesting perspective. Our country will eventually break our addiction to fossil fuels, a finite resource, it's just a matter of how much it's going to hurt when it happens. I'm not so much interested in carbon-neutral energy sources as I am cheap/domestic/renewable energy, most of which happen to be carbon-neutral. What really needs to happen is to find a way to make that kind of energy more profitable than oil, at which time the energy companies will put there resources there. Taxes and regulation do that, but manipulation of that kind tends to screw things up more than it helps.
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