It’s so very nice to see grownups in the executive branch; any hope that the legislative will follow suit?
The choices of Holdren and Chu show every likelihood that the incoming administration wants to put the carbon problem on the front burner. This is great news!
But they have so much else to do what with the “economy” of the US and to some extent of the whole world being shown to be based on utter lunacy over the last twenty years. Oh and that little thing about the two bollixed wars… OK, I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard…
The referenced Dot Earth article doesn’t dwell so much on John Holdren, whom we discussed here recently. Rather it branches sort of peculiarly into a very good discussion with Gary Yohe, from Yale’s e360 site.
Anyway I am glad this way of thinking has finally made its way into the Times:
Uncertainly is ubiquitous. There are some fundamental conclusions that we now know: that the planet is warming; that humans are the cause of it. We’ve seen the climate signal and changes in global mean temperature… But there’s some uncertainty that simply will not be resolved in a timely fashion. Yet once you adopt a risk-management perspective, then uncertainty becomes a reason to do something rather than a reason not to do something. And people who argue against doing anything then have to guarantee that humans aren’t changing the climate. They can’t do that, so they can’t argue against enacting some climate policy. At the same time, though, uncertainty is something we need to recognize will be persistent. We have to learn how to make decisions under uncertainty.
So the point is that climate policy has to adopt a risk-management approach. It involves both adaptation and mitigation. We have to think seriously about how we do mid-course corrections. What is near-term policy? How do you make adjustments? Well, you keep track of how you’re doing relative to the short-term target that you set up. But you also have to worry about whether or not the target was right, and that’s where increased knowledge about the climate system and the economic system come into play. And so every 10 years or so, you have to sit down and say, “Okay what have we learned? Are we doing well compared to the target we set? Is the target right? Is it too high? Is it too low? Should we ramp these things up or ramp these things down?” And those are the essential things that we need to do.
Maybe this kind of sense will somehow find its way into the congress. Paging Sen. Inhofe?