Jens Nordmark

Swedish physicist working as programmer.

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Rationality and Climate Change

I'm very concerned about climate change having a large negative impact. It seems unlikely to be threatening systemic collapse, but a lot of unnecessary suffering and a slowdown of long-run progress seems likely. Some small risk of extreme scenarios also seems to exist.

My view is that it's not a technological problem but a political one: it would be easy to solve with a global governing body. We have nuclear technology for power, and temporarily reduced availability of vehicle fuel seems to be a small problem that we could easily adapt to. The standard solution of taxing negative externalities should work just as well for this as for other things.

Because of our inept institutions, I believe the only likely solution, apart from accepting a dramatic adaptation with huge biodiversity loss, is that the damages motivate a coalition of major powers to strike a deal and use economic or political leverage to force everyone else into it. Either China and the US change their minds and the EU agrees happily, or India threatens unilateral solar radiation management. Both scenarios seem a couple of decades away.

While the issue is important and interesting I'm quite pessimistic about getting a timely solution, and about the possibility of individuals to make a difference. I still believe most people in a hundred years will have a standard of living similar to Western people now, but lots of suffering will come between now and then.