Freakonomics asks What Should We Do About Global Warming?


Freakonomics asks What Should We Do About Global Warming?

If you haven't yet read the book Freakonomics, I strongly recommend it. The authors of Freakonomics re-ask and answer many questions that many of us thought were answered. Those freaky questions include:
- Why do people cheat?
- Why do most drug dealers live with their moms?
- Why has crime gone down over the past 30 years?
The Freak-economists have now asked a group of less-freaky economists the question, 'What Should We Really Be Doing About Global Warming?'

Reading about climate change, CO2 emissions and the like on a regular basis becomes overwhelming. I think the question 'What should we really be doing about Global Warming?' is at once obvious and at the same time lost in the hubbub. It's vital to take a step back every once in a while to think about the overall picture. Trying to determine what responsibility the individual has together with the rest of society in caring for this planet is a meta-question that needs to be answered first.

As with all economic questions the answer to 'What should we do...' has to do with incentives (positive and negative) costs (direct and indirect) and human behavior. The extremely-short version of the answer seems to be that emitting carbon needs to be made unappealing or costly for everyone on earth. This requires a global system of taxes or costs for all activities that produce CO2. Wow, that's no small order!

While the over-arching goal of a global CO2 reduction is somewhat daunting it's a good idea to keep in one's mind. While I go about my daily routine trying to lead a more sustainable life it's good to look towards a larger goal. It's relevant to keep these ideas in mind when I'm at work, with friends or just out and about. Perhaps most importantly, it is vital to keep these goals in mind when I vote or have an opportunity to talk with one of the elected servants of my town, state or nation.

Forgive the cliché, but 'Think Globally, Act Locally and Vote That Way!' Read the article and let us know what you think.

More Reading:

What Should We Really Be Doing About Global Warming? A Freakonomics Quorum

NYT Freakonomics Columns