What Can We Do About Climate Change?

This interview, the fourth in a series on political topics, discusses philosophical issues that underlie recent debates about climate change. My interviewee is Dale Jamieson, a professor of environmental studies and philosophy at New York University. He is the author of “Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed — and What It Means for Our Future.” — Gary Gutting

Gary Gutting.: It’s clear that global warming is an established fact, and that a good amount of it is due to human activities. But to what extent can we reliably predict how warming will affect our lives if we do little or nothing about it, or predict the effects of various policies designed to lessen its effects? In other words, does climate science have sufficient predictive reliability to be a good guide to forming public policy?

Dale Jamieson: The difference in scale between what climate models deliver and what managers and planners need has long been a major problem. Our current models make predictions primarily expressed in terms of very abstract constructs such as “mean surface temperature” that are not very useful to decision makers. Work is advancing on regional climate models that would be more useful, but there are multiple ways of trying to build these models and they remain controversial.  Source: opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com

From the article:  “The “war on coal” is nothing more than a set of policies that require producers and consumers of coal to bear some of the costs that they now evade.”

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