Tim O'Reilly has some interesting thoughts connecting the issue of climate change with Pascal's wager.
In my talks I've argued that climate change provides us with a modern version of Pascal's wager: if catastrophic global warming turns out not to happen, the steps we'd take to address it are still worthwhile. Given that there's even a reasonable risk of disruptive climate change, any sensible person should decide to act. It's insurance.
Some of the benefits of taking steps now to avert potential climate change include:
- Major new sources of renewable energy at an affordable price
- New jobs related to renewable energy will stimulate the economy
- Reduced dependence on oil from potentially unstable or hostile nations
- Reduced costs related to pollution
- Industries better prepared to compete in the future
The downside? O'Reilly can't think of one, and I can't either. If we take climate change seriously and act accordingly — even if we're wrong, we'll still end up with several benefits. If we don't take it seriously, and we're wrong, we have everything to lose.