Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

pascal's climate

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.

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