A New Essay on Climate Policy

May 28th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

I have a new essay online about climate policy that uses The Day After Tomorrow as a point of departure. The essay, titled L’Apocalisse Prossima Ventura, appears in a new Italian science magazine called Darwin (note: I serve on its editorial board). We have online both the published version in Italian and the original text in English. Here are a few excerpts:

“Contemporary climate policy debate is dominated by two issues: the Kyoto Protocol and climate science. This is problematic for several reasons. First, no matter how debate over the Kyoto Protocol is resolved – either in its failure or in its implementation – the subsequent challenge of reducing greenhouse emissions will remain much the same under either scenario. And second, as debate over climate policy often takes place under the guise of science, the scientific debate on climate change has become irrevocably politicized, even as a scientific consensus has emerged that human activity does indeed affect the climate. Both the politicization and the existing scientific consensus suggest that a political consensus is unlikely to emerge from new scientific findings.

If we are to improve policies in the context of climate change, this means that our thinking about climate change necessarily needs to evolve. Evolution in our thinking is difficult because all sides of the current climate debate have become very comfortable with the familiarity of debating the Kyoto Protocol and debating the science. As in a long-running stage production, the participants know their roles, they are familiar with their rhetoric, and their opponents are predictable and play to their stereotypes. And more troubling, many of the current participants also benefit mightily from the status quo, whether they are advocates or scientists. Consequently, change is uncomfortable. It is no exaggeration to observe that in the status quo of contemporary debate over climate policy a consensus already exists. But if the issue is to become more than symbolic, then change we must, because today’s climate policy debate is going nowhere soon.”

Read the whole thing:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2004: L’Apocalisse Prossima Ventura (Italian Version). Darwin, May, 52-59. (Also available in English.)

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