Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More on climate change

You might wonder why I was strident about Mark's piece on citi-bike and why I am getting worried about climate change.  This piece in Rolling Stone about the future of Miami is a good example of the sort of issue that is worrying me.  Part of where I am coming from is I am a huge technological optimist, which is really not a position that makes sense given my other preferences.  But I have a firm belief that a) people prefer not to work hard and b) when there are incentives then a group of dreamers are likely to find ways to make things work better. 

The current car culture is already in decline.  There are a couple of ways we can respond to this shift in cultural values.  We can be paralyzed by fear and do everything that we can to prevent this shift away from cars.  Exhibit A comes from the Wall Street journal editorial board.  Or we can try and adapt to a new and different world. 

What I want to avoid is the Megan McArdle position where we look at all of the costs and none of the benefits.  Or where we don't see the costs as challenges to be met.  I am very interested in the potential of alternative energy -- including wind and especially solar power.  True, we may end up having to run our dishwashers during daylight hours.  Now if only somebody could invent a timer that could be put on a dishwasher to have it run during non-peak times.  Curiously, I remember such timers as a child and see absolutely no reason why they could not come back. 

So I think we should look with interest on the small cases because they define the legal, intellectual and cultural context for the big battles.  I would like to bet on the sort of American innovation that changes the world last century.  Because I think it remains the best way forward. 

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