Nik Schiffmann’s rant against western developed nations trying to solve global warming reveals just how much baggage humanity needs to overcome.

Global warming is real. Deal with it. The severity is not precisely forecastable, and the scientific community is not making the type of Chicken Little claim that Mr. Schiffmann uses as a straw man.

Schiffmann makes a ridiculous psychological claim: “Great wealth makes people:take leave of reality and embrace suicidal ideas: it (The West ) has taken leave of reality and considers itself guilty for existing.” If anyone shows a suicidal tendency, it is the person who ignores hard science when it conflicts with ingrained ideology.

The developing world is going to continue to advance along the lines of Western capitalism regardless of the extent to which Western capital chooses to invest there (e.g. India, China). Without foresight, the rate of human production of greenhouse gases will escalate to levels that are potentially very dangerous. Therefore, it is in the long term interests of the developed world to invent and transfer sustainable energy technology to all nations.

Our current market system is not capable of self-regulation on time scales of decades. This is because the foundation of free market capitalism rewards individual success in business based on short term measurables (like quarterly profit). There is no way to reward someone for making good decisions that take decades to generate results. Therefore, political agents (i.e. nations) have to agree on interventions in the market that will correct the flaw in the risk-reward balance. Whether cap-and-trade is a useful intervention remains to be seen. But the reason Copenhagen failed is that the damage from climate change has not gotten painful enough to force the political will to move forward.-Bernard Roth


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