Ja, jag erkänner, jag är trött på klimatförändringarna. Men den här intervjun med professor Roger Pielke, där han tipsar om fem böcker på temat i fråga, var faktiskt riktigt bra och får mig att vilja parafrasera Hayeks ord ur The fatal conceit:
The curious task of good science is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. (‘economics’ ersätter ‘good science’ i förlagan).
Right. And there’s an irony, which of course there always is in human actions, that some of the chemicals that are problematic from the standpoint of their climate influence, were introduced as a solution to chemicals that ate away at the ozone layer in the 70s and 80s that led to the Montreal Protocol. So one generation’s solution became the next generation’s problem.
This is a book that talks about the perils and limitations of policy wonk hubris – the idea that we are capable of large-scale top-down designs on society to have specific effects. It goes through a number of cases, such as urban planning, where the most well-intended thoughtful interventions don’t lead to the desired effect and sometimes have exactly the opposite effect. I would say an example would be global population policies, such as the Chinese one-child policy. It’s a good lesson for people thinking about climate change, whether to create a global policy for carbon dioxide emissions – we’ve seen that lead to corruption and mischievous accounting rather than emission reduction.
In every sector you find people who are very optimistic about the potential of their technology to make a big difference and I think that’s great. That’s the view we want technologists to have, but we know from history that not everything pans out. We need a large portfolio. We should invest in taking carbon out of the atmosphere, but also wind, solar, advanced nuclear power, tidal power and so on. We don’t know what the winners are going to be. The historical record of governments and others trying to pick winners in the technology race is not very good.