Its *global* warming, not *local* warming

From today's Strib: Legislators told to act fast to slow global warming

"Legislators told to act fast to slow global warming
Science, morality and politics came together in a rare, bicameral session. Minnesota could be a much hotter and probably drier place in the next 70 to 90 years, with an altered or dwindling forest, Kansas-like summers and Illinois-like winters. But that's if Minnesotans don't seize opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, three scientists and explorer Will Steger told a rare assembly of legislators Tuesday. More than 90 senators and representatives from committees on the environment, energy and transportation -- nearly half the elected body -- gathered in the House chamber for an informational session on global warming that included state Catholic and Lutheran leaders casting the issue as a moral and ethical challenge."

The point that is being missed is that even if Minnesotans seize every opportunity, no measurable change could possibly come of it unless most of the rest of the world does as well. That is why it is called *global* warming. Further, if Minnesota missed every opportunity, but the rest of the world didn't, Minnesota could free ride its way to the supposed benefits of avoiding global warming while skirting the costs.

[Frankly, I don't want religious leaders explaining science (or the ethics of science) to the state legislature, it reminds me too much of Kansas .]

(Leaving aside whether a warmer Minnesota, if that were the outcome, is actually a bad thing for Minnesotans).

Despite the feel-good nature of such convocations, the requirement of local media and local politicians to have a local spin on stories ("Global warming, can it happen here?") and the "think global act local" ethic, a set of incentives for good behavior, and a contract (constitution) enforcing them, are necessary to obtain the desired outcome. People behave in the community interest not out of personal good will but out of incentives, otherwise we wouldn't need constitutions and laws and jails. Advocates should read James M. Buchanan's: The Calculus of Consent on the matter.

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on January 31, 2007 1:31 AM.

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