Adaptation and Global Warming

There are three types of people when it comes to global warming: Alarmists, True deniers, and Reasonable skeptics. Alarmists and True Deniers think they already know what can't possibly know - the future. The reasonable skeptics accept the scientific evidence of global warming, but question the efficacy and motivation behind the solutions that have been proposed. Bjørn Lomborg, an environmental researcher and political scientist who is often scorned by "alarmists" as being a "true denier," is one such skeptic. John Tierney at the NY Times recently interviewed Lomborg:

Dr. Lomborg . . . agrees that global warming is real and will do more harm than good. He advocates a carbon tax and a treaty forcing nations to budget hefty increases for research into low-carbon energy technologies. But the best strategy, he says, is to make the rest of the world as rich as New York, so that people elsewhere can afford to do things like shore up their coastlines and buy air conditioners. He calls Kyoto-style treaties to cut greenhouse-gas emissions a mistake because they cost too much and do too little too late. Even if the United States were to join in the Kyoto treaty, he notes, the cuts in emissions would merely postpone the projected rise in sea level by four years: from 2100 to 2104. “We could spend all that money to cut emissions and end up with more land flooded next century because people would be poorer,” Dr. Lomborg said as we surveyed Manhattan’s expanded shoreline. “Wealth is a more important factor than sea-level rise in protecting you from the sea. You can draw maps showing 100 million people flooded out of their homes from global warming, but look at what’s happened here in New York. It’s the same story in Denmark and Holland — we’ve been gaining land as the sea rises.” [emphasis added]

Given the potentially worthless results from Kyoto, one has to wonder why it's been universally accepted around the globe. I think there are two reasons: (1) It feels good to do something; and (2) there's a lack of creativity around the globe or alternatively some bias towards early adopted solutions. As I've argued in my post on rebuilding in New Orleans, it may be time to start moving inland instead of taking speculative measures that could stunt development. We've got all the time in the world.