The Problem with Ecomodernism

mt writes on Only In It for the Gold

The new “ecomodernist” push implicitly restates the BTI position that getting to carbon zero follows from technological innovation alone. … to the extent that the ecomodernist manifesto does not take account of the real-world obstacles to that goal, it ducks the very question it claims to be addressing.

(Comments at the link please.)


  1. Two brief comments:

    1. The ECON 101 definition of economics is that it is the study of allocating and using scarce resources. BTI and now Ecomodernism respond by invoking the ghost of Julian Simon to declare economics obsolete because there is no such thing as scarcity: "To the degree to which there are fixed physical boundaries to human consumption, they are so theoretical as to be functionally irrelevant."

    2. On the real world obstacles you refer to, David Victor's book, Global Warming Gridlock had some very nice, pithy, and insightful discussion of the policymaking pitfalls that arise from what Victor called "The Engineer's Fallacy" that if you merely built a better and cheaper nuclear reactor/photovoltaic/wind turbine/whatever the world would beat a path to your door and "The Economist's Fallacy" that if you simply put the right price on carbon emissions, the world would automatically adjust to an optimal mix of fuels.

    Meanwhile, on the technology front, John Quiggin notes this morning that "we now have just about everything we need for a technological fix for climate change, based on a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency, at a cost that’s a small fraction of global income (and hence a small fraction of national income for any country) ." If Quiggin's analysis is sound, then the technology is pretty much there. The challenge will be to devise the kinds of policies (both formal governmental regulations and informal private-sector and community norms and expectations) to deploy that technology quickly and effectively throughout the world.

    ( Jonathan - thanks for your input. I've copied it to the linked article - I hope this is OK with you. P3 is on "hiatus" pending a software reworking.)

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