Climate Mitigation or Technological Revolution? A Critical Choice of Futures
Graeme Donald Snooks
Mankind currently is not only facing a major environmental challenge, it is embarking on a hugely risky enterprise — that of climate mitigation. This unprecedented global adventure is an attempt to change the nature and shape of human society on the grounds that our traditional market system has failed us. The current enterprise is hugely risky because it is based not on what has happened but on what we are told by “climate-mitigation engineers” might happen. The argument in this essay is simple but powerful, and can be outlined in the following five propositions: • The science of climate change is challenging but compelling, based as it is on an impressive and growing body of expert empirical research. What it shows is that recent climate change is human induced. Hence, further climate change and its mitigation are problems primarily for the social not natural sciences. • The “science” of climate mitigation is nonexistent, because orthodox social science has failed to model the dynamics of human society. And it is the dynamics of human society that will largely determine future climate change. • Orthodox economics, which has attempted to fill the void, has failed completely. Economic theory is suitable only for the analysis of small, shortrun issues that can be accommodated within a static framework — such as the price of a cup of tea; whereas the issue of climate mitigation is one of the biggest and most important issues humanity will ever face, it is long-run in nature, and it can only be adequately handled within a dynamic framework. As orthodox economics has been unable to develop a realist general dynamic theory, its practitioners have been forced to employ simplistic historicist models when analyzing future climate change. • What we need is a new science of human dynamics. The basis for this new science is provided by the author’s dynamic-strategy theory. It is a realist theory in the sense that it has been derived from a long-term, systematic observation of the fluctuating fortunes of both human society over the past 2 million years (myrs) and life over the past 4,000 myrs. • Economists have massively underestimated the costs of their proposed climate mitigation program aimed at stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations, because they have employed the inadequate static cost–benefit methodology. This essay takes a very different approach. By estimating the dynamic costs — essentially the costs of suppressing the imminent technological revolution that can only be identified in a realist dynamic framework — I have found that total costs will be almost 100 times greater than current estimates by the year 2100. This puts a comprehensive mitigation program totally out of the question. What, then, is to be done? This essay provides the answer.
climate mitigation, technological revolution, human dynamics, economic intervention, dynamic costs and benefits
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