Jim Manzi writes:
Iâ€™m also glad to see that Ezra Klein is explicit about his acceptance that climate change is expected to have extremely limited effects on the United States for at least the next hundred years. I figure that ought to be pretty important when debating the proper policies for the government of the United States.
This is weird. Ezra says:
For instance, the consensus estimate appears to be that if current warming trends continue, America will become between six and 13 degrees Fahrenheit warmer over the 21st century. To put that in context, the change in temperature between the coldest period of the Ice Age — which was 21,000 years ago — and the current climate is estimated at between 7 and 13 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re planning on making the same jump in a single century.
Now, maybe this won’t manage to destroy the American economy or make whole regions uninhabitable, but to argue that an increase of between 7 and 13 degrees will result in “extremely limited” effects is bizarre. Moreover, Ezra isn’t making the point that America will face extremely limited effects. He’s making the point that whatever effects America will face, the experience in developing nations will be considerably worse, and they’ll be considerably less able to handle the experience given that they’re not nearly as rich as us.
It isn’t difficult to make an argument that the government of the United States should care about this for reasons of self-interest — we should care about potential trading partners and geopolitical stability and so on. But one shouldn’t have to make those arguments. Another way of putting this — and note, Megan, now I’m angry — who gives a flying fuck if our emissions are only going to cause some significant but acceptable level of damage in America, when they’re going to cause terrible damage to other human beings elsewhere? No sane person would sit around writing things like “It ought to be extremely important to the government of the United States that the firing of American missiles at other countries will have extremely limited effects on the United States.” File under true but totally irrelevant.
I think Manzi would argue back that hey, research on the missle program produced economic benefits that were shared in part by developing nations, and sure we have some obligation to extend aid to those damaged by our heedless missle launching. Again, what kind of moral calculus is this? It’s totally alien to me.