A cool plan B 27

Earth’s climate has been changing throughout the billions of years of its existence. If it’s changing now more quickly, the human race will quickly adapt to the changes. We are a highly adaptable species.

The eminently sensible Nigel Lawson, who was Mrs Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, writes this (in part):

The time has come to abandon the Kyoto-style folly that reached its apotheosis in Copenhagen last week, and move to plan B.

And the outlines of a credible plan B are clear. First and foremost, we must do what mankind has always done, and adapt to whatever changes in temperature may in the future arise.

This enables us to pocket the benefits of any warming (and there are many) while reducing the costs. None of the projected costs are new phenomena, but the possible exacerbation of problems our climate already throws at us. Addressing these problems directly is many times more cost-effective than anything discussed at Copenhagen. And adaptation does not require a global agreement …

Beyond adaptation, plan B should involve a relatively modest, increased government investment in technological research and development—in energy, in adaptation and in geoengineering.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the Copenhagen debacle, it is not going to be easy to get our leaders to move to plan B. There is no doubt that calling a halt to the high-profile climate-change traveling circus risks causing a severe conference-deprivation trauma among the participants. If there has to be a small public investment in counseling, it would be money well spent.

We don’t like his idea of government investment in research, since anything  government does it does badly, and anything it interferes with it spoils. If geoengineering is necessary, private enterprise will do it, and do it well.

But we delight in his drily ironic suggestion of  a ‘small public investment in counseling’ for the participants who suffer ‘conference-deprivation trauma’. Here failure wouldn’t matter.