A modestly encouraging prediction that technical progress and the free market can ensure a tolerable, if hotter, future.
Kahn (Economics, Public Policy/UCLA; Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment, 2006, etc.) accepts the evidence that the world will be three to ten degrees warmer late in the 21st century; rain and weather patterns will shift; melting ice will raise the sea level. Humans prefer to live in coastal cities with a vibrant culture (London, New York, Boston), perhaps with a pleasant climate (Los Angeles, Miami), but rising oceans and increasing storms will flood low-lying areas. Already short of water, Los Angeles is predicted to receive 50 percent less rain. So far, Kahn warns, governments have done exactly the wrong thing: building levees and sea walls, subsidizing flood insurance, refusing to zone low-lying or fire-prone areas to keep people out, pouring money to rebuild after disasters that are guaranteed to recur. Leaders proclaim that we must conserve, develop clean power sources and reduce our carbon footprint, yet they aggressively encourage waste and discourage innovation by keeping water, energy and gasoline prices artificially low. Kahn makes a convincing case that new technology and a free market are essential and that government should not interfere. Unfortunately, his prescription requires government action that would be political suicide. Leaders must allow water, energy and insurance rates to rise to market levels, he writes, and they must pass a carbon tax and increase gasoline taxes.
Realistic conservation tactics that may not resonate with today’s fervently anti-tax advocates and their compliant representatives.