Easterly and climate change


in Economics, Politics, The environment

Mossy branches

I am continuing to work my way through Easterly’s book, as selected for the blog book club. What I have been finding most interesting about it is actually its description of the complex nature of power and economic structures within society, more than its specific criticisms about how Western aid has been packaged, delivered, and understood. Essentially, the book is a classically conservative critique of the Enlightenment notion that a centralized body with sufficient information and intelligence can transform society for the better. It stresses the intricacy of society’s interconnections, while also highlighting the dangers associated with trying to undertake radical change.

Actually, it is somewhat uncomfortable reading, when you start thinking about how the information applies to climate change. While there is a degree to which top-down climate change policies work by spurring innovation, the real challenge of dealing with climate change is that it requires people to do things that contradict their past experience, and sometimes their near-term self interest. Acting quickly enough to stop climate change requires some degree of the kind of Utopian project-building that Easterly derides, though it is likely that an awareness of some of the pitfalls he considers might help avoid future problems. For instance, it might make more sense to create climate policies that don’t discriminate between technologies or economic sectors – rather than guessing where success will come from and investing directly there.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

R.K. April 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Nice photo. The green is really lovely.

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