On climate change… we should ask “what would the correct policy be if we had no reliable models”? writes Nassim Taleb and co-authors (see below).
We have only one planet. This fact radically constrains the kinds of risks that are appropriate to take at a large scale. Even a risk with very low probability becomes unacceptable when it affects all of us - there is no reversing mistakes of that magnitude.
Without any precise models, we can still reason that polluting or altering our environment significantly could put us in uncharted territory, with no statistical track-record and potentially large consequences...
While some amount of pollution is inevitable, high quantities of any pollutant put us at a rapidly increasing risk of destabilising the climate, a system integral to the biosphere. Ergo, we should build down CO2 emissions, even regardless of what climate-models tell us.
Push a complex system too far and it will not come back. The popular belief that uncertainty undermines the case for taking seriously the “climate crisis” that scientists tell us we face is the opposite of the truth.
Properly understood, as driving the case for precaution, uncertainty radically underscores that case and may even constitute it. [My emphasis]
I think this case could be pushed more strongly given 3/10 Americans disbelieve manmade climate change. Even with this disbelief, most believe the climate is likely changing and an understanding of the risk framed in Taleb’s view should underscore the need for climate policy.
Nassim Taleb is not known for liberal left leaning views (although his politics are more complex to easily fit in the left-right axis; his local-global or libertarian axises are - in my view - more important) still this puts Nassim Taleb as a core anti-mainstream-left-thinker and Gregory Mankiw as an economist associated with the Republicans, strongly suggesting (1) Climate change should be taken seriously (in Taleb’s case) and (2) Carbon taxes or some form of Pigovian tax on carbon (in Mankiw’s case) should be enacted.