By Conor Clarke
Over the weekend I did an interview with Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling, who has done a lot of pioneering work on game theory and collective bargaining, especially as it pertains to global conflict and nuclear arms control. I wanted to talk to Schelling because of another collective bargaining problem that's been on my mind: global climate change. As I wrote below, weighing the costs and benefits of climate change is both morally fraught and empirically uncertain. Or at least it confuses the heck out of me.
Will Wilkinson is not convinced that Schelling -- or any game theorist -- is in a position to help with my confusion. And maybe that's completely fair. Climate change questions aren't just math puzzles! So let me take a page from Conor F's playbook and list some of the reasons why I don't know how to make sense of global climate change. Here are seven (!):
1. Any solution to climate change must have a theory for what the present generation owes future generations. That's hard. How do we weigh the interests of people that don't yet exist?
2. Any global solution to climate change must take account the fact that the costs of warming will be borne unevenly around the world. Parts of the northwestern United States will actually benefit from a warmer climate. Bangladesh will not. But why should the U.S. care what happens in South Asia?