Collective Action, Copenhagen, and the Deus ex Machina

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2 Responses

  1. “Sorry if this sounds dramatic (so to speak), but consider this: one definition of tragedy is man’s realization that he can never be a god…”

    What tragedy then – Evan Thomas already declared the President god-like a year ago; for Mr. Obama and many of his followers, the tragedy would not be that he never could be a god but rather the realization that he wasn’t already.

    …but for the rest of us pagans, thank (a different) God that the President just isn’t very good at being an executive.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    I don’t think Obama necessarily saw himself in the role of deus; why not the Henry Fonda role in Twelve Angry Men? That, too, would be too flattering of the US role in addressing, to say nothing of causing, climate change, but might be closer to his own understanding of what he was attempting. And in the end, at least according to the newspaper of record’s account, his direct intervention did yield some positive results, however inadequate they may be.

    I also question the appropriateness of using the resource-management approach to the climate change problem. CO2 emissions and indeed global warming itself are only very narrow aspects of a larger set of problems. Ocean acidification, sea level rise, watershed destruction (through glacial melting), disruption of agricultural cycles and who knows what other problems not yet noticed or acknowledged are also here, as a result of emissions already made. Even if emissions were cut 90% next year, those problems might persist and even intensify in the near- to mid-term because of physical, chemical and biological mechanisms poorly understood by us.

    Part of the problem is in trying to approach climate change through economics (and even worse, neoclassical economics). Much as it pretends to be, economics is no substitute for politics. The topic of politics is collective action. We — the world, collectively — need to learn how to do politics better. Then maybe we can do something about the physics, chemistry and biology of climate change.