Replying to Brian’s post about taking adaptive measures to global warming. This was too long for a comment.
Let’s say that, for some reason, you find the editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette to be a more credible source than ninety-odd percent of climate researchers, and you decide that the best political course of action is to do nothing until the crisis is obvious. I’ll stipulate that at such time, we’ll have much more evidence than we do now, so it’s therefore likely that we will have a better set of possible solutions at that future date than we do today.
That leaves three problems.
1) I hope you’ll agree with me that there is some level of human suffering caused by climate change today. (Such as the inhabited island that is no longer above sea level.) Your argument can be rephrased as, “there is not enough suffering yet to call this problem a crisis, therefore we Americans (who will be among the last to suffer) will wait until the suffering and death has increased.” Do you have benchmark total in mind for how much suffering and death is required before we agree it’s crisis time?
2) You further presume that there is a linear progression into crisis; unfortunately, climate science tends to disagree with you on this point. You have tipping points, chaotic effects, and runaway processes, such that there are potential effects that outstrip our ability to respond, even presuming continued technological progress. How well would America and Europe respond if the impact is a Dust Bowl cutting off the food supply? Or if England gets dropped into a Siberian temperature zone? Or Boston and Seattle?
3) Finally, note that the same country that you expect to become levee-building ubermenschen is the one that built the levees in New Orleans. At what point do you expect our government to be blessed with such wonderful foresight, and how many cities do you expect to lose in the process?
On the bright side, it will probably be much more scenic to take a boat to Manhattan than the subways, and you’ll be able to get off right at the 34th floor, saving much elevator time.