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Archive for the ‘Climate’ Category

Okay, Kev, here’s your chance on affecting climate policy, go crazy!

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I apologize for the posting lull. I actually spotted an issue than I wanted to address a few weeks ago, but I’ve been pondering how to approach it.  It’s pretty complicated and subtle.  I even ran a couple of drafts by Rafe to refine my thinking.  So please bear with me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a fan of Dave Zetland. When I saw him propagate what I think is a fundamentally false dichotomy in this post, I knew I had to take on the concept of Knightian uncertainty. It crops up rather often in discussions of forecasting complex systems and I think a lot of people use it as a cop out.

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Jay makes a thoughtful comment to my last post on the Ascetic Meme.  While I’m pleased that I was able to affect Jay enough to write such a comment, I’m dismayed that the effect was not the one I intended.  I don’t mean to be either insulting or hostile to the vast majority of regular people that are concerned about the environment.  Heck, I’m one of them.

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I’d like to thank everyone that stuck with me for Part I and Part II. Now we get to the punch line, which is very simple: because of the Ascetic Meme, we cannot trust our instincts when it comes to environmental policy.

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As I discussed in Environmental Ideology and the Ascetic Meme, the Ascetic Meme is a severe form of the Frugality Meme. In this post, I’ll explore how I think it arises and the social interactions that emerge when the Ascetic Meme takes hold.

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I’ve always been ambivalent about environmentalism. On the one hand, my gut instinct is usually to conserve and preserve as a default policy. On the other hand, a lot of environmentalists seem to adopt an absolutist posture. Any harm to the environment is bad. No tradeoffs. No cost-benefit analysis. No looking at the big picture. I’ve become more concerned with this tension as the need for practical environmental policy has become more imminent. I think I’ve managed to tease out some of the underlying causes of this tension and I believe it boils down to what Rafe and I have started calling the Ascetic Meme. (more…)

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As I mentioned in my introductory post, I hope you’ll pay particular attention to interventions where Rafe and I agree something should be done. Whenever such agreement emerges, we plan on letting you know. Hopefully, we’ll inspire you to support them as well. As it happens, we have just identified such an intervention, WaterAid. I stumbled across this worthy cause while researching a slightly different problem. What follows is the long version of the story. Please bear with me; it sets the stage for future posts.

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