Provocation # 202 Society, climate change and economics
If the use of fossil fuels are not going to cut sufficiently (eliminated) to prevent a 3 or 4° rise are we willing to discuss how such a failure might unfold?
If economy is embedded in society, that just means complex feedback loops between the two. Discussing these feedback loops requires understanding both the economy and society. If you look at economics curricula there is almost nothing about society.
How can it be that the rich are getting richer and the poor are being lifted out of poverty at the same time? Sleight-of-hand. The income of the poor is going up, let us agree for the moment, but the prices of real estate, access to art museums, the fees for national parks, are all going up more rapidly.
Both the impact of society on economics, and the impact of economics on society are mostly left out of our modeling.
Take for example the numbers attached to climate change. X number of dollars are proposed as necessary investment in new technology to prevent damaging climate change. What is not included in those dollar estimates are the cost to the population of giving up old ways of living and working while struggling to find new ones – in the face of automation and green greed not easy to do. If we are to undertake steps sufficient to prevent catastrophic warming, then society will be majorly disrupted. Where is economics in clarifying the picture, both of what happens if we do take major steps (and how we could do it), and what happens if we don’t.