In the sequel to Freakonomics, titled Superfreakonomics, the authors have a chapter on global warming. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t give a fully educated opinion. But one can pick up a few facts from the blogopshere.
Essentially, the authors of the book, Levitt and Dubner discussed some creative solutions to global warming as an alternative to massive carbon taxes or imposing a cap and trade system. One approach is this:
The hose-in-the-sky approach to global warming is the brainchild of Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold. The basic idea is to engineer effects similar to those of the 1991 mega-eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, which spewed so much sulfuric ash into the stratosphere that it cooled the earth by about one degree Fahrenheit for a couple of years.
So why did Levitt and Deubner get so much criticism in the blogosphere? They prefaced the chapter with a few pages that seemingly understated global warming’s potential cost and even referred to the often-overhyped instance of scientists warning of “global cooling” in the 1970s. In fact, not many scientists actually believed global cooling was coming and the reports of such are cited nowadays by global warming deniers as reason to doubt current climate science. Because of this, the authors understandably lose some credibility.
But people like Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman, and others, I think, mistakenly dismiss everything Levitt and Dubner say about solutions to global warming. Innovative solutions like geo-engineering might possibly be a more effective way to control the world’s temperature rise and/or live with the consequences, as Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus concluded.
From what I can tell, Levitt and Dubner don’t deny global warming or the need to do something about it. They only give solutions that involve neither total government takeover of industry nor intrusion into the intricacies of people’s lives. For this, they are considered intellectually bankrupt. While they may have misrepresented the climate science out there, I still think that people need to consider alternative solutions to global warming a little more seriously.
Read Dubner’s response to many of the criticisms here.