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Two Items: New Piece on Grist re: "Bill Gates and Our Innovation Addiction"/ Post-Copenhagen Ethics on Greenthoughts.us

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  • Michael Hoexter
    Friends and Colleagues, Grist just published my response to Bill Gates s TED talk called Bill Gates and Our Innovation Addiction: Recipe for Climate
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2010
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      Friends and Colleagues,

      Grist just published my response to Bill Gates's TED talk called "Bill Gates and Our Innovation Addiction: Recipe for Climate Inaction".  

      Please read and comment here:
      Also new on Greenthoughts.us, I've put together some simple "high-level" rules for selecting climate and energy policy as part of what is turning into a series on climate ethics.  

      The piece can be accessed as either a PDF (link here)  or as a three part post:

      Climate and energy policy is, from my perspective, in a state of rapid flux that may yield either progress or regress.  Looking at what might be some rules that act as guideposts can help people navigate and structure some of the chaos.

      Building on the work of Donald Brown at the Climate Ethics center at Penn State, I've added three new sets of criteria that I believe would be better guides to selecting policy and guiding negotiations than what I am currently aware of either here in the US or internationally.  As this is at a high level of abstraction, there is a lot of wiggle-room but what I am trying to do is to narrow down the field from the "maybes" to the "highly probables" and the "definites" in the area of policy selection and  technology choice.

      Brown offers three sets of criteria that are focused on just and adequate goals for climate policy to achieve.  I offer three more sets of criteria that are more focused on the means of achieving these goals.

      1. 4th Criteria Set - I apply the words "Appropriate, material and effective" as descriptors of what a good policy or technology would be.  "Material" here means vital, integral to a real world process, and present within 3 years time.  "Appropriate" and "effective" mean what they usually mean. 

      I apply these criteria to four examples:  Carbon Trading, Infrastructure Planning, CSP/CSTEP with Storage, Passive House Technologies.  I find that three of the four are "appropriate, material and effective means" to mitigate carbon.  I suggest that it is an ethical lapse in the context of a climate ethics for policymakers to not deploy "appropriate, material and effective" means to cut emissions.  Or on the contrary, to deploy inappropriate, non-material and ineffective means is also wrong in the context of climate ethics.  

      2.  5th Criteria Set -  Assessing Total Cost of Carbon Mitigation -  I make some suggestions here on how to open up the discussion of the total cost of carbon mitigation, which is an underlying theme in all climate negotiations and sometimes comes to the fore.  I offer a framework for discussing different levels of commitment of resources to climate mitigation as opposed to other uses and needs.
      1) Basic Climate Insurance
      2) Sustainable Development
      3) More Equitable and Healthier Societies

      3. 6th Criteria Set -  Truthful, Sober, and Complete Communication about Climate and Solutions
      As words are easily misleading, I believe exploring ethical rules about truth telling is worthwhile in the context of climate ethics and policy.  I offer a take on the controversy surround climate science and offer the scientific process as a model for how to create rules for determining the truthfulness of statements.  I highlight the differences between climate "skeptics" implicit rules of communication and those used by climate scientists or their defenders.  I offer some ideas on how to combat ignorance and diversion of attention from the climate crisis. 

      I hope you will find these helpful or provocative and look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!

      All the best,


      Michael Hoexter
      Terraverde - Energizing Green Markets
      Belmont, CA 94002

      Blog:  www.greenthoughts.us
      Tel: (650)274-9360
      Fax (650)649-1788
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