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The Wrong Trousers

Posted by Peter Donovan 15 years, 6 months ago

Last year Steve Rayner and Gwyn Prins wrote a fine paper on climate change policy. Though the authors do not show awareness of the soil carbon opportunity, or of biological factors in the carbon cycle in general, the 41-page paper is a splendid takedown of the top-down carbon market approaches exemplified by the Kyoto protocol, and projects a framework into which the soil carbon opportunity fits nicely.

They point out that the recent debate over climate change (not over yet) is about values, not about science. They point out that good markets have costs and benefits in proximity to each other. They are persuasive on what is wrong with Kyoto, and describe some characteristics of good solutions to climate security.

"What makes a problem 'wicked' is the impossibility of giving it a definitive formulation: the information needed to understand the problem is dependent upon one's idea for solving it. . . ."

"We have been arguing that we have made the wrong cognitive choices in our attempts to define the problem of climate change. Although it may comprise some straightforward, tame problems of applied science and diplomacy, it is essentially a wicked problem. Strategic judgment in such circumstances places a premium upon understanding what we don't know."

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