19 July 2010

The Reality-Based Community

In much of the debate over energy and climate there is a distinct departure from reality. The reality that I m referring to is not the reality of the physical climate system, but the reality of social, technological and political systems. This reality governed by human interests and values, and is no less (and perhaps more) important than the reality that human activities are influencing the climate system.

I was reminded of this reading two articles today. Fist, here is Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors, a company that Bill Gates has invested in with a focus on developing dramatic advances in the efficiency of combustion engines:

“I’m a big fan of electrification and electric cars,” he says, noting that he spearheaded GM’s now-abandoned EV1 electric-car in the 1990s.

But he adds: “The products and solutions that win in the marketplace are those that don’t defy economic gravity.”

The second was in Paul Krugman's column, where he talks about "the pundit delusion":
. . . the belief that the stuff of daily political reporting — who won the news cycle, who had the snappiest comeback — actually matters.

This delusion is, of course, most prevalent among pundits themselves, but it’s also widespread among political operatives. And I’d argue that susceptibility to the pundit delusion is part of the Obama administration’s problem.

What political scientists, as opposed to pundits, tell us is that it really is the economy, stupid.
Designing climate and energy policies based on the "boundary conditions" established by social realities is a central focus of The Climate Fix.