Climate Change, the Knowledge Problem and the Good Life

Ammous, Saifedean H.; Phelps, Edmund S.

This paper will argue that we must address the challenge of climate change through the prism of what is called the knowledge problem and—no less important—from the perspective of the good life. When discussing our society’s big problems, there is a tendency to assume that we have the knowledge we will require to act on the problems before us. And there is a tendency to presume that the intentions of our actions will translate seamlessly to the desired consequences. Knowledge problems are why both these assumptions can be wrong – and why they can lead to unintended outcomes, some of them disastrous. This paper will briefly outline some of the problems with our knowledge of climate and energy systems, and how these problems can affect planning and policies on climate change, before discussing how these plans and policies come to bear on the conception of the good life. The case of biofuels policies will be used as an illustration of these problems.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Center on Capitalism and Society
Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University
Center on Capitalism and Society Working Papers, 65
Published Here
September 21, 2017