Climate Change, the Knowledge Problem and the Good Life

The Journal of Private Enterprise 30(1), 2015, 35–44

10 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2016

See all articles by Saifedean Ammous

Saifedean Ammous

Lebanese American University

Edmund S. Phelps

Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University

Date Written: March 1, 2015

Abstract

We must address the challenge of climate change through the prism of the knowledge problem and — no less important — from the perspective of the good life. When discussing our society’s big problems, we tend to assume that we have the knowledge required to act on them. We also tend to assume that our intentions will translate seamlessly to the desired consequences. Knowledge problems are why both of these assumptions can be wrong — and why they can lead to unintended outcomes, some of them disastrous. This paper briefly outlines some of the problems with our knowledge of climate and energy systems, how these problems can affect planning and policies on climate change, and how these plans and policies come to bear on the conception of the good life. The case of biofuels policies illustrates these problems.

Keywords: climate, carbon, emissions, biofuels, knowledge

JEL Classification: B53, H23, Q01

Suggested Citation

Ammous, Saifedean and Phelps, Edmund S., Climate Change, the Knowledge Problem and the Good Life (March 1, 2015). The Journal of Private Enterprise 30(1), 2015, 35–44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2832733

Saifedean Ammous (Contact Author)

Lebanese American University ( email )

P.O.Box 36
Chouran-Beirut 1102 2801
Byblos
Lebanon

Edmund S. Phelps

Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2060 (Phone)
212-854-8059 (Fax)

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