How will we adapt to climate change? A free market economist’s perspective

2011 has been an exciting year for meteorologists. The United States has experienced a wide range of strange weather including dust storms in Denver, Colorado, deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, and severe drought across Texas. Many climatologists believe that extreme weather events are the result of climate change and use such events to buttress arguments for policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

These events and predictions, however, have not induced policymakers to take action. As an economist, a home owner in West Los Angeles, and the father of a ten-year-old son, I find myself asking how our quality of life will evolve as we face the challenge of climate change. How will Los Angeles be affected by climate change? Will my son’s standard of living be higher than mine, or would he be willing to pay to get onto a time machine to live his life back when his grandfather lived?

Thriving in a Hot Future

My book, Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future, provides some answers. It presents an optimistic vision of our urban future. All over the world, people are moving to cities. Some cities are large (think of Los Angeles) while others are small (think of Bozeman). Cities offer us the opportunity to specialize, trade, and learn. In this sense, cities are a key part of free market capitalism.

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