Climate Change, the Knowledge Problem, and the Good Life

SAIFEDEAN AMMOUS, EDMUND PHELPS
THE JOURNAL OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE 30.1 (2015): 35-44

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.