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The Case for a Sustainable Climate Policy



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THE CASE FOR A SUSTAINABLE CLIMATE POLICY WHY COSTS AND BENEFITS MUST BE TEMPORALLY BALANCED ROGER A PIELKE JR How much longer do you think it will take before the nation s climate researchers are able to hone their conclusions down to some very simple recommendations on tangible specific action programs that are rational and sensible and cost effective for us to take and justified 1 by what we already know Clearly it s time for some radical ideas about solving global warming 2 But where s radical realism when we need it The question of what actions on climate change make sense in the short term raised in the quotes above remains largely unanswered Until we better organize the climate science and technology enterprise to focus on policy options for the short term the climate debate is likely to remain in its present gridlock Policies that address climate change including both mitigation and adaptation have both longterm and short term effects To date climate policy has focused primarily on the long term and so too has the research intended to inform that policy As a consequence too little attention is paid to policy options and technological alternatives that might make sense in the short term One reason for the short term being overlooked is the intellectual gerrymandering of the climate change issue at the international level which has maintained a narrow focus on greenhouses gases GHGs and their effects Billions of dollars of public investments in climate science and technology might be reoriented to better serve the needs of decision makers grappling with climate change which will be a policy issue for decades to come by focusing on policies that make sense in both the short and long terms This Article presents a series of seven assertions First humancaused climate change is real and requires attention by policy makers Center for Science and Technology Policy Research University of Colorado This Article is based on testimony given before the Government Reform



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