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The potential costs of climate change, already the subject of heated debate, may actually be understated. It’s not just the potential disruptions to weather systems, agriculture and coastal cities; it’s that we may respond to those problems in stupid and destructive ways. As the philosopher and cartoon character Pogo said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Consider how poorly we have responded to many non-climate-related problems. In the case of Brexit, for example, the Leave movement was arguably responding to some real problems. The European Union bureaucracy is too stringent, and perhaps the United Kingdom did not have an ideal arrangement with immigration. But Brexit is careening toward disaster, with no good plan on tap, the two major parties in splinters, the British pound declining, the Irish “Good Friday” agreement at risk, and the U.K. seriously talking about food stockpiles and other emergency measures.
It would have been better if the British had responded to their country’s problems in a less extreme way, or simply learned to live with the problems they had. Instead, they voted for a rash and poorly thought-out remedy.
Similarly, you might think that supporters of President Donald Trump have legitimate concerns about illegal immigration and U.S. unwillingness to stand up to China. Still, that did not require a presidential “remedy” that has brought chaos and corruption to the White House and U.S. foreign policy alike.
The world increasingly appears to be reaching for extreme and imprudent remedies to complex problems. These overreactions do not…