Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change: My Reservations Illustrated
By Bryan Caplan
While there’s much to like in Yoram Bauman’s Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, this page nicely captures my reservations about his approach: He’s tolerant of economically illiterate action, but intolerant of economically literate inaction. (Click to enlarge).
Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman,
reprinted with permission from Island Press.]
Read the panels. Instead of pointing out the standard economic (and public choice) arguments against populist approaches like “all-out mobilization,” “government-funded clean energy research,” and “low-carbon lifestyles,” Yoram reassures readers that “It’s okay if your dream is different.”
But the dreams of “wait and see if global warming is really going to be a big deal,” “wait and see if geoengineering can solve global warming for a small fraction of the cost of conventional approaches,” and “wait for developing countries to move along the environmental Kuznets curve” don’t get the same sympathetic hearing. They literally aren’t in the picture. (Some of the the latter arguably overlap with “planning and adaptation,” but I doubt many readers will connect the dots).
What will Yoram’s typical reader take away from his book? Something like: “We definitely have to do something about global warming, and maybe environmental economics can help us get more bang for our buck.” A better takeaway, though, would have been: “Maybe we should do something about global warming, and environmental economics can definitely help us get more bang for our buck if we do.” For now, Yoram’s got a monopoly on the non-fiction climate change/environmental economics graphic novel market. I wish him success, but there’s ample opportunity for an entrant to come along and improve the story.