Going green with an economy in the red

October 18, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Climate and economy | 2 Comments
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With the markets in the midst of a crisis that many are comparing to the Great Depression, some environmentalists are starting to worry that the go-green wave may lose its momentum in the face of more pressing economic concerns.

From bloggers to scientists, a new speculative trend has now begun, with thinkers placing their bets on just what the economic downturn will mean for the environment.  And in the truly free market of ideas, there are always a lot of answers to choose from:

It will be bad: how will we ever find the capital to invest in green technology after handing out $700 billion to the financial industry?

It will be good: people will start wasting less, recycling more, and using less energy.

It will be bad: commodity prices are plummeting and, without a pinch at the gas station, interest in alternative energy sources will flag. 

It will be good: green jobs and the green industry will lead the rebirth of our economy. 

It’s about as much of a yo-yo as the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been in the last few weeks.  To get some perspective on the issue of how economic policies and the environment – specifically climate change – are related, I recently sat down with the University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

Geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

Geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

A geophysicist, you ask?  It’s true, Pierrehumbert is not an economic expert, but he is a climatologist who is involved in a new effort to bring scientists and economists together to talk about climate, energy and economics at the University of Chicago. 

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