Hi! 👋 I’m Jessa.

I blog daily about life, work, and the future.


I may not have been able to follow through with all the arguments in this book, primarily due to my ignorance of many economic ideas, but this book delivers. I even enjoyed the part where the authors presented a future scenario with people taking climate action through geoengineering.

Perhaps the thing that really impressed me was that no matter how small an action can be (and it may even be insignificant), you still need to do it and do it well. Because a collective begins with the individual. And hopefully, as you keep doing a ruckus, it will eventually get traction.

Quotes from the book

COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE is the race of our lifetime. That much, at least, is clear.

No single piece of legislation, no single technology will solve it all. Climate change most likely won’t create one trillionaire. Rather, it will turn many, many tinkerers and inventors in their proverbial garages into multi-millionaires, each of whom will solve a piece of the overall puzzle. These innovative solutions are cropping up as we speak, often aided by the right kinds of policies.

Climate change isn’t exactly hurtling toward us through outer space. It’s entirely homegrown. But the potential devastation is just as real.

First and foremost, climate change is a risk management problem–a catastrophic risk management problem on a planetary scale, to be more precise.

Climate change is unlike any other public problem. It’s almost uniquely global, uniquely long-term, uniquely irreversible, and uniquely uncertain–certainly unique in the combination of all four.

Solar energy is not a perfect replacement for fossil sources, at least without significant improvements to electricity market structures and storage technologies.

Putting the first solar panel on the roof takes time and money. The millionth is quick and cheap. The trick is to get over the initial hump. The best policy: subsidize innovation–or more specifically, “learning by doing.”

Year by which the greenhouse effect had been discovered: 1824. Year by which the greenhouse effect has been shown in a lab: 1859. Year by which the greenhouse effect had been quantified: 1896. Year by which today’s range for the all-important “climate sensitivity” metric had been established: 1979

Hundreds of thousands–even millions– of committed environmentalists striving to minimize their own carbon footprints can’t do much by themselves. Those committed enough to the cause can try to decrease their personal emissions to zero–something that’s neither possible nor, ultimately, desirable, given current technologies–and it will still be far from what we need. The numbers don’t add up. They’ll only begin to add up when environmentalists use their collective political powers to move the policy needle in the right direction, toward a price on carbon.

The world could take control, if it only wanted to. Policy could–should–guide humans to render the most devastating climate predictions wrong, precisely because society will have reacted to the most dire of warnings.

Trade-offs. A concept that’s ingrained in any economist’s DNA. Hardly ever are there true absolutes. Outright bans can sometimes make sense, as the example of the Montreal Protocol effectively banning CFCs shows. But bans often entail high costs. Banning all carbon dioxide emission is out. It would simply be too costly.

Climate change is a problem because too few of us consider it one. And those of us who do consider it a problem, or worse, can do little about it unless we get everyone else to act. Either we solve this problem for everyone, or we solve it for none of us.

Recycle. Bike to work. Eat less meat. Maybe go all the way and turn vegetarian. Teach your kids to do the same, and turn off the water while brushing your their teeth. It’s good for you. It’s good for those around you. It’s the right thing to do. But do it well. Don’t jus vote. Vote well. Don’t just recycle. Recycle well.

Not investing in fossil fuel stocks is not just the ethical choice, it may well be the profitable one.

It would be easy to conclude that economics–capitalism–is the problem. Economics is indeed at the core of the problem. Or rather: misguided market forces are.

Far from posing a fundamental problem to capitalism, it’s capitalism with all it’s innovative and entrepreneurial powers that is our only hope of steering clear of the looming climate shock.

Unbridled human drive–erroneously bridled drive, really–is what has gotten us into this current predicament. Properly channeled human drive and ingenuity, guided by a high enough price on carbon to reflect its true cost to society, is our best hope for getting us out.