I found this (very short) entry on financing climate mitigation efforts really fascinating, given all the current debate about the national debt (and its associated moral overtones)-
To break it down even more succinctly:
- the status quo is that current generations are so far unwilling to invest in climate mitigation that would chiefly benefit future generations (an argument that climate deniers and Bjorn Lomborg-types often try to couch in humanitarian terms)
- the ‘fairest’ solution is for current generations to man-up and do what needs to be done, since they are the ones causing the problem
- BUT, a potential win-win (aka Pareto optimal) solution is for current generations to take out debt to fix the problem- then future generations are paying for the mitigation, but also reaping its benefits (which are predicted to be much much larger than the mitigation costs over the long term)
Not sure how I feel about all this, but outwardly it does seem to jive with how a lot of progressive economists view the current federal debt.
UPDATE: Here’s someone else (Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect) advocating that the US should take advantage of historic low interest rates to issue bonds for climate change mitigation and adaptation on the coasts, in addition to Hurricane Sandy recovery- http://prospect.org/article/fix-debt-or-save-coasts