From UCLA Today:
Capitalism has caused climate change — and it will also help the world adapt in order to survive the impending shake-up, UCLA Professor Matt Kahn argues in his new book, "Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future" (Basic Books, 2010).
Kahn, an environmental economist, takes a pessimistic view of climate change — it's too late to avoid rising sea levels and hotter summers, he wrote — but he believes cities can cope with the changes.
"Many people are fixated on how we can reduce greenhouse gases, and acting like adapting to a warmer climate is still in the sci-fi future," Kahn said. "But we've passed the point of no return. Certain urban places — like Los Angeles — will suffer. But I'm optimistic that Los Angeles will also adapt." ...
The key is the very capitalism that has propagated the jumbo-sized, gas-guzzling American Dream, complete with a house full of energy-hungry air conditioning and two SUVs in the driveway, Kahn said.
"Capitalism is always coming up with new products," he explained. Energy-efficient air conditioners, electric cars and floating houses built to rise with sea levels or flash floods are just a few of the products that he expects will provide a profitable reason for companies to help the world adapt to climate change.
The way people will adapt depends on whether we're all a bunch of Spocks or Homers, Kahn explains. Spocks – named after the rational-to-a-fault Star Trek character — would calculate the risks of climate change and prepare accordingly. Homers — named for the bumbling father figure on “The Simpsons” — would seek instant gratification and find cheap housing exactly where climate change will cause the most damage. Whereas some economists think of the world population as either all Spocks or all Homers, Kahn thinks we're a mix of both — and that's what will save us.
"The Homers will be desperate to survive after the climate apocalypse, and their desperation creates incentives," he said. "The Spocks will respond to that need and profit by coming up with the products that will be in huge demand. The Homers’ very existence creates the demand that saves them."