Megan’s piece highlights that government may not be up to the job of helping us to adapt to “the new normal”. As the token economist here, permit me to celebrate competition as a friend of climate adaptation. Suppose that a coastal city doesn’t figure out how to adapt to climate change. The shocks to its quality of life will manifest themselves and mobile, skilled people will leave and home prices will fall. Detroit is poor because the skilled choose not to live there. Mayors will recognize this point and in order to protect their property tax base, they will have an incentive to take steps so that “voting with your feet” does not take place. Tiebout causes better urban governance!
Second, don’t forget the capitalist entrepreneurs. They will be the main heroes in helping us to adapt. One person’s misery is another person’s business opportunity. Zuckerberg has offered some of you some pleasure. Other entrepreneurs now have an incentive to cook up a variety of new products that will help you cope. In my Climatopolis, I offered the fun sketch of Thom Mayne and Brad Pitt’s floatable homes. This is the tip of the iceberg. Capitalism is a friend of climate change adaptation. There are 7 billion people on the planet. If .001% of them are good entrepreneurs, that’s a lot of possible ideas for helping us to cope. Good Ideas are public goods that can be adopted everywhere as we seek a variety of new strategies for dealing with the evolving challenges that we have unleashed.