Ten years ago at the blog — We’ve been banging this particular drum for a long time



 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Megafires, incentives and the inactivity bias

One of the recurring themes of my conversations with Joseph is this country's growing disinterest, bordering on antipathy, in getting things done. (If you think I'm bad, you ought to get him started.) From building a badly needed piece of infrastructure to addressing global warming, we seem to focus most of our energy on finding reasons for inactivity.

NPR's excellent series on wildfires has a good example. If you weigh the costs and risks of prescribed burns against the costs and risks of letting current trends continue, the case for action is overwhelming, but we continued to let the situation get worse.

Add climate change to the mix (another situation we've shown lots of interest in discussing and little in solving), and we may have reached the point where there are no good solutions, only less terrible ones.
I remark just how lush his forest is, how the Ponderosa pines almost reach out and touch one another. He doesn't take it as a compliment. "They're a plague," he says. "On this forest, it's averaging about 900 trees per acre. Historically it was probably about 40. Here in the national forest, what we're facing is a tree epidemic."
Armstrong has rubbed some people the wrong way with talk like that. But he says forest this dense is dangerous. "We're standing here on the edge of what is known as the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed," he explains. "Imagine a (Read more...)