Matthew E. Kahn

We’ve had our fill of environmental disaster movies (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, etc.), but now scholars are seriously starting to contemplate how we’ll have to live with a warmer, wetter planet. UCLA professor Matthew E. Kahn is an economist who studies carbon costs and development issues. And though he identifies more with the Huffington Post left, he offers a counterintuitive thesis in Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future (Basic Books, $26.95). Kahn previously criticized the Obama stimulus package because it didn’t go far enough in “de-carbonizing the economy.” Instead, he wants to see incentives and subsidies to the right kind of businesses—not the ones like BP and the Big Three that got us in trouble, of course. He puts his faith in the market and suggests we worry less about rising greenhouse gases and more about proper pricing for dry real estate, potable water, and energy. Large cities, he argues, are greener and more efficient than other models of human development. And very few people are willing (or able) to live off the grid, raising their own goats in splendid, libertarian isolation. Where others despair about global warming, Kahn sees cause for optimism. Of course, Seattle may feel different in another century, if our precious deep-bore tunnel becomes an aquarium. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
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