What Global Climate Policy Should Learn from Year 2000

Back in the lead-up to the Year 2000 I was working at IBM. There were massive … really, massive projects underway to eliminate the "Year 2000 bug" from worldwide computer systems. These involved combing through millions of lines of computer code to remove any instances of six number dates (MMDDYY — those dates that reset the year counter to 00 rather than 2000).

To achieve this, there were whole, global divisions established, new competencies developed and careers were established for life … on both the technical and client side. The investment in people, technology and processes was amazing. The cost was hugely expensive. And the outcome? Well … the new year clicked over and not one plane fell out of the air. No catastrophe hit the financial markets. Hospitals continued to function. And I had a great night out.

But I was just watching this great video (courtesy of David Koopmans) on the relative risks of global climate change and our INACTION on this crisis (and yes, let’s admit it is a crisis). One thing that the Year 2000 folks understood was risk management. They understood that there was going to be a cost no matter what decision was taken … but the upside of action was the "management" of the cost and the outcome. The downside of INACTION was catastrophe on a scale never before imagined. This is the same situation today — just the debate is now about global climate change, not computer code failure.

I encourage you, watch this video. Invest the 10 minutes. And then push it. Spend five minutes more telling others about it. Don’t let this be the MOST TERRIFYING video you will ever see. Make it the most important.

4 thoughts on “What Global Climate Policy Should Learn from Year 2000

  1. 10 Minutes Well Spent

    If you had an additional 10 minutes a day, what would you do? It may not seem like much time, but it’s long enough to change the world. If you spent 10 minutes every day as a big brother you

  2. Coal, oil and gas that don’t reflect the environmental costs tell to use more. We reduce their use, develop and implement alternatives when their prices rise.
    NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen suggests a gradually-increasing tax on fossil fuels with all the funds distributed equally to individuals. That would give everyone the right incentives. See http://www.carbontax.org/blog for more information.

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