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Failure as prelude to success, in climate change policy and other areas


"Evolution is cleverer than you are," said biochemist Leslie Orgel, and author Tim Harford takes the theme and runs with it in his book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure. The best ideas come not from smart individuals, he argues, but by trying out many different ideas and culling out the less successful ones. Harford lays out the three ingredients for harnessing the power of evolutionary change in organizations and your own life, and he applies them to big challenges like creating a stable financial system. In this interview, Harford explains how the power of adaptation can be applied in an arena he doesn't get asked about much in the US, even though it's a significant portion of his book: climate change policy.

Continuing the theme of learning from failure, Kurt Cobb talks about his 2009 article, "We Must Make a Lot of Mistakes Quickly," which was written about the urgent task of drastically upgrading energy efficiency in buildings but applies to many other areas. He discusses tradeable energy quotas, an alternative to a carbon tax or cap that could make the US economy more globally competitive while leveling out inequalities in wealth and income. You can read more of Kurt Cobb at his blog, Resource Insights. On June 27, he'll be back on the show to talk about his thriller with a peak oil theme, Prelude.

Carl Etnier hosted.

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