The second common objection to allocative justice suggests this cannot be done: “there are just too many conflicting views about who deserves aid and who should pay for it.”22 Still this argument is too quick. First, the perfect storm analysis predicts disagreement purely on strategic grounds, since it is highly convenient for the current generation.
Second, while there would probably be some disagreement even among the ethically well motivated (cf. the theoretical storm), it should not be insurmountable. One reason is the early ethical consensus; another is the pressure to act for the sake of future generations and the rest of nature, and the special responsibility that gives the current generation. Indeed in view of what is a stake, I strongly suspect that the ethically well motivated could construct an acceptable form of “rough justice” that would serve the purpose. For instance, Thomas Schelling argues that our one experience with an allocation of this magnitude is the post-WWII Marshall Plan. There, he says, “there was never a formula ... there were not even criteria; there were ‘considerations’ ... every country made its claim for aid on whatever grounds it chose,” and the process was governed by a system of “multilateral reciprocal scrutiny,” where the recipient nations cross-examined each other’s claims until they came to a consensus on how to divide the money allocated, or faced arbitration from a two-person committee.23 Though not perfect, such a procedure did prove workable. Given the urgency of the climate problem and the large theoretical issues involved in devising a perfectly just global system, this is encouraging. Perhaps a roughly fair system can see us through in the short- to medium-term, even if over time pressure for something better can be expected to grow.
Third, my biggest reason for rejecting the disagreement objection is that it applies even more forcefully to economic realism, which (as I argued earlier) seems particularly vulnerable to the theoretical storm. One sign of this is that attempts to apply market CBA to climate change produce severe policy disagreement, of orders of magnitude (cf. carbon taxes of $7-$350 per ton), feeding “cost- benefit paralysis.” Moreover, there is no escaping potential moral disagreement, since many of the underlying issues within CBA are ultimately ethical.24