Preventing a disaster garners little recognition or reward, especially compared to sashaying into an unfolding disaster or to rescue the mortally imperiled. In the popular mind, the latter is the stuff of superheroes, while the former is practiced perhaps by some kind of unglamorous plodder--perhaps a mousy accountant or a timid bureaucrat--an un-hero who can hope, at best, to be neglected and who, upon failure will be widely condemned. The receive asymmetrical accolades:
In our thinking we place a premium on the dramatic rescue, the last-minute escape, and the ingenious on-the-fly technical solution. They all make good copy for reporters, and they make good stories for television and movies.Thus, many denigrate the value of putting a price on carbon, for it is too cautious and may even result in some measure of sacrifice today. No one will be praised for taking care to prevent a disaster some naively think will never arrive. It is so much more pleasing to place one's faith in the superhero salvation of some amazing technological breakthrough that will arrive just in time to save us all. And we can all look quite dashing while doing so!
In the same vein, BP and the amen chorus at the American Petroleum Institute miss no opportunity to assert that advances in technology will always allow domestic oil production for all our needs (if only the pettifogging regulators would abide!)
Of course, these were the same folks who assured us that they were prepared for any kind of spill in the Gulf of Mexico.