Global warming and talking about the economy

February 18, 2009

I presume you’re familiar with the global warming “debate” – about a zillion scientists amass a mountain of evidence for anthropogenic global warming, then everyone else decides whether or not they agree with the scientists’ conclusions based on a few articles they’ve read in a newspaper or some blog or something they make up inside their own heads, and proceeds to have bad-tempered and long-winded arguments about the subject with whoever will listen. The reports of the IPCC are out there for anyone to read and you can dig deeper into the research and actually find the data if you’re interested … but even so you get people claiming the “there’s no science at all behind the climate change lobby” (in a recent comment on the Daily Telegraph site).

In a way it’s understandable – almost no-one actually has the time to delve deeply enough into the subject to fully understand it, so we just form an opinion based whatever crap we read in the media that reinforces our prejudices. But there does exist a large group of people who have devoted their professional lives to the careful scientific study of the climate, and they know what they’re talking about, and when the governments of the world decide to do something about climate change they know who to turn to. Maybe they won’t listen to them properly, maybe the world is fucked one way or the other, but at the very least we know who to ask.

The economy, on the other hand, seems to be a very different story. We’ve the same shit on the media and the internet – every fucker who’s read the wikipedia entry on supply and demand seems to think that They Know Best. That’s all to be expected, fair enough. But where are the experts who actually know what’s going on, who saw what was coming, and who know how to fix things? It seems a worrying proportion of economists simply predict things at random in the hope that they’ll get one prediction right and make a name for themselves as “the guy who predicted X”. There’s all manner of “experts”, but (though it’s hard to be sure of this on account of all the noise in the debate) there doesn’t seem to be any agreement whatsoever between them. One fella is saying the country’s about to go bankrupt because of the “bond spread” and someone else has some other indicator that means everything is fine. Who’s right? Economists don’t agree, governments don’t agree, everyone’s making contradictory claims and there doesn’t seem to be any reassuring men and women in white coats who actually know their shit to be found. I don’t know what to think, except for maybe economics is just bunkum after all.

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One Response to “Global warming and talking about the economy”

  1. john, who else? Says:

    Economics is just an oul social science, and doesn’t have hard and fast laws like real science. Which means that it may be bunkum, but you can’t prove it. The closest thing to an IPCC is OECD. They said the housing bubble was going to bring us serious problems ages back, but politically (as with dealing with climate change) this was not a popular message, so we ignored it. The banking crisis happened becuase we’re all idiots, not just economists.


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