Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Huffington Post is worried that faltering faith in the field of Economics, whose experts spectacularly failed to predict the 2008 crash and the post Brexit economic boom, might spill over into skepticism about predictions of climate driven economic collapse.
With Economics In Disarray, It’s Time To Rethink Climate Change
We heard this week that the economics profession is in crisis. The inability to foresee the 2008 financial crisis and mis-judgments about the impact of the Brexit vote mean economics has lost the trust of politicians and the public.
If indeed economics as a science and way of seeing and understanding the world has had its day, then we quickly need to work out what that means for our ideas about dealing with climate change. Because make no mistake, economics has dominated and defined our understanding of climate change in exactly the same way economics has dominated and defined every other area of our lives.
That’s the reason why the Stern Review on Climate Change (written by Nicholas Stern, an economist) received such wide covered upon its publication in 2006, becoming ‘the reference work for politicians and green campaigners‘. Here at last was someone telling us what to do, and telling us in the only language that mattered – economics. None of that hippy ‘going to live in caves’ nonsense. No doom and gloom. Instead the Review ‘considers the economic costs of the impacts of climate change, and the costs and benefits of action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause it’. The ultimate objective of climate policy was to ensure climate change did not damage economic growth.
What is needed instead is a way of engaging with climate change which is built from the bottom-up and speaks to the values, experience, hopes and concerns of everyday life. It is about showing the connections between a future which benefits the many, not just the few, with the possibility of a good quality of life that can be shared by all without ruining the quality of life for subsequent generations.
When I worked with merchant bankers, the bankers never attempted to use their economic and trading models to predict the future, because they knew that didn’t work – bitter experience taught them that their painstakingly constructed economic models had no predictive skill. Instead, they used the models to try to understand the present, to try to detect weaknesses in the structure of their portfolios.
Only in academia and government, where nobody faces consequences for failure, do you find people who are stupid enough to believe they know what is going to happen.