Sunday, April 16, 2017

This Isn't A March For Science This Is About Economic And Political Policy

By Tim Worstall. Excerpt:
"One of those who organises the Union of Concerned Scientists has penned an explanation of the March for Science to take place next weekend. And it's entirely obvious that what he's actually irate about isn't science at all, it's the political and economic policies being put in place as a result of science that irks him. The two are not the same thing, not the same thing at all:
So, why are they grabbing placards now? Because an unprecedented attack on science, scientists and evidence-based policymaking is underway in the US federal government.
An attack upon science or the scientific method would be worthy of a march of course. But that really just isn't what is being complained about:
Nowhere is the attack more ferocious than on the issue of global warming, where the Trump administration has taken a wrecking ball to the modest but important policies put in place by President Obama.
Ah, no, that's not a complaint about science at all is it? That's a complaint about political and economic policy. I am, for example, boringly mainstream concerning climate science. That warming climate is happening, we're causing it and we should do something. And then I become equally boringly mainstream with what we should do about it--have a carbon tax. As Nick Stern, James Hanson, Greg Mankiw, William Nordaus, John Quiggin, Richard Tol, Marty Weizman, Sir Partha Dasgupta and just about every economist who has studied the matter agrees.

And the thing is, as the Stern Review itself, all 1,200 pages of meaty goodness of it, explains, because the carbon tax is the efficient method of dealing with this then the other methods, say, regulatory action like that from Obama, is not something we should do. For, if we deal with this problem the efficient way then we will either be able to solve more of it for the costs we're willing to bear or, alternatively, solve it entirely at least cost. Using regulation, that less efficient method, means that either we'll solve less of it because we'll be so aghast at the cost, or we'll be poorer once we have solved it.

That is, good economic policy tells us that the political action to deal with climate change should not be what Obama has been doing. Reversing those regulations is not thus an attack on science it's an attack on bad policy. And do please note that this is true whatever we think of climate science itself. The truth of emissions causing warming has no influence at all upon he best method of reducing emissions and thus warming."

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