There is good reason to wonder about the new economics foundation, nef, and they've given another one of the interesting data points today. They're arguing that climate change forecasts are more accurate than the economic forecasts that we use to try to plan the economy.
In fact, climate forecasts are actually outperforming many of the key economic forecasts cited by government departments and journalists. Looking at a selection of key long-term forecasts – population, debt-to-GDP and oil price – we can see that not only do many of the actual observations fall well outside the forecast range, the expected trend was way off the mark as well. But have you ever heard these measures condemned as “mumbo jumbo” in the media? Common sense tells us that public policy decisions must be based on the information and tools we have available. What our new paper makes clear is that climate change forecasts offer just as much, if not more certainty as long-term economic forecasts. The argument that climate science is just too uncertain to inform long-term spending decisions can no longer be used as intellectual cover.
Let us leave aside one little problem, which is that they seem to have forgotten (OK, that assumes they ever knew) that the IPCC climate papers are based upoon a foundation of economic forecasts. Which they must be of course. The SRES, that set of recasts, is needed because we need to have the number of people, how wealthy they are and what energy generation technologies they're using to be able to calculate what emissions are going to be. So, any accuracy concerning the IPCC reports on such matters is in fact because of the accuracy of the earlier economic forecasts.
But let us, as I say, leave this aside. Let us instead consider what they think that they're telling us.
We have distinct problems in coming up with sensible plans for dealing with climate change even though that information and those forecasts are better then the usual economic ones. So, where does this leave the usual nef idea that we should be planning our economy? Presumably wandering around in hte dark of insufficient information to be able to plan anything at all.
Which does, I'm afraid to have to point out, seem to put the total kibosh on everything else the nef has ever said about anything ever.
*Originally coined by Giles Wilkes who is currently buried in the anonymity of SpAdism.