Unconventional thinking does not mean we should stop thinking

It's entirely true that at times we need to be a little unconventional in our thinking. Possibly even prioritise some out of the box conceptualisations as an urgency to set the ball rolling. But unconventional thinking is not the same as asking us to stop thinking.

At which point gurning from stage left is Andrew Simms, he formerly of the not economics frankly groupuscule:

Conventional thinking will not solve the climate crisis

Andrew Simms

Choosing the best possible future means considering radical scenarios that align energy use and industry with climate action

OK, many of us don't share his obsession with the amount of plant food in the atmosphere. But it is always worth examining someone's logic within the structure of their own beliefs. So, what is it that we are urged to do?

Rarely considered but important variables come from new economics, including the shorter working week, the share economy, shifts in corporate ownership and governance, and intelligent but deliberate measures for economic localisation. Compare these to the “stumble on”, or business as usual scenario, in which we give up control of our future to a permanently destabilised climate change, but also assess seriously the consequences of the argument for planned so-called “de-growth” of the economy.

That is not thinking rather than unconventional thinking. For all of these were examined, in detail, a quarter century back. It was considered in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, the economic models upon which the entire IPCC process is built. Absolutely every meeting, treaty, gabfest and report since then has been working on the basic logic of that examination.

The results of that examination being most interesting. The most obvious of which is that, even within that obsession with plant food, if we reduce carbon emissions then we're done. There is no other problem in this area. The other seriously interesting result being that economic localisation makes the problem, such as it is, worse, not better. 

Approximately speaking we have four models, families of models. A, in which we're capitalist free marketeers and B in which we do the Swedish socially democratic cha cha cha. 1 in which we're doing the globalisation waltz and 2 in which we revert to economic localisation. A1 and B1 are markedly better in terms of living standards and also the size of the climate problem than A2 and B2. Better as in the problem is smaller.

The reason is obvious - more trade will produce a higher living standard with the same resource use, or the same living standard with lower resource use, than less trade will. Because the process of trade is producing where resource use is least.

Which leaves us where we came in. Unconventional thinking is undoubtedly necessary at times. But this is not a synonym for not thinking. As with Simms and his idea here that the solution to climate change is economic localisation, the very thing we've known for 25 years which makes the climate change problem worse.