I just wonder how often the Liberal and Labor Parties of Australia, and politicians in other fossil fuel extraction governments, have been listening to the money-lubricated reassurances of fossil fuel lobbyists, to the extent that they can politically dismiss all Climate Change concerns as alarmism without disturbance to their personal equanimity.
This is the current situation in Australia. Any lobbyist can select and quote the results that supposed distinguished neoclassical economists have published, which have bogus models to imply there isn't much to worry about with a few degrees of global heating. Economics doesn't have nearly the same methodology rigour as climate science. For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. - (H. K. Menchen) Politicians and many voters love the clear and simple parts, while even experts may have trouble figuring out why some simple answer is wrong. I should say in predicaments that are complex and wicked, almost any simplification is wrong.
Ideas from neoliberal economics are closest to the hearts of politicians, so they will tend to trust economic models with slight of obfuscation before hard climate science. Nordhaus has even said that from his models, allowing 4 degrees of warming would be about optimum, for economies, given the costs of mitigation. Certainly, CEO's of fossil fuel companies operating in Australia have business plans that imply 3 or 4 degrees of warming. If only the thought of catastrophic climate change could stop them. The neoclassical economists have a simple denial cure for that.
That the words and messages of fossil fuel corporations are purely unqualified self-interest with no thought for the climate future, should be obvious to those not being paid by them now. Their political tactics have been described by many, and I noticed most recently again by Naomi Oreskes in "The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All" (https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/11/the-greatest-scam-in-history-how-the-energy-companies-took-us-all/). And so the NSW government should beware, that the simple removal of the 3 words "including downstream emissions" in the "Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill 2019" has the greatest of intoxicating effects on pure self-interest of fossil fuel extraction companies, but it also gives the greatest certainty of making climate catastrophe worse, for global civilisation and capitalism. It confirms the power of the coal lobby over the welfare of people of NSW.
Given that climate change is now getting far worse and accelerating faster, and is severely impacting people in NSW right now, it should be obvious to any reasonable person, that it is only the planning system's rudimentary control over the initial mining of our states fossil fuel reserves, which provides any restriction on Australia's contribution to global greenhouse gases accumulation. Once mining begins, extraction proceeds, and the fossil fuels will be burned somewhere, and add to global heating for a long time to come. It does not matter to the slightest degree where and by whom they were burned.
It is too bad for the future of humanity and even capitalism, that economic models that show negligible effects of climate change on the economy have been assessed as being worse than garbage, according to recent evaluations from Prof. Steve Keen, of "debunking economics" fame. Political usage of these has delayed the transition to sustainable industry as much as any oil company has done.
The most obvious place to use such work of "neoclassical economic authorities" for delays in climate action is as tools of private lobbyists to influence the minds of politicians and governments, so that they will dismiss the harmful effects of global greenhouse gas emissions when approving mining projects. In the case of NSW we have this political backwards bill by Planning Minister Robert Stokes.
Transcript of Professor Steve Keen's talk at at Aberdeen, November 2019.
-- [[Steve Keen speaking --
Now, I don't think there is any time to waste in doing this, because I am not joking. I think Neoclassical economics is going to cause the extinction of capitalism. Probably not the human race, but capitalism itself, because climate change economics, as written by Nordhaus and Tol, and Mendelsohn, and even some of the nice people like, .. I can't think of his last name, but Kameya. It's' the worse garbage I've read in 50 years. I've read a lot of garbage. Reading neoclassical economics is a pain, but it's the worst I've seen.
Now I've said in general, that what neoclassical economists call "simplifying assumptions" are in fact fantasies. I've seen worse fantasies, in terms of the logical realism of the assumption. This is the worst in terms of its consequences for humanity.
I wondered how they got such low numbers for the damage from climate change. I thought it was because, they applied a high discount rate to damages in the far future. Then the discount rate reduced catastrophic damage to almost nothing. They do that as well, but what they actually do is pretend, that the data that you can find today, on climate and GDP, the correlation you can get out of that, the very weak non-linear relationship that you get, can be used to predict the impact of climate change.
Now if that were true, there would be nothing to worry about. It's false. There is everything to worry about. They drastically understate the impact of climate change, and when the productive system starts to fall apart, and we need a political system that can cope with that, it won't be one using dollar bills, it will be one using bullets. I expect a military dictatorship to come out of this at some time in the future.
They are also using an equilibrium framework, for a distinctly non-equilibrium process. Now I'm very conscious of this right now, because, obviously I'm Australian, and so is my family. You would have seen all the reports of the bush - forest fires in California recently. In the news?
Same thing is happening in Australia. That's what climate change does.
The rate of climate change is such, that agriculture needs to move roughly 10 kilometres per year. How does it move? Simple. The rainfall drops, the temperature rises, and what were forests start to burn. You can actually see the smoke plumes from the fires in NSW and Queensland from space. There's a remarkable video that I've actually seen on twitter, in the last couple of days. That's the transformation that we are going through. It is not an equilibrium process.
They presume an equilibrium position now, to an equilibrium position in the future, and presume that they can use current data to predict the impact. A trivial impact, nice and smooth, so who cares? Nordhaus actually said that a 4 degree C increase in temperature was optimal, given the cost of mitigation. Four degrees celsius. We've already seen the effects of one, and the transition will burn down towns. It's doing that right now, in parts of NSW, not far from where one of my sisters lives.
So they have delayed the transition to sustainable industry as much as any oil company has done. So its either a new paradigm [of economic science], or the demise of capitalism, thanks to neoclassical economics. That's what following the wrong paradigm does. Its up to your generation to make a new one.
-- End of Steve's talk partial transcript
So there you have it. Climate science economics can exploit a garbage economic paradigm, used by fossil fuel lobbies and national-state governments, that severely underestimates economic impacts of climate catastrophe. It simply ignores the rest of reality, but it really works well as political propaganda for those working the great global fossil fuel scam.
Unfortunate for our government politicians who are denying lamely and bravely any relationship between coal production and climate change, putting out these unprecedented climate change fires which are burning so hot over large areas, is not a quick and easy option.
Our climate catastrophe fires are overwhelming, beyond the powers of response of government and rural fire service. Also beyond the powers of government politicians to acknowledge.
In the words of one fire refugee, people expecting to protect their home by standing ready with a garden hose are probably going to die. Ditto for the growing total climate catastrophe and our state governments thinking they are doing enough with their garden hoses of simple economic paradigms.
In the case of NSW government they hope to dump never ending ship-loads of coal on the problem. That simple solution should eventually overkill the entire global cause of the problem.