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Is There An Economist In The House?



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KLo asked on Sunday:

Will every presidential campaign need a climate expert on staff this cycle?

I don’t see why this shouldn’t happen. It would obviously be helpful if such experts were in fact expert: able to point out that worrying about sea level rises of tens of meters is a bit like telling Columbus not to set sail because in 500 years time 40,000 people a year will die in automobile crashes (for that is the correct timescale, according to the IPCC, if it indeed ever happens).

Rather more important for the campaign staffs though would be an economist or two. For the sake of argument, let us say that everything the IPCC tells us is in fact correct. Climate change is happening and we’re causing it (roughly my own view). At this point we have no further need for climate experts: we’ve defined the problem and now we need experts in solving that problem. This involves trade offs, working out how much effort and cost now will lead to how much benefit for those living in the future. We have a science that is involved with such questions, indeed, is based upon them. It’s economics that we need, now that climatology has done its work.

But then I’ve not come across a presidential campaign yet that wouldn’t be improved by the presence of a rational economist or two, if only the candidates would actually listen to them.



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