March 24, 2010
Can anyone tell me how The Economist got its title? I’m guessing it was probably founded in the early 18th century by some crazed charlatan called, perhaps, Zachariah Economist, who, because of the unfortunate coincidence of his surname managed to persuade thousands of gullible fools to part with their shirts on one of the South Sea Bubble companies. The one whose prospectus read “A company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.”
One thing I know for sure: The Economist’s name can have no relationship whatsoever with the “dismal science” of economics because if it did then never in a million years could it have run an editorial (and feature) as lame, wrong-headed, intellectually dishonest and positively dangerous as the one it produced this week on the subject of Climate Change.
Here is its conclusion at the end of a long article – unsigned, as is traditional on The Economist to convey its weightiness, self-importance and authority – purporting to sift through the science behind AGW.
Using the IPCC’s assessment of probabilities, the sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide of less than 1.5ºC in such a scenario has perhaps one chance in ten of being correct. But if the IPCC were underestimating things by a factor of five or so, that would still leave only a 50:50 chance of such a desirable outcome. The fact that the uncertainties allow you to construct a relatively benign future does not allow you to ignore futures in which climate change is large, and in some of which it is very dangerous indeed. The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction.So, let me get this right: as even the Economist admits, scientists don’t really have a clue what the future holds regarding global warming. But that still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t DO something. Anything is better than nothing.
Full article here