Friday, November 28, 2008

Confirmation Bias, Parlaiment, and the Climate Change Bill

Tim Worstall has a very interesting analysis of the UK Parlaiment's recent consideration (and passing) of the Climate Change bill. Basically, it starts from the point of noticing that the bill fails based on the government's own cost/benefit analysis:
Total Cost (PV*) £30 to 205 bn
Total Benefit (PV) £82 to 110 bn
* Present Value

As you can see, we've something of a problem here - particularly as the Bill received Royal Assent this very week. ... But by the standard measures of a c/b analysis the course of action the Climate Change Bill maps out fails.

We've got a possible range of nice to nasty of + 52 to – 95. That's what's known as a fail. We're more likely to be making things worse than we are to be making things better. So by the Government's own calculations we shouldn't be doing whatever it is that is in the Climate Change Bill and should be looking around to come up with something else, a plan B.

It's pretty clear that Worstall agrees with the Anthropomorphic Global Warming Theory. Both my readers know that I don't take that view. However, this article is very, very interesting.

It's an example of a "thinking leftie's" argument. While I think he's wrong on the causes of Climate Change, his world view is coherent and - within the limits of his initial error - logical. It's also refreshing to see someone on the left point out something that we can all agree on:

But that's not what happened - Parliament wafted it through without even discussing its cost and with only five votes against. Lilley goes on to point out one of the great pieces of political wisdom:

"In my experience, our biggest mistakes are made when Parliament and the media are virtually unanimous and MPs switch off their critical faculties in a spasm of moral self-congratulation. That is what happened with this Bill."

Similarities to the Fed.Gov bailout of the banks is purely coincidental. I absolutely agree with this statement:
Which leads us to the next important question, how high should that tax be? That question bringing us back to a c/b analysis; what are the effects of carbon emissions going to be in cash terms?
This is, in my view, precisely where the discussion should be. If the effects of increased carbon in the air are negligible, then the answer becomes obvious from a cost/benefit perspective.

This debate is nowhere near over, but it's refreshing to see something in the press that's not OMG-we're-all-going-to-dieee!!!!1

UPDATE 29 November 2008 10:12: Mr. Worstall stops by in the comments to say that he's not a leftie. Thanks for the comment, and sorry.

It may be that I got caught up in my own confirmation bias: someone writing in the media about global warming - gotta be a leftie. Mea culpa.

1 comment:

Tim Worstall said...

"Thinking leftie"?

Erm, no, I'm actually a Fellow at the Adam Smith Insitutute.....the closest comparison would be Cato in the US.

Very much not a leftie.