Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lawson on Climate Change

I've been reading Lawson's speech responding to the Stern report on climate change. It's trully brilliant. In fact, I'm now rather sorry I've taken my sweet time in getting around to reading it.

I have always been in the somewhat rare position of being rather ambivalent about climate change. I am conscious that I, and most people commenting, have relatively little to go on in deciding between the competing claims of different climate scientists. However, Lawson's report does a great job of explaining why these scientific differences, along with plain old uncertainties, do not need to be crucial to the public policy decision with regards to climate change.

This is fortunate because it would seem that the big difficulty with climate change is that it was the first decision we were trying to make with science as the main guide to our thinking. There have been many times we've relied on economics or philosophy but never before had we asked natural scientists to be the guides to our public decision making. It would appear they're bad at it; all the attention makes them giddy and evangelistic. Thankfully, Lawson has moved us back to the safer ground of economics and morals.

One more thing. I think the big problem that many conservatives have with Cameron's focus on the environment isn't so much the policy itself, they've reconciled themselves to more obvious intellectual gaffes (opposing top up fees) and there is a pleasant side effect to reducing oil demand in strategic terms, but the fact that they perceive Cameron to be avoiding the argument. His response at conference to the climate change skeptics was that he wasn't going to stop talking about it; as if his critics were throwing a tantrum rather than presenting a reasoned case. Were he a little more diplomatic, or less diplomatic but defended his position instead of restating it, he might find the party more forgiving.

3 comments:

Gracchi said...

I'd agree with you about it being nicer if Cameron did argue instead of just dismissing.

But I think that the dismissals are a way of distancing himself from the Tory right somethign that for obvious electoral reasons he wants to do. I think the arguments might get the headline Tory Splits but the dismissals give the headline Tory turns on right. Much better!

Matthew Sinclair said...

Yeah, I thought about that... the Clause 4 hypothesis. If that is the plan then he's got the wrong opponent in Lawson. If you're going to have a Clause 4 moment you need to appear more articulate than your opponent.

edmudn said...

i'm not convinced the "obvious electoral reasons" are so good- I think a lot of it (the more intelligent part) is feelgood marketing-but i'm not sure how much Community social responsability marketing is transferable to parties-the recent daily telegrpah polls shows only a tiny % of the public have a preference on the environment (10% tories 15% labour) and a majority think the tories are partly pushing this to raise taxes.

The real problems for the toiresa re being seen as lying, only out ofr themsleves , only out for their rich friends, not caring abou morals or (particularly) the poor , not caring aboupt public services and no good at the economy- the environmentalist stuff would only work for morals and even then it seems fairly ineffectual