So little Chrissy Huhne is going to push through the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change.
Cabinet ministers have agreed a far-reaching, legally binding “green deal” that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The package will require sweeping changes to domestic life, transport and business and will place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.
That is, the plans of these people.
Yup, all nine of them have just planned the direction of our total economy for the next 40 years.
Let us assume a number of things: that climate change is happening, that it’s a problem, that it’s human activity causing it and that we really do need to do something about it.
Those are certainly the assumptions I operate from.
Does this mean that we should therefore construct our entire economy acording to the personal bugbears and prejudices of nine academics?
Umm, no, really, it doesn’t. Something as large and complex as a national economy cannot be efficiently planned (note that very important word, “efficiently”….we all know that economies can be planned as Pol Pot showed us in Cambodia.) in such a manner. It’s simply not possible for the planners to have enough information about something so complex for them to be able to do so.
It isn’t the detail of what their plans say: it’s that conceptually, in theory, we don’t have nine people wise enough or informed enough to be able to undertake this function for us.
We are therefore fucked by attempting to use this method.
There are ways of reacting that could have worked: a simple and effective carbon tax for example. One single change to the price structure and then let all 65 million of us react and thus use the only calculating engine we actually have which can process such problems, the economy as a whole, to work out what should be done.
But no, we have to have the hubris of the wise man who knows better rather than the humility of the truly wise who know what they don’t know.
What price will solar be in 2030? How efficient will fuel cells be? Will anyone solve the problem of fuel cell plates cracking as they cycle through the temperature range? What will the price of platinum be? Will multi junction solar cells at 40% efficiency become cheap enough to use? What about thorium power? The effect of the internet upon commuting for work?
It isn’t that they may or may not have considered these points. It’s that these, and the thousands of other such which will determine how to optimise the economy, how to deal with this particular problem efficiently, cannot be answered now with any hope of being correct purely by chance, if that.
And thus we cannot plan: we can only set the incentives and see what works out as the most efficient, effective, method of gaining our goal.
So as I say, we’re fucked. All because we’re using entirely the wrong method to even start dealing with this problem.
Detailed planning of the future just doesn’t work because by the time we get there everything’s changed. But that is what they’re trying to do, the idiots.