Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Stern Report on Global Warming


England's Stern Report is being discussed now at Yale amongst mainstream economists. People seem to be concerned about global climate change (I guess it is human to be afraid of, instead of to embrace, change). So Stern says we have to act and act now to prevent future generations from having less economic growth due to environmental degredation.

The point is though, that change is permanent, and every government policy change has some winners and some losers. If straps are put on the engine of growth it is the world's poor who suffers. Those who are rich enough can afford cleaner things like parks and better factory scrubbers etc. It takes wealth to buy these things.

Economists were first named by the French Physiocrats, right before the time of Adam Smith. They advised the Queen of Russia and the King of France and others (who mostly ignored their advice) to laissez-faire. Set the law and stick to it, and anything more hurts the people. Economiste in the French language means someone who only thinks of the economy or thinks of the economy too much. Same thing is happening with the Stern Report. We need to think of history too, and psychology.

Putting fear into people that change is bad is not right. Change is part of who we are, we live with risk or we would never leave the house. History tells us that the climate has changed beaucoup over the centuries, and slowly. Any change will take time and human beings adjust to change. To tinker in the short-term with the course of things will only hurt those materially who need wealth and growth the most.

The economists can debate the finer points of economic models and the economic effects of global warming, but they should not get in the way of human progress and adaptibility, and the right to exchange freely.