08 October 2008

The Earth has become poorer and colder

The economic modellers and the climate modellers were wrong.

We were told by Glenn Stevens, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), in August 2007 (during a Federal election campaign):

"...developments to date do not appear to have changed significantly the broader global outlook. Even with the US slowing down, forecasts of global growth have recently been revised upward. "

We were told by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Summary for Policy Makers in 2007 that:

"[Most] of the observed increase in global temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likley due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concertrations."

So how have these statements of such august and responsible public institutions in economics and climate respectively, stood up in the light of the implacable gaze of history?

The RBA's Glenn Stevens told us yesterday that:

"The recent deterioration in prospects for global growth, together with much more difficult market conditions even for creditworthy borrowers, now present the risk that demand and output could be significantly weaker than earlier expected."

And, according to UBS, the US is currently in the middle of two quarters of negative growth. The just completed September quarter has seen a contraction in US GDP of 1% and the current December quarter is expected to contract by 1.5%. Two quarters of negative growth is the text book definition of a recession. The US is in the middle of a recession right now.

The IPCC's assertive certainty about the contribution of GHGs to global temperature increases are also now looking pretty silly. We have been told often enough by a strident media that there has been a massive acceleration in atmospheric CO2 concerntrations in the last decade, and yet, over the same period, global temperatures have fallen. David H.Douglas of the Department of Physics at the University of Richester and John R. Christy of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama, published a paper in Energy and Environment in August 2008 showing that the contribution of greenhouse gasses to temperature increases in the second half of the 20 century have been at best marginal. Will we get an apology or a retraction from the IPCC?
So we shouldn't trust anyone, no matter who they are, who predicts for us tomorrow's weather or next year's climate or tomorrow's stockmarket or the next quarter's economic outlook.

But where does that leave people who pontificate about the future using economic models of climate models? (or is that climate models of economic models?) Belief in such predictions would surely require a leap of faith of religious dimensions. But these are scientific processes, so they must be right. Right? There's no religion to be seen here. Move along.

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