Previous post:

Next post:

100 months to save the world

by mel starrs on August 3, 2008

in Opinion, Theory and Comment

The NEF (New Economics Foundation) launched the New Green Deal earlier in July. The Guardian this week has been full of Andrew Simms‘ rallying call of “100 months*” left to save the world.

I’m reading through all the links (some below for your viewing pleasure) and digesting what it all means, but in the meantime, why 100 months?  100 months from now is November 2016.

This ties neatly into some of the government’s deadlines, which naturally makes me slightly suspicious.  However, it’s obviously a handle for folks to grab hold of, rather than a precise date.  Far enough away that we can imagination change happening (transport yourself back 100 months to March 2000, hmm, maybe not so much has changed…) and close enough to feel urgency. And coincidentally (?) ties to Roosevelt’s 100 days New Deal.

Interesting to see NEF are calling for 400ppm – whilst there is a concurrent campaign in the US for 350ppm from Bill McKibben and James Hansen.  Who’s correct?  Well, we don’t know.  And in the end it really doesn’t matter.  We’re on the equivalent of a supertanker trying to change course.  We’re likely to overshoot (today we’re at 377ppm), and it’s going to take a while for things to get back down to where we want them.  Aiming for 400ppm or 350ppm is neither here nor there – both are better than steaming ahead towards 450ppm or 500ppm. It would have been neater to have consensus on a target as no doubt effort will now be wasted in debating who is correct, whereas, I’ve already pointed out, it makes very little difference.

As a side note, Andrew Simms has a particularly rosy view of the war period, and how we can all “pull together” and get through potential climate change in a similar manner.  Whilst I encourage his optimism, I was watching the Dad’s Army documentary over the weekend, and Clive Dunn was pooh-poohing such sentimentality (in this context – that portrayed by Dad’s Army): “I had an ‘orrible war”, he said. Quite so.

So what do we do next?  I’ve yet to finish “The New Green Deal”.  No doubt I’ll have some more thoughts when I finish that.  I expect I’ll be veering towards agreement on some things, and not on others. In the meantime, various links to keep you informed:

The pro-camp seems big on repeating the NEF press release, quiet on comment.  Which is a shame as the anti-camp have come out all guns blazing:

  • Tim Worstall over at AdamSmith.org giving a more capitalist, libertarian counter argument
  • More counter argument at TigerHawk: “concerns of the rest of us that climate change hysteria is just the latest justification for socialism. Many of us who love economic wealth and the post-industrial consumer economy are big believers in weaning the planet from fossil fuels for both environmental and geopolitical reasons, but we are loath to support a cause that attracts so many people who want to destroy capitalism.”

It’s always hard to write about economics and climate change, as inevitably people end up talking politics and taking sides.  Which is not that useful. Politics and work mix about as well as religion and work.

Can I manage to digest the report and comment in a non-political way?  Probably not (I’m not an economist), but I’m on the look out for someone who has (anyone?).

*warning – the 100hours website is very whizzy and caused my Firefox to go on a complete go slow

  • http://www.zerochampion.com Phil Clark

    Mel,
    I’ve just downloaded it so will try and get through it this week. Initial thought is that it may have been interesting for them to have pulled in a different voice to the group so as to try and tackle head on the sceptics. Perhaps that would have skewed the conclusions but you feel this could be a preaching to the converted exercise.

  • http://www.zerochampion.com Phil Clark

    Mel,
    I’ve just downloaded it so will try and get through it this week. Initial thought is that it may have been interesting for them to have pulled in a different voice to the group so as to try and tackle head on the sceptics. Perhaps that would have skewed the conclusions but you feel this could be a preaching to the converted exercise.

  • http://www.timworstall.com Tim Worstall

    More here.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/25/green_new_deal/

    My real objection to this 100 month thing is that they’re actually proposing a large number of entirely counterproductive things.

    For example, they say that capital controls should be introduced so as to increase the amount of capital available in the UK to build the green future.

    Well, umm, we run a trade deficit and have for decades. So we’ve been importing capital for decades. If we have capital controls then of course we won’t be importing capital (apart from anything else, who would send money in if they couldn’t take it out again?).

    So, umm, they’re going to increase the capital available by reducing the capital available?

    They’re crazed loons.

  • http://www.timworstall.com Tim Worstall

    More here.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/25/green_new_deal/

    My real objection to this 100 month thing is that they’re actually proposing a large number of entirely counterproductive things.

    For example, they say that capital controls should be introduced so as to increase the amount of capital available in the UK to build the green future.

    Well, umm, we run a trade deficit and have for decades. So we’ve been importing capital for decades. If we have capital controls then of course we won’t be importing capital (apart from anything else, who would send money in if they couldn’t take it out again?).

    So, umm, they’re going to increase the capital available by reducing the capital available?

    They’re crazed loons.

  • Pingback: Summer reading and listening()

  • Pingback: War effort, behavioural change and the importance of duration()