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Authored by Noah Smith, the article ‘Economists are out of Touch with Climate Change’ appeared in The Age Comment magazine in March 2016 as a wakeup call to climate economists to pull up their socks in terms of participating in the fight against climate change, including global warming. Smith’s core message is that climate change economists have been dormant to the level that their participation in addressing the crucial issue of climate change is not felt at all, despite the urgency of the matter and the need for policies that can address the situation.
My overall evaluation of the article is positive since it supports Smith’s sentiments that economists have to assume an active and constructive role in the debate about climate change by establishing the appropriate policies that countries can implement to curb the threatening impact that global warming is posing on the environment.
It is almost impossible for the field of climate change, particularly global warming, to expect any fruitful contribution from economists if they continue to ignore the need for incorporating updated scientific facts in their views on climate change. Smith’s article shows how proper understanding of the trend in climatic changes and the impact that such changes have on the environment requires the input of various stakeholders.
These stakeholders include climate economists, climate scientists, and environmental agencies such as the UNEP among others. These parties have to work in collaboration to keep the issue of climate change in check. Smith reveals this missing gap between climate science and economics. According to him, economists have abandoned the significance of science in their analysis of climate change to the extent that they only include obsolete scientific facts that make no sense in the current debate about global warming. Smith substantiates this claim by revealing the first economics article that he read concerning global warming.
Despite the study providing a thorough analysis of global warming, it deployed an old-fashioned framework and shallow procedures that failed to consider other elements that could fuel the level of death such as the presence of floods. The implication here is that such an article could have been more useful when it comes to fighting global warming. However, Smith sees it as nothing but a mere composition that should only be read and dumped into the pit it adds no value to the field of climate change. According to Smith, the economist authors could have spared some time to research the discipline of science to update themselves on what science had confirmed about global warming.
The economics of climate is significant to people’s appreciation of how to tackle this complex matter excellently. In line with this claim, Smith reveals how economists can lead people ‘astray’ by providing climate change theories that are not at par with the situation on the ground. In other words, any theory has to be backed by up-to-date facts that have been confirmed scientifically. Smith reveals how most climate change publications from economists fail to cite natural science opinions.
One may want to know how useful scientific facts are when it comes to climate issues. The scientific view on climatic matters entails the general verdict among scientists concerning the degree at which global warming is taking place, including the underlying causes and the likely repercussions. Hence, the deliberate act of economists of ignoring the role of science in climate change shows the outdated nature of this class of people who have not yet recognized the evident positive relationship between economic trends and natural occurrences. Scientific facts have been made available for all disciplines to use as a way of substantiating their claims.
According to Smith, it is worrying that nothing much may be expected from economists, despite their central role of deliberating climate change courses of action. Economists are expected to classify, appraise, and/or communicate the repercussions of economic ambiguities and information gaps concerning climate change. However, the current state of economics publications remains a key challenge to other climate change stakeholders since the studies do not provide reliable and informative. Update economics records can offer a central discussion that reflects on the elementary economic matters that improve scientists’ appreciation of climate policies.
The author mainly argues that climatic economists have a noble role in contributing to the debate on climatic change in the public domain. However, such contribution is widely nonexistent. However, in establishing the relevance of these concerns, it is perhaps important to question whether climatic economists are concerned about climatic change. The author indicates that climatic economists are equally worried about the problem, just like anyone else.
If this claim holds, why then do they not participate in the debate? If they do, is their contribution relevant at all? These are the two main sub-arguments of the article. To support the main argument and sub-arguments the author deploys three important premises, which he attempts to support using appropriate evidence. He notes that climate change economists have been caught in the challenge of using backdated science. Besides ignoring all possible implications of climatic change, their studies have yielded inconsistent results.
Backdated science, the inconsistency of results of studies by climate economists, and ignorance of possible implications of climate change have the strength of helping to support the main argument abundantly. Any research discipline is relevant to the extent that the premise it advances reflects the actual concerns and merits or demerits of the situation under study. Therefore, the inconsistency of results of studies completed by climatic change economists is the most important strength of the author’s evidence that he offers for his arguments. However, arguing this way, a weakness emerges concerning the extent that he does not provide a set of statistics drawn for different studies that demonstrate the inconsistencies quantitatively. Therefore, his argument is not convincing enough.
Secondly, the author succeeds in demonstrating that climatic change economists have not provided any updated study with any reliable evidence supported by other science disciplines. Indeed, he supports this argument by quoting a case of a study in which climatic economists found no significant contributions of climatic change to the rising number of deaths attributed to the situation. As a potential weakness of the evidence in support of the main argument, it is possible to counter-argue that methodologies deployed in the study yielded the reported findings and that it could have been unethical to manipulate the study to suit climatic change concerns that arise from other studies in other disciplines. However, the author’s argument against the non-participation of climatic change economists in the debate on climatic change still holds substance.
The author notes that climatic economists have failed to embrace the role of natural science in helping to validate their discipline by quoting research in social and natural science, yet concerns about climatic economics depend on natural occurrences. This assertion creates a clear link between climatic change economics and natural science. To this extent, the author established a strong relationship between the two disciplines to the extent that it becomes hard to refute any claimed ignorance by climatic economists.
Indeed, while studying the impacts of climatic change on mortality rates, Deschenes and Greenstone failed to include disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and flooding in low lands as potential sources of mortality related to climatic change. Indeed, the author’s arguments are stronger upon considering the case in which Deschenes and Greenstone published a paper on the implication of climatic change on agriculture, yet they used outdated science. This observation indicates that climatic change economists lag in terms of information from other disciplines, which their studies should consider. Nevertheless, this argument has a weakness since Smith considers only two studies completed by the same researchers.
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This case has the effect of weakening the argument that climatic change economists ignore knowledge and ideas that may help to support the discourse. Using two case examples is not enough to declare climate economists reluctant in their work. Based on my overall positive evaluation of the article, Smith urges climate change economists to address the matter by availing updated academic insights and experimental observations that apply to the study of climate change.
International climate change causes danger to the safety of humans and other organisms based on its impacts on the performance of the flora and fauna, biodiversity, asset efficiency, and health. The above article by Smith has opened a room for discussion concerning the laxity that has been witnessed in climate change economists. Such economists have failed to upgrade their work and knowledge to be at par with the current scientific studies. Despite the article’s strength of supporting the link between climate scientists and climate economists, Smith fails to substantiate his work by quoting various studies on the same topic and hence the article’s major weakness.