What many people fail to understand is, that governments are not businesses. They are not private sector, they are not a private company. If they were motivated entirely by profit, cost benefit analysis, business cases etc. We would never get roads, town water, nurses, doctors, teachers, firemen, ambulancemen, libraries, sewers, parklands etc etc, without public funds. A private company would not build a highway from cairns to melbourne and charge nothing for it. Or a vast parkland where there is no admission charge.
Governments are interested in keeping their populations happy, productive and paying taxes. That means they have to strike a balance between what the private sector wants and needs to do business and what the rest of the population wants and needs to live productive lives.
So it’s no surprise that governments all around the world spend money, often large amounts, on what could very well turn out to be a threat to revenues and GDP. Why would a country who is supposed to have it’s current and future populations welfare in mind, not examine the threat of climate change and what it could mean for it’s people? Struggles for resources, potential for wars, increasing costs of insurance and living and the potential cost of severe weather events governments are very interested in so they can plan.
Why shouldn’t we learn about our planet and why shouldn’t we strive to understand our climate systems?
Who will pay for all of that? The private sector? Where is the profit in it?
People who whinge about government funded scientists are basically just echoing misinformation from the private sector companies who will be affected by any carbon legislation. These companies are not interested in the welfare of the people, they are interested in the welfare of their profits at the expense of the people who protect them and everyone elses too.]]>
Here is right wing shock jock Michael Smith getting Tim Flannery in a twist with the old “your sucking at the tax payers teat.” & “you have been wrong before”.
It seems to me that the flaws of using GDP to measure progress has been well known to economists for decades, yet it continues to be used, with the usual reason cited being it is “too hard” to create a “true” measure of progress such as the GPI – given the difficulties in measuring the various externalities such as species extinctions , contaminated bore water or an unsafe climate. I can’t help but be a bit cynical when the “too hard” argument is raised as justification for continually relying on GDP. If it suddenly became possible to account for all of the negative externalities associated with polluting industries, then it’s likely that many of the things currently considered profitable would soon be considered uneconomic. So I guess there are issues beyond getting better data to enable a transition to a low-carbon economy.
I wonder if you have any suggestions about how this greater integration of scientific/environmental and economic thinking could come about – in addition to scientists becoming more literate in economics.]]>