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To ‘Solve’ Climate Change While Ignoring Costs and Benefits Is to Ignore Reason

“The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.” – Thomas Paine, 1794, Introduction to The Age of Reason 

There is a reasonable debate about the appropriate social response to human impacts on the environment and climate change. “Reasonable” means evaluating policy alternatives based on their consequences, good and bad, in recognition of the considerable uncertainty that attaches to those estimates. There is also an unreasoned debate that evaluates alternatives by their intentions.

The latest unreasoned contribution is from climate scientist Kevin Noone, “Cost-benefit analysis does not work well for wicked problems like climate change.” The author is refreshingly clear in admitting that his position goes against science, and gives an example of a colleague who disagrees with him, presumably representing the views of most scientists. Also most scientists would resist attaching a moral judgment (“wicked”) to a physical fact (climate change). […]

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