Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tony Abbott, Carbon Pricing and Epistemic Closure

Another day, another group of experts report that if you are going to act on climate change then carbon pricing "is the most effective way of achieving least-cost abatement".

One might think that when practically all the experts in a particular field are confident that one course of action is the best one, you should at least give them the benefit of the doubt, be they doctors recommending treatment, climate scientists saying we're warming the planet or economists saying a carbon price is cheaper and more effective than direct action.

But not Her Majesties leader of the opposition. Faced with this latest report Tony Abbott has responded by claiming that the experts are wrong and probably incompetent.

Last year there was a lot of talk in American conservative political circles about Epistemic Closure, which in this case was taken to mean close-mindedness and/or an ideological attraction to an idea despite the evidence.

Previously I had assumed that Abbott's opposition to any form of carbon pricing and favoring of "direct action" was a purely political position. Whatever Labour is for, he is against, a rather cynical position with no real interest in what policy might be best for the future of this nation. But comments like this make me wonder if actually he does believe he is correct, despite the fact all the experts tell him he is wrong. A diagnosed case of epistemic closure?

PS: Abbott's citing of Bjorn Lomborg in support of his position is hardly inspiring. Lomborg to put it simply, is not credible.

PPS: The opinions in this piece are solely my own.

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