Paper presented at the Erice conference “The Role of Science in the Third Millennium” – Erice, 20 August 2012: Session ‘Climate and Climate Economics’
This is an economic session within a conference organized by the World Federation of Scientists.
So it is appropriate, perhaps, to begin by asking who, so far as climate change is concerned, have let us down more – the scientists or the economists.
In my judgment it is the scientists, not least because we expect so much more of them.
Science is so much greater than economics, and – as a result – the achievements of scientists have, over the years, benefited mankind so much more than the achievements of economists.
Those achievements have been based on one overarching principle: the application of reason, rather than authority, to our understanding of the natural world.
The long march from the middle ages to the enlightenment was the transition from relying on religion and the authority of the church to explain the natural world to relying on the application of reason and the open-minded study of empirical evidence.
That is what science is, or should be, about.
But in the case of climate science that is no longer the case.