Science - The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Mathematics - Science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculation.

Logic - The study of the properties of propositions and deductive reasoning by abstraction and analysis.
As a complex systems consultant, I’m interested in the relationships between elements as much as the details about the elements themselves.

The f. government’s Green Paper on climate change, various press reports and other items published or stated about emissions trading seem to me to be little more than breathless hopes. (this will remove the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, creating a younger, more vibrant, you!)

I decided to explain what I regard as a logical position on dealing with the threats from climate change. (it’s a bit listy but at least it’s short!)

In order to be predictive, science demands explanations, and explanations are most rigorous when they follow a logical progression. Mathematics is logic applied to numbers.

For these reasons, logic is one of the fundamental underpinnings of both mathematics and science. It is our ability to logically connect a series of propositions to establish a useful conclusion that enables us to explain and to forecast with some degree of confidence. To ‘get the science right’ (as Bob Gordon likes to say), we first need to get the logic right…NB logic that is wrong is a contradiction because it would be illogical. For similar reasons, science cannot ever be ‘right’, it can only ever be the best that we can do at the time.

A logic for dealing with climate change

Climate change may bring sea level rises, losses of food producing land, drought, fires and violent storms. It may be possible to protect ourselves from the worst of these catastrophes if we act now.

Here are some logical approaches to climate change and the emissions trading scheme
1) Climate change is occurring and represents serious dangers to individuals and societies

2) There are 2 major opportunities available to we humans
1. protect ourselves from the ravages of the changes
2. try to halt and/or reverse climate change

3) Australia cannot halt or reverse climate change on its own THEREFORE we need to protect ourselves from the effects of climate change first and foremost
1. We can protect ourselves by (for example)
1. protecting low lying areas (e.g. flood barriers)
2. revising our urban planning rules (e.g. passive solar housing)
3. focussing on renewable energies (e.g. wind)
4. conserving our existing carbon sinks (e.g. forests)
5. changing our lifestyles (e.g. grow our own food)
6. changing our ways of production, distribution and heating (e.g. steam trains)

4) If climate change is created by our emissions, then we might halt, or reverse the process by curtailing emissions.
1. To assure that any plans to reduce planetary temperatures are practical, we need to ask panels of experts in atmospheric sciences and related disciplines to study and report on the most practical possibilities
2. Effective emissions reduction relies on the development/distribution of new technologies and systems, most of which are not yet invented or proven (e.g. clean coal), and/or on our creating lower emitting lifestyles and/or on our population diminishing significantly.

1. Therefore we need to stimulate the development and use of new technologies and systems that reduce emissions

Whatever you think of those ideas, I argue that they are at least founded on logic. They make sense.

Government logic

Here is how I see the f. government’s approach to climate change…
1) climate change is dangerous…therefore we must act
2) climate change could damage the economy therefore action should be specified by an economist
3) the most important action is to reduce emissions
4) reductions in emissions can be achieved with a new tax, bigger government and larger payments to polluters via a trading scheme
1. If Australia can implement such a scheme, much of the world might follow
5) the trading scheme we’ve conceived is complex and could damage the economy
6) therefore we need to lower our targets to an ‘aspirational’ 10% by 2020 but 5% would be acceptable (1). Whether the lower targets would be ‘acceptable’ to the atmosphere is not defined.

The f. government’s approach, when contrasted with the logical approach that I suggested earlier, has many flaws. I suggest the following at least as examples…
1. there is no evidence that an Australian carbon tax will reduce atmospheric temperatures
2. there is no evidence that economics, or it’s disciples, have the requisite skills and knowledge to define how to reduce atmospheric temperatures, or to set realistic targets for doing so
3. there is no evidence that the rest of the world will be influenced by an Australian carbon taxation and trading scheme
4. setting targets has no relationship to their achievement
5. a new tax may be unaffordable and could divert money that would be better spent on developing technologies and systems to reduce emissions
6. achieving reductions will require technologies that are not available at the scale and reliability that we need
7. the emissions trading scheme is complex and may have many costs and undesired outcomes
8. an emissions trading scheme does nothing to protect us from the hazards of climate change
9. there is excessive lag prior to an emissions trading scheme having any useful effect
10. the costs and complexities of an emissions trading scheme are diverting us from taking action to actually reduce emissions and to develop new technologies that would help us to reduce emissions
11. conservation of forests and other carbon sinks is conceived as somehow ‘tradeable’

That’s an awful lot of flaws leading to an awful lot of risks for Australia.

Personally I think the whole scheme needs a fundamental rethink.

What do you think?

...and is Bob Gordon a fit and proper person to decide on whether conclusions from scientific studies are ‘right’ or not?

Watch this space.

Mike Bolan

Mike is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator and executive/management coach.


Note. The author welcomes constructive criticism and new information that adds to our understanding of these matters.

Mike Bolan

The f. government’s Green Paper on climate change, various press reports and other items published or stated about emissions trading seem to me to be little more than breathless hopes. (this will remove the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, creating a younger, more vibrant, you!)