Posted on | January 12, 2009 | 23 Comments
I know Joe Romm is a smart guy. I’ve read lots of his work, and interviewed him for newspaper stories. I am sure he must have useful things to add to the climate change-energy policy discussion. He’s aparently an important guy in this arena, because he gets quoted on Andy Revkin’s blog and stuff.
But he has chosen to adopt a style of argumentation that absolutely loses me. I can no longer be bothered to make my way through the tribal argumentation (wherein one tars those one disagrees with with broad brushes and labels) to get to the meat of what he is saying.
Today’s case in point is his latest screed defending his position that “economists don’t understand climate science.” The fallacy of his argument should be immediately apparent. He offers a single economist, and argues from that single particular to an overheated general. That there are economists who do understand climate science, and who have done a useful job of incorporating economic knowledge into the tool kit to be used for dealing with it, should be obvious to anyone who’s followed the climate policy debate. The important thing here is to talk about what economists are and are not saying, not to just dismiss the whole lot of them based on the subset you disagree with.
I could just as easily make an identical argument, citing Romm’s most recent screed, that advocates for action on climate change do not understand what economists have to offer. But that would be obviously fallacious too. It’s just Romm that doesn’t understand it.