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« Myles out of line | Main | The works of Lord Deben »
Wednesday
Mar122014

Something a bit neffy

The New Economics Foundation are well known for their outlandish policy prescriptions and for their extreme reluctance to use economics to support them. This is all entertaining stuff but they have now decided to dip their feet into the climate change waters, with a new paper that purports to show that climate scientists are much better at predicting the future than economists.

They may well be right, but I was struck by some of the evidence they have used to support this view. They have taken some of the IPCC's predictions, apparently from the Second Assessment Report, and have tracked them against subsequent observations. Take the temperature one for example:

It's instructive to take a look at this post at Watts Up With That?, which looks at the predictions of each of the IPCC assessments and notes that SAR makes the coolest prediction of temperature increase and still came out too warm by quite a long way.

I'm not sure that nef picking the IPCC's best performing prediction and holding it up as representative is what you might call a credible assessment of climatologists' abilities.

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Reader Comments (15)

I use a coin to predict the future, at least that is 50/50 so could be correct half the time. Climateers and economists seem to be wrong all the time.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

The planet has warmed by about 0.8C over the past century and they think they are making great predictions if the have error bars of 0.2C over the next decade. They certainly do not set themselves very ambitious goals.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

I'm glad this is getting scrutinised a bit here, I was gob-smacked by how specious the whole thing was. The graph you show is obviously their worst example which probably explains why it didn't get used in their promotional tweet which compared predictions of sea level rise against UK debt!

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

A proper comparison of economic (Output) forecasts and climate forecasts would show economic forecasts to be superior.

Firstly, we are talking about long term trends - the average annual change in output (Economics) versus tmeperature (Climate)

And the one thing (possibly the only thing) that economic can forecast with decent enough accuracy is multidecadal rates of growth of output.


A prediction of 1.5-2.5% per annum over 40-50 years for developed countries would have proved extremely accurate and in fact was done.

The Solow (or Gordon) growth model is one of the most robust models in economics and gives good results, despite or perhaps entirely because of its simplicity.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The naff Nef blog is here, with comments from Bish and me.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The graphs are inaccurate and misleading, and do not give the source.

As for the author Griffin Carpenter guess where he got his Ph.D. The LSE. Small world.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCerd

the LSE is that not that beacon of eruditeness that sold out impartiality in economics to ghadaffi's sons for a few quid?

Every basket has a few rotten apples of course.
Unless your business is in being rotten and line your pockets by propagating rot.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

The dismalest science has a rival.

Mar 12, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"By Any Means Necessary" is the warmists MO by Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals rules
- So here we see "We will get our climate catastrophe message across, by getting our friends to shoehorn it into a report they write" !

Mar 12, 2014 at 3:28 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

From the website -
"NEF is the UK's leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice. Our purpose is to bring about a Great Transition – to transform the economy so that it works for people and the planet.

The UK and most of the world's economies are increasingly unsustainable, unfair and unstable. It is not even making us any happier – many of the richest countries in the world do not have the highest well-being.

From http://www.neweconomics.org/pages/what-we-do

So what did you expect from some metro-lefties?

Mar 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Coincidentally we once had a NEF(F) electric cooker which came with a 24 month warrenty.
'She who must be obeyed', constantly complained that it ran too hot. Sure enough on the 25 month the element packed in.
I would never trust another NEF.

Mar 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

"New Economics..." has as much to do with Economics as "Post-Normal..." has to do with Science.

Mar 12, 2014 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

That graph has less than a 0.4C forecast rise over the 30 years listed for the top end, so nothing to fear there then from AR2. So roughly a max 1 degree rise to 2100 according to the IPCC from this report. I do approve of a graph that starts at 0 on the y axis though which is very rare these days.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

May I refer you to the esteemed Mr Worstall... "NEF or Not Economics, Frankly".

Mar 13, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

nef (all in lowercase) = naff

Mar 14, 2014 at 4:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnnabelle

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