Today we have Will Steffen offering us the problem is neoliberal economics. But he isn't totally wrong: he does get the solution has more to do with economics than science correct. I think the term "neoliberal economics" is poorly defined; I think WS has little idea of what it means1; I think he's using it as a vague bugaboo for "things I don't like and which get in the way of me reorganising the world in the way I would like".
Before I return to the wild-eyed fanatics, I delegate my commentary on the underlying "paper" itself to Richard Betts who has a clear advantage over me: he's read it (so has ATTP; that weed JA hasn't ventured a commentary2). I shall pick out his They argue – or perhaps speculate; and One thing that strikes me about the scientific literature on “tipping points” is that there are a lot of review papers like this that end up citing the same studies and each other.
one of the main barriers between us and a stable planet — one that isn’t actively hostile to human civilization over the long term — is our economic system
Mmmmm. But this, as always with such things, ignores the benefits of the economic system. The current economic-political-scientific-engineering world system supports 7 billion people, albeit at some cost to the long-term sustainability of the planet. Most of those people would die if the Evil Economic System were removed. If the system were suddenly, sharply, changed it is likely the disruption would kill lots of people. FWIW, I think a more liberal economic system and a smaller less corrupt political system would be a benefit. And it would be nice if we could have an intelligent press, too. It's hard to run an intelligent voting system if the voters are fed pap.
We need to immediately stop deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and other tropical forests, and start reforesting them. That means a U-turn in terms of how we operate the world’s economic systems
I'm all for stopping deforestation. Indeed, I am the proud owner of a "reforest the Earth" tee-shirt of thirty years vintage, that I still wear sometimes. But I'm doubtful that economics is the main reason for deforestation; I'd say it is mainly the corrupt politics. Which is fed by money, yes, but that's different. If you want to solve problems you need to get the right analysis.
What is actually going to solve the problem? Certainly not physical scientists spouting off about economics and politics. I grow hopeful that solar photovoltaics will be important. One barrier to these is the idiot Trump administration's tariffs on Chink panels; the solution to which is Free Trade; which all people of Good Will are in favour of... right? Oh.
* Runaway tipping elements of no return (2007).
* Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists.
* Engine summer.
1. These two statements are not contradictory. "neoliberal economics" is generally used as a term of disapprobation by the "progressives", but that's about as far as an agreed definition goes. To my surprise, "site:mustelid.blogspot.com neoliberal" returns no hits. Over at wordpress, I find myself taking the piss out of someone called "Paul Mason" for writing By neoliberalism I mean the global capitalist system shaped around a core of neoliberal practices and institutions, which is the sort of thing I'd expect WS to write.
2. At last, the maestro writes: Steffen nonsense.