Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Steve Keen, a Fellow at University College London, believes fellow economists are biased towards believing “capitalism can handle anything”, that a “war footing” is required to correct the “total misrepresentations” of economists.

‘War’ footing needed to correct economists’ miscalculations on climate change, says professor

Karen Gilchrist

Mainstream economists “deliberately and completely” ignored scientific data and instead “made up their own numbers” to suit their market models, Steve Keen, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Strategy, Resilience and Security, told CNBC on Friday.

Now, a “war-level footing” is required to have any hope of repairing the damage, he said.

“Fundamentally, the economists have totally misrepresented the science and ignored it where it contradicts their bias that climate change is not a big deal because, in their opinion, capitalism can handle anything,” Keen told “Street Signs Asia.”

Keen said the repercussions of climate change were foretold in the 1972 publication “The Limits to Growth” — a divisive report on the destructive consequences of global expansion — but economists then and since failed to heed its warnings, preferring instead to rely on market mechanisms.

“If their warnings had been taken seriously and we’d done as they’d suggested, changing our trajectory from 1975 on, we could have done it gradually using things like carbon tax and so on,” he said. “Because economists have delayed it by another half century, we are, as a species, putting three to four times the pressure on the biosphere.”

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Part of the problem of course is academics like Steve Keen are way too timid when describing their position. “The Limits to Growth” strongly suggested population growth and economic growth are linked. I’m sure we would all have loved to hear more about Professor Steve Keen’s plans for limiting global population. Sadly Steve doesn’t appear to have explained any of this to CNBC, or perhaps CNBC decided not to publish that part of the interview.

Of course, “The Limits to Growth” is not without critics. Peter Passell, Marc Roberts and Leonard Ross’ 1972 response probably single handedly popularised the phrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out“.

The book is “The Limits to Growth,” and its message is simple: Either civilization or growth must end, and soon. Continued population and industrial growth will exhaust the world’s minerals and bathe the biosphere in fatal levels of pollution. As the authors summarize, “if the present growth trends.. continue unchanged, the limits of growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next hundred years.”

“The Limits to Growth” is a product of an interdisciplinary M.I.T. team led by Dennis Meadows. It is financed and publicized as part of the “Project on the Predicament of Mankind,” an activity of the Club of Rome. The Club of Rome is a four‐year‐old international organization of 75 technocrats and businessmen selfdescribed as an “invisible college” dedicated to probing “the complex of problems troubling men of all nations,” including poverty, degradation of the environment, alienation of youth, rejection of traditional values, and monetary disruptions. These “seemingly divergent” problems are, says the Club, in reality part of a single “world problematique,” which can now be analyzed with the help of computers. Using techniques developed by M.I.T. systems‐engineer Jay Forrester, the Meadows team claims to have limned the underlying fallacy of industrial expansion.

“The Limits to Growth,” in our view, is an empty and misleading work. Its imposing apparatus of computer technology and systems jargon conceals a kind of intellectual Rube Goldberg device—one which takes arbitrary assumptions, shakes them up and comes out with arbitrary conclusions that have the ring of science. “Limits” pretends to a degree of certainty so exaggerated as to obscure the few modest (and unoriginal) insights that it genuinely con tains. Less than pseudoscience and little more than polemical fiction, “The Limits to Growth” is best summarized not as a rediscovery of the laws of nature but as a rediscovery of the oldest maxim of computer science: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

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The Limits to Growth” advocate Steve Keen seems like a fascinating character. According to Wikipedia he applied for voluntary redundancy in 2013, after The University of West Sydney shut down their economics programme. Since then he appears to have found his spiritual home with far left post Keynesians in London, where he is now Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University. No doubt Steve wields significant influence over the course material studied by students entrusted to his care.

Steve Keen appears to have quite a following on Patreon, a platform for giving money to people. He wrote a very long essay about how wonderful it is people give him money, thanking people who support his efforts to overturn blind faith in Capitalism.

via Watts Up With That?

May 25, 2021