Daniel Kahneman has a simple explanation why we donâ€™t think things through: laziness. Itâ€™s no work to rely on the sloppy, but fast and efficient, Hare mental system, using short cuts and stereotypes to get a response that is, under the current US President, good enough for government work. Rigorous thought is hard.
Karl Popper offered a short cut through the hard part that is still rigorous: falsification of hypotheses. One false prediction and youâ€™re out. A nice idea, but it rarely works. You can save almost any hypothesis with tweaks, including Ptolemaic astronomy. So itâ€™s back to comparing the best shots of the competing hypotheses, hard work again.
Just occasionally, life presents us with a simple Popperian test. Here is one I spotted, on the recondite but important subject of Indian coal burning. There are two entrants. Goliath is the IEA, a stuffy but reputed intergovernmental policy and data shop in Paris. David is IEEFA, a small energy policy think tank in Cleveland.
IEA: Indiaâ€™s coal consumption will more than double by 2040. (IEEFA pdf, page 1.) The source is presumably the IEA World Energy Outlook 2017, paywalled; itâ€™s not in the free summary. See also this IEA FAQ:
The positive IEA outlook for coal demand through 2020 is based in part on growth in India and Southeast Asia that will more than offsetÂ structural declines in Europe and the United States.
The headline to the chart understates the predicted change: growth will be trivial after next year. This means that Indiaâ€™s overall carbon emissions may stabilise in less than a decade, assuming the electric transition goes as fast in transport as the government plans.
Who’s right? Continue Reading…