Making Sense of What we Read
How did you go with Friday’s Puzzle to make sense of the statement:
“The transition to a lower emissions economy is underway and cannot be reversed. Ensuring that the transition is smooth will require major investments in assets with long life spans.”
In this statement I think that there are two correct statements, another that requires a certain value proposition to be acceptable, and one that definitely shouldn’t be accepted without considerable further argument and evidence. Why? Here goes:
- ‘The transition to a lower emissions economy’ is underway. I would consider this undisputable as we have a lot of global evidence as well as experience from home.
- ‘Cannot be reversed’? Well, it is highly unlikely given our international commitments to lower emissions in the Paris Agreement.
- ‘Ensuring that the transition is smooth’? Now it starts to get tricky. Here the writer assumes that intervention to ensure a smooth transition is something that we must do, something that is innately desirable. But is it? We don’t intervene in all market adjustments. ‘Free-market’ advocates usually argue vociferously that we shouldn’t! It’s desirability and nature in this case needs to be carefully argued, not assumed.
- ’will require major investments in assets with long life spans’ . Although presented as if this is an obvious conclusion from the preceding statements, it isn’t. Closing down large (coal burning) plants does not imply they need replacement with other large plants (which Chapter 3 assumes). Demand is decreasing, production is becoming more efficient and our options are rapidly increasing. We need to examine them. The need for large, long-living, plants is no longer obvious.
Any of us can be guilty of stating something as a ‘fact’ when we should be recognising it as a ‘proposition’ to be argued, and the more passionately we believe in what we are doing, the more likely this is to be the case. So if you catch me doing the same – which is entirely likely – please call me on it, in the comments section below.
And I would love to see other examples. If we get enough we can have a special puzzle page!