Posit an opiniator O* from the Super Wonderful Punditry think tank SWP. Deadlines displease him. The international community failed to meet so many since 1995 that such call becomes self-defeating, or so O* worries. To interpret IPCC deliverables, time for a new paradigm:
Benchmarks, billions upon billions of benchmarks.
Perhaps O* dreams that one day we will rise up and live in a world without deadlines, where actions are simply benchmarked. Science as a mere modeling exercise, consequences be damned. Why care about making decision based on knowledge we discount anyway?
That must appeal to O* – think tanks subsist to sophisticate benchmarks. No wonder why he’d welcome political promises revolving around them. Instead of We got 12 years to stay under 2C would, why not shout We got 12 years until the next benchmark? If this does not galvanize think tank troups, nothing will.
Nevertheless, paradigmatic rebranding of political slogans may not suffice. Think tanks also need to tackle economic progress. For that purpose, allow me to introduce an institute who could perpetuate GRRRRROWTH through benchmarking.
The GRRRRROWTH Institute would monitor our inexorable economic progress. Its main benchmarking tool, with the Extensive Propelling of Income Creation model, would make us realize we live in the best possible world, up to future, better benchmarks. Our economic reality would then reach EPIC proportions.
Nobody may understand for sure how its arcane calculations work exactly. More a feature than a bug, it’s how the process warrants its objectivity. Too much transparency could be gamed.
Under that paradigm, year after year it will be the best of times, never the worst of times. Now is the age of benchmarks. Nothing gets lost, everything transforms itself with inevitable added value. In the end, GROWWWWWTH wins.
This parable illustrates how formal and material modes of speech can be conflated. (The distinction has a venerable tradition.) It also points out how an economy can trivially be made to grow indefinitely. All one needs is an institution that remodels it so it does. Once we take spirit stuff like intelligence, imagination, and wonder into account, sky’s the limit.
Anyone who managed debts understands that consolidating them matters insofar as someone somewhere starts paying its capital some day. The same applies to carbon budgets. Debt refinancing can be done ad nauseam, with improved analyses, new means to generate assets, etc. (Printing money is child’s play; the sticky part is making otters use it.) As long as creditors play along, this kind of audit never ends.