Monday, November 06, 2006

Stern Report = Political BS

It seems the Stern report is really just a political stunt:
“The Stern review is not about climate change but about economic, technological and trade advantage. Its perpetrators seek power through climate scaremongering. The review's release was carefully timed to closely precede this month's US congressional elections and the Nairobi climate conference. Beyond these events, we can expect another burst of alarmist hallelujahs to accompany the launch of IPCC's assessment report in February.

Though it will be lionised for a while yet, the Stern review is destined to join Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb and think tank the Club of Rome's manifesto, Limits to Growth, in the pantheon of big banana scares that proved to be unfounded. It is part of the last hurrah for those warmaholics who inhabit a world of virtual climate reality that exists only inside flawed computer models.”

Bjorn Lomberg also has a go at the Stern report:
“Unfortunately, this claim falls apart when one reads the 700-page tome. Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalised, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off.


The review is also one-sided, focusing almost exclusively on carbon-emission cuts as the solution to the problem of climate change. Stern sees increasing hurricane damage in the US as a powerful argument for carbon controls. However, hurricane damage is increasing predominantly because there are more people with more goods to be damaged, settling in more risky habitats. Even if global warming does significantly increase the power of hurricanes, it is estimated that 95 per cent to 98 per cent of the increased damage will be due to demographics. The review acknowledges that simple initiatives such as bracing and securing roof trusses and walls can cheaply reduce damage by more than 80 per cent; yet its policy recommendations on expensive carbon reductions promise to cut the damage by 1 per cent to 2per cent at best. That is a bad deal.

Stern is also selective, often seeming to cherry-pick statistics to fit an argument. This is demonstrated most clearly in the review's examination of the social damage costs of CO2, essentially the environmental cost of emitting each extra tonne of CO2. The most well-recognised climate economist in the world is probably Yale University's William Nordhaus, whose "approach is perhaps closest in spirit to ours", according to the Stern review. Nordhaus finds that the social cost of CO2 is $2.50 per tonne. Stern, however, uses a figure of $85 per tonne. Picking a rate even higher than the official British estimates - which have been criticised for being over the top - speaks volumes. ”


  1. Bjorn Lomborg is neither a biologist nor an economist. He's a statistician. He cherry picked his own facts in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. Just because he got a political appointment by the right wing government of Denmark to an environmental agency doesn't give his opinion any more weight than, say, mine.

    And Bob Carter... talk about living in a virtual climate reality. He's in the minority as far as the science of global warming. See here.

  2. Right ... and personal attacks on these commentators prove what?

    Basically you're saying that their problems with the Stern report are politically motivated?

    How does that not make the Stern report a piece of BS that was written to create a election talking point for the Labour government in Britain?

    React to Lomberg's points rationally and you might make some sense, otherwise it is just more of the same "down with the unbelievers" nonsense that the alarmists always succumb to. Back in the 70's they wanted to place soot on the poles to prevent global cooling ...

  3. I'll admit this: Lomborg can offer a good perspective for looking at economic and environmental issues. But read the review of his book that I linked to and you'll see why I don't put much faith in anything he has to say. As I said, he's not a trained biologist.

    I just read Monckton's piece in the telegraph about the Stern report. I noticed some factual errors, but I thought he had some interesting critiques. I look forward to reading more about the Stern report this week.

  4. That makes more sense ... I don't think his (lack of) training as a biologist is what makes his criticism of the Stern report valuable. Instead I think it his strengths as an economist and statistician that let him make damning observations such as:

    "The review correctly points out that climate change is a real problem and that it is caused by human greenhouse-gas emissions. Little else is right, however, and the report seems hastily put together, with many sloppy errors. As an example, the cost of hurricanes in the US is said to be both 0.13 per cent of US gross domestic product and 10 times that figure.".

    I think global warming advocates are too busy congratulating Sterm on having given the press a bunch of nice scary quotes to actually stop and figure out if he is actually making sense.