Ahem, Sir Nick, those figures you gave us…

I’m indebted to Benny Peiser at Liverpool John Moore’s University for these verbatims from the BBC’s The Investigation on Radio Four last night. It makes for a useful corrective in the wake of the media splash for the 800+ word Stern Report some months back, detailing the cost of global warming into the foreseeable future. It was something anticipated by fellow blogger, Cato at Liberty.

The [Stern Review] may have been loved by the politicians and headline writers but when climate scientists and environmental economists read the 670-page review, many said there were serious flaws. These critics are not climate change sceptics, but researchers with years of experience who believe that human-induced climate change is real and that we need to act now.
–Simon Cox and Richard Vadon, BBC Radio 4, The Investigation, 25 January 2007

Stern consistently picks the most pessimistic for every choice that one can make. He overestimates through cherry-picking, he double counts particularly the risks and he underestimates what development and adaptation will do to impacts. If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a ‘D’ for diligence; but more likely I would give him an ‘F’ for fail. There is a whole range of very basic economics mistakes that somebody who claims to be a Professor of Economics simply should not make.
–Richard Tol, Hamburg University, 25 January 2007

If you look inside the Stern Review you find that he suggests that the most severe impacts of climate change would have the effect of reducing consumption by 35% in the year 2200. But at the same time elsewhere, the Stern Report suggests that baseline economic growth will be 12 times higher in the year 2200 – which means that we will have GDP 12 times higher in the year 2200. So even if we didn’t do anything about climate change, the Stern Review seems to suggest that still we would be eight times richer by the year 2200 than we are today. So if you are concerned about equal treatment of generations, some people might say that the best thing to do about climate change is nothing. This is not a view that I subscribe to. But it seems to be a logical conclusion if you read Stern carefully.
–David Maddison, Birmingham University, 25 January 2007

The IPCC is not going to talk about tipping points; it’s not going to talk about 5m rises in sea level; it’s not going to talk about the next ice age because the Gulf Stream collapses; and it’s going to have none of the economics of the Stern Review. It’s almost as if a credibility gap has emerged between what the British public thinks and what the international science community think.
–Mike Hulme, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 25 January 2007

Nick Stern: “We’ve drawn on the basic science. We have not tried to do new scientific research. We’re not scientists.”
Simon Cox (BBC): “I just wonder why your figures are differrent if you’ve just drawn from the existing literature, why your figures would be different from the IPCC”?
Nick Stern: “The IPCC is a good process, but it has to depend on consensus. It means that they have to be quite cautious in what they say.”
–BBC Investigation, 25 January 2007

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