Feb 042013


LordSternLord Stern, Gordon Brown’s climate alarmist of choice whose 2006 report now seems to be taken seriously only by the kind of warmistas who have long since ceased thinking about what they are saying, has made an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The National Farmer’s Union website has noticed even if no one else has.

His Lordship was in confessional mood, owning up to underestimating the likely extent of global warming in his report. He now sees this as being ‘on track for something like 4oC’ by the end of the century, rather than the paltry 2oC – 3oC that he forecast in his report seven years ago.

Well! Economists never were famed for the accuracy of their predictions, even when dealing with matters supposedly within their own discipline and level of competence.

If I remember correctly, the Stern Report ran to some 700 pages, the first half of which was devoted to a summary of the current state of climate science. It has always baffled me why anyone, even Gordon Brown, would entrust such a task to an economist. Perhaps Stern’s interest in the subject has waned a bit over the last seven years, because he certainly seems to have missed out on the new consensus that there has been a global warming standstill for at least a decade and a half. In fact since long before he even started work on his report. Now wouldn’t that be something that would really be worth mentioning at a world economic forum?

But fear not, this is a prophet of doom with sense of humour; or perhaps not.

According to the NFU, stern ‘called for forceful action and highlighted "the exciting growth story" of greening the economy’. It’s astonishing that such views haven’t earned him a job as an EU Commissioner by now. He would be at home among others who think that increased regulation and a decades-long commitment to replace cheap, abundant and reliable energy sources with inefficient, erratic and very expensive new technology is the Yellow Brick Road to undreamed of economic success.

All this would be quite amusing if it wasn’t for the enormous influence that the Stern Report has had on public policy.

It’s worth reading the NFU’s short report in full, particularly for the extraordinarily fatuous quotation from IMF chief Christine Legarde with which it ends. Didn’t she also suggest in a pre-Davos interview that banker’s pay should be diverted to the world’s poor? I don’t seem to be able to lay hands of the source at the moment, but in any case, Ms Legarde’s thinking seems to be more in line with that or a synchronised swimming champion (her first claim to fame) than that of her present eminent role.

[Hat tip to Philip Ferguson who is concerned that farm products are now so expensive that they have to be bulked-up with old horse. Another ‘exciting growth story’?]

4 Responses to “Lord Stern lends a hand at Davos”

  1. Christine Lagarde certainly mentioned bankers’ pay in a speech at the Forum on 23rd Jan, where she talked of “corrosive” inequality, reported here by the Independent:

    In a combative speech to an audience of some of the world’s wealthiest financiers at the World Economic Forum, Ms Lagarde said that bankers’ pay should be cut to close the gap between the rich and poor. “Excessive inequality is corrosive to growth; it is corrosive to society. I believe that the economics profession and the policy community have downplayed inequality for too long” she said.

    Love the “roasted, toasted, fried and grilled” comment, by the way – future generations will resemble a sort of human croquemonsieur! Mmm.

  2. My recollection is of a radio news item I think, and and what she said may have got a bit twisted. On the other hand, wouldn’t cutting professional footballer’s pay have the same effect, in Ms Lagarde’s eyes at least?

    Someone who can commit such a howler as ‘roasted, toasted, fried and grilled’ must be capable of saying just about anything I suppose. How about a learned paper on Climate Change and the Art of the Toasty?

  3. Where does this man (and others) get his information. Perhaps I read in the wrong places, but with a good number of papers appearing recently with findings of lower climate sensitivity than the last IPCC report, where does he get the “worse than we thought” storyline? Is he really just selling the cause?

  4. Haven’t found any audio yet for the Stern speech, but the “roasted, toasted”, etc. speech by Lagarde is here, at the 24:40 mark. Lord Stern appears, however, in at least one of the videos from Davos 2013 and there are some other interesting segments here, including an interview with WWF mover and shaker Jim Leape.

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