Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Stern report debunked

The newspapers and mainstream media have interpreted the report as some kind of incontravertable truth, some undeniable evidence, that global warming is going to cause havoc, devastation and most importantly, reduce economic growth substantially in the coming century.

So with that conclusion, it seems very reasonable for the author to suggest that all governments sign some global framework to regulate their industries and commerce to achieve lower emissions, which will substantially reduce the cost of the future global warming, and the lengthy conclusion is that this hypothetical situation will put all of us in a better and stronger world economy than the hypothetical situation which doesn't involve massive government regulation and control of emissions.

Well, Tim Worstall has a very good point to make of this shonky methodology:

However, that is something of a misunderstanding of the SRES scenarios. Each scenario has an equal probability, there is no such thing as 'this is what will happen unless we do something'. There are other families of scenarios, like the A1, B1 and B2 ones. The A1 family, for example, is based upon the international movement of people, ideas and technology and a strong commitment to market-based solutions. It's worth noting that this produces a world, in aggregate, twice as rich as the A2 one used by the Stern Report and given the lower population, one four times as rich per head of population.

So if indeed it is true that we have a moral duty to ensure that our descendants are as rich as possible (which is, after all, the report's justification for mitigation now) then don't we also have one to push the world in the A1 direction, not the A2? More globalization for example? That would have a much greater effect on their standards of living than any of the mitigation that the report proposes. Missing this point means that I'm rather less than impressed with the rest of the report. (Please note that all SRES scenarios assume no mitigation attempts.)
Hmm.. funny that. Why don't we see the headlines saying "Urgent calls for governments to deregulate and allow free trade" ?

Maybe its because it doesn't sound as hysterical.. doesn't rate as interesting with audiences, doesn't sell newspapers, doesn't give our political elites anything to do either.

Its far better for politicians to look like they are doing "something" about an issue rather than letting creative and dynamic humans evolve to the conditions of the changing environment, under a free and globalised society.