Late last year, the UK Treasury’s Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change was released to rapturous reception from all sides of the UK political spectrum (i.e. left and right). Since then it has been subject to significant criticism and debate (for a good listing see Rabbett Run). Much of that discussion has revolved around the economic (and ethical) issues associated with ‘discounting’ (how you weight welfare in the future against welfare today) – particularly Nordhaus’s review. We are not qualified to address those issues, and so have not previously commented.
However, as exemplified by interviews on a recent Radio 4 program (including with our own William Connolley), some questions have involved the science that underlies the economics. We will try and address those.
Last week I attended a talk by Dennis Avery, author with Fred Singer of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years (there is a summary here). The talk (and tasty lunch) was sponsored by the Heartland Institute, and was apparently enthusiastically received by its audience. Still whoozy from a bit of contention during the question period, a perplexed member of the audience told me privately that he thought a Point/CounterPoint discussion might be useful (he didn’t know I wrote for realclimate; it was just a hypothetical thought). But here’s my attempt to accommodate. More »
The long-awaited NAS synthesis report on surface temperature reconstructions over the last few millennia is being released today. It’s a long (155 page) report and will take a while to digest, but we applaud the committee for having tried to master a dense thicket of publications and materials on the subject over a relatively short time.
It is probably expecting too much for one report might to put to rest all the outstanding issues in a still-developing field. And given the considerable length of the report, we have little doubt that keen contrarians will be able to mine the report for skeptical-sounding sentences and cherry-pick the findings. However, it is the big picture conclusions that have the most relevance for the lay public and policymakers, and it is re-assuring (and unsurprising) to see that the panel has found reason to support the key mainstream findings of past research, including points that we have highlighted previously: More »
Along with various Seattle business and community leaders, city planners and politicians, a large group of scientists from the University of Washington got a chance to preview the new film, An Inconvenient Truth, last week. The film is about Al Gore’s efforts to educate the public about global warming, with the goal of creating the political will necessary for the United States to take the lead in efforts to lower global carbon emissions. It is an inspiring film, and is decidedly non-partisan in its outlook (though there are a few subtle references to the Bush administration’s lack of leadership on this and other environmental issues).
Since Gore is rumored to be a fan of RealClimate, we thought it appropriate to give our first impressions.
I’ve finally got round to reading a number of the many climate change-related books that have been published in recent months. These books seem to have caught the public imagination in ways that are different than in the past, and so it’s worth examining how they do. The three I’ve read are; Eugene Linden’s The Winds of Change, Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe and Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers. The first two writers are journalists, while the third is a scientist by background, and while there is some overlap in contents all of them, they are clearly distinct works in quite different styles. I’ll mostly stick to commenting on the science though… More »