I am going with my son to the Royal Institution on Friday to hear the debate between Roger Pielke, Jr, and Bob Ward, of LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (Bob Ward recently starred in a Samizdata post by Brian Micklethwait). The debate is titled ‘Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?’ Not hard to guess Bob Ward’s answer. A flavour of Pielke’s position is given by this extract from a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (not by him) from last June. According to the WSJ, a report by the Global Humanitarian Forum (prop. Kofi Annan) warns:
that climate change-induced disasters, such as droughts and floods, kill 315,000 each year and cost $125 billion, numbers it says will rise to 500,000 dead and $340 billion by 2030. Adding to the gloom, Mr. Annan predicts ‘mass starvation, mass migration, and mass sickness’ unless countries agree to ‘the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated’ at a meeting this year in Copenhagen.
To which Pielke Jr replies:
… ‘To get around the fact that there has been no attribution of the relationship of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and disasters,’… the Annan ‘report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, why? They are comparing phenomena with many ‘moving parts’ over a short time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind.’
Doubtless he will be boggling our minds on Friday along these lines.
I did not realize untill I started writing this post that RPj and Ward had such a long history with each other. Just lately there has been massive to-ing and fro-ing between the two of them on RPj’s blog. Ward helped with the notorious report produced by the boss of the Grantham Institute, the Baron Stern of Brentford. The report just took a serious hit from Pielke, for silently correcting an important number in a table after publication:
Interestingly, it looks like Stern chose to change the report rather than issue an Errata. Either way (though an errata would have been more proper from an academic standpoint), the issue lies not with a typo, but what problems are revealed once the typo is corrected. … Correcting the typo does not make the analysis correct, just obviously wrong… None of this excuses altering a published government report quietly and without notice, after its publication and wide dissemination.
Bob Ward does not hesitate to use the ‘vested interest’ smear against opposition. There is an interesting piece on the Grantham Institute’s own vested interests at Climate Resistance.
This is going to be interesting. What a change there has been in the climate-change climate these last few months!