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The climate-change climate

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!

13 comments to The climate-change climate

  • Kevin B

    And with exquisite timing Richard North points to a report in the Express that the Tories have ‘poached’ Lord Stern as an advisor.

  • Chris

    Great news that you will be attending this spat. I wanted to, but have another engagement, talking (along with others) to Oxford University’s libertarians. I look forward to your report, should you manage one.

    I’m actually starting rather to admire Bob Ward. He reminds me of those French soldiers at Waterloo who, when things were hopeless for them, still went down fighting rather than surrender. Trouble is, although this battle is currently being won by us, it isn’t nearly over yet, and I really should suppress such sympathies for this horrible man until he really is utterly defeated.

  • Could the rise in “climate change-induced disasters” numbers be attributed to the rise in population and nothing more?

    I have trouble understanding why anyone clings to the hoax after the revelations of ClimateGate. Instead of debating, we should focus on repealing all the laws and regulations that were based on it.

  • Alice

    “we should focus on repealing all the laws and regulations that were based on it.”

    While that would be nice, think about the underlying dynamic. Governments around the globe are spending money they don’t have, and trying to borrow money they will likely never repay (except in worthless inflated paper). UK and USA are only two of the examples.

    Thei politicians options are simple — cut spending, or increase taxes. No politician wants to cut spending, so the only option is to increase taxes.

    But taxes are very unpopular with us peons. The challenge is to make us WANT to pay taxes. If the politicians can make us admire them for saving the planet while they pick our pockets, so much the better.

    Scientificially, alleged anthropogenic global warming has been a Dead Man Walking for years. The theory goes back to the 19th Century, and was laughed off the stage at august British scientific meetings about 70 years ago. But politically, it has never been more necessary.

    Unfortunately, even if a wooden stake can be driven through the heart of the climate nonsense, the political imperative means that the high-taxing zombie will rise again in some other disguise. The ultimate answer is to pull up the roots of the problem — the ability of a tiny ‘elected’ minority to spend & borrow & tax.

  • RAB

    Spot on Alice!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    And with exquisite timing Richard North points to a report in the Express that the Tories have ‘poached’ Lord Stern as an advisor.

    iDave does seem to have an unerring ability to jump onto a trend that is already falling out of favour. Here’s a thought for Samizdata commenters: does the Tory Party’s embrace of Greenery actually harm, rather than boost, its chances of getting elected? (I cannot help but wonder whether floating UK voters are increasingly skeptical, so the Tories are being tactically stupid on this issue).

  • Hugo


  • lucklucky

    Why would anyone wanted to listen to two supporters of Global Warming is a mistery for me. it just reinforces the that scam industry.

  • “Here’s a thought for Samizdata commenters: does the Tory Party’s embrace of Greenery actually harm, rather than boost, its chances of getting elected?”

    Here’s another thought. Does it harm his chances of balancing the budget after the election if he doesn’t have to repeal the whole bunch of Green taxes and have to immediately compensate by very visibly raising some others? He is, presumably, shortly going to have to claim that he won’t.

    The light Green tint in mainstream politics has always been about raising tax revenue. (Even by their own calculations it has no effect on climate.) Why would that change?

  • Ed Snack

    Ward is just intellectually dishonest. He was caught on RPj’s blog making some very selective quotes, where the very next line in the paper he was quoting completely negated the point he thought he was making. Ward comes across as a totally dishonest PR Spin flack with terrible vested interest problems of his own.

    It can’t be easy though trying to defend something quite as fraudulently compiled as the Stern report.

  • My point about repealing the restrictions placed upon economies by the “climate change” hoax was to focus on the fact that these policies restrict economic growth. By unleashing the power of free markets, tax revenue rises accordingly, thus making higher taxation rates unnecessary.

  • Nuke Gray

    How is the weather over there? Do you still have lots of snow?
    Do you want us to send over all our copies of the book, ‘The Inconvenient Truth’, so you can burn it and keep warm?

  • kentuckyliz

    I think the hysteria is due to 24/7/365 cable news networks during the supposed growth period. What used to be a print newspaper story with one still photo (if that) buried somewhere in the newspaper, is now a shrill multi-hour video suffer-fest that drags on and on.

    Haiti is lucky to have had their earthquake now, instead of before CNN was on the air.