This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
should work the play it again facility. This BBC radio four programme comprehensively unspins the Stern Report.
I heard it only by chance, and I was amazed that while
not actually going sceptical about GW itself, the editors were very sceptical about the alarmist
tendencies of the report, quite in contrast to the
BBC's corporate reaction when the report came out.
Worth a listen to show that in some parts of the BBC
fairness still lurks.
Recommended listening ! Thames barrier/ Lib Dums Chris Huhne was a classic.
Yes it was intersting.
I listened via the web on the link JEB posted. ALso on dialup so I suppose that was the reason why so many Ts, Ks and Ds seemed to be missing from the end of words. Quite hard to listen to sometimes.
In the end I was not sure what the message was. Seemed like a typical Nu Labour stunt. "Things will be bad." Oh, they don't like that, er, well. "Look how nice we are, we are not making things as bad as they might have been!"
The perpetual message of the 'reasonable' people (sounded like there was some interesting editing going on) was to re-inforce the 'global warming is real' message and get people to accept that there is something that can be done to control the climate and that doing so will require sacrifice as "everyone agrees".
Quite a neat trick to knock the soon departing Blair and the Lib Dums while leaving others unmentioned. (As far as I recall).
Since the secodary message that escaped was that "We are looking 200 years into the future" and "Nothing much will happen to affect anyone for 80 years" you just have to wonder how they can attempt to to present this futurology as the basis for immediate policy.
If we could cast ourselves back 100 years and 200 years what would the futurologists of the day have been predicting for our times? Would their economic guesswork have been anywhere close to what has come to pass?
It occurs to me that the sort of cost of action, to most likely achieve nothing certainly with no guarantees, that the alarmists talk about would easily provide enough budget over the period to fund any precautionary changes required.
With funding available 80 years is more thean enough time to re-direct building and development work form potentially threatened 'old stock' development areas to unthreatened locations. The real crime if there is to be one might be to continue to support infrastructure re-development in locations that poolicy suggests are 'at risk'. Even then if we consider modern building techniques and buildings I would doubt that anything constructed to day will be indispensable in 80 or 100 years from now. My house is around 30 years old. The bricks from which it was built are guaranteed for 60 years (whatever that sort of guarantee means). If it survives 80 to 100 years without needing serious rebuilding I would be very surprised. (Indeed there are aspect of it that could do with some rebuilding now!)
One of the ironies of all of this is that the very places in the UK where property may seem to be threatened in that distant (in human terms) future are either target locations for further massive developments or have property stock that would attract demands to rebuild (in effect) in order to implement anti-GW measures. It might be cheaper simply to spot the potetnail problem and the demolish and move when the time comes.
Even places like New Orleans, which have always been marginal locations really from a 'least risk' point of view, would probably benefit from being moved elsewhere over a normal economic development cycle. Such things are regular occurrences for many different reasons as history informs us.
And then there is California. Apparently susceptible to floods, fires and mud slides and sits mostly on a fault line. The area even has severe and recent 'history'. I don't hear calls for mass evacuation or action to cut earthquake risk.
All economists, so the broadcast seemed to suggest, see the population of the world as being much 'richer' than now in 200 years time. I wonder what 'richer' means and how it is measured and, indeed, estimated into the future. I have every faith in the ability of modern 'politicians' using modern 'thinking' and technology to come up with a means of preventing that happening. All in the name of 'saving the planet' of course.
If they were serious about GW, they'd build nuclear power stations to 100% of UK requirements and use off-peak spare capacity to desalinate or make hydrogen.
They'd spend real money on sea defences and flood prevention. As none of this is happening I'm forced to conclude that they are not serious, and they are using the 'threat' of GW to extend state power and taxation and to limit personal freedom.
And why is GW always a threat? A difference of 2deg C is no big deal, equivalent to moving 200(?) miles south, or about 2000ft downhill. (Figures from memory, not too reliable). It's possible that more space in Canada and Siberia will become habitable than space in S. America and Africa will become uninhabitable.
The only downside being that economically pumping a whole load of developement into places in the northern climes might not be too smart for when the next ice age or mini ice age arrives.
2012 according to some Russians and a few others.
Still, at least that would keep the Air Conditioning costs for the Olympics under control even if none of the other costs are ... ;-)
On reflection, why build anything now for flood defences when they will be unused (and so probably obsolete) by the time they are needed. There is planty of time left before those decisions need to be made. Peak Oil theory, if one accepts it, would suggest there are other intermediate matters which might intervene.
So one possible reason to build now might be that it would not be affordable in the future. But if that was the case presumably anything built would not be maintainable in the future - therefore pointless.
In addition if things were indeed that bad, which I doubt, who would care? More drastic solutions would be more likely from a human point of view.
As for the other species? Well it seems to me that Mother Nature was more than capable of trashing their existence when she felt like it without the need of assistance from a humanoid species. I doubt there is much that can realistically be done to alter that and I suspect that to attempt to interfere would not be advisable. In most cases such attemopts at 'natural' interference seem to have created at least as many new problems as they were attempting to resolve.
Such is the way of things when we use 'expertise'
Many issues converge here and not least the politics of the BBC Vs the Government.
Some might see this less as an attack on Stern and more as retaliation against Government after WMD etc. i.e. the BBC throwing a "hockey stick" in the works.
Some of the other correspondent's comments are very interesting; especially the government's approach to squeezing ever more money out of the populace.
Two magic tricks come into play, the creation of Gordon Brown (for which all credit is due for his inventiveness):
1) The preamble in which exaggerated claims are made that are later scaled back, (as another correspondent notes). This creates false relief "Oh well, It's not as bad as it could be."
2) The advance notice ploy. Announcing future bills very successfully ensures that when the bills come to be paid there is far less uproar, everyone is talked out by the time they come to pay. This was probably an idea borrowed from the old Hire Purchase agreements era. live now and pay later.
There is a third ploy, now that I come to think of it, which is the double budget ploy. This spreads the bad news out between two separate budgets (a problem shared - between two budgets- is a problem halved). Combined with leaks and ploy number one no one ever seems to have the energy to sum up all the bills.
Just imagine the situation where there is just one day a year when all the bills for the next year are to be announced together, that they have immediate effect and that the full amount for each is announced in one bitter pill. i.e. the way it used to be..
An advantage for the government is that they (who are we kidding, Gordon) gets to test reaction diffuse as much as possible, determine how much residual grumbling can be tolerated and thus the amount of the sting is determined.
Only once has this produced an unexpected (of the British people) outcome: the fuel tax that resulted in the lorry drivers campaign. Of course, it only worked once and subsequently Gordon seems to have an immunity for fuel tax hikes.
Sorry twice, the air fuel tax hike.
Gordon seems to be getting a bit desperate these days and is making some false steps.