The Times on Global Warming: Where Do I Begin?


There is an old joke in Britain that a factotum announces to the Prime Minister, “Sir, the press is here, and also the gentleman from The Times.” The point of the story was that The Times was classing up the joint just by walking in the door. In the contemporary era I guess the point would be that they’ve given up reporting the news and just started writing short stories.


The Times of London has an article about the recent meeting on climate change in Thailand. Let’s take it one piece at a time. It opens with:


“Tackling global warming need not cost the Earth, a panel of UN scientists said today. In the third in a series of reports, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that keeping the rise in temperatures to within 2C would cost only 0.12 per cent of annual gross domestic product if governments exploited new technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

That’s pretty hard to believe, since WEFA estimates that just implementing Kyoto would cost the US about $300BB. $300 billion / $13.2 trillion (US GDP) is about 2.3% or about 20 times 0.12%. And that’s just to implement Kyoto, which doesn’t come close to lowering emissions by the 50 – 85% that the UN IPCC thinks is required to keep temperature increases below 2C.

Thought of another way, 0.12% of US GDP is approximately $16BB. That’s about what the US spent last year on fishing trips. This group is telling us for that amount of money we are going to entirely re-tool the economy to reduce emissions of carbon by more than 50%.



Next, we learn about the co-author:



“It’s a low premium to pay to reduce the risk of major climate damage,” Bill Hare, a Greenpeace adviser who co-authored the report, told Reuters news agency after the culmination of marathon negotiations which ran over their four-day schedule.”

You’re kidding, right? I assume that The Times will have no problem when I sue them for incompetence and I get to be the judge in the trial.

Further along:

“The IPCC report presented a best-case scenario of limiting global warming to 2.0-2.4C (3.6-4.3F), generally recognised as the threshold when the most extreme ravages of climate change will begin.”

This would news to the decades-long modeling project at the Yale School of Forestry and Department of Economics (those noted hotbeds of anti-environmental zealotry) that estimates that total net global economic impacts of a 2.5C change would be break-even to mildly negative. It would also be news to the UN IPCC Working Group 2 that in the current Summary for Policymakers estimates that warming of 4C would cost the world about 3% of global GDP. Now I don’t know what “most extreme ravages” means where you live, but economic impacts at 2 – 2.4C should be way under half of 3%, since damage should grow non-linearly with temperature – the Yale guys think it won’t even be measurable at 2.4C.

Of course, part of the problem with this article is the totally credulous attitude of the paper, but it also seems pretty clear that as we move up working group numbers, the UN IPCC fully leaves behind any pretence of objectivity and becomes more of a pure advocacy document.


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