Lord Nicholas Stern delivered a public lecture at the School on “The Low-Carbon Industrial Revolution” last Thursday, 17th March, as part of the events series, LSE Works.
Lord Stern is chair of the School’s Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change and the Environment, and author of the Stern Review on Climate Change.
He opened the lecture by outlining the magnitude of climate change, which he cited as one of the defining problems facing our generation.
“This isn’t a small probability of something uncomfortable, it’s a high probability of something catastrophic”, Stern said, adding climate change has the potential to cause mass migration and “extended global conflict”.
“High carbon growth is not a serious option”, he argued, as “business as usual will create a situation so horrible that it will halt and reverse human development”.
Stern called for an “industrial revolution”, while condemning sceptics’ arguments as “logically, obviously flawed”.
Michael Jacobs and Gerard Lyons also spoke at the event. Jacobs, a visiting professor at the LSE, reinforced Stern’s statement, saying, “the evidence for climate change is now pretty unequivocal” and “there is absolutely no question given the impact of climate change that we have to go down the low carbon path”.
Both Stern and Jacobs said politics of this issue are unavoidable, which Stern said is problematic given governments tend to be more concerned with getting reelected than making difficult choices regarding the environment.
Both Stern and Gerard Lyons lauded China for taking the right steps to combat climate change. Lord Stern said “they will be teaching us a lot in the next ten years”.
Most people will probably remember some of the good Lord´s previous scaremongering "forecasts":
“If we continue with business as usual we would be looking at temperature increases of 5 degrees centigrade by early next century,” he said.“We have not seen those sort of conditions for 30million years. These kind of changes will have huge consequences — southern Europe is likely to be a desert; hundreds of millions of people will have to move. There will be severe global conflict.”It is a crisis, he said, that “will come to us incredibly fast and the scale of the risk is huge”.
Rich countries would need to commit themselves to spending $50billion (£31billion) a year by 2015 to help poor countries to deal with the costs of adapting to the climate change that was now inevitable. The US would need to provide perhaps $20billion of this total, he said, while the UK would need to spend $5billion a year — equivalent to £53 for every man, woman and child.
“In the next five years if the rich world can’t put $50billion on the table then there will be real questions about whether or not they are serious,” Lord Stern said. “I would see the US as giving at least $15billion to $20billion, but that is small beer in terms of the US economy. I believe President Obama understands this very well.”
And, of course we should all go vegetarian:
"Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”
Here is a video from last summer, showing how good Stern is in recycling his standard scaremongering lecture ( each time charging a nice fee for re-reading his text):
I have often wondered why a charlatan like Lord Stern is so sought after as a lecturer at all kinds of gatherings. Having rewatched this and some other of his presentations, the following reasons come to my mind:
With his smooth, soft spoken delivery - although not in quite perfect Oxford English - Lord Stern projects the superior confidence of a British elite university don, who is used to be seated at the high table. Listen how he, without the smallest hesitation, gives his audience exact future ppm numbers and "facts" about coming 5 °C warming. He must himself know that much - as a matter of fact almost everything - of what he is telling his listeners are not facts - only some kind of worst case theoretical scenarious based on highly unreliable model studies. But giving the entire picture would spoil his basic message, without which he would lose his status and source of living. And as long as there are credulous people who are prepared to listen - and even pay for listening - to his scaremongering, everything seems to be fine for the good Lord. But, as a wellknown singer and songwriter used to say - The Times They Are a-Changin' ... and soon Baron Stern of Brentford will have very few listeners, indeed.
In praising China, Lord Stern continues the fine British academic tradition of "useful idiots", who admire communist dictators. And he does not seem bothered by what real experts say about his report:
Dr Richard Tol, one of the world’s leading environmental economists, dismissed its more lurid projections as “preposterous”.
Dr Tol concluded: “In sum the Stern Review is very selective in the studies it quotes”, invariably seeking to emphasise only “the most pessimistic” of them. The report, Dr Tol added, could only be “dismissed as alarmist and incompetent.”