Friday, September 11, 2015

Dear Bishop Hill: read your links. Also, take a look at this graph.

Bishop Hill thinks they've caught Nicholas Stern in a contradiction, saying one thing in 2009 and another in 2015. So let's take a look, using BH's own links.

Stern 2009:
Lord Stern said that although robust expansion could be achieved until 2030 while avoiding dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, rich nations may then have to consider reining in growth...."At some point we would have to think about whether we want future growth. We don't have to do that now."

(Emphasis added.) That would be the second sentence of the article BH linked to.

And Stern 2015:
...Professor Stern, the chair of the Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment, said that it was a false dichotomy to posit growth against climate action. “To portray them as in conflict is to misunderstand economic development and the opportunities that we now have to move to the low-carbon economy,” he said. “To pretend otherwise is diversionary and indeed creates an ‘artificial horse race’ which can cause real damage to the prospects for agreement.” Green parties in Europe have often argued that decarbonisation requires an end to the model of economic growth “at all costs”. But Stern said that there was now “much greater understanding of how economic growth and climate responsibility can come together and, indeed, how their complementarity can help drive both forward”.

(Emphasis added.) In both cases Stern appears to be focusing on the short to medium term, and in both cases saying there's not a conflict between economic growth and addressing climate change.

In BH's telling, Stern said in 2009 they had to stop growing (BH gave no time frame so one would assume it was immediate) but that Stern in 2015 is saying grow away. Alarmist hypocrisy!!!

As for whether there's a difference over what to do in 2030, who knows - Stern wasn't being asked recently about policies 15 years from now, but I don't see a necessary difference in his statements. Even if there was a difference, BH somehow finds it unforgivable that someone could change their mind on a peripheral issue (what policies should be in place in 2030, as opposed to policies today).

Finally, BH might want to take a look at a graph at renewable power prices. Any graph really, but here's one:

This is new information available to Stern in 2015 and not in 2009, and I could see it having an effect on someone thinking about long-term compatibility of growth with limiting carbon emissions. I remember the debate 5 years ago over whether the long-term decline in solar costs would continue. Now we have the result.

Inability of denialists to adjust opinions to new facts is matched only by their inability to accept long-established ones.