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« Potty-mouthed Nature | Main | Muller on the anthropogenic component »
Saturday
Jun162012

David King has the answer - central planning and more spending

Former Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King is interviewed in the Guardian. Here are some excerpts:

Record gold prices are an indication that investors are fleeing to safety because they do not feel governments are providing the necessary long-term regulatory frameworks or incentives to give them the confidence to invest in emerging new technologies.

The Treasury civil servants are heavily driven by traditional dogma that we do not support winners but let them emerge in the market place. This is one time when we can no longer let this philosophy dominate and that is a tremendous job to be done.

The scientific community felt very battered by the University of East Anglia climate revelations but they continue to beaver away showing predictions for the next 20 years ago are even worse than predicted and we are faced with a human existential crisis.

Given King's former willingness to mislead the public, it's hard to attach much credence to his views. What is a surprise is that any reputable newspaper should give such a man any column space.

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Reader Comments (78)

It's not a surprise Bish. It's the Guardian!

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

'What is a surprise is that any reputable newspaper should give such a man any column space.'

I was a regular reader for perhaps 25 years, but in my view the Guardian no longer qualifies as a reputable newspaper. It's more like a mirror image of the Mail, just with different heroes and hate figures (and a tenth of the readership).

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

typo:

What is a surprise is that any reputable newspaper should give such a man any column space.

you forgot the "/sarc" tag

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

I quote:

"To switch from an oil-based transport sector to an electricity-based transport sector, we need to de-fossilise our electricity. The private sector needs to see that this is the biggest missed opportunity for wealth creation in our economies."

Doh!

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

"To switch from an oil-based transport sector to an electricity-based transport sector, we need to de-fossilise our electricity. The private sector needs to see that this is the biggest missed opportunity for wealth creation in our economies."

It would be interesting to hear him explain how the pursuit of more expensive energy production is an opportunity for wealth creation especially when one is competing on an international stage with some players who will be exploiting cheap energy production and will therefore have lower manufacturing costs.

Some people regard tax driven subsidies and taxes 'wealth creation' rather than a drag on wealth
creation.

It apppears that the man understands little about the true nature of science and even less about economics. I wish these so called 'scientist' would not dip their toes in economic strategy whem they have absolutely no understanding of economics.

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

"predictions for the next 20 years ago are even worse than predicted"

Err... what?

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

'De-fossilisation' can be achieved by GCS (green capture and storage). Living in the past when it was thought by the terminally pessimistic that simple adaptation to actual unfolding circumstances was fraught with risk is now declared as over by your high priest Lovelock on his journey to realism.

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Ideal opportunity for him and his mates to start companies to exploit this technology and provide carbon-free electricity for us all. What's that, you need subsidy?

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

"because they do not feel governments are providing the necessary long-term regulatory frameworks or incentives to give them the confidence to invest in emerging new technologies."

And that's tosh for a start. How does he know that this is reason for the flight to gold?
Much much much more likely that investors are fleeing to gold because they fear governments buggering around with vast amounts of money-printing and propping up zombies with consequent monstrous distortion of capital allocations and prices. Gold is _the_ classic hedge against political risk.

That wouldn't play so well in the Grauniad though...

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Can anybody take this person seriously?

Remember his take on climategate

"A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the Government's former chief scientist. Sir David King"

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-emails-hacked-by-spies-1885147.html

as well as his purported performance in a climate discussion in Russia

“Sir David King, not realizing he had been ambushed,launched into his usual exaggerated, alarmist presentation (he actually knows remarkably little about the science of climate, and makes an ass of himself every time he opens his mouth on the subject). The six sceptics heard him politely until one of them, who told me the story, could contain himself no longer. When Sir David said that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of “global warming”, my informan tpointed out that, in the 30 years since satellite monitoring of the summit had begun, temperature had at no instant risen above –1.6°C, and had averaged –7°C (Molg et al., 2003); that the region around the mountain had cooled throughout the period (Cullen, 2006); that the recession of the glacier had begun in the 1880s, long before any anthropogenic influence (Robinson, Robinson & Soon, 2007); and that the reason for the long-established recession of the Furtwangler glacier at the summit was ablation caused by
the desiccation of the atmosphere owing to the regional cooling. It had nothing to do with global
warming. Sir David King, embarrassed at having been caught out, said he had never been so insulted
in all his life.”

http://www.ilovemycarbondioxide.com/letters/Butler_letter_31032008.pdf

I can't remember him saying anything sensible in the past!

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Quick glance at charts for the price of gold seem to indicate the heat has gone out of that market (too?).

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

People are fleeing to gold because government leaders are providing too much certainty for the future The amazing hubris and unwarranted self-confidence of these 'third path' style governments is driving markets. It is those leaders who delude themselves and the public into thinking they can ignore basic economics and over spend without consequence who drive gold. The funds wasted on AGW and AGW policies is just one small facet of this.
Some people, but no where nearly enough, recognize this looming train wreck and are buying gold and making other arrangements.
King is so far off track on his claims as to raise questions about areas that are supposed to be in his areas of expertise.

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Was the link at the bottom supposed to lead somewhere different to the link at the top?

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

what SJF said

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

"The scientific community felt very battered by the University of East Anglia climate revelations but they continue to beaver away showing predictions for the next 20 years ago are even worse than predicted and we are faced with a human existential crisis."

Predictions are even worse than predicted...

Yeah, yeah

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

I always felt that his true character was shown when he brushed off imaginary demons from his shoulders. Told some good jokes about religion too.

"Did you hear about the the CRU Climate Scientist who, when told that one of their lecturers was teaching students correct physics instead of the IPCC-approved stuff, said 'Well, he's retiring soon, so we don't need to get rid of him'."

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

Record gold prices are an indication that investors are fleeing to safety because they do not feel governments are providing the necessary long-term regulatory frameworks or incentives

Really? ... and there was I thinking investors (me included) were fleeing to safety because power crazed politicians had f*cked up the European economy with a totally unworkable financial structure.

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I am in favour of research into new technologies, however, these should only be run out in the market place when they are nearly in a position to stand on their own feet and will be able to fully do so within a short period of time when demand will drive down production costs .

The problem with technologies such as wind is that it is built on old technology (generators are a very old technology and these are well developed and are unlikely to get much more efficient - atleast not without employing superconductivity or the like) and there are no economies of scale (each wind generator is an individual unit and is manufactured and sited on an individual basis).

In electronics, the IC chip was a game changer since it permitted a drastic increase in the economies of scale and thereby greatly reduced the costs of manufacture. There is nothing like this in the pipeline with wind generators. Indeed, quite the opposite since close siting of wind generators causes wind shaddowing and reduces efficiencies. The flaws in wind are so many and so obvious that it ought not to have received government traction and public subsidies.

If a governement is to support a new technology it ought to assess its future cost competitive and weed out those which are unlikely to be able to stand on their own feet and not invest in those. It is no role of government to waste public money on technologies which do not stand reasonable prospects of success in a free and open market place.

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

All the tired old talking points recycled -- I can think of something that we need to de-fossilise, and it isn't the economy....

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

ConfusedPhoton

That letter is an extraordinary document. I know he's cc'd, but I wonder if Cameron ever actually read it?

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Existential Crisis?

To Be (stupid) or Not To Be (stupid).

Jun 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

There seems to be a strong correlation in the scientific community between people with knighthoods and profoundly stupid public utterances. This would be a worthy matter to be studied by those weird psychologists with too much time on their hands.

Jun 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMique

The rush to gold is because of fear of market collapse and government stupidity not because we don't shove enough public cash at bloody leafs !!! this man should really seek help !

Jun 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMat

How many times do collectivist systems and ideals need to fail before the world simply says enough?

Mark

Jun 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

For "reputable" read "refutable". Lame duck? Here, have some money.... Incidentally, it is a source of great irritation to this grumpy old man that Radio 3 which used to be a relatively politics free zone, now has "the headlines" on a regular basis during the morning, which invariably are "The Guardian leads on a story that" or "The Independent says" etc. etc.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

James Evans @ Jun 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM said,


"predictions for the next 20 years ago are even worse than predicted"

Err... what?


It doesn't even help much if the (presumably) spurious "ago" is removed. The thing I don't understand is how does Professor King know that the predictions will be worse than expected? Does he have a prediction prediction machine, or he just projecting current trends?

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

The idea that a Govt scientist would know about the entrepreneurial spirit required to create wealth in the private sector is laughable. He will of course want to see such wealth. As it is taxing that wealth that gives him his gold-plated pension. Unlike the folk in the private sector who create the wealth who will not have anything like that package..

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

"...for the next 20 years ago..."

I've heard of circular arguments, but what lable could be put on this?

(p.s. How do you do that pretty, blue, indented quote?)

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

".... has the answer"

- But it's a bloody stupid question.

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobL

How do you do that pretty, blue, indented quote?


"<"blockquote>How do you do that pretty, blue, indented quote?"<"/blockquote>

but minus the "

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

Does he have a prediction prediction machine, or he just projecting current trends?

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:25 PM philiprichens

He's steeped in the mystical arts of climatology - where predictions are always much worse than predicted - until the next predictions which are always even worse than the much worse predictions - until the next predictions ...............

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

*Caution* nausea warning....

In 2010 David King gave a presentation at the Royal Agricultural College which was reported/reviewed in the local rag. The last sentence is the clincher.

We are not worthy

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Registered Commentertomo

'The scientific community felt very battered by the University of East Anglia climate revelations'

Not battered enough IMO. Scheming mendacious bastards.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterStirling English

Just read the interview. He's right about now being a good time to invest in infrastructure, but otherwise his grasp of economics is shaky. He doesn't seem to understand that self sufficiency is not usually a sensible policy - you get what you need from where it is cheapest. And his "knockdown" argument about sterling depreciation is woefully weak. The reason why we are not Italy is precisely because we can print pounds but they can't print euros. Every country with an independent currency and a half-stable government has low borrowing costs at the moment for this reason, including Japan whose debt/GDP ration is much higher than Spain, Italy,or, I think Greece (need to check that). The reason why Prof King never heard from the chief economist again is probably because he thought it wasn't worth his time talking about economics with someone who had not the first clue about the subject.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermikep

Central planing brought down the Soviet Union.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentercurious george

King is a gong-collecting prat - end of story.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

He's as good at economics as he was at weather++.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

"To switch from an oil-based transport sector to an electricity-based transport sector, we need to de-fossilise our electricity. The private sector needs to see that this is the biggest missed opportunity for wealth creation in our economies."

To switch to an 'electricity-based transport sector', IIRC, would require a doubling of the UK's current generating capacity to 120GW. To produce this from wind would require you never to be more than 1.5 miles from a 3MW windmill anywhere on the land surface of the UK.

Someone may wish to refine my back-of-the-fag-packet calculation to show the absurdity of his vision.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

"What is a surprise is that any reputable newspaper should give such a man any column space." The Grauniad - a reputable newspaper??? Sorry, Bish but I think you've made a mistake here.

Jun 16, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Reading King's words is like watching a clothes dryer go around--both are determined to spin, and spin only.

Jun 16, 2012 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

vote for me as dictator, maybe for only 10 years, and I'll get rid of the dross immediately, reduce the size and influence of politicians and enable normal people to resume the business of producing prosperity for our country. Low taxes, Low government spending, market decided interest rates, and absolutely no funding for the UEA CRU, Greenpeace, the bbc, the guardian, and a million more socialist entities. They can all get a job or starve to death, as far as I'm concerned. Return education to people who know what that means; economic theory returned to the sane; comedy will be allowed to ridicule and besmirch the socialists; plays will be allowed to show what 100 years of socialism in Europe has produced. The police and the judiciary will return to being on the side of the innocent and pursuing the guilty. Sanity will be the norm and socialist insanity will be closeted in our asylums. I will create a new Bedlam where the normal populace can visit and poke the socialists with sticks to provoke a reaction. And we'll all laugh at their behaviour and be safe in knowing they are gone (hopefully forever).

Jun 16, 2012 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn in cheshire

"predictions for the next 20 years ago are even worse than predicted"

And if these aren't enough to scare you into giving us even more money and power, we'll just publish even scarier predictions.

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred 2

By what execrable and malevolent process are chief scientific advisors are appointed?

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

john in cheshire

You have my vote sir ^.^

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Oh no wait!

Cameron promised us a referendum, Heath promised us we would not get a european political union, Osborne promised us we would not bail out Eurozone countries and my mum promised me an ice cream on Jan 5th 1953 (which I did not get!!!). I now require more assurances -.-

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

The Guardian loses £100,000 every day promoting new world religions like climate change, there are not enough suckers to buy it.

Tbh, the Guardian is not fit for fish and chips.

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

John in Cheshire: perhaps we could form a collective as I have similar views

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

In other words, in order to be able to pretend we're solving a non-existent problem, we need to pay more for energy, and everything transported, and have even more strict environmental regulations, in order to make private sector investors confident in the private economy?

What kind of person believes this stuff?

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

Dung and John in Cheshire: "You have my vote sir ^.^"

I think there may be a flaw in the plan, in that you can't vote for dictators. Its a shame I know, it seemed such a good plan :-)

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

When predictions are even worse than predicted [goak here], there's only one thing for a poor boy to do:
Go to Rio!

Jun 17, 2012 at 2:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichards in Vancouver

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