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« Emily Shuck on climate and the public | Main | Saint George »
Saturday
Sep292012

Bjorn Lomborg on the Dara report

I missed last week's Dara report, which took the long-since-debunked 300,000 global warming deaths figure, upped it a great deal, and stuck it out on the airwaves to see if the media were interested. By and large they were.

Bjorn Lomborg has responded with a withering analysis of the report's failures, exaggerations and outright deception.

September 26 was a triumph for public relations. An organization called DARA launched a report called "Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition. A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet." The study, sponsored by 20 countries, projected some astoundingly large impacts from climate change, both on the number of deaths and the economic impacts. The report has produced a media heyday for climate alarmism, but is a house of cards built on dubious analysis and erroneous claims.

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Reader Comments (55)

So from the near five million supposed Mann Made Global Warming (tm) deaths only 400,000 supposed deaths are even remotely linked to Mann Made Global Warming (tm)...and even then, if Lomborg had dug deeper in to the number its likely that number would again shrink...to...zero.

The corruption of the left and its belief in the religion of Mann Made Global Warming (tm) will stop at nothing to get their lies out in to the world.

Mailman

Sep 29, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Lies, spin, exaggeration; this is the fodder that our politicians feed on . Without it there would be no politics. Truth would by necessity cause agreement. How would they generate their public personas if they had to use truth. How would they justify their current and future directorships if the only influence was the truth. They need this kind of report, they feed on the inaccuracies. The researchers need the politicians to feed on their offerings. It is a symbiosis created in hell. The purpose? To get ones head cast in bronze and placed in Parliament square. The vanity of being, and the turpitude of intellect boggles the normal person. The call to politics must come from a very very bleak and shadowy part of the underworld.

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

Lomborg’s demolition of the report is thorough and reasonable, as you’d expect, but it doesn’t touch the interesting question of why it was written, and why anyone should take any notice of a report written by an obscure team of Danish management consultants working for an equally obscure Spanish NGO whose purpose seems to be to advise other NGOs in how to improve their NGOing ... The whole thing being financed by an obscure German charity and the Dutch National Lottery.
It’s according these people too much importance to analyse, as Lomborg does, whether their lies are out by a factor of three or a factor of 100. The whole project is despicable propaganda. Have a look at the section which they laughable call “the data” which consists of 8 pages of green and red spots, with not a fact or figure in sight.

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff, reign in your clones, please, I'd hate to see your phone bills.

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

sorry again

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

*stifles his own clone* apparently this is going to be one of those mornings....

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

That's easy for you to say =)

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

self snipped

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Tomo
I can be rude too, but I’d hesitate to call someone who’s done time in Sarajevo a careerist NGO parasite. The criticism should be levelled at those who think there’s a link between sorting out the problems of a bloody civil war and dealing with a few more parts per million of a trace gas in the atmosphere.

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Hmmm... something *very* whacky going on with Squarespaces's comments today...

Save y'all a bit of Googling and mouse button wear.

DARA who supports us page

PDF Annual Report 2011

Silvia Hildalgo Careerist NGO princess cv to die for. (with mugshot)


In all - about what one might expect from someone like this sucking on the EU's taxpayers. However the stoopidity and rigged editorial guidelines of our mainstream media need sorting - repeating and promulgating this PC buzzword bingo laden abject tosh is near criminal...

edit:
geoffchambers - a *lot* of people were in Sarajevo that doesn't anoint them with immunity to anything - let alone inoculate them from mission creep and sanctify what they get up to later. It strikes me that the lady and her parasite chums are conniving to use public funds to promulgate a "personal belief system" which is all too familiar to most visitors here. She should stick to humanitarian aid - end of.

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Registered Commentertomo

There's further entertaining comment on this subject from William M Briggs on his current blog.

Sorry, I've never learnt how to do direct links :- (

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Registered CommentermikemUK

http://wmbriggs.com/

Sep 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

Lomburg is right on the misleading headline (implying it was about deaths due to climate change, when actually 90% of the deaths numbers related to the "carbon economy") - I'd spotted that immediately on reading the press release (see my tweets - @richardabetts - of 26th Sept)

And in my view, the figure for 400,000 climate deaths in 2010 is itself unreliable. This not based on real data, it is largely based on the simple prediction of deaths in 2010 using a climate model simulation of changes relative to 1961-1990, published by the World Health Organisation in 2004. DARA made no attempt to check that old prediction against real data, as far as I could see.

The number of deaths due to recent climate change is probably very hard to estimate. Richard Tol's estimate was 90,000 deaths due to climate change in 2000, probably best if I leave it to him to discuss that for himself.

Lomburg does say:

Let's be clear. Global warming is real and man-made, and it needs an effective response. But unfounded alarmism and panic are unlikely to engender good and effective policy.

Spot on as far as I'm concerned.

Sep 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard Betts: "The number of deaths due to recent climate change is probably very hard to estimate"

I estimate it at exactly zero, and I am 100% confident in the figure.

If climate change is implicated in any death anywhere, there was in every case a factor which more easily explains the death than climate change. In nearly 100% of all cases, that factor is poverty.

If someone were tied up, such that they couldn't reach a table of food and water, we may say that they died from thirst/hunger, but we wouldn't say that thirst/hunger caused their death. The agent of that death -- the cause -- was the person who tied them up.

Sep 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

@Richard "Let's be clear. Global warming is real" - Spot on

"and man-made" - utter twaddle.

There [ alt. BH] again when you are paid by the Met Office you have to preach the "correct" sermon, even if deep down you know it is B.S.

Sep 29, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Whoops sap "Their" for "There"

Sep 29, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Sorry, I've never learnt how to do direct links :- (

mikemUK

Right click copy leave a few lines right click and paste it straight onto the blog page.

http://wmbriggs.com/

Sep 29, 2012 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Thought we were all gonna Die from Overpopulation and Starvation.

Sep 29, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

The debate between Richard Betts / Richard Tol and Ben Pile is the one we should be having, not the one between Lomborg and Commons Consultants, the Danish Management Consultancy. See
http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/climate-killings-danish-management-consultants-discover-100000-more-bodies/
A good place to start is the 2003 European heatwave. There were an estimated 30,000 premature deaths in France alone. The official French Senate Comittee report came up with a lot of
recommendations. None of them involved building windmills. Preventable deaths are a responsibility of the state (one might almost say the responsibility which defines what a state is). A state which starts blaming its own citizens (or the Chinese, or the oil lobby) is a perverted state.

[jamspid: what do you do on a Mac with no mouse?]

Sep 29, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

It won't let me delete unless I say something else

Sep 29, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Amidst all this talk of countless millions of people dropping dead because of a temperature rise of one or two degrees C over the course of 100 years are the actual facts:

Cases of malaria have fallen 20% over the last ten years - http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/10/an-inconvenient-eradication.html

There were 3.1 million deaths from Diarrhoea in 1996. By 2004, there were 1.8 million. http://www.climate-resistance.org/2009/11/dead-babies-conscripts-in-the-climate-war.html

In 1990, there were 8.7 million deaths of under-fives throughout the world. By 2008, that had fallen to 6.1 million, according to WHO statistics. In other words, 10,000 more infants survive every day in 2008, than in 1990, thanks mainly to economic development and industrialisation, and in spite, it seems, of rising levels of CO2 and increasing temperatures.

There are two cases to be made for development though. First, there is the reduction in the body count. I call this the 'negative' argument, because it still is victim to the environmentalist's preoccupation with death as the thing which legitimises the function of policymakers. The positive argument is the corollary to the improved conditions that people now enjoy: the increasing possibility of human life being about more than mere subsistence. We should not lose the positive argument to misery-mongerers.

Sep 29, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

mikemUK

If it's hyperlinks you want then follow this hyperlink :^)

Sep 29, 2012 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Chambers writes: ' criticism should be levelled at those who think there’s a link between sorting out the problems of a bloody civil war and dealing with a few more parts per million of a trace gas in the atmosphere."

A sojurn in the oil fields of Biafra and Equatorial Guineamight afford a different view


Ben " I estimate it at exactly zero, and I am 100% confident " Pile is welcome to Scott Armstrong's place at this betting window :

http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/search?q=armstrong&max-results=20&by-date=true

Sep 29, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Ben: Thank you for every part of this. The numbers matter - and how many NGOs can you think of that have been trumpeting these amazing improvements in mortality?

But so does the last point. Paul Collier once told me that, for an older couple brought up in poverty, their own wealth was far less important than a sense of hope for for their children. This was the crucial factor absent, he said, in what he called the bottom billion. But the good news is that since the death of Mao (and what a crucial contribution that was) such hope has increased by leaps and bounds in the world. We should never forget what a priviledge it has been to live at such a time. And never give way to the misery-mongerers.

Sep 29, 2012 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Something else inconsistent here. Over at NoTricksZone there is a reference to Ulli Kulke (DIE WELT) who writes in his blog that there has been very little media interest.

So, how does very little media interest square with Alarmist heyday in this article?

Sep 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBargHumer

A sojourn in the oil fields of Biafra and Equatorial Guinea might afford a different view.

Or not.

Not everyone buys the impulse to blame the West's development for Africa's problems.

Sep 29, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

I am certain that I have browsed respectable commentary demonstating that deaths (but not necessarily financial or insurance related loses) from natural disasters, including climatic weather related ones, have been and continue to be steeply falling compared to historical figures. And that this falling trend is directly associated with increasing prosperity.

One of the great giveaways of the agenda driving 'climate change' is that each and every outcome receiving any study or publicity at all must necessarily be deleterious and suitably alarming, despite that in former innocent times warm periods were generally accepted as times of plenty and prosperity- climate 'optimums' (now just 'periods').

I've said it before, but it still holds, those pushing this agenda would have had it much easier were our 'emissions' to have reduced atmospheric CO2 and temperature.

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

How many of the deaths due to "climate change" are deaths due to changes in the weather? Most people over the age of 60 would agree that the climate in Britain has changed very slightly since the 1950s. Summers tended to become warmer and winters milder - until a few years ago when the direction of change seemed to go into reverse. In contrast the weather can change very dramatically in just a short time.

Therefore it would seem to be logical to blame weather-related deaths on changes in the weather and not changes in the climate.

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Mr. Betts, the name is Lamborg.

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

The bottom line, probably for most climate related 'disciplines'

#0643 from K Briffa to Ed Cook

“7) Publish, retire, and don’t leave a forwarding address
Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I almost think I know to
be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit
about 100 year variability
was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fuck-all)."

Sep 30, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Sep 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Ben Pile

Hi Ben

I don't think you can rule out climate change, whether AGW or natural climate variability, as a contributor to mortality even if (as you correctly point out) there are larger direct causes, like living in unsanitary conditions.

Yes lots of causes of death associated with poverty are in the decline, which obviously is a very good thing. But even so, there could still be a portion of these people dying because of different climatic conditions. People die in heat waves, even in rich countries. Higher temperatures seem to be associated with increased deaths from diarrhoea ini poor countries (but not rich ones - so yes, increased wealth is the best way to reduce this cause of death, it seems). Maybe the mortality rates would be falling even faster if temperatures were not now higher than they would have been without human influence?

However, recognition of a climate contribution does not necessarily mean that reducing that climate contribution is the best response. Just because there may a contribution of AGW to deaths from, say, diarrhoea, this does not necessarily mean that emissions reductions policies should take precedence over improving standards of living. Even with increased deaths due to climate change, it may still be true that getting people out of poverty is the best way to save lives. If everyone could afford good sanitation then presumably deaths from diarrhoea could be virtually eradicated, and hence this component of climate change impacts on human health would be zero. Maybe one of the main implications of a warming climate is simply that the world needs work harder to end poverty.

But please note that while I am arguing that the AGW contribution to mortality is non-zero, I am very unsure of what the number actually is. My guess is that Richard Tol's estimate is more realistic than DARA's, but that's just a gut feeling really. I do think DARA have been over-confident with their high numbers.

Sep 30, 2012 at 12:18 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard - I don't think you can rule out climate change, whether AGW or natural climate variability, as a contributor to mortality even if (as you correctly point out) there are larger direct causes, like living in unsanitary conditions.

The problem is not ruling it out; the problem is ruling it in at all. I think you agree with me to some extent that it fails an empirical test. And you agree that there is a more important factor at work in probably every case of mortality seemingly attributed to climate change. Let's try some similar tests. (Apologies for the morbidity that follows). Does the person with end stage cancer die because he caught a cold? Does the heroin overdose die because he drowned in his own vomit? Does the person with advanced Alzheimers die because he falls down the stairs? The answer is in each case (possibly) yes, but we know that people don't normally die from colds, don't normally inhale their own vomit, and don't fall down stairs.

The point is not to rule out those factors, nor to rule out climate change as a factor. The first point is that social conditions are the fundamental here. I think you agree so far. But the second point.. which is at this stage is a question... is, how is it that people came to think of climate as the fundamental?

It turns out that you need to presuppose a great deal to make such claims. I argue that these assumptions are environmental 'ideology'. They clearly operate in the thinking of environmentalists, and in organisations which enjoy significant influence over the media, academy, and governmental and inter-governmental processes. That phenomenon needs explaining, and it is not enough to simply say that it is mistaken. For instance...

If everyone could afford good sanitation then presumably deaths from diarrhoea could be virtually eradicated, and hence this component of climate change impacts on human health would be zero. Maybe one of the main implications of a warming climate is simply that the world needs work harder to end poverty.

Because poverty wasn't bad enough by itself? Because we should tolerate a level of poverty, the threshold of which is lowered by the fact of AGW? I don't say it to brow-beat you. I say it to point out that I simply don't see how climate change creates, or transforms moral imperatives as far as our responsibilities to others are concerned (for any conception of such responsibilities). It would seem that the catalogue of deaths attributed to AGW fails an economic and a moral test.

Then there is a further problem, aside from the question about the coherence of environmental 'ideology' and the moral and empirical failures of the DARA/WHO/GHF kind of calculation. And that is the problem of weighing policy outcomes in terms of body bags -- it sets desperately low horizons. Once you set a goal to reduce poverty (or any symptom of it) by X, you accept X as a tolerable level of poverty, and you only commit resources to the extent that X will be met. The difference is between treadle pumps in villages on the one hand (as advocated by many 'development' NGOs), and fully mechanised water infrastructure. This way of looking at things has profound effects on what then happens.

The estimation of the number of deaths caused by AGW means nothing, except to that way of looking at things. It means nothing without those presuppositions. Look at it another way: the figures, whether they are the WHO's, GHF's or DARA's, most certainly do not speak for themselves -- so much has to be read into them.

Sep 30, 2012 at 3:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

This report is nothing more than ideologicically driven, professionally spun bullshit. It serves as another example of the public funds unsustainably squandered on the plague of useless, clueless, freeloading "research" organisations we now suffer.

The author may be missguided yet well meaning, and she's certainly a hotty, but what a waste of an education.

Sep 30, 2012 at 3:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

@ geoffchambers "jamspid: what do you do on a Mac with no mouse?"

Waaay down the page sorry.

Geoff, I have my Mac trackpad set so a two-fingered tap = right click.

Sep 30, 2012 at 4:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Richard Betts
Surely we can rule out climate change, since the report is predicting events only 18 years into the future, which is far too short a time span for projected climate change to take effect.

Chris S
Silvia (hotty) Hidalgo didn’t write the report, she founded the organisation which commissioned it. Diego Hidalgo is the chairman of its board of trustees. There’s also Juliet Pierce (the only non-Spanish name apart from an Italian senator), from the Department for International Development. She’s big on aid and gender, so I hope you’ve got something nice to say about gorgeous Diego, not to mention the delicious Ross Mountain.
Putting people like la Hidalgo from Bosnia and Ross Mountain from the Congo in charge of an organisation producing a report like this is a wonderful example of what Ben Pile is on about. It’s telling us that this is about a humanitarian crisis. It can’t possibly be anything else with them in charge, can it? Putting two people who couldn’t stop two civil wars in charge of not stopping the planet from warming is such a wonderful symbol of everything the public hates about politics.
Handing out public money (the Foreign Officie is among DARA’s supporters) to a Danish firm of management consultants is the icing on the cake, or the little red spot on the chart.
They’ve taken some figures from acknowledged “reliable sources” like the WHO and insurance company Munich Re, applied some arithmetical formulae to project current death rates from a variety of causes forward to 2030, and transformed the result into 8 pages of red, orange and green spots, supposedly indicating whether a series of factors are going to get better or worse, depending on the weather. The result looks like a photo of someone’s collection of bottletops.

It is, quite simply, insane. Grownup people don’t do this sort of thing.

Sep 30, 2012 at 7:49 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

A lovely take-down of DARA here. Worth a quick read.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/28/not_so_hot?page=full

Sep 30, 2012 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

@ George Steiner

Mr. Betts, the name is Lamborg.

No it is not. There is no "a" in his surname. His full name is Bjørn Lomborg.

Sep 30, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Roy
“His full name is Bjørn Lomborg”

You’re just showing off because you know how to do that Danish pastry sliced “o” thing on your keyboard.
And I still can’t do a link.

Sep 30, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

http://greenleftblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/arctic-meltdown-campaign-against.html
For those of you who want a good laugh here's alarmist Prof Wadhams explaining why we should panic over Arctic Sea Ice and also the relevance of the Hockey Stick (truly amazing)
No wonder his fellow traveller John Vidal has chosen not to mention their trip or indeed Arctic Sea Ice in the Grauniad since he got back.
In fact in to-day's Observer man-made global warming has disappeared altogether !

Sep 30, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Dear Bish, "withering"? Hardly, imho.

Sep 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Hi Ben

I think your analogies work quite well to make my point - people don't die just because they are poor, they die because their poverty makes them more vulnerable to hazards. Awareness of those hazards may help avoid deaths. To use one of your analogies, awareness that stairs present a hazard may encourage the Alzheimer sufferer's carers to make sure he doesn't use them without help.

I am absolutely definitely not saying that climate change is the only reason to help the poor. I am merely saying that understanding the reasons why poverty is dangerous is useful for dealing with the problem, especially when it comes to prioritising which issues to help with first. If poor sanitation is a major killer, and climate effects play an increasing role in that, then awareness of this may help prioritise the improvement of sanitation over other less critical issues.

The bottom line is, my view is that it just helps to understand things.

I do completely agree that it is important that such understanding is not misused. Quantifying climate deaths does not automatically imply that reducing carbon emissions is the solution to reducing those deaths, as the DARA report seems to imply.

Sep 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

I'm also reminded of this bit of number crunching reported in Watts Up With That last April:

Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming. Thus, developed world policies intended to mitigate global warming probably have increased death and disease in developing countries rather than reducing them. Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.

The ability of governments to 'mitigate' a hypothetical number by increasing a real one would be funny if it wasn't for the real human agonies so represented.

Sep 30, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

That's WUWT here.

Sep 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Toad:
“.. in to-day's Observer man-made global warming has disappeared altogether !”

Not so. Robin McKie mentions the Arctic and Antarctic in one panting polar breath:

The impact of global warming is being felt first at the poles. This year summer sea-ice levels in the Arctic plunged to a record low and there is every sign that equally profound changes are taking place in the Antarctic.
Clever, eh?

Sep 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Richard - I think your analogies work quite well to make my point - people don't die just because they are poor, they die because their poverty makes them more vulnerable to hazards.

Well, d'uh. The condition of not having any money isn't by itself, a fatal condition. Nobody ever claimed it was. The vulnerability of people to the climate -- changing or not -- is determined by their social condition, not by the magnitude of the climatic phenomenon. You can the extent to which this is the case by comparing the cost in human terms of two equivalent natural disasters afflicting two very different economies. Comparing Hurricanes Mitch and Andrew, for example. Mitch fell in Central America, and caused the deaths of around 20,000 people, caused nearly 3m people to become homeless, and about $6bn of damage. Andrew fell in the USA caused 29 deaths directly, and a further 40 indirectly, and caused $27bn of damage. More damage in $ terms results in less damage in human terms. The wealth takes the brunt of the storm, and makes recovery possible.

Guess what... Things are always worse for the poor. It's a statement of the blindingly obvious. It's a truism. Yet it led to the climate activists maxim: "Climate Change Will Be Worse For The Poor". This little expression forgets in the first instance that climate is worse for the poor. But second, the implication is supposed to be that this creates an imperative to mitigate climate change through CO2 reduction, rather than to emphasise development. The point you seem to have missed in my previous post is that this confusion about what are social and what are climatic effects is 'ideological'. It takes a system of presuppositions about the world to draw the conclusions that environmentalists draw, to emphasise the significance of climate, and even to say that weather phenomenon are interesting at all.

If poor sanitation is a major killer, and climate effects play an increasing role in that, then awareness of this may help prioritise the improvement of sanitation over other less critical issues.

But it doesn't. Hence, the WHO, GHF, DARA etc emphasise the least significant cause of mortality/DALYS, at the expense of a proper understanding of societys' relationship with the natural world. That misconception, which is instituted, so to speak, in global policies and agreement, may in fact create the possibility of making people more vulnerable to climate, not less. Especially so, since environmentalism, and eco-centric perspectives are sceptical of the potential of development. The vast majority of the 250,000 people killed in the Boxing Day tsunami, for instance, were all living far more 'sustainably' than you or I.

Sep 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Just a factual clarification here - the Dayton Accord was signed in November 1995, and Silvia Hidalgo didn't arrive in Sarajevo until 1996; it was certainly a city with many damaged buildings and severely traumatised inhabitants when she was there, but it was definitely no longer a war zone.

Sep 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Richard, would you not agree that the best and most cost-efficient way to prevent/reduce deaths amongst the World's poor is to spend the money directly on carbon-based industrial development, within their countries, rather than on expensive (and futile) mitigation against the vague possibility of GAGW?

Sep 30, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Richard:

If poor sanitation is a major killer, and climate effects play an increasing role in that, then awareness of this may help prioritise the improvement of sanitation over other less critical issues.

Ben:

But it doesn't. Hence, the WHO, GHF, DARA etc emphasise the least significant cause of mortality/DALYS, at the expense of a proper understanding of societys' relationship with the natural world.

I take it Ben when you say "it doesn't" that is referring to Richard's "climate effects play an increasing role" in poor sanitation?

Is it fairer to say we haven't a clue about how future climate effects will affect poor sanitation, let alone whether they "play an increasing role"?

In this case aren't WHO, GHF, DARA emphasizing something that we have no idea is a cause? When as Richard rightly says it is a major killer. (The 20% decrease in malaria has to be a great deal to do with improved sanitation, for example, because the carrier mosquitoes need standing water to produce their young and perpetuate this killer.)

So there is only one place the moral imperative lies.

And how does the fact that nobody can find a signal when they look for a correlation between increased temperature and extreme weather events (cf Pielke Jr and even the recent IPCC SREX report, pretty much) affect all this NGO baloney?

What you're saying incredibly needed Ben. I wanted to kick the wheels, because I think the argument is stronger even that you suggested at this point.

Sep 30, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard D - I take it Ben when you say "it doesn't" that is referring to Richard's "climate effects play an increasing role" in poor sanitation?

No. I should have been clearer, I was responding to Richard B's -- "awareness of this may help prioritise the improvement of sanitation over other less critical issues." It doesn't, it instead propagates a highly deterministic understanding of the problem of poverty, etc, to naturalise what are categorically social, rather than material phenomena, with complex historical antecedents. That error of that perspective is *fatal* when instituted as policies. It's far more dangerous a conceit than climate change.

Is it fairer to say we haven't a clue about how future climate effects will affect poor sanitation

I agree, but my broader point is that it is extraordinary that people should even attempt to make arguments that emphasise climate at all. The fact that people do make this connection needs explaining. Like a kind of mass delusion, except it's not the masses who suffer from it; its the political establishment, NGOs, the academy, etc. The 'masses' suffer it though. That means higher energy bills here. But elsewhere in the world it means essential infrastructure may not get financed where such projects are determined to be 'unsustainable'. It is an obscene irony that 'development' agencies now celebrate traditional lifestyles. Imagine if Oxfam et al were to launch a campaign in the UK to get people to live as peasants. They would soon find themselves lacking those fancy offices not a mile from my house. Yet this is how they tell people in other countries they should live. And they have access to policy-making institutions, and we Bishop-Hillers do not.

Sep 30, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

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