Let them eat equality
Dec 7, 2013
Bishop Hill in Beddington, Bureaucrats, Climate: Statistics, Climate: Surface, Climate: WG2, Royal Society

The Oxford Martin School has appointed a "commission" of environmentalists to gaze at the future and come up with all sorts of plans to deal with it.

Deja vu.

The results were presented in a joint lecture by Martin Rees and Sir John Beddington last week and a video of the event is now available here. In it, we learn that the commissioners are proposing a cornucopia of new international bureaucracies, that some of them have a bit of a soft spot for totalitarian regimes (no short-termism, you see) and that they have decided that Lord Stern was right about low discount rates. This last one is not a surprise given that Lord Stern was in fact one of the commissioners.

Sir John Beddington is on cracking form. He is to science what Edmund Blackadder was to heroism, presenting some heat maps of global temperature changes and asking his audience to conclude that anthropogenic global warming is happening. The graphs were a bright red colour at the end - it must be true. "Completely startling" is Sir John's conclusion. 

You see what I mean about Blackadder?

Then he moves straight on to a slide entitled extreme weather events, incorporating a graph from Munich Re - from a press release if I'm not mistaken - with a rising trend and photos of scary-looking hurricanes - including Sandy, no less. However, as Beddington acknowledges the graph includes all manner of catastrophes, including volcanoes, earthquakes and forest fires. There is clearly a rising trend in the meterological-type disasters, but how much of the scariness is down to trends in earthquakes and so on is harder to gauge. But why is Beddington using dodgy data of this kind anyway. We've just had an IPCC report which concluded that it was hard to say anything about changes in extreme events and could detect few if any trends at all. Beddington is of course free to prefer a Munich Re press release to the IPCC, but for him to offer up an opinion at odds with the official view without any explanation is, well, surprising to say the least.

I found the whole thing very difficult to watch, having to switch off and calm down every few minutes. Watching all these overpaid public servants demanding that economic growth be reduced and equality imposed (presumably without affecting their iron pension pots) is very unpleasant, as was the input from Crispin Tickell in the Q&A session, who bemoaned the "vulgar sense of producing more things". How ghastly. The sense of listening to a room full of closed-minded, intellectually cowardly, megalomaniac Marie Antoinettes is overwhelming and indeed rather sickening.


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