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« Who would have guessed it? Green studies indoctrinate not educate | Main | Off the agenda »

A comfortable chat

Lord Stern was on the Today programme this morning, for a chat about his views on saving the planet. The rottweiler John Humphrys suddenly came over all lapdog.

Strictly for the dedicated.


Stern Today prog

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Reader Comments (21)

The Today programme (and the World Service) were also going overboard on Arctic sea ice, how today it is terribly young and thin, and the fishy bio-diversity is low. Only the Beeb could push global warming via a report from what was obviously a very cold place in the Arctic.

Puzzling though were the statements that (A) we don't really know very much about Arctic Ice in winter, due to lack of data and (B) we are certain that the Arctic has entered a "new era", because of ... err ... changes in the sea ice.

May 4, 2015 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Meanwhile, Shukman at the controversial BBC has fossil-fueled his way up to the Arctic to report from "the mother ship" and briefly show a polar bear being harassed by helicopter (@50 seconds).
No, you couldn't make it up.

From there, the written article explains to us that [as with a fine whine?] the age of sea ice is somehow important. The claim is made that there is less life underneath younger sea ice, so that is less beneficial to life living above the sea ice. But it is not explained how sea birds are supposed to burrow through multi-year ice to access food underneath. I would have thought that they could only do so when the ice melts.

n.b. Note that the maximum volume on the BBC video player goes to 11. Clearly someone else at the BBC also has a sense of humour.

May 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Two of the most disgracefully disingenuous comments - actually, one was an out and out lie - from Humphries and Stern:

JH claimed the world was still getting hotter(!!!!) - and of course, Stern agreed with him.

Stern then claimed that all the extra carbon going into the air was caused by the heavily subsidised fossil-fuel companies (even Humphries seemed to choke on that) - the implication being that if they weren't subsidised (with tax breaks), they wouldn't cause GW.

I'd like to think that someone with more 'in' to the BBC would take them to task on this. Does anyone Tweet?

May 4, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Even the Wet Office seems to have accpeted the pause, & the data shows no warming of any significance for 18 years, yet these two clowns are happy to drone on about a warming world! This lying stuff doesn't seem to prick some people's concience!

May 4, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Blurb from Today prog 0750 (7:51.30) "Pledges being made by industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to be enough to avoid dangerous climate change, according to a paper by Lord Stern, published today by the Grantham Research Institute. The pledges are being made ahead of UN climate talks in Paris at the end of the year which aims to secure a new global deal to tackle climate change. Other climate experts have come to the same conclusion, since the USA made its pledge last month. Lord Stern is calling on countries to be more ambitious in the scale of their intended reductions."

I guess Bob Ward just calls the show when he feels like it "We'll be wanting a 5 minute slot tomorrow , what time shall we call ?"

Stern "We are headed for 3.5-4C in 100 years"
Humphries wasn't a walkover (I paraphrase) 'but with decarbonising the gov pays a fortune in big subsidies for renewables' (BTW wrong it's the consumer that is forced to pay the subsidies), that's when Stern replied by saying fossil fuels get big subsidies
...How many wrongs make a right, Lord Stern ?

- BTW a proper objective news prog would have put on an expert Climate skeptic to challenge Stern's assumptions...but BBCToday don't give a flying ... about truth & the BBC Charter obligations.

May 4, 2015 at 1:27 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

It costs Jeremy Grantham a lot of money to get Lord Stern to read his political message.

Africans are dying, hoping to hear something different.

May 4, 2015 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Stern astern and flailing in the froth.

May 4, 2015 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

When Stern published his report, he was portrayed as being connected to the UK government who commissioned the it, when in fact he was owned and operated by $112 billion carbon trader Jeremy Grantham. That is the scale and the simplicity of the fraud.

Grantham gave his favourite, little poodle Nicky Stern her very own carbon credit ratings agency.

Stern launches carbon credit ratings agency

Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the UK’s Stern report on climate change, will launch a new carbon credit ratings agency on Wednesday, the first to score carbon credits on a similar basis to that used to rate debt.

May 4, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Awful misleading spin from Stern. John Humphrys wasnt a total poodle though. At the end when Stern started selling porkies about fossil fuel subsidies, JH challenged him quite strongly.

May 4, 2015 at 2:43 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I think Lord Stern needs to watch his nose - as in Pinocchio.

May 4, 2015 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Philip Foster, you have to watch who is pulling the strings - as in Pinocchio

May 4, 2015 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

When Stern published his report, he was portrayed as being connected to the UK government who commissioned the it, when in fact he was owned and operated by $112 billion carbon trader Jeremy Grantham. That is the scale and the simplicity of the fraud.

To quote Wiki: "Stern was recruited by Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to work for the British government where, in 2003, he became second permanent secretary at H.M. Treasury, initially with responsibility for public finances, and head of the Government Economic Service. Having also been Director of Policy and Research for the Commission for Africa, he was, in July 2005, appointed to conduct reviews on the economics of climate change and also of development, which led to the publication of the Stern Review. At the time, he ceased to be a second permanent secretary at the Treasury though he retained the rank until retirement in 2007; the review team he headed was based in the Cabinet Office."

Wiki is correct here. There was no fraud in the sense you imply: The Stern Review was an official report. Many saw it (rightly in my view) as a riposte to an earlier report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, "The Economics of Climate Change" (July 2005). It was, course, economically disingenuous and scientifically dishonest but that's another matter.

May 4, 2015 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Arctic Ice hasn't reduced in thickness in the last couple of years. Compare these animations

2012 - 2013

2014 - 2015

May 4, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


Thanks for that clarification.

I didn't mean to imply the mechanics of creating the Stern report was a fraud. I was implying that the exaggerated nonsense (fraud) in it was heavily influenced by his relationship with carbon trading billionaire, Jeremy Grantham.

To be honest, I hadn't realised he had senior government positions before that. I thought he had been commissioned by the government for that specific purpose. I therefore admit to misleading myself and everyone else, so I apologise for that.

This exaggeration.

Cambridge economist Partha Dasgupta calls Stern's combination of pure rate of time preference and rate of risk aversion "patently absurd" as this would imply a savings rate of 97.5% while the observed rate is around 15% . Berkeley economist Hal Varian shares Dasgupta's critique.

Richard Tol, an environmental economist at the Economic and Social Research Institute and lead author (amongst a total of over 450 lead authors) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that "If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a 'D' for diligence; but more likely I would give him an 'F' for fail.

May 4, 2015 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff, the Peter Principle says that people are promoted until they reach their own level of incompetence.

Nick, now Lord Stern is very proud to have got where he is today.

Useful ldiot was the traditional term, but I do not know how PC Jeremy Grantham is.

May 4, 2015 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

To be honest, I hadn't realised he had senior government positions before that.

To be fair, neither had pretty much anyone else. In an privately-circulated article I wrote a few years back, I commented that:

"The Treasury poached economist Sir Nicholas Stern from the World Bank on Gordon Brown's watch but he is rumoured not to have made the ‘inner circle’. Brown wanted the report to focus on international action to counter US arguments about the risk to economic growth of ‘acting’ on AGW but, as The Times noted (8 Dec 2006), Stern instead ‘argued that the economic costs of failing to act would, over time, far outweigh those of action now. He proposed carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes and investment in low-carbon technology. But his stark warnings of overwhelming evidence of global warming highlighted differences between Mr Brown – who wanted to avoid unpopular tax rises – and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, who pressed for green taxes . . . ’

"Predictably, the report attracted criticism from economists. It has since emerged that significant textual errors were corrected in time for the later print version but not, as propriety demands, properly reported. Most readers are thus unaware that the ‘1.3% of GDP’ which Stern argues would be the cost of AGW-related hurricane damage should in fact be 0.13% (or that Robert Muir-Woods, the insurance consultant cited by Stern as source, complains that ‘The idea that catastrophes are rising in cost partly because of Climate Change is completely misleading’). ‘Of course, even with the Table corrected, the Stern Review math does not [now] add up as the total GDP impact from USA, UK and Europe does not come anywhere close to the 1% global total for developed-country impacts (based on Muir-Wood), much less the higher values suggested as possible in the report's text.’ See: (which also links to pertinent press reports)."

As others have pointed out, Stern took the line that happened to suit Stern.

May 4, 2015 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB


Thanks. I followed Pielke Jr's blog very carefully at that time. I am no longer prepared to take Stern and his ilk seriously, but it does illustrate why they tried to take Pielke out of the game.

May 4, 2015 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

DaveB the World Bank gained out of losing Stern to Gordon Brown.

I wonder if the World Bank helped with a good reference.

May 4, 2015 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie

I'm disappointed you couldn't come up with a PC term for 'useful idiot'. A phrase apparently coined by Lenin. There must be something with Miliband in it that would work.

May 4, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Yet again you let Lord Stern off the hook!

The elephants in the room are the carbon emissions from China and India

10+2.8=12.8 Giga Tons of carbon per annum.
This represents 28%+7%=34%
One third of world’s emissions
Both of these countries are continuing to INCREASE their emissions over the next decade at more than 4% per annum
The question which should have been asked is:-
“What proposals have China and India made to reduce their emissions?”

Europe's emissions only represent 10% of global emissions.
Even the USA only represent 14% of global emissions
With Europe’s strong carbon control legislation our emissions are already FALLING at the rate of 1.8% per annum
The USA emissions are also falling

May 5, 2015 at 6:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

Paul Matthews (May 4, 2015 at 2:43 PM): it was not a particularly spirited challenge; Stern continued to use the word after JH questioned it that once, with no further challenges. I take it from the logic used that our income is not taxed at (to pick a number) 30%; it is the government subsidising our lifestyle by 70%. Who knew?

May 5, 2015 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

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