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Quotes of the day

Today's words of wisdom come from Ruth Dixon's review of Lord Stern's latest opus.

Stern is...selective in his choice of data. He frequently ignores mainstream scientific evidence (such as that found in the authoritative reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) in favour of outlying estimates.

The type of small-scale solar PV [Stern] describes is a good way to supply electricity for lights, phone and internet access to remote communities, but it is fanciful to suppose that such systems can provide enough power for cooking.

Even in his own words, Stern makes clear that he does not view objectivity as an overriding concern.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (35)

I wouldn't pay a penny to read Stern's bloviating.

Sep 2, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterWindy

Poor Ruth will be at the receiving end of Bob Ward soon.

Sep 2, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Whaddya expect from the man who, allegedly by bad advice (carbon trading) to Lehman Bros, started the 2008 financial crash:

Perhaps he's trying to cover his ar$e?

Sep 2, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Thanks, Andrew! This link takes you to a non-paywalled version of my book review (which I was invited to contribute) (open access until mid-October) and here's a summary on my blog

I'm more than happy to debate the content with Bob Ward or anyone else.

Sep 2, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

It is not possible to have a debate with Bob Ward. He is always right (in his opinion, and no other opinion matters).

Sep 2, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Stern's guidance on how to wreck entire economies, and make money at the same time, has made him popular with self appointed experts in charge of spending other people's money, and wrecking other people's lives.

This book is a must read for greedy ego-maniacs everywhere. The author lives a very comfortable life, and sits in the House of Lords.

Sep 2, 2015 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Check out number 11

Sep 2, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Stern was also highly selective and indeed altered a key graph on plant productivity that showed increased yields at higher temperatures and CO2 to fit the narrative that Climate Change was going to have an adverse impact on agriculture.
The reality is that yields have increased steadily from 2007 to 2014.

Stern is a liar.

Sep 2, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

In the event that a "debate" with Bob Ward is on the cards, I would like a ticket. I fear, however, that Phillip Bratby is right.

Sep 2, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Don Keiller, let us not forget how financially rewarding Stern has found his deceits to be. His sugar daddy Grantham, also rates him as a useful tool in making money out of exploiting fears about global warming

Sep 2, 2015 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

My money's on the Dixon gal. Up against someone like Bob , the ref'll stop it early.


Sep 2, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

I will not engage with liars and propagandists.

Sep 2, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff did not give the attribution of his excellent quote, "I will not engage with liars and propagandists": Jeremy Corbyn. Or was it well known saviour of world, G. Brown?

Sep 2, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill


It was me, myself alone, Ebeneezer Smiff II.

I have no idea who Jeremy Corbyn is, beyond being a reincarnation of Michael Foot. I have literally never heard or read a single word he has uttered.

Sep 2, 2015 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Don't worry, esmiff, Jeremy Corbyn hasn't said anything worth listening too.

His words epitomise the term "infantile rant".

Sep 2, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

esmiff, you may never have read or heard anything by Corbyn, but do not worry, Corbyn has also forgotten much of what he previously said and wrote anyway. His short term memory is better than Andy Burnham's though.

The lessons from "Yes Prime Minister", have been forgotten by politicians. Some BBC TV repeats are worth watching, the political stories keep being repeated, the colour of the political flag is irrelevant.

Sep 2, 2015 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I should say that I must have seen quotes from Corbyn, but I did not inhale.

golf charlie

To understand British politics, you only have to watch one video, featuring Yes Prime Minister's biggest fan.

Thatcher Denies Having Ever Subscribed to Monetarism

If the Prime Minister didn't believe in her own economic policies, who imposed them on her ?

Sep 2, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff, when Yes Prime Minister was originally shown, some 'Senior MP's' would watch it with their senior civil servants. They would all laugh throughout an episode, but at different times.

Sep 2, 2015 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Even Better QOTD:

"If we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century " - The President of The United States


Sep 2, 2015 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Isn't it wonderful that Stern identifies solar power as being useful for providing lighting, internet etc in remote areas. It is a bit like the "it is always windy somewhere" unsustainable argument, for windfarms. People most need artificial light when the sun is not shining.

This remains a mystery to those who believe in the permanent sun light, illuminating the rear of their pants.

Sep 2, 2015 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ruth says in her review: "A clear majority of the public is convinced of the risk of climate change and supports climate action. So what is delaying a wholesale switch to a low-carbon economy? Stern provides no satisfactory answer to that question.” I think Occams Razor could assist here?

Ruth cites the DECC Public Attitudes Tracker in determining that there is widespread public support for renewables - I'm not sure that adds much weight to her argument. A quick look at the DECC questions makes clear that at no stage is the subject asked if they would feel the same if their bills get more (or considerably more) expensive etc.

I would suggest that the primary reason "a wholesale switch" hasn't occurred is that reality is colliding with delusions/hopes/aspirations.

Sep 2, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterVarco

Bad Andrew, if Obama believes that if we "do nothing", Arctic temperature will rise by that amount, "doing nothing" must be a form of energy production worth investing in, especially as production costs would be zero.

Government questions about what to do about the unemployed, elderly etc could be answered. Parents of teenage children would also take inspiration.

Sep 2, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


I noted the other day that Amber Rudd has commissioned a study into the true cost of renewables that will account for the added costs to the grid etc.

Sep 2, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Varco (3:25 pm) "A quick look at the DECC questions makes clear that at no stage is the subject asked if they would feel the same if their bills get more (or considerably more) expensive etc."

Yes, I agree - public support is broad, but not at all deep. I was arguing - probably not very clearly - against Stern's view that more public support for 'action' is needed to inspire politicians to act. If politicians wanted to do more, they have these opinion poll numbers to back up their actions. It's not clear what they could do with (say) 85% support that they can't do with 80%.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

It doesn't add up....

It would be worth Amber Rudd trying to establish what is "renewable" about unreliable power generation.

The quoted life spans of wind turbines are not based on fact, nor are their actual figures for power generation when new, let alone after 5 years. The costs of routine maintenance are high, before non routine repairs are required.

As for wind turbines stuck on the sea bed ......

But what does it matter to the profiteers, as excess profits are guaranteed by taxpayers, and when it goes wrong financially they just walkaway, and start again, leaving a legacy for our grandchildren to glare at and despise.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I'm not sure whether "golf charlie" has noticed, but solar powered garden lights have been a popular and cheap product for at least ten or fifteen years now.

The solution to the apparent paradox is that they contain a technology known as a "rechargeable battery".

Storing enough energy to be useful for lighting is not a difficult problem. Indeed handheld but quite adequate torches powered for quite a number of hours by disposable batteries have been available for over a century.

Powering heating or transportation with stored solar is quite another matter, but anything handheld that can normally be run from batteries can be easily and cheaply run from solar recharged batteries now.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Hoult

One wonders how Stern, being so obvious about his derelictions and deceit, ever thought he would get away with it.

It's arrant balderdash, and would be funny were it not so tragic. One of the world's wreckers.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Debating Ward is easy. He is all hat and no cattle.

Ward, however, is liable to smear your name, in public as well as in private.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Ruth (4.05pm)
I agree up to a point. Stern is, I am sure, well aware that faux 'public opinion' - as you note "Public pressure via the Friends of the Earth’s ‘Big Ask’ was instrumental in achieving the UK Climate Change Act." - and the laughable DECC opinion poll are merely a part of the required justification for political action, not the cause of it.

What is more perplexing is the sustained political drive for renewables, given that rudimentary analysis of current data such as makes clear the catastrophic implications for consumers and industry alike. Figure 1 - illustrating the relationship between unit cost for energy and installed renewables per capita from the article ought to be prompting urgent questions in any mature and rational economy.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterVarco

Bruce Holt,

I had actually noticed that solar powered lights only power lights for a few hours after dark. This is perfectly acceptable, and provides no problems at all, in an English summer providing free lighting for a few hours after dark, during those lovely al fresco barbeque soirees when mains electricity is always available if required.

This is probably the extent of Stern's experience of the joys of solar lighting aswell.

Modern expensive rechargeable batteries can be recharged and discharged about 300 times. So if you are relying on Father Christmas to bring you new ones for free, that is still 2 months a year with no lighting.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Bruce Holt, battery technology has improved, but in practical terms, batteries are NOT a reliable source of rechargeable power, from unreliable power supplies on a daily basis.

A 12volt car lead acid car battery should last about 6 years. If you run your car battery 'flat', even a handful of times, such that your car will not restart, the life of the battery is dramatically reduced. Leaving the lights on is not so common, but those using lap tops etc for protracted periods in a car will reduce battery life.

Mobile phone battery technology has improved, and got smaller, but you will not get 6 years life expectancy guaranteed.

Why aren't wind and solar provided with batteries to deal with over supply? Hydro electric can't do it, nor can nuclear power stations.

Making sweeping assumptions about battery capabilities is stock in trade for Greens. Unfortunately the trade don't stock them.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ruth Dixon's review is (possible too) restrained and reasoned in assessing the effluent from this dangerous lunatic.
His work is seriously divorced from world in which we live.
His vision of "chaos, conflict and destruction towards the middle and second half of this century..... could include hundreds of millions of people having to move". Excuse me - the United Nations Refugee Agency tells as that there are now some 60 million displaced from their habitat, some 38.3 million within their own homelands (such as they are) and about 20 million outside those borders (classed as refugees). This is now without any hint of meaningful climate change.
Does he explain how the effect of "climate change" can be worse than this? His answer is action which will hamper our ability to cope with this - by his own (reluctant?) admission "curbing emissions MAY POSSIBLY slow growth" -MAY indeed. Ruth you too soft - "one might equally (un) fairly say carbon markets are infested by corruption" , what's unfair about that?
The ultimate question " So what is delaying the wholesale switch to a low carbon economy? Stern provides no answer to that question". That is because he knows the answer - it is economic and social suicide leading to impoverished enslavement and untimely death - ironically the state from which some 60 million of our fellows have currently fled.

Sep 2, 2015 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

Why Are We Waiting?’.
I’m waiting for ennobled economists, commoner economists, media personalities, scientists, political leaders, actors, celebrities, sports stars, religious leaders, academic societies, the medical community, royalty etc., to lead by example.
After all no-one is forced to use fossil fuelled energy.

Sep 2, 2015 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Golf Charlie,

I'm sorry if your English summer is inadequate to charge your garden lights for all-night operation. It seems to be enough in NZ. Maybe they should spec larger solar cells there?

300 cycles on a battery is a bit out of date. It was true for, say, laptops made before about 2008. When, for example, Apple introduced the "unibody" MacBook Pros in October 2008 with non-replaceable batteries they specified that the battery is good for 1000 full discharge cycles.

With partial discharges you get many more than that, in a pretty much linear way.

Sep 3, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Hoult

Chris Hanley - I am, the alternative would be hypothermia every winter.

Sep 3, 2015 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

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