The EU Fights Global Warming. Don't Worry about the Costs

Last week’s Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle (if you missed it, you can still see it here or here) illustrated among others how biased the prevailing climate dogma is: if you want to get a research grant to study squirrels, you won’t get funds, but if the request were to study the impact of global warming on squirrels, then there is plenty of money available.

It is no surprise that climate studies come to the alarming conclusion that climate change will cost us a fortune (and only these tend to be reported in the main stream media, because the others are too boring to be reported) and that any estimates of the cost of measures to combat climate change is at best vague, at worst inexistent.

Let’s take estimates of the cost of climate change (and all that is assuming that this planet will heat up by a couple of degrees, as the IPCC forecasts, something which seems a biased forecast anyway).

The most prominent forecast was a couple of months ago in the Stern Review, commissioned by the British Government. At the time, the review was hailed in the mainstream media as a milestone, translating climate change science into economics. The review, well over 700 pages long, arrived at truly astronomical cost estimates for the cost of “inaction” (“inaction” means not doing what the green lobby wants you to do to). At least 700 pages can also be written about all the inconsistencies and biases in this report, one of the biggest ones being the discount rate used to discount from the future to today the cost of climate change if nothing is done about it. This discount factor probably has a greater impact than almost any other, yet, unbelievably, it is skirted around in the report (see for instance this annex which manages not even to mention the figure). However, the discount rate used in the review is approximately 0.1% per annum. Any 2nd year economics student would fail his/her exam if he/she argued that you justify incurring an expense today to avoid a future one and you used a discount rate of a mere 0.1% to compare both. Any economics student would also know that you discount future costs or revenues at a discount rate which takes into account real future growth, inflation and, often, a risk discount.

Instead Stern assumes significant future economic growth and CO2 pollution (the review assumes a temperature increase of 5 degrees C by the end of the 21st century, a temperature which is above the 1.5 – 4.5 degrees range which the IPCC thinks likely), i.e. people in 100 or 200 years will be much richer than today. But he then discounts the cost of climate change in 100 years’ time back to today at only 0.1% per year, i.e. ignoring we are much poorer today than in 2100 or later. This allows him to take a problem which is either relatively small or improbable in 100 or 200 years at that time, but which is tremendously expensive when discounted back to today. Assume for example that the world economy will grow at 3% for the next century and that therefore the world production grows from - say GDP - $100 today to $1,921 in 100 years. Assume also that because of climate change there are costs of $22 in the year 2107, i.e. just over 1% of GDP in 100 years’ time. If one then discounts this back at a mere 0.1% per year as the Stern review does (because the reports studiously avoids going into specific details on this key issue, arguing that the rate should be a “social discount rate”), then the cost in today’s terms is a staggering $20 or 20% of the 2007 GDP (20% by the way is the figure the Stern report comes up with for the net present value of future damage from climate changes). If however Stern had compared apples with apples and merely used the growth rate – forgetting the risk discount – as discount rate, then the net present value today of the 2107 cost of $22 would have been a mere 1% of today’s GDP. Alas, a mere 1% would have been nowhere near spectacular enough to make the news headlines.

However, the media (see e.g. the ever reliable BBC) saw the number 20% in the review, and that is what we were told was the cost of climate change, to the delight of politicians who saw a good excuse to raise taxes which would be used for other purposes than doing something about climate change of course. The best critique I have seen of this voodoo economics is by William Nordhaus.

Another climate cost scare story can be found reported here this week, in Der Spiegel, another reliable source of eco-doom stories. Note that the headline states an amount which is to be incurred in the future and, when properly discounted to today, would be much, much smaller. Never mind that they only look at the downsides, such as less skiing but conveniently forget the upsides, such as that perhaps more people would spend summer holidays in Germany if the climate became warmer. And they assume that more Germans would die as a result of warmer weather: this would make Germany unique in the developed world (see below).

All this pseudo-science makes me suspicious, so I started reading a bit more about the costs of global warming. To my surprise I found that it seems there may be significant benefits to global warming, unless it gets out of hand, which it truly doesn’t look like when you dig a bit deeper in the IPCC reports (in fact, the more you dig in the IPCC or similar reports, the more relaxed one becomes: it is so obvious that the conclusions had been decided in advance).

For starters, people live longer and healthier lives when it is warm. I will only mention in passing that more CO2 seems also to be better for the biosphere, i.e. increased plant growth to better sustain animals and humans. We are bombarded with alarming media articles each summer about high death rates during then hottest periods. But many more people die of cold than of heat exhaustion in much of the world. Now ecologist might retort that this argument doesn’t apply to regions where it is always warm. Fine, but if one were to take the moralistic high ground – which I approve of – then people in warmer and poorer parts of the world do not need a temperature reduction of a couple of degrees in 100 years but have far more important and immediate priorities, which would save far more lives (and in my book, saving human lives is still more important than ecological pet projects), such as investing more to combat AIDS, malnutrition or to provide better sanitation. All these measures would be cheap compared to what the eco-lobby wants us to spend on its projects. On AIDS alone, the Copenhagen Consensus estimates that spending a mere US$ 27 billion by 2010 could prevent 28 million cases of AIDS and hence millions and millions of deaths. This begs the question : how much will all these green measures to combat the emission of greenhouse gases cost compared to US$ 27 billion?

The EU, or rather, a small group of politicians, last week adopted draconian commitments to reduce the output of greenhouse gasses by 20% by 2020. This is of course pure grandstanding. Only a few EU countries have met their Kyoto commitments so far and if so, partly by buying permits from countries like Russia, which is a true zero game sum in environmental terms (but a monumental waste of money). Despite all criticism of the US, at least the US doesn’t sign treaties it then doesn’t live up to - and actually recorded an increase in greenhouse gas emissions which was below that of many Kyoto signatories.

The new EU commitments are even less likely to ever be achieved than the Kyoto ones, but the madness of the whole process is best illustrated by the fact that politicians have adopted these commitments without seeming to have a clue as to what the cost will be. Only Dirk Kurbjuweit in Der Spiegel has reported the embarrassing moment, when an intrepid reporter had dared to ask German finance minister Steinbrück at a press conference of his boss and acting EU president, Angela Merkel, what the total cost would be of these new greenhouse measures:

Steinbrück -- whose own personal climate runs the gamut from ice age to overheated -- first turned ashen before being unable to suppress a grin. Steinbrück's body language seemed to be saying: It's going to cost us a heap of money, but don't believe for a minute that I would be stupid enough to say as much. Merkel jumped to his support by offering an evasive answer to the question: Don't worry, it'll all work out.

L.A. Times

The global warming hysteria has completely swamped the mainstream media.  Consider this op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, in which a pyschologist (!) confidently asserts it is more likely Lower Manhattan will be inundated with glacier run-off in the next couple decades than a Saudi terrorist will bring down another airplane.,0,3492194.story?track=mostviewed-homepage

The IPCC, by the way, estimates that ocean levels might rise as much as half a meter by 2100 -- hardly enough to flood Manhattan.

It really HAS turned into a religion...

Well, unfortunately for the global warming alarmists, this could be the beginning of the age of reason with regards to climate change.  These apocalyptic prophecies are hard to believe, especially since I'm still waiting for that ice age to come that was also forecast.  It is true that to the lay-person the graphs are not really 'user-friendly' to read, but, neither are the ones shown by the Goracle.  In any case, these scientists in the program are not about to rescind their remarks.  Having a degree in Physics and studied meteorology, this program made more sense than what the alarmists are pushing.  I think it needs to be noted that this is only regarding the relationship of CO2 to global temperature and not about pollution, which is a real problem which requires attention.  Just recently there was a debate about this in NY and the 'cynics' came out ahead 48% to 42% as opposed to something like 58% to 28% against them.  There IS hope for rational thinking and science after all.

Say it isn't so!

Dear Dosser - Am I correct in thinking that your degree in physics is an undergraduate one, that you do not work as a scientist, and that your meteorological studies were not at a higher degree level? I would hate to think that you are making an appeal to authority on exaggerated grounds.

Nothing you say refutes the fact that the director of the Channel 4 programme cooked the data, admitting so himself - if grudgingly. And Carl Wunsch, a scientist who appeared on the programme, has disavowed the misuse of his statements there. See

However, I do love the way you say CO2 is good for you, good for me, good for the biosphere. You mean, like on Venus?

You're quacking up

Had principals of truth in advertising been applied to the heading of Mr Beart's piece, it could have better been labelled with the old Marxist adage "Who are you going to believe - me, or your own eyes?"

In the old days, climate warming deniers would have been flat-earthers, but now they are spoiled for choice, with creation "science" and global warming denial available off the shelf - along with much other irrationality and crackpot religion - for use as their hobbyhorses.

I wonder how many of you geniuses who have commented thus far on the Beart piece are aware of the admissions recently made by Durkin, the director of The Great Global Warming Swindle (the Channel 4 "documentary"), regarding his invention and cooking of climate data and charts for that programme. When confronted, he said "There was a fluff here." This is putting it mildly!

The entire programme is seriously flawed, and is itself a swindle, using out-of-date information, graphs containing serious errors, false attributions of sources, and omission of data that did not support Durkin's argument.

For an analysis, check

I sometimes wonder whether the denial of many respondents to this site on the warming question isn't driven by guilt and self-hatred, at their own unwillingness to get their fat butts out of their SUVs and start walking. As Jim Kunstler is fond of saying, the cheap gasoline/MacMansion/Cheeze Doodles fiesta will be soon over, whether you like it or not.

to roughdoggo, as scientist to scientist

"the cheap gasoline/MacMansion/Cheeze Doodles fiesta will be soon over"

hey, are you jelous? Real scientists, like you and me would never make their prediction basing on jelousy. As for me, I drive Chevy Caprice with V8 engine. Try it, it is not SO expensive. Maybe you will change your mind regarding warming, too.


they need it at any cost

EU really needs this global warming and need to fight it at any cost. Because they failed all real problems and see the decline of their popularity. They also understand (they are not silly) that Europe itself is endangered because of their policy, and their end is coming soon. Therefore, they desperately need to invent some mortal danger, which 1) could deflect people's attention from real danger and 2) which they can successfully fight and prevent.


The best way to find out what the real costs are to "global warming," is to start a market in which people can hedge against it. I have more faith the in the market processes than anything forecasted by some government report.


Why not present the costs of CO2-hype to their producers: the eco hot heads and the media. The consumer and the polluter pay. So why not present the bill of a useless hype to its originators? Oh yes that's right: they are victims with woolen cloths with holes in it, people who are very keen on what they wear.

These are the people who are allowed to rampage through Copenhague because they have to leave a building which they don't own. It is so bad that the contractors who are hired to tear down the house, have to wear masks and conceal the name on the cranes and trucks of the company they work for. That's right, this is the free world. And in the free and democratic world these thugs are not named by name by the pollitical correct media: leftist bandits. Oh no, the political correct media are not going to put their comrades in the wrong spotlight. Luckily there were some people in Belgium who were honoring German soldiers on a cemetary. They didn't destroy anything, set any fires, hit anyone. Heck, anything will do to hide the comrades.

Leave it to the scientists

This article nicely refutes the mantra of global warming alarmists:  that we ignorant laymen should never question the expertise of scientists (like Al Gore!).  Climatologists are not experts in demography or economics, so their predictions are nearly useless.  I think the tide is already turning and the hysteria will be put to rest.  Let's hope so.  The effect of greenhouse gases on climate is a fascinating phenomenon and a legitimate concern, but the hysteria, if allowed to dominate the discussion, will simply make scientists in general look as foolish as, say, animal rights activists.