The Stern Review | Varying Interpretations

howard stern onair 01 The Stern Review | Varying Interpretations

When The Stern Review into the Economics of Climate Change was released last year many applauded its contents. One of those was former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Blair felt it was the most important report about the future ever written by the UK Government. However, after many experts have had a look at the report, they feel it just may be overrating the risks of global warming, and taking too lightly the cost to prevent and stop it.

Chief reporter of the report, Sir Nicolas Stern’s message was very straightforward: if nothing was done about global warming, the annual cost would be the same as 5% of Global GDP now and in the future. Yet acting on this could prevent a major disaster. Blair reiterated this at the reports launch last year.

According to the experts, the report, looked at in detail, doesn’t mention the problem in such an extreme way as previously thought. It states that these figures would not start to show up for another 100 years, and the forecast for a catastrophe would not be seen in our lifetime.

While the government and political leaders praised this report, experts feel that it contained some major imperfections. These experts do feel there is a crisis at hand in regards to global warming and that we must act now to prevent the crisis from moving further into bigger problems.

Richard Tol, professor of economics at both Hamburg and Carnegie Mellon Universities feels this to be a horribly misleading report. Tol’s works are sited at least 63 times in the report, yet he said he does not agree with the report’s findings. Tol feels that Stern is a pessimist, constantly looking at the worst in everything as well as picking and choosing in his estimations.

Several economists are also skeptical about the figures Stern uses to estimate the costs of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and feel that the annual cost would only be 1% of the GDP. Yet economist Robert Mendelsohn of Yale University feels that Stern might be right on with his predictions, and it could be much higher of a percent. Mendelsohn stated, “One of the depressing things about the greenhouse gas problem is that the cost of eliminating [it] is quite high. We will actually have to sacrifice a great deal to cut emissions dramatically”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be releasing a 4th report. They warn that if you want to see figures resembling the ones found in the Stern Report, you’ll be highly disappointed. The IPCC report will show predictions significantly lower than Stern’s findings.

So, what’s the bottom line? Those who critique Stern’s report are not saying that we should do nothing about climate change; however, they question the sacrifice now for something that may not happen in a hundred years. When you place science and political reviews over the same topic together, you will always find a great difference of opinion. I want to look at what science has to say, “What are the environmental findings in regards to our global warming?”

I choose to stand behind them and focus on my part in preventing it — regardless of whether or not I see the major effects in my lifetime. We need to think about our future generations and how the impact of what we are doing now will affect their future. That’s my bottom line.



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