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Why Economic and Scientific Models Underestimate Climate Change

Just before the expected publication of a key scientific report on global warming, Lord Stern, the former World Bank chief economist and author of the 2006 Stern review, has warned that scientific and economic predictions of the effects of climate change are dangerously undervalued.

Even so, he states that it would be “extraordinary and unscientific” to ignore the evidence and argue to delay actions intent on addressing the problem.

He claims that some of the more damaging potential impacts that could occur as a result of climate change, have been left out of scientific models as they are too difficult to quantify; and economic models underestimate the risks because they assume growth to continue at the current rate.

Related article: The Evolution of the Climate Debate: Business vs Business

“Both assumptions trivialise the problem and are untenable given the kind of change that could take place.”

He warns that a rise in temperature of 3-4°C by the end of the century would change the climate sufficiently that the conditions would be far different from those in which civilization developed. This will prevent the further development of civilization, and therefore continued growth.

He even suggested that hundreds of millions of people could be forced to leave their homes and find new regions in which to live, that the change to the climate could destroy infrastructure, and important services that nature currently provides.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to finalise its latest report into climate change and its causes. Stern says that “the IPCC report makes crystal clear that the risks from climate change are immense.

It would be extraordinary and unscientific to argue on the basis of 200 years of evidence that you're confident that the risks are small.

Those who would have us delay have to argue they're confident the risks are small. It would be an astonishing statement to make in light of all this evidence.”

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Related article: Politics has Doomed the Climate Change Debate

In order to battle the impending climate change Stern says that the European should show leadership and set a target to cut its total emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by 2030. He also warns that governments must help to create a stable investment environment to attract long-term investors to clean tech and renewable energy.

“Vacillation, lack of clarity, suggesting we might backtrack – all these things are very damaging to investment clarity and credibility in the medium term and long term.”

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com



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