This week has been a PR disaster for the North Pole. No sooner had scientists shown that the Antarctic really had been warming up a bit, actually, probably due to climate change and everything, than it was proved that Emperor penguins are more screwed even than the polar bears:
Emperor penguins, whose long treks across Antarctic ice to mate have been immortalised by Hollywood, are heading towards extinction, scientists say.
Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100.
That wasn’t the week’s only Disney-esque polar-flip. The BBC tells us that the theory of evolution is now as robust as climate science. Enjoy the closing remarks of BBC4’s otherwise excellent What Darwin Didn’t Know:
Perhaps, then, evolution does not so much resemble the weather as it does our climate. At the grander scales of space and time, the atmosphere is not chaotic. The physics of our planet imposes order, and thus predictability upon it. So, although we can scarcely tell what the weather will be three weeks from now, we can predict, at least probablilistically, what the climate will be three centuries hence.
All of which will be news to climate modellers.
Elsewhere… it was a while ago now, but our original post about Lord Professor Sir Nicholas Stern’s potential conflict of interests regarding his writing of the influential Stern report on the economics of climate change and his executive position with IDEAglobal drew a certain amount of criticism at the time. Eg:
I hate to deprive your charming readers of any opportunity for the foam-flecked ranting they so obviously enjoy, but there is a gaping hole in your argument here.
Stern was not connected to IDEAcarbon/IDEAglobal at the time he wrote his report on climate change, or indeed when he served as chief economist at the World Bank. If he had been, or if his report had been funded in any way by companies that stood to gain from its findings, then there would have been a conflict of interest. As it stands, the comparison with Exxon’s funding of climate denialists doesn’t hold up to a moment’s scrutiny.
As smear campaigns go, this one is well below even your own usual standards.
environmentalists wouldn’t be satisfied if it were a sceptical scientist (even though Stern is not a scientist) who had been instrumental in influencing anti-mitigation, anti-Kyoto policy decisions in governments throughout the world, who later landed a top job in a company selling PR, financial, and market intelligence products to the oil industry. There would be talk of ‘the tobacco strategy’. There would be talk of private and political interests ‘manufacturing uncertainty’.
However, it is a joy to be able to plug the gulf that separates those double standards with this article from 4 August 1999:
Nick Stern, who has been made chairman of London Economics, has advised the IMF and the World Bank, and of course had to be a terrible Europhile to work for the EBRD, of gold taps and Jacques Attali fame. Professor Stern will be full-time chairman until he adds a half-time Chair in Economics at the London School of Economics
The Prof also joined the advisory board of IDEAglobal.com yesterday to give the web consultancy a weekly round-up on global economics. How he finds the time, goodness knows.
Soon after Stern started at IDEAglobal, he was appointed chief economist at the World Bank:
IDEAglobal.com announced today that professor Nicholas Stern of its Advisory Board was named Chief Economist of the World Bank. Professor Stern succeeds Joseph Stiglitz and is due to take up his new post in July.
As a member of its Advisory Board Professor, Stern contributes to IDEAglobal.com’s research on international financial markets and global economic policy. Professor Stern is the former Chief Economist of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, where he played a key role in advising on the transition process in Eastern and Central Europe.