More Quotes from Lord Stern – "Recklessness is the only word…"

By March 31, 2009 February 28th, 2013 Scenarios

From the Guardian, the UKs third largest daily, the Sunday edition of the Guardian is called the Observer and is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper. (March 30, 2009)

Lord Stern’s background can be found here. The following quote references Lord Sterns report in October 2006:

"When it came out, people thought I’d over- egged the omelet. But all the things people were looking at turned out to be worse than they thought. Doing nothing looks even more reckless than it did even a few years ago."  (The Guardian article says) He pauses, as if uneasy with such an intemperate word, but keeps going. "Recklessness is the only word. I mean, we have to recognize the scale of the risk. If we go on at anything like business as usual, we’ll be at concentration levels by the end of this century which will give us around a 50-50 chance of being above five degrees centigrade relative to, say, the 19th century. We humans are only 100,000 years old. We haven’t seen that for 30 to 50 million years. We haven’t seen three degrees centigrade for three million years. The idea that humans can easily adapt to conditions like these …"

(The Guardian continues) He lets the proposition tail away, too foolish even for words. "What will we do? We’ll move. People will move. Why? Because much of southern Europe will be desert. Other places will become underwater. Others will be hit by such severe storms with such frequency that they become almost uninhabitable. So hundreds of millions of people will move. You’re already seeing people moving in Darfur, where droughts devastated the grazing land of pastoralist people, and they moved, and come into conflict with people in the places they’re moving to. We’re seeing that already on just a 0.8 degree rise. We’re the first generation that has the power to destroy the planet. You’re re-writing the planet. So you can only describe as reckless ignoring risks like that."

Sterns analysis is based on a simple idea. If the science is correct, the costs of mitigation would be a fraction of the cost of not preparing and reacting to the impacts. If the science is wrong, the new low carbon costs would be "very far from disastrous", and the world would be better off "because we will have a world that is more energy efficient, with new and cleaner technologies, and is more biodiverse as a result of protecting the forests". When Stern was asked if the science could be wrong the reply was "It’s very, very remote," when asked if it would be less than one in 100 "Oh, much, much less."