Monday, 19 February 2007

Auckland: David Henderson on the politics of climate change

When Al Gore lectured in Lecture Theatre 439 of Auckland's Engineering School a few months ago (picture left -- Al is the one on the right)), the room was packed with journalists, politicians and "decision-makers" -- "a cross-section of infuential New Zealanders" -- all of them hand-picked -- all of them applauding their hero; a spill-over audience outside and in other lecture theatres around the campus cheered Al to a standstill both coming and going; and John Boy Key emerged confessing all his buttons had been pushed after having undergone a Damascene conversion at the feet of Al Gore's slides.

This was not the scene at today's lecture on the politics of climate change delivered by David Henderson (right), the former head of economics and statistics for the OECD.

Henderson is in many ways a bureaucrat's bureaucrat, and today's was a far more sober affair. There were no journalists and politicians in high-profile attendance; no flash bulbs went off; no glossy slides to show; no films to sell; no Presidential campaigns to leverage - and there was time at the end for questions. It was a different affair entirely.

The reason for the lower key event was not just the sobriety of the speaker. Henderson the former bureaucrat has taken a very unbureaucratic and extremely unpopular line: he refuses to buy what he sees as the manufactured political consensus around global warming. This does not go down well in the mainstream.

Henderson has co-authored a major critique of the Stern Report, which he summarised for the audience. [You can find a link to the critique here -- it's well worth your time to download and read]. What he is specifically critical of is the handling by governments of the complex scientific and political issues around the science of global warming -- far ahead of the science establishing any reliable evidence for anthropogenic (ie, man-made) global warming -- of the "links with global salvationism" that have fuelled the alarmist 'consensus'; and the "race to regulate" that governments are stampeding towards, not least our own government in NZ.

He maintains that the IPCC process is significantly flawed, and that the world's governments are wrong to take their advice solely from this body. The "IPCC milieu," he says, "is characterised by a clear bias towards alarmism."

On the specific issue of the Clark Government's stated pursuit of a "carbon neutral economy," Henderson had this advice for Clark and other similarly disposed political leaders:
Rather than pursuing costly and meddlesome CO2 interventions, they should take steps instead to be more fully and objectively advised, especially before making [or trying to make] an economy "carbon neutral."
He finished with a warning, over and above the problems he sees with the science, of the intrusiveness of political action proposed in the wake of the alarmist reports, for example the enthusiasm of UK Environment Secretary David Milliband for the issuing of "personal ration books" for our "allowed" carbon consumption. As Neo-Jacobin noted at the time this enthusiasm was expressed, it is an imposition at once egregious and absurd that in an era of plenty this man is openly advocating imposing harsh austerity.

Such intrusiveness is made all the more acceptable by the uncritical acceptance of some very uncertain science.

With regard to this whole debate, Henderson concluded with a point that motivates many so-called skeptics. "There is a lot at stake in terms of who runs our lives," he said.

Ever the bureaucrat, even that conclusion is severely understated.

LINKS: Answering the Stern Gang on global warming - Not PC (Jan, 2007)
Britain deserves better - Daily Telegraph
Carbon rationing? Thanks ... but no thanks - A Neo-Jacobinn

RELATED: Global Warming, Politics-World, Politics-NZ, Economics


  1. When I saw the Libertarianz on my left and ACT on my right I realized that it was a good thing we are living in a benign strategic environment. Otherwise that room would have been a very effective target to really end the debate on climate change in NZ.

  2. I finally met up with Ken Ring in person after Prof. David Henderson's lecture. I have had many online debates on climate change topic with warmists where Ken Ring has been on the same side of the fence as myself, but his view is different from mine. I am on the scientific side of the debate while Ken has always been on the historical human pattern recognition of climate phenomena.

    Excellent presentation by Prof. David Henderson.

  3. Berand - who were you in the audience?

    I was sitting to the left of PC, were you the guy on his right?

  4. mikee said...
    were you the guy on his right?

    Yes, that was him on to the right of PC. Berend did ask a question to David Henderson.

  5. Pink shirt...dodgy beard...that's Berend.


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