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Providing a rationale for more government is exactly what Lord Stern has done, first with the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, released in 2006, and now with his Blueprint for a Safer Planet. The then-Chancellor Gordon Brown commissioned the Review to provide support for government climate policy. It was researched by a large team of government economists led by Stern, a senior UK and international bureaucrat and, most conveniently, Labour Party loyalist. Stern, then plain Sir Nicholas, gave Brown and Prime Minister Blair exactly what they wanted and in so doing became a policy wonk celebrity. He was given a life peerage for his efforts.

Although the mammoth Review appears to be a most professional piece of work and contains an impressive economic apparatus, its methodology and analysis have been rubbished by leading resource economists. The include William Nordhaus of Yale, Richard Tol with multiple academic appointments, Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge, and a team headed by David Henderson, former chief economist at the OECD (to whom Lawson dedicates his book).

I expect many more people will buy Stern's new book than Lawson's, but I doubt that many will read much of it. It is dreary, tedious and full of humbug, but since it appears to confirm the conventional wisdom, buyers can feel reassured by having it on their shelves. The irony is that Lawson's understanding, if not his conclusions, is closer to the mainstream than Stern's. Although acclaimed as a pillar of the establishment view that global warming is a looming catastrophe that requires drastic and immediate action, he is in fact on the extreme fringe on both the science and the economics.

On the science, Stern claims that the case for alarm is indisputable. In fact, however, he does not base his case on scientific facts and observations but rather on the alarming predictions of computer models. As Lawson points out, this is a public relations con by the alarmist industry. The computer models have no forecasting ability, nor do United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists claim that they do, however much they give that impression. 

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