Quote of the week – climate catastrophe deja vu all over again

With apologies to the late great Yogi Berra, who surely would have something to say about this climate inanity, and via Bishop Hill, we have this reminder of the ghost of alarmism past:

Sir John Houghton once famously said:

Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.

Except actually he didn’t say that. His real words were:

“If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

Now, in an eerie echo of the learned Sir John, we have the words of Robert Stavins, the head of Harvard’s Environmental Economics program:

It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction

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52 Responses to Quote of the week – climate catastrophe deja vu all over again

  1. The Monster says:

    I believe Yogi Berra is alive and doing well for an 85-year-old.

    REPLY: Well that’s what I get for not double checking. Thanks for setting me straight – Anthony

  2. Pull My Finger says:

    Good old Yogi is still alive and well. :) In fact he has his own website.
    http://www.yogiberra.com/

    REPLY: Well that’s what I get for not double checking. Thanks for setting me straight – Anthony

  3. Scott Covert says:

    And then it will be prudent to act, not before.

    No one knows what form disasters will take, why prepare for heat when cold is just as likely?

  4. Dwight Eisenhart says:

    Of course the reverse is not true. If there are no dramatic events and the AGW is proved to be bunk, they will not come out and say that we are sorry to put everyone through environmental hell and sorry to have made people spend Billions of Dollars on losing environmental technologies.

  5. Leon Brozyna says:

    Tsk, tsk … not too many steps removed from making Tom Clancy’s book, Rainbow Six, published in 1998, prophetic. In it, zealous environmentalists plan to release a super virus that is hyper contagious and would only leave a few hundred million survivors to marvel as the planet changes with the absence of mankind.

  6. P Walker says:

    In other news , AMAP has released a report declaring that Arctic ice is melting at an even faster rate than previously thought . I don’t have a link , but it has been on the Fox news ticker this pm . Someone may have posted it in T&N , but it might be worth a main page posting .

  7. Tom in Florida says:

    From http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/disaster-needed-for-u-s-to-act-on-climate-change-stavins-says.html

    “Stavins, an economist, is a member of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in 2007 that scientists are more than 90 percent certain that humans are causing global warming. ”

    That’s all I needed to know.

  8. Jim Sorenson says:

    You can ask Yogi here about what he thinks about his premature demise.

    http://www.yogiberramuseum.org/about-yogi/ask-yogi

    He’ll probably answer that “It’s not over till It’s over”.
    I would not worry about it; I think a lot of people are dead who aren’t.

  9. 2hotel9 says:

    Never let a crisis go to waste. Rahm Emanuel must be advising Harvard on their issuing of climate policy.

  10. Stephen Wilde says:

    “until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction”

    Isn’t that as it should be?

    Isn’t that applicable to every field of human activity?

    If action is not necessary then it is necessary not to take action.

  11. Bloke down the pub says:

    As if there haven’t always been disasters caused by climate.

  12. Eric Anderson says:

    I’m not sure I disagree with Stavins. In fact, I hope he is correct: namely, that unless and until there is an actual major catastrophe that is unequivocally linked to CAGW, people won’t be inclined to spend large sums on the matter.

  13. 1DandyTroll says:

    “Sir John Houghton once famously said: Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”

    Spoken like a true communist. Rational people, of course, just get people ready to laugh or prep people to get ready to save money . . . both of which, of course, is a disaster for any communist: People happily saving money.

  14. Policyguy says:

    Be careful not to jump to Harvard bias conclusions. I know Stavins. He’s as clear thinking, articulate and as bright as they come. Interpret his words as stated. As of today, those words are accurate. And should not be problematic to anyone that visits WUWT.

  15. Theo Goodwin says:

    “Robert Stavins, the head of Harvard’s Environmental Economics program:”

    What he really meant to say was: “We will not have a robust academic department with lots of new professors, lots of cute graduate students, and lots of that ever so delicious tenure with all of its incredible perqs, the last noble employment of mankind, until there are some ferocious disasters that we can loudly and professorally blame on climate change!” /sarc

  16. pat says:

    Environmental Economics = Pretend Discipline

  17. RockyRoad says:

    It sounds like Stavins is becoming the perfect politician–one can interpret what he says either way: 1) He’s absolutely sure that nothing should be done until we understand what should be done, or 2) He’s hedging his bets, hoping to capitalize on doublespeak so when things go north or south, he’ll have sufficient resources ($grants$) in place to expand his intellectual kingdom.

    We’ll just have to wait and see, but if weather is any indication of climate, I’m seeing very little proof that Mother Nature thinks it’s global warming.

  18. DJ says:

    If you don’t have a good climate disaster to point to, then make one.

    Perform a clever trick and bend the numbers. It’ll be worse than we thought. By a factor of 3.

  19. Jim Higson says:

    I do quite a bit of temperature control engineering and keeping as tight a proportional band as the Earth has is nearly impossible.

    Off topic but the last big tornado swarms in the USA was in the seventies and was blamed on global cooling. Make the data fit the theory and follow the money.

    The one thing that is not mentioned by the climate hoaxers is that a warmer climate is infinitely preferable to having a colder global climate.

  20. stevo says:

    “Sir John Houghton once famously said: Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”

    No, he didn’t. The quote was made up by Piers Akerman. Were you ignorant of that, or did you know that and decide to spread falsehoods anyway?

    REPLY: Are you blind? Are you unable to read the full post? Sheesh! READ THE WHOLE POST BEFORE ACCUSING PEOPLE – Anthony

  21. Mike McMillan says:

    Back when Berra was managing the Astros, we chartered the team back to Houston from San Diego, and he came up to the cockpit and chatted for a while. No Yogi-isms, but a nice guy. The crew all got team autographed baseballs out of it.

  22. Mike McMillan says:

    Bloke down the pub says: May 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    As if there haven’t always been disasters caused by climate.

    Lots by weather, few by climate.

  23. Publius says:

    “…until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction…”

    Hey. Wasn’t the 9.0 quake and tsunami enough?

  24. Latitude says:

    “we’ll have to have a disaster.”

    Good Lord….
    They’ve tried to make every weather event a disaster and claim it’s global warming…
    …since day one
    Including earthquakes and tsunamis

    Even though it makes them look like morons, they keep doing it.

  25. Smokey says:

    Our Hoser contingent should be congratulated for helping their country come to its senses. Great job, eh? The West needs a leader like Canada.

  26. James Sexton says:

    It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction

    lol, what that pinhead doesn’t understand, is that we have experienced “observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature.”

    What happens is that people of this nation pull together, fix what is necessary and go on. We look back at the events with a sense of pride that it doesn’t stop this nation. It is in our DNA to go through adversity. We don’t succumb to it! Did 9/11 cause us to decide to give into the type fanaticism that caused the death of thousands of our countrymen? No, it strengthened our resolve. We adhere to a bit of Nietzsche. Did we see an uprising of global warming concern from our brothers and sisters in the south in regard to the recent outbreak of tornadoes? No, and we won’t. They’ll set their jaw, clean up the mess, mourn the dead, and move forward. It is what we do, it is how we respond to adversity, it is what we are.

    Unfortunately, we also have interspersed throughout our population some who haven’t bothered to take the time to understand the group of people about whom he’s speaking. I’ll leave to everyone else to discern his mental capacity from this.

    Even if the dark totalitarian Malthusian fantasies where correct, which they are not.
    (Click here to see the latest decadal correlation between CO2 and temps.
    ) We wouldn’t react in the manner Stavins thinks we might. I’m not sure how we’d react if these totalitarian Malthusian fantasies were accepted as factual, but I’m sure it would be a total mess. Our liberties and enterprise are too precious to let a bit of weather change our ways.

  27. lori says:

    Speaking of remarkable quotations, the UEA’s Prof Mike Hulme said on public radio in Australia the other day that

    ‘we are “just as uncertain” about climate sensitivity as we were 25 years ago’.

    So the science is settled alright; our ignorance is incurable.

    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2011/05/03/buying-scientists-at-the-afr/#comment-210830

  28. Policyguy says:

    Please excuse the double comment, but after some errands I came back and reviewed the source of the comment in question. It was originally published in Bloomberg reports at

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/disaster-needed-for-u-s-to-act-on-climate-change-stavins-says.html

    Stavins is a clear cut, straight thinking, straight talking, rational guy. I don’t see why WUWT persons would challenge this statement. He is currently advising a host of industry that want to be compliant with any climate change law that may come to be. The statement in question merely states the fact that action in Congress on climate change has ground to a halt, and that it will take a monumental reason to restart it. Anthony, where is the disagreement? I think that your staff has picked on the wrong guy as an example.

  29. Ric Werme says:

    Policyguy says:
    May 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    > Be careful not to jump to Harvard bias conclusions. I know Stavins. He’s as clear thinking, articulate and as bright as they come. Interpret his words as stated.

    Careful – software engineers learn to look for ambiguity in computer languages, and it spills over into human languages. For example,

    It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction

    A lot of us would enjoy watching the political process get driven into a dramatic catastrophe. Well, except when the US Congress does it – they make it so damn expensive….

  30. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    Smokey says:
    May 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    Our Hoser contingent should be congratulated for helping their country come to its senses. Great job, eh? The West needs a leader like Canada.

    Not far off the mark. The Conservatives trashed a 40% reduction climate bill in the Senate. Now they can do it in the House. No more griping about the Oil Sands, I’m betting.

  31. TOM T says:

    Wasn’t that the plot of “State of Fear?”by Michael Crichton.

  32. Ray Donahue says:

    “It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until…” – change the word”until” to “unless “and the statement is accurrate.

  33. jae says:

    LOL. More “climate science??” They will bury themselves.

  34. Richard111 says:

    When winter death rates start to rise because of power cuts people will notice a disaster is occuring. Unfortunately by that stage the ballot box will no longer be an option.

  35. Jimbo says:

    Here is a quote from the late Stephen Schneider:

    “To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. ”
    http://www.americanphysicalsociety.com/publications/apsnews/199608/upload/aug96.pdf

    Historians will pour over similar quotes to try and understand how we reached this level of ‘global warming’ insanity.

  36. Mike D in AB says:

    Tom T -it was similar, but in “State of Fear” the acts were intended to frighten and kill people through “act of God” incidents (calf antarctic ice, cause tsunamis, cause flash-flooding deaths). Leon got one of the plot details wrong for Rainbow Six, the engineered disease wasn’t intended to be the big killer, the “solution” to it was. You see, they had a vaccine all ready to go that was ready to be shipped out on short notice that had a longer retention time than the original disease and a higher mortality rate. The main theme was a common one though, most people are too dumb to recognize the “dangers”, so their “betters” needed to take action.

  37. R. de Haan says:

    The real disaster could come from an opposite development like this:
    Winter Corn and Wheat woes continue
    http://www.weatherbell.com/jd/?category_name=blog_home_page

  38. Steve from rockwood says:

    Publius says:
    May 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm
    “…until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction…”

    Hey. Wasn’t the 9.0 quake and tsunami enough?

    No. In part because it did not directly affect the US. I believe Stavin’s quote is accurate for the public, but not so much for the government. It will be up to the public to prevent their government from driving the political process in the direction of tax increases to fight global warming when such processes will have no effect on climate. Stavin has missed the point that the tail is now wagging the dog. Just as the public is waking up to the reality that they have been hood-winked, as public opinion polls are starting to show, governments are trying to implement their false agenda. In Canada we just elected a Federal Government that opposes a carbon tax. Vote the carbon tax off the government agenda and it won’t come back.

  39. William says:

    Very interesting. That would explain why every extreme weather event, floods, draughts, cold winters, hot summer days, draughts, high winds, and so on are attributed to AGW. It’s climate change not global warming as my significant other tells me.

    Do not let logic or observational facts get in the way of spending trillions of dollars to limit a gas that is essential to life on this planet. Greenhouses inject CO2 into their greenhouse to increase yield and reduce growing time.

  40. Thom says:

    It is sad as this process moves on, that so many wish for disasters just to satisfy their own egos. Their own confused need to be “right.” As Nathaniel Bronner Jr. wrote: ““Ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets.”

  41. mkelly says:

    It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction

    What do they look like? What would a catastrophic event be? Flooding, blizzard, heat wave, hurricane, tornado, what and how many for how long over what area etc? If no person is harmed is it catastrophic?

    What about the ice strom in New England and Quebec several years ago?

  42. TomB says:

    Leon Brozyna says:
    May 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm [Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six environmental activist terrorist reference]

    The Japanese Manga/Anime “Death Note” has the same antagonists. When such story lines make it into so many mainstream entertainment venues, we can be sure the awful reality may not be far behind.

  43. David Schofield says:

    The Monster says:
    May 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm
    I believe Yogi Berra is alive and doing well for an 85-year-old.

    REPLY: Well that’s what I get for not double checking. Thanks for setting me straight – Anthony

    Anthony that was a bit of a boo-boo! ;-)

  44. MattN says:

    I think Yogi, like Kieth Richards, has been dead for a while, just nobody bothered to tell them….

  45. Ben Hillicoss says:

    to paraphrase for Yogi…”If I were dead I’m sure I would know about it.”

  46. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    I have a cunning plan to save energy. As global warming is down to increasing levels of CO2, the air in all saunas should be enriched with CO2. The more CO2 in the atmosphere of the sauna the hotter it will be.

  47. Theo Goodwin says:

    Policyguy says:
    May 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm
    “The statement in question merely states the fact that action in Congress on climate change has ground to a halt, and that it will take a monumental reason to restart it. Anthony, where is the disagreement? I think that your staff has picked on the wrong guy as an example.”

    Very simple. Global Warming is a huge pack of lies leavened with fraud. We do not want our people or our Congress to be once again influenced by a huge pack of lies leavened with fraud. The disagreement is whether folks should be telling huge packs of lies leavened with fraud. We say, no! You say, yes!

  48. PiperPaul says:

    Also, Abe Vigoda is not dead yet (may he live many, many more years!):
    http://www.abevigoda.com/
    Paul

  49. iurockhead says:

    “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
    –Rahm Emmanuel

  50. racookpe1978 says:

    Policyguy says:
    May 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Please excuse the double comment, but after some errands I came back and reviewed the source of the comment in question. It was originally published in Bloomberg reports at

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/disaster-needed-for-u-s-to-act-on-climate-change-stavins-says.html

    Stavins is a clear cut, straight thinking, straight talking, rational guy. I don’t see why WUWT persons would challenge this statement. He is currently advising a host of industry that want to be compliant with any climate change law that may come to be.

    Oh – So Stavins is making HIS money by “advising” industries what to do about CAGW. So, if Stavins can’t “create” a CAGW “cause” for Congressional democrats and the UNIPCC to engorge themselves and threaten industries with (unneeded and catastrophic) responses to a (false) CAGW threat, then Stavins doesn’t get paid ……

    I thought it was the “evil” oil companies that were profiting by influencing the “science” behind skepticism, and all I find is 90 billion US dollars spent going to people who profit from “prophetting” CAGW …..

  51. Schadow says:

    “…. action in Congress on climate change has ground to a halt, and ….. it will take a monumental reason to restart it. ….”

    Congress Shmongress. As our President pulls farther and farther away from Constitutional concepts of the separation of powers, the power to ‘regulate’ climate falls to one Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who works only for the President. Don’t need no steenkin’ Congress.

    “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Philosopher Y. Berra

  52. Jim Clarke says:

    This sounds like a scientist lamenting that the public is demanding unambiguous evidence before they will actually believe something. Pardon me…but shouldn’t scientists be demanding such behavior from the public, not lamenting it?

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