6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This concise and very good book is fine effort at public education. Stern, the leader of the now well known Stern Report on response to climate change, presents an outline of and argument for a rational and well considered approach to addressing global warming. The publication of this book stems partly from the fact that the next major conference on global climate change will occur later this year in Copenhagen. Stern clearly hopes that this conference will result in an effective international commitment to address global warming, and this book is partly an effort to raise awareness of approaches to address global warming and partly, I think, an indirect lobbying effort on Stern's part to push his approach.
The departure point for this book is the idea that anthropogenic global warming is a real and very serious problem. The opening chapters are a brief survey of the idea of anthropogenic global warming and why it poses an extremely serious threat. This is not, however, a systematic review of the science but rather a brief presentation of a platform for the policy prescriptions that follow. An in depth review is not, however, necessary due to the overwhelming nature of the evidence for global warming and its potential consequences. If you're not prepared to at least consider the possibility that global warming is a real and serious problem, then this book is not for you.
Stern lays out some commonsense principles for his proposed approach; policies must be effective, efficient in the sense that they cause the least economic disruption, and equitable. The last is particularly important and highlights an important point made repeatedly by Stern. An effective response to global warming is possible and ethical only if it embodies policies that provide simultaneously for development and poverty reduction in the 3rd world. Stern, who spent much of his career working on development economics, makes a strong moral and prudential case for this point. Based on present climate modeling, Stern suggests a target of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 equivalent concentrations at 500 ppm by midcentury. In the longer run, he supports greater reductions in CO2 equivalent concentrations but given that we're already >400 ppm and that carbon emissions are rising, he argues well that this is a politically obtainable and useful target. Given this target, he derives estimates of how much carbon emissions need to be reduced and where those reductions must occur. He is very clear, and this is a key point, that some consequences of global warming are unavoidable, so a strong commitment to mitigation and emission controls is needed. From this follows some analysis of costs and where costs will be allocated. Stern has a particularly good chapter criticizing the work of other economists, notably the writings of the Yale economist William Nordhaus, who have provided alternative and much more complacent economic analyses.
Stern then develops an outline of policy measures. These are largely a series of efforts to correct market failures and externalities by using regulations to encourage market mechanisms to reduce emissions. This is suggested to be a mixture of global cap and trade systems, carbon taxes, and some more direct regulations. One of Stern's major points is that the developed world, notably the USA, will have to take the lead and demonstrate reductions and technology development, with developing nations phased in as they catch up in terms of social development. Sterns argues well that this is the only moral and practical avenue. Stern also places great emphasis on technology development and dissemination. Stern creditably believes that a wide array of policies and innovations will be necessary to deal with the problem. He argues also that developed nations will have to make a real commitment to policies that will raise standards of living in 3rd world nations.
Stern's plan is optimistic but he doesn't underestimate the challenges. As he points out, the historic model of industrialization is one of high energy consumption and high carbon emission. To address global warming in a practical and successful way will require a new approach to development. Stern provides both a good sense of where we have to go and how to do it. This book deserves wide readership.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Future Watch Writer
- Published on Amazon.com
Nicholas Stern is not an abstract intellectual. He is the former Chief Economist of the World Bank and was chosen by the British Government to produce the famous 2007 Stern report on global warming. His point is very important. Climate change is more than a science problem. It is a global economic and political problem. The chances of solving this problem are zero if there is not some sort of "global deal" between rich and poor nations. Europe and America put most of the carbon in today's atmosphere, and it's going to be there a long time. They should pay a larger global share than other nations to clean up the mess they made. Furthermore, many poor nations simply cannot afford to pay for the transition from old polluting technologies to new clean energy. Sadly, I am not as optimistic as Stern. I do not see a willingness of the rich to pay what is needed. For a greater perspective on the whole global environmental situation, I would recommend Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised). If you want to read the original 2007 Stern report you can get it on Amazon The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Loyd E. Eskildson
- Published on Amazon.com
Successfully confronting climate change is directly related to also reducing America's balance of payments and air pollution; it is also key to progress on helping the world's poor. "The Global Deal" provides an excellent source of information for moving forward. The author's credibility is vouched for by his having been Chief Economist at the World Bank from 2000-2003, first holder of the I. G. Patel Chair at the London School of Economics, Chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment (2008- ), his election as an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his being recruited by Gordon Brown to conduct reviews on the economics of climate change and economic development.
The danger from climate change, says Stern, is not primarily in the added heat, but from water - an increase in the number and severity of storms, droughts, floods, and rising seal levels. A 5 degree C increase is estimated to be the limit that could be incurred without extreme damage - yet, it is the same change (opposite direction) that brought the extreme of last ice age 10,000 years ago.
Poor countries are the least responsible for the existing stock of greenhouse gases, yet get hit the earliest and hardest by their effects. China has overtaken the U.S. to become the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases; Indonesia and Brazil are third and fourth - mainly the result of deforestation and peat fires. Rich country populations represent about one in six today, by 2050 they will represent only one in nine. Thus, meeting the energy needs of the poor will be more essential than ever.
Stern cites estimates that the Amazon forests store about 10X the carbon emitted globally/year; those same forests store about 10X/acre as northern native forests.
Retention of Kyoto gases in the atmosphere is increasing at an increasing rate as emissions increase and the 'planet's absorptive capacity decreases. Between 1930-1950, it was about 0.5 ppm/year, doubling from 1950-1970, and doubling again from 1970-1990. The rate has reached 2.5 ppm/year in the last decade, and under business as usual, would reach 3-4 ppm for the first half of this century. At that point, temperature would further increase due to releases from methane escaping from thawing permafrost, etc.
Five hundred ppm is seen by many as "the safe limit;" we now are at 430, and adding 2.5/year. If world output grows slightly over 2%/year until 2050 it would be 2.5X the present level. To achieve stability at 500 ppm requires a 80% reduction in emissions/output unit. Major emission sources in 2000 include electricity and heat generation (27%), land use change and forestry - mostly deforestation and peat fires (18%), agriculture (13%), transportation (12%), and manufacturing and construction (11%).
About one-third of new power capacity installed in the U.S. 2007 was wind. Coal is attractive because of dependability (eg. night requirements are not a problem), security of supplies, and low costs.
The last time the world was 4-5 degrees C warmer was 30-50 million years ago when alligators lived near the North Pole.
Marginally sophisticated attempts at obfuscation focus only on the mean expected temperature increases in the short-term, rather than a longer horizon or possibility of higher increases. Some on the right see environmental causes as a Trojan Horse used by those who would like to regulate and control the economy; others on the left see the issue as an elitist one diverting attention from poverty. Regardless, the costs of change implies a large audience for arguing such change is not worth the cost, can be postponed, or is not necessary.
Achieving 500 ppm would cost about 2% of the world's GNP over the next half-century, estimates Stern. Seems like a bargain and good investment to me!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Stern provides a good overview of the basic issues of global climate change policy. His exposition is geared to a reader with little knowledge of the subject, and for those who have a strong need to know these things the book is very useful. The most interesting and thought provoking section is on discount rates for benefits and costs for future generations: is there any moral justification for valuing the welfare of future generations less than our own? This and other economic questions are dealt with clearly. If there is a fault with the book it is Stern's dry and boring style. There is a lack of humor, of engaging anecdote, or any commentary on man's foibles. The tone is unrelentingly serious and prescriptive. This is a good basic textbook and guide, but it is not a great book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This is the best book on climate change that I have ever read. It is concise, well-informed and provides a substantial amount of information in a short space. For example, I have read entire books on why people have a difficult time accepting the fact that we must address climate change. Stern explains this in a few lines: People (especially people running companies with large amounts of money at stake) don't want to have to change their behaviors. Instead, they use certain tactics to try to deny what has been proven scientifically beyond a doubt. He cites the examples of tobacco causing lung cancer and HIV causing AIDS as similar episodes of mass denial, and springing from the same causes: complacency and fear. An expert in risk management, he describes the current threat of climate change as the greatest market failure the world has seen. And he knows how to fix it.
Stern suggests that the economic growth of developing nations and the best response to climate change are inextricably linked, and makes a very good case for his opinion. He discusses the coming demographics changes, and the impact these changes will have on world trade, even without climate change. He outlines very concrete changes that we can make on a global scale - the only way that any method of addressing climate change will be successful, he claims, and I agree. Stern approaches climate change from an economist's perspective, and this is refreshing because economists see the world differently from most other scientists. To them, trade is *always* better than a zero-sum gain. If both parties do not come away from a trade better off than they were when they went into it, the trade does not happen. It is this fundamentally pragmatic and yet optimistic approach that makes this book such a joy to read. It is not all doom and gloom like some books about climate change, it does not tell us that the sky is falling while offering no respite. "The Global Deal" provides practical, implementable solutions for reducing climate change, and does so from an economist's perspective, with an underlying faith in the ability of human beings to develop good, broad policy that guides, but does not micromanage market interactions. It embraces the economist's belief that, with the assurance of a fair market, free trade tends to make life better for society as a whole, and that includes the well-being of our children and their children, and all other future generations.
Some reviewers have mentioned that the book is dryly written, and to some extent I agree, but the material is so profoundly important that it really requires the kind of solemn passion that Stern displays.
I believe that in retrospect, people will agree that Stern's message of hope and duty is worth listening to. In any case, I am sure that "The Global Deal" will be considered one of the two or three most important books written in the 21st century.
Narrated by James Adams, who reads with the gentlemanly and precise accent of a British lord, which in fact, Stern is. His full title is Sir Nicholas Herbert Stern, Baron of Brentford, Kt. Kinda cool!