Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Near Future

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  • Michael Stevens,

    Moore's article ( and subsequent "I was only joshing, honest!") is weird. I guess he misses the limelight.

    However, he is tapping into a fairly widespread mood of disenchantment with the current Govt, from all over the spectrum.

    Three terms in and it does undeniably look very frayed around the edges. And let's face it, we all like blaming someone for whatever goes wrong in the world, and the Govt makes a great target.

    While I know I won't vote national next time (Judtih Collins? Topny Ryall? Yuck!), I'm still not sure just who I will support.

    Waiting to be persuaded.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    While I can't recall his exact phrasing, I believe Tom Scott once described Lange as a front man for a bunch of vicious little kneecappers.

    Moore proves that old habits die hard.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4493 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Fox,

    Dennis Healy once said that being attacked by Geoffry Howe was like being savaged by a dead sheep. After what she's had to put up with over the years I suspect Clarke feels the same way today about Moores feeble and bitter attempt at a blind side. Saying that old Geoff the poodle did raise his game stick it to the Thatch pretty good in the end. I doubt if Moore's will have the same effect on Clarke's premiership though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Moore could give some much needed credibility to Act. He is a true believer after all.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I almost stopped reading Eban Goodstein's review when I got to his allegation that Lomborg believes "...all benefit-cost models show that serious limits on global warming emissions are too costly, and therefore we should pollute with virtual impunity."

    That's a pretty miserable misrepresentation of Lomborg's views.

    Goodstein also takes issue with Lomborg over the use of cost-benefit analysis claiming “At the end of the day, Lomborg believes in the morality of benefit-cost analysis..." (believes in the" morality"? what on earth is that supposed to mean).

    Compare that with this exchange in the interview -

    __Should global priorities really be set by a cost-benefit analysis?__

    Oh, God, no. Not at all. We are saying the Copenhagen Consensus is the price list. Essentially we're providing the prices on the social menu of what you can choose to do. No, no, no. Economists don't set the agenda of the world. Hopefully democracies do.

    Lomberg may be wrong on a number of points but his message is that we need to make decisions about what to do about global warming. Goodstein comes across, like many environmentalists, as a bit of a zealot - it is not enough to believe global warming is happening, one must also have a very particular view on what to do about it. Everything else being heresy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Yesterday on the bfm Wire, Kevin List from Scoop said that he had a source who indicated that this line in the article:

    John Key just has to keep his head down, and is happy to campaign as "Labour with tax cuts"...

    was originally drafted as:

    John Key just has to keep his hands off himself in the shower, head down, and is happy to campaign as "Labour with tax cuts"...

    Methinks they should have left it in...

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 519 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Well, you have to credit Moore for one thing. He predicted a cartoon of Labour morphing into Muldoon and, the very next day, such a cartoon appears in the Herald. If he was right about that...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Mike's a loose cannon; always has been, always will be. It was nice when he had some credibility, at the WTO, but it was always only a veneer.

    Former PMs really need help controlling themselves. I can think of very few who've gone quietly and remained so - Bolger perhaps is one. On this side of the ditch, Keating recently criticised Labor's IR plans and deputy leader Gillard directly.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2269 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    let's not forget that Moore only did half a term as head of WTO. He had to split the appointment with the chap from Malaysia, who was an equally popular choice. I'm not sure which one of them blinked first and accepted the compromise rather than put it to a final vote ...

    Half a loaf of bread is better than none ~ Aesop

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    My problem with Lomberg is not so much him as his readers: in his interview on Salon - and other interviews I've read with him in scientific journals and other serious periodicals - he places great emphasis on his belief that climate change is real, humans are causing it, it will cause serious problems in the future ect. His argument is that we are facing other serious problems - such as endemic diseases - that are even more urgent and need to be addressed before the issues of climate change can be tackled.

    Okay, that's an interesting perspective, worth discussing ect ect. But virtually every climate change denier I've ever argued with has enthusiastically recommended Lombergs book to me.
    'Read this. It proves that global warming is just a big communist hoax!'

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Price,

    Isn't Moore's most gratuitous smear this swipe at Winston Peters:

    He can't speak about hospitals without talking of Third World diseases and Third World people, the Central Bank policies are about, he claims, promoting speculation and money-lenders (code word), Dubai investment in New Zealand is naturally bad, but at least the anti-Asian and Muslim stuff has been shelved for a while.

    "Code word"? Is he accusing Peters of anti-semitism? Is there the slightest bit of evidence of this?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    Neil Morison,

    I've no time to read the Salon review, but this review by Australian economist John Quiggin is both graceful and makes all the right points about Lomborg's previous book.

    The following quote explains clearly the deception involved

    The selection of projects is another fundamental problem. Even if, say, improvements in basic health services rank poorly when compared to action against AIDS, they might rank well by comparison with military spending, or advertising, or cosmetic surgery. Lomborg dismisses these from consideration as being ‘not motivated by doing good outside the country concerned’.

    But much the same point applies to proposals to mitigate climate change. Adverse impacts species extinction and loss of biodiversity are mostly of concern to people developed countries, and other impacts such as loss of coastal land affect rich and poor countries alike. Similarly the costs of mitigation will be spread across the economy, not funded from a specific government budget item that could be reallocated to foreign aid. Treating climate change as a foreign aid project fits Lomborg’s own framing of the issues, but it is not an accurate representation of the actual problem.

    As for Mike Moore's time at the WTO, Robert Wade has some helpful details in his review of Moore's book:

    In forging an agenda for a new round of trade talks, Moore’s first task—‘through hard work, aggression and more than a little arrogance on my part’—was to break down the resistance of the African and Asian trade ministers who had rebelled at Seattle against the us and eu’s retention of massive farm subsidies. One tactic was to lard the Draft Declaration with talk of development—the word occurs 63 times in the 10-page document—while quietly inserting the new issues (rules on investment and competition policy) that the West wanted. Another was to find a site relatively free of the protesters that had made Seattle look, in Moore’s description, ‘like the bar scene from Star Wars’, with the official opening delayed for half a day while Kofi Annan and Madeleine Albright were imprisoned by demonstrators in a hotel across town. The Qatari trade minister’s offer of the Doha conference centre was, unsurprisingly, ‘very attractive’.

    Equally important was the practice, described by both Moore and Kwa, of going over the heads of wto ambassadors at Geneva—often highly educated in the technical nuances of trade issues—to put direct pressure on their governments. As one delegate explained to Kwa, ‘If the us phones my capital, they won’t say, “There’s this boy, he’s trying to change trips for the good of his country”. They’ll say, “There is this boy, working against the interests of the us, infringing on the good relationship between the us and ——”.’ Critical wto ambassadors were increasingly targeted in the run-up to Doha, with permanent pressure exercised on domestic governments for their removal.
    The developing countries had resolutely objected to the inclusion of the new Singapore issues (investment, competition, etc.) in the Draft Declaration. But the text, as one Third World delegate explained to Kwa, had a magical quality: ‘We would make objections, but these would not appear’. A Green Room was carefully selected by the French Deputy dg, Paul-Henri Ravier, on the grounds that it was not too large. Only 23 countries could be squeezed in to attend the drafting sessions there. The Declaration, when it finally emerged, contained the Singapore issues
    In the final session, Moore sat beside the Qatari trade minister, the ostensible chair, instructing him on who should speak; the unmistakeable Antipodean tones—‘Don’t give him the floor!’—echoing loud and clear through a serendipitously live mike. Thus was consensus achieved.

    What. A. Lovely. Man

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Regarding Lomberg Chris Anderson's opinion

    Wired editor Chris Anderson got an advance copy of Bjorn Lomborg's upcoming book Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, and his summary is: read it, but don't follow his advice.

    There is an earlier video of Lomborg over at TED
    Priorities for Saving the World which may be of interest on what to do with $50b - where to start which is of more interest

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, that's an interesting perspective, worth discussing ect ect. But virtually every climate change denier I've ever argued with has enthusiastically recommended Lombergs book to me.

    'Read this. It proves that global warming is just a big communist hoax!'

    Totally. From Leighton Smith at the bottom of the intellectual pile on up. It's weird.

    But the thing that bugs me is: where's his authority? The Salon review makes it quite clear that a great many people are thinking about the same issues, in greater depth and in a far more nuanced and open way than he is. It's just that he's the one who writes the pop-skeptic books that say things some people want to hear.

    Note that when he came to New Zealand, he wasn't invited by any science body. His host was the Business Roundtable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    "Code word"? Is he accusing Peters of anti-Semitism?

    I assumed it was code-word John Key (investment banker, not Jew).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,


    Isn't John Key's mother Jewish? This would make him Jewish, at least to orthodox Jews; although not to reform Jews (who would, I think, rely on Key's own identification).

    Not that that matters at all, but, if Moore has tangible evidence of anti-semitism, on Peters' behalf then he should front up and, if it's verifiable, Clark should dissolve the government and call an election. Or Peters should sue if it is not.

    Simply because of the heinousness of the crimes associated with it, anti-semetism should never be a charge that is thrown around lightly. It should be leveled seriously and taken seriously.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Terence - I believe so.

    My point was to suggest that Moore was asserting Peters was attacking Key and his investment-banker-ness, and not asserting Peters was attacking Key and his Jewish-ness.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The Salon review makes it quite clear that a great many people are thinking about the same issues, in greater depth and in a far more nuanced and open way than he is.

    Oh, all those Nobel prize-winners are just scare-mongering to get more research grants.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Chris Anderson concludes his piece about Lomberg with

    Where I differ with Lomborg is simply this: he thinks that the right path is to go light on a carbon tax (no more than $2/ton) and go heavy on government R&D subsidies for renewable technologies. I think we should have a somewhat higher carbon tax on the hopes that it creates sufficient incentives for the private sector itself to invest heavily in renewable technologies. Rather than spending the government tax money on federal research (which is best reserved for cases of market failure, which is clearly not the case in this greentech boom), use it to reduce taxes elsewhere. That is, of course, the Silicon Valley Way.

    It's a reasonable sort of point to disagree on. The sort of thing we should be debating rather than believing that, having decided global warming is occuring, the solutions are written in stone. I can't really understand the hostilty to Lomberg. So some of his fans misrepresent what he says. So do some of his opponents.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    Neil and Danyl,

    Can I humbly suggest that you read Quiggin's review. While there were Nobel laureates, and very fine economists, in the Copenhagen consensus, the make up of the group provides reason to be suspicious. Of economists who got to do the prioritising , the majority were right wing, several had clearly stated previously that they opposed action on climate change. And surprisingly few were either development or environmental economists. None of them were more qualified than Jeffrey Sachs, or Amartya Sen, or Joseph Stiglitz, or Nicholas Stern, or a host of other economists who weren't invited - one imagines - because they actually believe in taking action on climate change.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    oh - rats. Sorry Danyl - now I see the direction of your sarcasm. I'll shuffle off now...

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    It is hard to disagree with Lomborg's core thesis which, in my view, has little to do with global warming. It is that badly thought out western "feel goodness" can and does often do more harm than the issue it is supposed to be addressing (fair trade coffee, for example).

    It would be a much stronger argument if his global warming data passed scrutiny.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    cheers Terence, I read Quiggin's review. I'm still not sure what to think of his primary economic disagreement with Lomberg (which you quote in your first post).

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Agreed that Lomborg serves a purpose Don

    He has driven a few trucks through some of the environmental claims. I hope this works to strengthen the environmental movement by being a bit more honest in their work.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    Sorry, Don.

    What is wrong with Fair Trade coffee?

    I missed that meeting.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

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