“I Got it Wrong on Climate Change—it’s Far, Far Worse”

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 27 2013 11:11 AM

“I Got it Wrong on Climate Change—it’s Far, Far Worse”

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Nicholas Stern speaks at a climate conference in Hong Kong on October 27, 2008

Photo by MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

Nicholas Stern, the author of a 2006 report commissioned by the British government on climate change that has been used as a reference ever since, says he now realizes he “underestimated the risks” of rising temperatures. In an interview with the Guardian, Stern, who is one of the world's leading environmental economists, says that had he known then what he knows now, he would have been “a bit more blunt” about the risks that climate change poses to the economy.

Stern, who heads up the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, says that the “atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly.” Some of the effects of the rising temperatures are becoming evident more quickly than initially predicted. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change claimed there was a 75 percent chance that global temperatures would increase by two or three degrees above average. But now Stern believes the world is "on track for something like four.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.