Friday, October 03, 2008

Science Joins the Sub-Prime

Well known British scientist and commentator, Phillip Stott, recently described "global warming" as sub-prime science, sub-prime economics and sub-prime politics, and suggested it could well go down with the sub-prime mortgage.

Certainly, climate change has slid in importance with the stock market.  Indeed many commentators believe whether Democrat, Barack Obama, or Republican, John McCain, is elected president come November, it is now unlikely that an additional tax by way of a carbon trading scheme will be introduced into the US.

One of the more significant institutional proponents of carbon trading in the US, Lehman Brothers, has gone bankrupt.  Just last year that bank put out two major reports on global warming broadly embracing and promoting the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agenda including emissions trading.  The second report entitled, The Business of Climate Change 11, went as far as to suggest that it will be possible to reach an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions within five years.

Lehman Brothers not only promoted global warming, but also various structured Asset Backed Securities (ABS) that many Local Governments in NSW purchased on the basis they were a good money earner and AAA rated.  But many of these highly rated securities incorporated low rated sub-prime mortgages and as a consequence some NSW Councils have lost a lot of money.

The risk of a climate crisis, like the risks associated with ABS, are calculated using complex computer models.  Like the models underpinning sub-prime mortgage securitisation, general circulation models (GCM) that are used to predict by how many degrees the world will warm, are too complex for the average punter to understand.

While some in the Australian agricultural sector have complained they are not included in preparations for the introduction of an emissions trading scheme in Australia, this may end up a blessing.  Indeed I am inclined to agree with Professor Stott that with global temperatures likely to cool during the next decade, with a world economy set in austere mode, and with the new politics of China, India and Brazil, the big Global Warming's boom days are surely coming to an end.


No comments: