Groundbreaking climate report inspires predictable political responses

World reaction to yesterday’s U.K. report linking climate change with possible economic ruin has been swift — and painfully predictable. While British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his likely successor Gordon Brown hailed the findings, Kyoto-resisters Australia and the U.S. offered more lukewarm responses. Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned his government not to be “mesmerized” by the report, and the White House primly acknowledged Stern’s “contribution” to the ongoing study of global warming, while declining to endorse his results. A U.S. energy-industry spokesperson was less circumspect, calling the report “fun with numbers,” and OPEC’s secretary-general said it reflected “scenarios that have no foundations in either science or economics.” Ouch. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that annual U.S. government spending on energy research and development is less than half what it was 25 years ago. Well, yeah: those 1980 freewheelers didn’t have to save up for the next Great Depression.