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Procuring a short but fleshy paper

I was thinking about Sarah Muckherjee's comments about NGOs funding climate science, which still seems a bit odd to me: if I recall correctly various people have looked at CRU's funding and seen no signs of NGO money. However, I then came across this email in the Climategate file (No 1060196763).

To: [L. Grass and Klaus Hasselmann both at DKRZ in Germany, Per Carstedt at something called Ecosystem in Sweden, someone called Mueller at a group called Ermine at Oxford, Michael Grubb of Imperial, London, Joyeeta Gupta of the Free University of the Netherlands, Carlo Jaeger and Martin Welp of the Potsdam Institute, Bert Metz at the National Institute for Health and Environment of the Netherlands, Mike Hulme of UEA,  and a few WWF guys]

Subject: economic costs of european heat wave

Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003 15:06:03 +0200

Cc: [Lots of WWF people]

dear all,

i think we all have seen [if not commented on] the devastating heat wave presently in europe - gives us a feeling on truly global warming. WWF has assured some money - a few thousand EUROS what is not much to be honest but at least a start - to ask an economist with climate policy understanding to assess in a short but fleshy paper [max 10 pages] the economic costs of these weather extremes in europe. This can be put in context with the mitigation costs of ambitious climate policies which are often quoted as a barrier to clean technologies unfortunately. I think, we as an NGO working on climate policy need such a document pretty soon for the public and for informed decision makers in order to get a) a debate started and b) in order to get into the media the context between climate extremes/desasters/costs and finally the link between weather extremes and energy - just the solutions parts what still is not communicated at all.

In short, can you advise us on a competent author who is readily available [can be one of you, of course], to bring together the conventionally accessible costs of reduced transport loads on rivers, in railway networks, forest fires, disruption of water supply and irrigation, closure of hydro power and even nuclear in some locations, health costs, agricultural failures [if accessible] etc etc etc...resulting from the heat wave?

Of course, i could not sent this e-mail to all competent sceintists, so fell free to share please and come back to me - at best ASAP

many regards

stephan singer


Stephan Singer

Head of European Climate and Energy Policy Unit

WWF, the conservation organization

I wonder who finally wrote the paper for WWF and I wonder if WWF's involvement was disclosed.

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Reader Comments (21)

At a very quick glance the phrase that jumps up and hits me on the nose is

an economist with climate policy understanding
Even on this merry May morning I am cynical enough to read that as "find someone to give us the answer we want".
As for the rest, it may be that NGOs did not contribute directly to the research but for sure they gave a lot of heavyweight backing in terns of PR and other support.

May 2, 2011 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

If my recollection is correct, this job landed on my desk but was never completed because the economic impact assessment would involve putting a value on people dying. That's hard enough to stomach for WWF, but in this case there was a lot of "harvesting" (i.e., in the heat wave, people died who would have died a few weeks later).

May 2, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Subject: Another day at the funding Glory Hole.

May 2, 2011 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterqwerty

"NGOs funding climate science"

Could be the difference between sucking and blowing.

That's caused confusion in the past.

May 2, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"Of course, i could not sent this e-mail to all competent sceintists, so fell free to share please and come back to me - at best ASAP"

and this guy is the Head of European Climate and Energy Policy Unit!!!!

May 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterVarco

As a thought given the timing wouldn't someone like Lord Stern fit the bill?

May 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

Is there a similar email asking about the economic costs of the European cold wave last winter?

May 2, 2011 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Richard Tol:

Estimates of the value of human life were made for cost/benefit anylis in the NII Tolerability of Risk document. See Appendix 3 of

In those days (20 years ago) about £0.5M was thought a reasonable amount of money to spend to avert a fatality.

May 2, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

ermine was just the name of one of the old unix servers at Oxford where a number of old-timers kept their email. mueller@ermine would seem to be Benito Müller.

May 2, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterOxbridge Prat

That’s quite a find. Why would the scientists on whose computers this turned up (specialists in atmospheric physics and tree ring chronology) want to know about an unwritten paper on “the economic costs of these weather extremes in Europe?”
Unless it was part of their legitimate extracurricular activities of course, and they just happen to share the same interests, like particle physicists are often keen on classical music.
But “all competent scientists” suggests that their interest is assumed to go with the job. How can that be?

By the way, the IPCC chapter on the European heatwave of 1993 is a mess of untranslated un-peer-reviewed irrelevance. The relevant Wikipaedia pages in English, French and Italian contradict each other wildly. Government statistics on the number of mortality were revised by factors of 2 or 3.

May 2, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

This may be a dead end, but this WWF position paper assigns a cost of 13 billion euros to the 2003 heat wave, citing a 2004 UNEP report "Impacts of summer 2003 heat wave in Europe." Said report in turn cites "COPA COGECA 2003."

Donna Laframboise calls COPA COGECA "a lobby group for European farmers" and notes that only their most recent press releases (within the past 3 years) are available online; older releases can be obtained through their press office.

May 2, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

It's not a load of money needed to write a paper on heat waves Mr Singer needs, he needs to get someone to spend some money on him learning the proper use of English, as it is written! He's probably spent many a frustrating hour wondering just what the hell that little key in the bottom left of the keyboard is - the one with the little arrowy thingy!!!

May 2, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

last product of Singer:

May 2, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterLDLAS

"In those days (20 years ago) about £0.5M was thought a reasonable amount of money to spend to avert a fatality."
Phillip Bratby

I seem to remember a similar figure being used in the oilfields around the same time Philip and the source if I remember correctly was the original Dupont Pyramid Safety Scheme that came in and made jobs for many a "Safety Officer" who was unemployable elsewhere within the industry. It also led to huge production cost rises and cut accidents and deaths by zero but stopped operatives using common sense!

Is this the same thing as the current "Preventative" reasoning being used now? Oh well, on we go!

May 2, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H


Do academics do this kind of thing as consultancy work on their own account or does the money go into university coffers?

May 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Why, one wonders, why Singer could NOT send this e-mail to 'all competent scientists' - perhaps some of them would have told him where to put his short but fleshy paper..?

May 2, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

"Do academics do this kind of thing as consultancy work on their own account or does the money go into university coffers?"

I'm not sure about Europe, but in the US, this type of economic consulting work would be on one's own account and would not flow through the university.


May 2, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames

'A short but fleshy paper' sounds like something that is over-ripe and beginning to smell. Or is my imagination slightly overactive after spending a large number of hours on Friday last watching the royal wedding and trying to skip-read newspapers to avoid gushing descriptions of things I am not terribly interested in.

May 2, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Ok riff on 2003!!!

Written during the summer in question.

06 Aug 2003

It needed to be iconic and hey presto it was...

I will not deny any actual stats it was a warm year, deaths were common

remember 2005 ?

No one died.

remember 2006 ?

two people died.

but the 2003 legend had/has an almost creation myth for the child like minds today who think they will live forever

Ye' know?


May 2, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Different universities have different rules, but small consulting would more often than not benefit one's personal bank account.

May 2, 2011 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

The trouble with these alarmist is this. They seem to have no concept of the history of Planet Earth - any 'weather' particularly 'exceptional weather' occurred in the last thirty years. Even 1976 (a hot summer if there ever was one in the UK) doesn't seem to figure in their minds - oh, and we had the hottest April day this year since - wait for it - 1949.. Nope - all exceptional weather occurred since 1980 - therefore its all to do with man-made CO2..
Which is why our kiddywinks are so susceptible to believing this drivel...

May 2, 2011 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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