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A Tide of Horseshit

David Runciman: Climate Change Impasse, 24 September 2015

Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change 
by Nicholas Stern.
MIT, 406 pp., £19.95, May 2015, 978 0 262 02918 6
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Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet 
by Dieter Helm.
Yale, 278 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 21098 9
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Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet 
by Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman.
Princeton, 250 pp., £19.95, February 2015, 978 0 691 15947 8
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... starts to look like a book. Writing, instead of being displaced, can be the displacement activity. Nicholas Stern’s new volume on climate change, which updates his report from 2006, indicates that this kind of tangential approach may now be what’s needed to address the threat of a rapidly warming planet; indeed, it may be all we have left.* ...

The Ramsey Effect

Kieran Setiya, 18 February 2021

Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers 
by Cheryl Misak.
Oxford, 500 pp., £25, February 2020, 978 0 19 875535 7
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... responsible for the wildly disparate recommendations of economists such as William Nordhaus and Nicholas Stern. Nordhaus proposed modest but meaningful steps to mitigate global warming. The 2006 Stern Review was more radical, advocating a carbon tax ten times higher than Nordhaus had advised and an investment in ...

The Political Economy of Carbon Trading

Donald MacKenzie: A Ratchet, 5 April 2007

... one, we could buy or sell allowances in Los Angeles or San Francisco. If the blueprint in the Stern Review, commissioned by the Treasury, is followed globally – a big if – we will before long be able to trade carbon anywhere in the world. As John Lanchester noted in the last issue of the LRB, the science of global warming is not straightforward. The ...


David Runciman: Blair Hawks His Wares, 31 March 2016

Broken Vows: Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power 
by Tom Bower.
Faber, 688 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 571 31420 1
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... Bower is quick to castigate others for their slapdash approach. Later he refers in passing to ‘Nicholas Stern, a civil servant, [who] published an error-strewn review in 2006 warning about the dangers of climate change’. He provides no evidence for this contemptuous verdict, and no source: presumably someone said it to him in passing during one of ...

Warmer, Warmer

John Lanchester: Global Warming, Global Hot Air, 22 March 2007

The Revenge of Gaia 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 222 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 14 102597 1
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Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers: Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
IPCC, February 2007Show More
Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning 
by George Monbiot.
Allen Lane, 277 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 7139 9923 3
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The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies 
by Richard Heinberg.
Clairview, 320 pp., £12.99, October 2005, 1 905570 00 7
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The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review 
by Nicholas Stern.
Cambridge, 692 pp., £29.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 70080 1
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... on climate change is about to require doing things that are not popular. In his eponymous report, Nicholas Stern has argued that it would cost about 1 per cent of global GDP now to prevent a loss of 5 per cent of global GDP in the future. The calculation is tweaked to make the cost now sound manageably small – but it is not yet clear whether Western ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... 1971 lecture on ‘Phantasy and Reality in Poetry’); some wonderful letters to his friend James Stern, together with a biographical essay about Stern by Nicholas Jenkins; a memoir by Stella Musulin, a friend of Auden’s during his years at Kirchstetten in Austria; Edward Mendelson’s ...

Treading Thin Air

Geoff Mann: Catastrophic Thinking, 7 September 2023

... of Hacking’s ‘casual visitor’. When Martin Weitzman, who along with Robert Pindyck and Nicholas Stern has done more than anyone to get mainstream economics to take catastrophe seriously, said that all his work points towards a ‘generalised precautionary principle’, he was saying that we, as a species, cannot afford to use the Coke machine ...


Ronald Fraser, 7 February 1991

Gorbals Voices, Siren Songs 
by Ralph Glasser.
Chatto, 209 pp., £13.95, April 1990, 0 7011 3445 3
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A Place for Us 
by Nicholas Gage.
Bantam, 419 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 593 01515 0
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The Hidden Damage 
by James Stern.
Chelsea, 372 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 1 871484 01 4
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... Ralph Glasser’s and Nicholas Gage’s latest autobiographical instalments find their authors making good in their countries of adoption, England and the US respectively. The cost to each of their ascent from exceedingly harsh social beginnings has been different, but in ways that are not surprising: in England the struggle centred on class, in the US on money ...


Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... Cambridge only woke up to the great achievements of Peter Stern when he died there aged 70 in 1991. Stern’s adoptive university, to which he found himself evacuated from the LSE after arriving from Prague as a refugee from Nazi anti-Semitism, became his home for half a century; but although he taught there for many years and remained devoted to his college, St John’s, Cambridge failed adequately to recognise his stature during his lifetime ...

At Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Nicholas Penny: Flandrin’s Murals, 10 September 2020

... taking the form of silent communication between Christ and John, their contact barred by a stern Roman officer, as the Virgin Mary faints. Some of the later narratives in the nave (scenes from the New Testament twinned with the Old) achieve a similar intensity, reducing the action to minimal but memorable formulae, often concealing faces, as when the ...

How can we live with it?

Thomas Jones: How to Survive Climate Change, 23 May 2013

The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong – and How to Fix It 
by Dieter Helm.
Yale, 273 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 300 18659 8
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Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering 
by Clive Hamilton.
Yale, 247 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 300 18667 3
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The City and the Coming Climate: Climate Change in the Places We Live 
by Brian Stone.
Cambridge, 187 pp., £19.99, July 2012, 978 1 107 60258 8
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... that China’s coal burning will peak in the next two years. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Nicholas Stern, who wrote a report on the economics of climate change for the British government in 2007, reckons the world would do well to take China at its word. ‘Smart investors can already see that most fossil fuel reserves are essentially ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio, 10 August 2000

by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... a scrawny arm and corrugated brow are sharply lit against deep shadow. His art was subjected to stern strictures by some of the most eloquent critics and theorists in Italy, yet it continued to be prized by collectors and valued by connoisseurs. By the end of the 17th century, however, Caravaggio’s work was increasingly being confused with that of ...

Holy Relics

Alan Milward, 3 April 1986

Selling Hitler: The story of the Hitler Diaries 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 402 pp., £10.95, February 1986, 0 571 13557 9
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... in strictest secrecy the diaries of Adolf Hitler for eventual publication in its magazine Stern. It took so long because they had to wait for each volume to be written by Konrad Kujau, who was not always doing a full-time job. He was busy at the same time painting Hitler paintings and drawing Hitler drawings. You will find some of his best work in ...


Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... be the strongest currency, because of their habits.’ Now who said that? Was it Professor Fritz Stern, with a streetwise perspective which made it worth flying him in from JFK? Was it Professor Gordon Craig, proving yet again that you can always tell a Harvard man but you can’t tell him much? Was it the measured judgment of Lord Dacre? Was it an impish ...

Straw Ghosts

Nicholas Humphrey, 2 October 1980

This house is haunted: An Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist 
by Guy Lyon Playfair.
Souvenir, 288 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 285 62443 1
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Science and the Supernatural 
by John Taylor.
Temple Smith, 180 pp., £7.50, June 1980, 0 85117 191 5
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... revealed nothing more than the all too normal bending of facts. Taylor, reincarnated, emerges as a stern and sometimes uncharitable critic of the psychical fraternity to which he previously belonged. And yet, like many an apostate, he continues to have a love-hate relationship with his former church. Though he can no longer countenance its rites, neither can ...

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