Posts Tagged Nigel Lawson

A blast from the past (if we knew now what we knew then) Bryan Walker Mar 30

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Peter Sinclair’s recent Climate Denial Crock of the Week is fascinating viewing. He has unearthed a video of a talk given by climate scientist Mike McCracken thirty years ago and asks him in a recent interview what he would say differently today.

Very little has changed. The younger McCracken:

’CO2 probably has been very high in past geologic terms but certainly not in past historic times, and so we’re really doing a giant experiment and the question is what is the outcome going to be?’

The lecture was some years prior to the detailed work of Michael Mann and others on the reconstruction of past temperatures, but the reconstruction used by McCracken, taken from a 1975 report from the US National Academy of Sciences, was not far off our current understanding of recent temperature rises to a level higher than humanity has experienced in at least the last 2000 years.

On fingerprinting the comparative effects of greenhouse gases and other possible factors such as the sun or volcanoes the lecture was very much in line with current understanding. Unlike the effects of solar radiation, the CO2 fingerprint is seen in the cooling of the stratosphere at the same time as the warming of the Earth’s surface. Polar amplification is the other fingerprint the younger McCracken discusses, explaining that the polar regions were warming more rapidly than those around the equator.

On climate sensitivity the lecture spoke of an estimated temperature rise of three, plus or minus one and a half, degrees for a doubling of CO2. This compares very well with the estimate of the 2007 IPCC report as ’…likely to be in the range of 2oC to 4.5 oC with a best estimate of about 3 oC…’

Such an increase McCracken pointed out would be an unprecedented event in terms of human history.

Amplifying feedbacks were well understood. The lecture explained that increased water in the atmosphere as a result of warming will lead to more capture of solar radiation and more trapping of infrared radiation because water, like CO2, traps the outgoing radiation.  And this process will feed back on itself. McCracken also spoke of the effect of the reduction of sea ice in increasing the amount of radiation absorbed by the ocean.

Thirty years on the material presented by the younger McCracken is recognisably basic to our current understanding of climate change. And it’s not that he was advancing some individual insight. Quite the opposite. The older McCracken explains to Peter Sinclair: ’I was trying to represent the view of the broad scientific community.’

In other words the basic scientific evidence for human-caused climate change was clear thirty years ago.  And it was capable of being communicated to government agencies and lay audiences.

Sinclair to McCracken:

’So now it’s thirty years later. We haven’t done a whole lot to address this. Are you surprised?’

McCracken’s reply:

’I’m disappointed. I’m becoming very worried about how fast it’s occurring. What’s been evident in the impact of the changes is that they are occurring faster than we projected they would.  We’re seeing the sea ice disappearing in the Arctic faster than the models are projecting.’

Sinclair’s video illustrates in an arresting way that the science of climate change has been coherent and readily communicable for some decades, and that in the passing of time as research continues there is only confirmation of its basic understandings. The conservatism of its conclusions is underlined by the fact that some of the predicted impacts are occurring much more quickly than was expected. It’s a sad commentary on human society that we remain unable to fully take on board the science and its implications.

The gratification of those such as Lord Lawson who set themselves up in opposition to the science is all the more sickening when one considers how well-founded the scientific picture now is. He was self-congratulatory recently in hailing the success of his Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF):

’Before we came into existence there was virtually no debate about global warming policy in the UK. There is now increasingly lively debate and, within the media, only the BBC continues to regard the matter as being definitively settled and not a proper subject for debate. The GWPF has played an important part in achieving this change.”

Good on the BBC, I say, though I would have thought the Guardian would also merit his displeasure.

What to do?  Sinclair’s video ends with McCracken speaking of a colleague who went home very discouraged to his daughter, a fifteen-year-old. She listened to his discouragement and protested. ’You can’t take away my hope.’

McCracken concludes: ’I think we have an obligation to try and see if we can’t find a path…’


Stormy weather: we’re making it worse, and there’s more on the way Gareth Renowden Nov 20

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The IPCC released the summary for policymakers of its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) in Kampala, Uganda, on Friday (SPM, SREX site, launch presentation slides). The report concludes that globally there has been a significant decrease in cold days and nights and an overall increase in warm days and nights, that it’s likely that “anthropogenic influences” have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures, and that heavy rainfall events are increasing in many areas. There has also been an increase in extreme coastal high water events.

The report also projects that it is “virtually certain” that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will continue through this century, and that there will be corresponding decreases in cold extremes. It’s also very likely that heat waves and warm spells will become more frequent and warmer. Heavy rainfall events are also expected to increase, and the proportion of rain falling in those events is likely to increase. There are also likely to be more problems from storm surges and sea level rises, an increase in droughts, and landslides in mountainous regions.

Much of the report’s content will come as little surprise to those who have been following the subject — in common with previous IPCC reports the conclusions are conservative, couched in laboriously exact language, and exclude the most recent work1 — and for me the most interesting parts are the discussions of how extreme weather events interact with human populations to create disasters. In this respect, arguing about whether an event was “caused by” or “made worse by” warming is largely irrelevant to trying to find ways to reduce the impact of current and future extremes.

See also: Jeff Masters has an interesting post going into more detail about the report’s findings, RealClimate considers the report’s discussion of tropical cyclones, plus news reporting from the BBC, Guardian, and Reuters.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects are scrabbling around looking for ways to misrepresent the report’s findings. The most egregious to date comes from Nigel Lawson’s secretly-funded “Global Warming Policy Foundation”, who pick a paragraph out of context and pretend that it shows that…

According to a preliminary report released by the IPCC, there will be no detectable influence of mankind’s influence on the Earth’s weather systems for at least thirty years, and possibly not until the end of this century.

… which is not what the report says at all!

Finally, Green.TV and WeatherUnderground have launched a new twice monthly video on current global extreme weather events. Here’s the first episode:

Definitely one to follow with interest…

  1. Unavoidable, given the way these things are put together.

Don Brash: climate cluelessâ„¢ to the core Gareth Renowden Jun 30

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The new leader of New Zealand’s far-right ACT Party — the former National Party leader, Don Brash — has confirmed that he’s a fully paid up member of the climate cluelessâ„¢, a worthy successor to Rodney Hide, and perfectly on side with major ACT Party backer, millionaire Alan Gibbs (who just happens to be on the policy advisory panel of the International Climate Science Coalition). But Brash hasn’t troubled himself with working on a new script for his climate denial, he’s retreading some of the oldest canards in the denial play book. In a speech this afternoon to the annual conference of Federated Farmers, Brash trotted out this remarkable sequence of untruths, half truths and straightforward lies, annotated below for your reading pleasure…

Early in his speech, Brash joined in with the denial meme du jour, accusing lowly local government officials of being “little Hitlers“, but then got into his stride with a robust attack on government policy.

[...]finally, ACT will press for the abandonment of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Why do we have an ETS? I have to admit I know of no good reason at all.

One might wonder why an intelligent man who has led two political parties and been governor of the reserve bank could be so unaware of the facts, but thankfully he proceeds to explain what he does understand: clearly and obviously nothing.

To be sure, it seems pretty clear that on average temperatures around the world have been increasing. But they’ve been increasing for at least the last 200 years, since the days when the Thames regularly froze over, and that warming began long before greenhouse gases caused by human activity could’ve had a significant influence on the climate.

Do I hear echoes of Bryan Leyland and the NZ Climate Science Coalition here? Has Brash been outsourcing his denial to the friends of his backer, Alan Gibbs? Couple of points Don. The Thames never “regularly froze over”. It happened only in the coldest winters, and after the demolition of the old London Bridge (which acted as kind of weir) not at all.

And we know temperatures were very warm in the medieval period, and in Roman times, when grapes were routinely grown in what is now the United Kingdom. And greenhouse gases could hardly explain that, or the cooling which took place between those warm periods.

Oh dear, the old canard about grapes in the UK. There’s almost certainly a greater acreage of vineyards in Britain now than at any time in recorded history. Did Lord Lawson forget to mention that, the last time you met?

Even if a case can be made that human activity is behind the gradual increase in global temperature, it isn’t obvious that an increased temperature is necessarily a bad thing for life on the planet.

Time for Don to don the blinkers. You’d think he must have been asleep during the record breaking weather extremes of the last 18 months, which just happen to have been exactly the sort of thing you expect from a warming climate, and which many experts suggest are an ominous harbinger of things to come.

We know that plant life thrives on an atmosphere high in carbon dioxide — which is why many market gardeners deliberately pump carbon dioxide into their glass houses.

But Don, you must have noticed (as a good kiwifruit grower) that not all plants live in greenhouses, pampered and spoiled by their growers. Out in the real world, they thrive under the limits ordained by Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, and CO2 is seldom one of those.

And we know that human societies thrive both in Singapore and in Finland, though average temperatures in the two places could hardly be more different.

Brilliant. Global warming affecting you? Install air conditioning. Got a Fujitsu franchise, Don? Doesn’t help the plants or the ecosystems that are under threat, especially when the pace of change is so rapid. Or your kiwifruit plants, which need some winter chilling to produce fruit.

Incurring the many trillions of dollars in cost which would be involved in any serious global attempt to slow the increase in average temperature would place an enormous burden on all societies, especially those already living on the margins of existence.

Cynical in the extreme, Don. The worst off people in the world are the ones expected to suffer most as the climate warms, and it’s the well off in the developed world, who got rich without penalty on their carbon emissions who are to blame. So to avoid some economic cost — and not as much as you might have us believe — we are to condemn the poor to suffer. The rich might be able to afford to adapt, if only in the short term. Tell that to the people living in the Asian megadeltas, who will be the first to see their livelihoods destroyed by rising seas.

And even if it were accepted that human activity is causing the planet to warm, and that the enormous cost of trying to slow that warming is justified, it’s entirely unclear why New Zealand should be at the forefront of that effort, at considerable cost to all New Zealanders, including New Zealand farmers.

At last, a reasonable argument. Accept the facts, and argue about what we do. That’s some kind of progress. But we should — morally and ethically — do our bit, do our fair share. If we listen to the siren voices of Gibbs and his Climate Science Coalitions, ignore what’s coming down the road, and lock our economy into a high carbon pathway, we will lose money on the way to losing our planet. How stupid is that?

[Nick Lowe]

Umm, a Gummer and carbon nonsense Gareth Renowden Mar 28

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Twenty years ago I’d have crossed the street to avoid meeting John Selwyn Gummer, then agriculture minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, chiefly famous for having attempted to feed his young daughter a beefburger at the 1990 Ipswich Boat Show to demonstrate his understanding of the risks of contracting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka mad cow disease) from contaminated meat. It has since killed 166 people in Britain, Cordelia Gummer not among them. I now find myself in the strange position of agreeing rather wholeheartedly with Baron Deben, as he is currently styled, in an article headlined Climate change doubters are endangering our common future published in The Australian (!) last week. And his musings on the politics of climate action provide a useful counterpoint to the astonishing submission on the NZ government’s intention to gazette a “50 by 50″ target for carbon emissions made earlier this month by an Australian organisation calling itself The Carbon Sense Coalition.

Gummer’s central thesis is that in Europe there is consensus between the political left and right on the need for action to address climate change, based in an acceptance of the facts of the matter. He also gets the risk equation absolutely right.

[...] it is not only the Europeans – Right and Left – who have taken up the challenge. From California to Korea, governments and civil society are finding their own ways to work towards a world that is not threatened by pollution. Even if they were all wrong and we acted, the result would be that we would have a cleaner planet, more able to cope with feeding, housing, and clothing those 9 billion people. If, however, we follow the sceptics and they turn out to be wrong, then we would leave our children a legacy of destruction. The risk is all one way, which explains why in Britain, scepticism is confined to the extremes. The political parties embracing it are way out on the edge of the spectrum with views on most other matters that few of us would embrace.

It’s well worth taking the time to read Gummer’s article. He (respectfully) dismisses the views of his fellow Thatcherite peer Nigel, Lord Lawson of Blaby, but describes Christopher Monckton as “more lightweight and extreme and therefore largely discounted”. He concedes they “they keep us all on our toes”, but they have no influence on the direction of policy.

“Lightweight and extreme” would be a good way to describe the “evidence” presented in The Carbon Sense Coalition’s submission to the NZ government’s consultation process on emissions reductions targets, Clean, Green and Barefoot in the Snow (pdf). Life’s too short to enumerate all its evidential shortcomings, but I would note that Easterbrook has some competition from “ex-CSIRO scientist Dr Guy LeBlanc Smith PhD, AIG, AAPG” who uses the same Greenland ice core data to show that “current temperatures are generally lower than several warm periods in the recent past” (hint: they aren’t). The Coalition also manages to claim that there has been no global warming since 1998 and that the oceans are responsible for increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. Factually challenged the Coalition most certainly are, but the submission’s author, one Viv Forbes, is not without a certain charming turn of phrase:

Today is not unusual in any way, apart from the spectacular rise of a pagan global religion that places life-supporting carbon dioxide as the devil, worships green gods, sells indulgences to carbon sinners and advocates a return to the life style of the cave men.

That will come as news to Baron Deben, I am sure. He converted to Catholicism when the Church of England decided to allow the ordination of women. I doubt he’s keen on the troglodyte lifestyle. I hope that Nick Smith applies the same criteria as Gummer when evaluating the submissions crossing his desk…

[Pink Floyd]

NIWA v Cranks 4: Shoot out at the fantasy factory Gareth Renowden Oct 09

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Earlier today a Hot Topic reader drew my attention to this article: Legal Defeat For Global Warming In Kiwigate Scandal, which Nigella Lawson’s father’s secretly-funded Global Warming Policy Foundation chose to feature on its web site. What’s “Kiwigate”, he wanted to know?

Turns out it’s the NIWA versus NZ Climate “Science” Education Trust court case, launched back in August. It also turns out that the article in question is wrong in just about every material respect, and possibly libellous to boot. And the source for this farrago? A post by Richard Treadgold at his Climate Conversation blog, where he claims (in characteristically long-winded fashion) that in NIWA’s “statement of defence” (the document supplied to the High Court as a response to the NZ CSET’s “statement of claim“) NIWA “formally denies all responsibility for the national temperature record (NZTR)“. Well, not quite. Let’s look first at the “Kiwigate” piece…

The “Kiwigate article” is by one John O’Sullivan, who claims to be “the world’s most popular Internet writer on the greenhouse gas theory”, and first appeared at Suite 101. Here’s the intro and opening paragraph:

In the climate controversy dubbed Kiwigate New Zealand skeptics inflict shock courtroom defeat on climatologists implicated in temperature data fraud.

New Zealand’s government via its National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has announced it has nothing to do with the country’s ’official’ climate record in what commentators are calling a capitulation from the tainted climate reconstruction.

Remarkably, just about every assertion in these two sentences is false. The case hasn’t come before a judge, let alone reached a courtroom. I understand there have been meetings between lawyers, but little else so far. NIWA has made no “announcement” about anything, and the “commentators” O’Sullivan is relying on appear to be singular and called Treadgold. The “Kiwigate” coinage appears to be his own, and has found little favour elsewhere.

The rest of the article is no improvement, and includes potentially libellous references to Jim Salinger and Michael Mann. Interesting that Lord Lawson and his team feel free to repeat those allegations by a hosting them at their site. O’Sullivan’s story/fairytale has also been enthusiastically featured at Bishop Hill, Lubos Motl’s Reference Frame blog, and Morano’s Climate Depot. Fact-checking is clearly optional when the story suits your world view.

But let’s go to the source: Treadgold. Yesterday he wrote about his interpretation of NIWA’s statement of defence:

… NIWA formally denies all responsibility for the national temperature record (NZTR).

Now that is surprising — shocking, really. Forget their defensive posturing since our paper criticising it last November — now they’ve given that up and say the NZTR isn’t their problem, they’re not responsible for maintaining it and apparently there’s no such thing as an ’official’ New Zealand Temperature Record anyway.

Actually, it’s not shocking at all. I pointed out in my first post about their legal posturing that there was no such thing as an “official” NZ temperature record, certainly not one that had been relied upon by government as a basis for any policy. Let’s look at the legal statements in a bit more detail (you can download the full documents from the links in my opening paragraph). Here’s the relevant section of the NZ CSET statement of claim:

The New Zealand Temperature Record

7. As part of the National Climate Database, NIWA has responsibility for determining the official New Zealand Temperature Record (the NZTR), which is a statistical time series of the nationally-averaged annual mean surface temperatures experienced in New Zealand.

8. The NZTR is a public record and NIWA is a controlling authority as defined in the Public Records Act 2005.

9. The NZTR has important public consequences. It provides the historical base for most government policy and judicial decisions relating to climate change within New Zealand, and contributes to the rationale for such policy and decisions.

NIWA’s reply says (translating from the legal formatting):

  • There is no “official” or formal NZ temperature record, but a number of different “streams” of climate information derived from the full database of weather data, including the various long term series NIWA and Jim Salinger have worked on over the years.
  • NIWA is the “controlling public office” for the climate database, and that’s the “public record” not the various series derived from it.
  • NIWA denies that the NZTR has been the historical base for most government policy and judicial decisions relating to climate change in NZ.

Somehow Treadgold manages to parse this as a rejection of the various long-term temperature series NIWA and Jim Salinger have compiled. The truth is that NIWA robustly defends the original seven station series (7SS) — see paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of their statement.

Treadgold’s comprehension failure then compounds itself:

NIWA has formally stated that, in their opinion, they are not required to use the best available information nor to apply the best scientific practices and techniques available at any given time. They don’t think that forms any part of their statutory obligation to pursue ’excellence’.

In fact, NIWA’s statement specifically points out that it is required to “pursue excellence in all its activities” (paragraph 4, quoting from the CRI Act 1992). Treadgold is, it appears, hoping no-one will actually read the details and see where he’s attempting to mislead.

Treadgold’s whole post reads a lot like a pre-emptive attempt to spin failure as victory. Here’s his conclusion:

They [NIWA] seem to be doing their homework this time. Their statement of defence discloses that the new NZTR is all ready to go, subject only to peer review by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). Before too long the 7SS will be history.

No, the 7SS will still exist, recalculated from the same data as before, and (I’m willing to bet) without much in the way of change. New Zealand will still be warming, and at about the same rate as before.

Victory without firing a shot! It’s great to be vindicated after the criticism we’ve copped, but what an anti-climax!

Victory? The High Court will first decide whether the CSET’s case is worth hearing, and even if the case should reach court, the chances of NIWA being able to mount a successful defence look very good. Vindicated? Remember that the original Treadgold “report” claimed that warming in NZ “had nothing to do with emissions of CO2 — it was created by man-made adjustments of the temperature. It’s a disgrace.” But when the dust has settled, all the temperature records will still show that NZ has warmed, and the glaciers will still have retreated. How inconvenient for our little climate Quixotes… Here’s Treadgold’s poignant closing sentence:

After the country has a well-founded temperature record, I wonder if anyone will remember to thank us?

I think it’s rather more likely they’ll send you the bill for the money and time wasted by a pointless, politically-inspired campaign to smear NZ scientists and cast doubt on the reality of warming in New Zealand.

Finally — and embarrassingly for Treadgold — one of his heroes (Anthony Watts) turns up to an express an interest in a guest post by RT, but only if he can write something a little more succinct and clear. Here’s Watts:

This blog entry is really badly written [...]. ;-)



Monckton is a fraud Gareth Renowden Aug 03

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Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, pompous peer of a parish in Kent, not content with threatening legal action against US scientist John Abraham (who had the temerity to point out the huge number of errors and misrepresentations in a talk he gave: see Support John Abraham, now 1050+ comments), has now threatened action for libel against Professor Scott Mandia. Mandia wrote a blog post in support of Abraham, inviting members of the media to consider if Monckton were a fraud — which drew a spiteful little email from Tannochbrae

I also note that you have publicly accused me of ’fraud’, and have widely circulated that accusation on the internet, and have expressed the intention to invite the mass media to repeat it. Since this is a serious charge, do you have any evidence to back it up, or should I add your name to that of Professor Abraham in the libel case that will be filed shortly?

Mandia’s open letter to the media asked them to “expose Monckton for the fraud that he is”, which is somewhat different to an accusation of fraudulent behaviour. Let’s examine the evidence, and see if Monckton can reasonably be described as “a fraud”, and whether his actions and public statements are in themselves fraudulent. First we need some definitions:

The Google definition listing is here, and from that Princeton Wordnet offers:

  • intentional deception resulting in injury to another person
  • imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
  • something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

My elderly Oxford English Dictionary (complete edition, 1979) offers the following:

  • the quality or disposition of being deceitful; faithlessness, insincerity
  • criminal deception; the using of false representations to obtain an unjust an unjust advantage or to injure the rights and interest of another
  • an act or instance of deception, an artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured, a dishonest trick or stratagem
  • colloq of a person; One who is not who he appears to be; an imposter, a humbug ( = a hoax, jesting or befooling trick, an imposture, deception, fraud or sham)

Then a US legal definition (definitions differ in other jurisdictions):

Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

How do Monckton’s public statements, writings and presentations stack up when considered in the light of the above definitions. Not well. Let us first note the evidence assembled by Professor Barry Bickmore of Brigham Young University in Utah on his Lord Monckton’s Rap Sheet page. One item will suffice: In a letter to the US Congress Monckton represented himself as a member of the House of Lords in the British Parliament. Monckton is not now, nor has he ever been a member of the House of Lords. Intentional misrepresentation? You be the judge…

Next, let us consider his bizarrely overwrought “Response to John Abraham” [PDF]. Once more, one item will be sufficient. From page 69:

394: Are you aware of results such as that of Pinker et al. (2005), and of several other researchers and data gathering organizations? Pinker found that in 18 years and 1 month from 1983-2001 a naturally-occurring global brightening, attributable at least in part to a reduction in cloud cover at low latitudes and altitudes, had increased the flux of solar radiation reaching the surface by 2.9 Watts per square meter, an increase sufficient to account for all of the ’global warming’ over the period?

Monckton made a similar assertion in a debate with Deltoid’s Tim Lambert in Australia earlier in this year, only to have the wind knocked from his sails by a quote from Rachel Pinker, pointing out that he was wrong. Tasked with this, Monckton assured Lambert that he would “check with Pinker and the IPCC”, and change his argument. It appears that he has failed to do this, preferring instead to continue to misrepresent Pinker’s paper. A deceitful pretence? You be the judge…

Closer to home, Monckton was caught telling lies on New Zealand television, claiming to be an expert on the calculation of climate sensitivity:

The scientists have indeed got their sums wrong, because there are only perhaps 40 or 50 scientists involved in calculating that one central quality, which is known as climate sensitivity, how much warming will you get. It’s a very narrow, very specialist field in which I have actually published work in the [slight pause] reviewed literature, and there’s not many people who have done that. Very few people people have actually done work in this field, and unfortunately what they have done is they have preferred at the UN’s climate panel to rely on computer models which are in effect a form of guesswork.

Monckton’s only contribution to this field was an article (not a peer-reviewed paper) in a newsletter (not a peer-reviewed journal) of the American Physical Society in 2008, which got the science so badly wrong that Arthur Smith was able to document 125 errors. Two years on, Monckton would prefer we didn’t remember that. Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage in debate? You be the judge…

Monckton has also made free with his threats of actions for libel. Aside from Abraham and Mandia, he has threatened George Monbiot and The Guardian (he got nowhere, though he has apparently attempted to claim that he was awarded £50,000 damages), and Arthur Smith’s debunking also earned him a threat of action (see Monckton’s Rap Sheet). None of the ignoble Lord’s threats amount to more than hot air. Perhaps he thinks that preaching from a bully pulpit will impress his congregation. His popularity with the American think tanks running the campaign against action on climate change depends to some extent on his being seen to be at least vaguely credible, and perhaps that demands that he be seen to posture and preen. Or perhaps that is just the nature of the man…

In Britain he carries much less clout. There he is recognised for what he is — a pretentious fabulist and self-important minor peer who is involved with a fringe far-Right political party. Nigel Lawson’s secretly-funded Global Warming Policy Foundation wouldn’t touch Monckton with a barge pole, because it would make Lawson and his backers look like idiots.

On the evidence, it is clear that Monckton is a shameless humbug, a proven liar and a hypocrite, who intentionally misrepresents the facts of climate science in order to mislead his audience. The real mystery is why this isn’t obvious to important sections of the US body politic.

CRU’s Jones on the stand: Pearce offers opinion as news Bryan Walker Mar 02

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Fred Pearce is obviously unrepentant over the unjust treatment he meted out to Phil Jones in his unfortunate series of artices on the UEA emails, one of which I commented on here. He has just produced an extraordinarily slanted account of Jones’ questioning from the Parliamentary committee set up to look into the affair. How’s this for openers?

’Jones did his best to persuade the Commons science and technology committee that all was well in the house of climate science. If they didn’t quite believe him, they didn’t have the heart to press the point. The man has had three months of hell, after all.’

Then Pearce offers two highly prejudicial descriptions of Jones’ actions, each linked to one of his own articles:

’Jones’s general defence was that anything people didn’t like — the strong-arm tactics to silence critics, the cold-shouldering of freedom of information requests, the economy with data sharing — were all “standard practice” among climate scientists.’

Pearce expresses disappointment that one of his own pet projects was not pursued by the committee:

’Nobody asked if, as claimed by British climate sceptic Doug Keenan, he had for two decades suppressed evidence of the unreliability of key temperature data from China.’

Gavin Schmidt has comprehensively dealt with this claim on Real Climate (see his comments on part 5). If Pearce is aware of what Schmidt wrote he is undeterred by it and again links to his own article as demonstrating the topic worthy of the attention of a parliamentary committee.

Then Pearce apparently leaves the scene of the parliamentary committee and offers his own account of what he claims Jones has conceded publicly about the 1990 China study, translating Jones’ ‘slightly different conclusion’ into his own ‘radically different findings’.  

There are other important Pearce conclusions which the committee failed to investigate, again expressed in prejudicial terms:

’Nor did the MPs probe how conflicts of interest have become routine in Jones’s world of analysing and reconstructing past temperatures. How, as the emails reveal, Jones found himself intemperately reviewing papers that sought to criticise his own work. And then, should the papers somehow get into print, judging what place they should have in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where he and his fellow emails held senior positions.’

Pearce takes comfort from his feeling that the committee will have to pay closer attention to the issue in the light of the written submission from the Institute of Physics which is highly critical of the emailers.  He doesn’t mention that John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, told the committee the institute’s view was “premature” and that they should wait until the Russell inquiry publishes its findings in the spring.

Pearce’s Guardian report is clearly an opinion piece but not presented as such. It is an extraordinary example of the authority some journalists have taken upon themselves to declare judgment on matters of which they have shown very little knowledge. Pearce is not a climate change sceptic, but he is hounding a group of climate scientists and seems fired up by the thrill of the chase. It’s a sad spectacle in a leading newspaper.

[GR adds: The Guardian's David Adam provides a more balanced overview here, and the paper's live blog of the session is worth a look.]
[GR update: Simon Hoggart's take: "Whatever your view on man-made global warming, you had to feel sorry for Professor Phil Jones.."]