ABC's stitch-up of Bjorn Lomborg

This is Bjorn Lomborg, I wanted to bring you a picture of Howard Friel, but I couldn't because there's not a single picture of him on the internet

UPDATE: Howard Friel responds personally to this post in the comments section (see here)

Interview? More like an ambush, as Robyn “100 metres” Williams on ABC’s Science Show devotes a long segment of the programme to Howard Friel, who has been embraced by the warmists for having written a book criticising Bjorn Lomborg’s book Cool It. Before we even start, you kind of know people are really desperate when they have to write an entire book just for that purpose. But anyway, we’ll let that pass.

Firstly, however, and I’m sorry to ask … but just who the hell is Howard Friel? I cannot find anything about him other than he is an “author”. Take a look at his Wikipedia entry – blink and you’ll miss it. [UPDATE: An answer is provided by commenter Pat B: “Mr. Friel is a hard-left idologue, an Israel-hater, and a minor satellite in the Chomsky system. He is drearily predictable, and his mode of entry into the climate debate is consistent with his established practice of attacking the ‘moderate’ left from the perspective of the ultra-left. His previously published work, all from Verso, an avowedly leftist publisher, attacks the New York Times for spreading George W. Bush’s ‘lies’ and its cover-up of Israel’s “crimes” against the Palestinians. Now he attacks Bjorn Lomborg – not by mistake, but because there is nothing the hard left hates more than the ‘soft’ left.”] He has no history of writing about climate, no knowledge of climate science that I can find, no qualifications whatsoever in fact to write such a book. Ah, hang on a minute – qualifications only matter if you’re a sceptic, right? That must be it – Al Gore gets a free pass to say whatever he likes – but every utterance of a sceptic is scrutinised to the last letter, including his qualifications. So I think we’ll do the same, just for balance: where are yours?

Williams gives him a completely free ride to plug his book and dump on Lomborg – fully two-thirds of the interview is devoted to Friel, with barely a third given over to Lomborg in the middle – nice touch that, because Friel can have another go at him at the end. Why should this surprise us? Williams is a paid up climate change believer, and will obviously skew interviews to fit his own biased agenda. To start with however, we have a full-blown Denier Alert:

Friel: I think he would be fairly classified as a climate denier. He takes almost every climate related issue from polar bears to melting glaciers to rising sea levels, and in my view very problematically downplays the significance of the impact of global warming on these areas. So people would classify him as a sceptic that is one notch above a denier, but I would not do that, I think he’s close to being a climate denier based on his actual work.

Phew, well at least we’ve got the inevitable ad hominem out of the way. Friel then goes on to quote unfavourable reviews of Lomborg’s earlier book The Sceptical Environmentalist by scientists such as, wait for it, Stephen Schneider [no giggling at the back, please], and Obama warming-fruitcake and Paul-Erlich-bet-participator-and-loser John Holdren (see here). Quelle surprise! Then we move on to the (also inevitable) topic of polar bears where Friel claims that polar bears are a “threatened species” in the Arctic and that there is no way that the polar bears could survive if the Arctic sea ice disappeared. This is despite the fact that polar bear populations are actually thriving (as the Canadian Inuit people, who actually live there and can observe first hand, have recently confirmed), and survived through the 1930s and 1940s when there was less sea ice than today (and during plenty of other even warmer periods in the past).

Friel then claims the Little Ice Age was a “North Atlantic phenomenon” and claims that the “cryosphere is melting”. Clearly Friel hasn’t looked at the Antarctic ice records for the past 30 years.

When Lomborg finally gets the opportunity to put a word in edgeways, he explains that:

[Friel] didn’t try to contact me or anything before he wrote the book.

Of course he didn’t – if he’d actually discussed any of this with Lomborg, and given him the opportunity to respond before it was published, it would have sunk the whole project. Lomborg is rightly irritated with the manner in which Friel attacks the book:

In many ways it seems like a hit job, it seems almost insistent on not understanding what I am saying.

[It] seemed more like he was just intent on finding fault anywhere, even where there is no fault to be found.

Well, mate, that’s exactly why he’s doing it. His mind is made up on climate change. I think we know who the real denier is in all this. Williams then taunts Lomborg with the line:

[Friel’s] got some very good reviews of his book, hasn’t he?

One of which was by Newsweek warm-monger Sharon Begley – again, quelle surprise. The really funny thing about all this is that Lomborg is the last target the warmists should focus on – he is really a believer in serious man-made warming, but merely thinks that there are better ways of spending taxpayers’ money to deal with it than by attempting to limit CO2 emissions. Then Friel is wheeled back on for the final assault, and whines that he doesn’t know where Lomborg got a copy of his book so early, and says that’s “a question which maybe I would like to have some answers about”! Gee, maybe he stole it! Call the police! But Williams leaves the best (worst) bit until last:

Robyn Williams: One thing you don’t say in your book is that he’s in any way linked to a pressure group, a lobby group or anything like that, and that’s the sort of thing that one would want to know, because suddenly this young man comes from nowhere, from Denmark, an economist, talking about environmental science. What’s behind the Lomborg phenomenon?

Howard Friel: That’s a very good question. I chose not to address it, as you say. Let me say this about that though, I find it very interesting that Lomborg’s main plank which he repeats over and over again which has been completely consistent over the course of almost a decade now, that he is opposed to cuts in CO2 emissions. If you look at who that benefits that would be the coal and oil industries. I have no evidence that he’s being paid by the coal and oil industries, I don’t know one way or the other, but I do know that based on my research that his argument that it would be better for the Earth to forgo cuts in CO2 are ridiculous and absurd and reckless, and one would have to wonder why he is making this claim, especially since over and over again he cannot support the particulars of his claim with his own scholarship, even with his own footnoted sources.

He doesn’t know, he just hints at it with innuendo, helpfully prompted by Williams. But in the case of a sceptic, that’s good enough. Big Oil. That’s the only motivation for anyone ever to question the hysterical alarmism of the IPCC, the ABC and Williams. And the hypocrisy of billions of dollars of government funding globally for climate alarmism encouraged by deep green environmental groups completely escapes them! Says it all, really.

Your ABC – Banging the drum for climate alarmism, even when it’s half-baked alarmism from somebody nobody has ever heard of, who knows nothing whatsoever about climate.

You can read it and listen to it here, and see Lomborg’s rebuttal here (there’s also a lengthy PDF as well).

Comments

  1. Howard Friel says:

    Before reviewing or commenting on a book, it is customary to have read it first. Since, given your comments, it is obvious that you have not read my book on Bjorn Lomborg’s work, that might be a good starting point for you. Then, perhaps, you would be able to write with more accuracy about polar bears, average Antarctic temperatures over the past few decades, and the Little Ice Age, all of which you refer to without apparent knowledge, and which I write about in detail in my book.

    Also, while one would need to be a climate scientist, or a scientist in a closely related area, to do climate science, one would not need to be a climate scientist to to write well about climate change, as a number of journalists who write for major news media outlets demonstrate on a daily basis.

    And, for the record, since you hadn’t mentioned it, in addition to writng The Lomborg Deception (Yale University Press, 2010), I have also written (with Richard Falk) Israel-Palestine on Record (Verso, 2007) and The Record of the Paper (Verso, 2004). You are welcome to read those books and thereafter assess my scholarship any way you wish. But please note that the reading part comes before the assessment part.

    I do appreciate you apparently quoting accurately from the Science Show program. In that regard, at least, your methods are superior to Lomborg’s.

    Howard Friel

    • @Howard Friel: Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I am not a climate scientist, but I have a masters degree in a science discipline. Having written this blog for nearly three years, and having read thousands of articles and publications on climate change, I feel I am better placed than most journalists to comment on the debate (including the specific areas of the LIA, Antarctic and polar bears). The blog is not, however, primarily a science blog. It is more a commentary on government spin and media bias, and the post above is more an indictment of the ABC’s biased approach to climate change than a comment on your book.

      However, like so many writers on this subject, it is clear that your mind was already made up on climate change – your aim was to discredit Lomborg well before you put pen to paper. Why else would you make no effort to contact him to discuss your concerns about his work before publication? And your use of the derogatory term “denier” early in the interview, and the inevitable link to Big Oil, unfortunately lost any sympathy I may have had for your critique of Lomborg’s work.

  2. Can’t read a book without buying it; I wouldn’t give a dollar towards the scam.

  3. I’m with Simon and Rod…

    if ‘Mr’ Friel feels so strongly about the issue, I question if he is making money from its sale? or is he simple trying to prevent misinformation? why not start a blog..

    and since when………
    “one would not need to be a climate scientist to to write well about climate change, as a number of journalists who write for major news media outlets demonstrate on a daily basis. ”

    I disagree completely. that is the whole point of blogs like this; to highlight the disregard for accuracy on this issue.

  4. Good post Simon.
    Friel appears quite desperate to link Lomborg to Big carbon despite no evidence to that effect. I note the Robyn Williams did nothing to dispel the smearing innuendo inherent in Friel’s final last comments.

    “And his position is that we should absolutely not cut CO2, and that’s completely consistent with the interests of the oil and coal industries.”

    In the end just another alarmist book written with blinkers firmly in place.
    Open your eyes Howard!

    I note my comments on the story at The Science Show have not been posted. ABC do not want any dissenting voices in their echo chamber.

  5. And we still don’t know Mr Friel’s qualifications, nor who pays him.

    The next photo I see of Williams, he better be wearing a snorkel and flippers. If his forecast is on track, Sydney should underwater by about now.

  6. Steve L says:

    Someone named Rod hasn’t heard of a library.

  7. @Steve L: think that might have been a little joke by Rod… what do you reckon?

  8. Craig Goodrich says:

    Friel’s dedication to scholarship can very easily be determined from the interview itself. The obvious answer to the question “who benefits from [abandoning the mad efforts at CO2 reduction]” is: everybody, from the African mother cooking meals over a fire of dried dung, to the ratepayer faced with doubled and tripled energy bills, to the taxpayer underwriting absurdly generous subsidies, to the environmentalist spared the destruction of wilderness and countryside by phalanxes of utterly useless gargantuan turbine monstrosities.

    Friel is a mendacious hack. Read the Lomborg reply linked above.

    As to the Little Ice Age, Polar Bears, and Antarctica, the warmist rote chorus is complete nonsense. A tiny part of the West Antarctic sheet is warming; the giant East Antarctic sheet is cooling. Polar bears are doing fine, and thrived during the 4,000 years of the Holocene Optimum, 2 deg C warmer than today. If the Little Ice Age was a “North Atlantic phenomenon”, how does it happen that we find strong evidence for it in South Africa, Japan, China, the Andes, and New Zealand?

    That Friel is peddling this rubbish says more about his scholarship and objectivity than any number of letters after his name. It should also be noted, in connection with the classic question “fool or knave?”, that these categories are not mutually exclusive.

  9. Who is Howard Friel? Mr. Friel is a hard-left idologue, an Israel-hater, and a minor satellite in the Chomsky system. He is drearily predictable, and his mode of entry into the climate debate is consistent with his established practice of attacking the “moderate” left from the prospective of the ultra-left. His previously publshed work, all from Verso, an avowedly leftist publisher, attacks the New York Times for spreading George W. Bush’s “lies” and its cover-up of Israel’s “crimes” against the Palestinians. Now he attacks Bjorn Lomborg – not by mistake, but because there is nothing the hard left hates more than the “soft” left. Evidently he needs the publicity ABC has provided him to expand his market. I wonder why ABC thought to give it to him….

  10. Wasn’t aware this was about Israel PatB, but then from what you’ve said I guess he’s not all bad.

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