UK: Committee on Climate Change smears critics

Matt Ridley (from

Matt Ridley (from

Just like the Climate Change Authority here in Australia, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change is packed with warmists. It is also led by a zealot, Lord Deben (see here), who has interests in big green and is massively conflicted.

Despite all that, Deben has no problem in smearing critics of his propaganda mouthpiece, as this article by rational optimist Matt Ridley at Bishop Hill evidences:

Lord Deben is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, a body funded by the British taxpayer. He draws a salary of more than £35,000 from you and me. On the masthead of its website the committee claims to give “a balanced response to the risks of climate change” and “independent, evidence-based advice to the UK government and Parliament”.

Yet the committee consists entirely of people who think climate change will be dangerous; no sceptics or lukewarmers are on it, even though most hold views that are well within the “consensus” of climate science. Under Deben’s chairmanship since 2012 its pronouncements have become increasingly one-sided. Deben himself is frequently highly critical of any sceptics, often mischaracterizing them as “deniers” or “dismissers”, but has never to my knowledge been heard to criticize anybody for exaggerating climate alarm and the harm it can do to disadvantaged people. These are not the actions of an impartial chairman.

In the past year, as I shall detail, Lord Deben has three times launched sharp criticisms of me for arguing that some climate change projections are exaggerated. In each case, I have replied with detailed rebuttals based on peer-reviewed scientific literature to show that his criticisms were wrong, but my replies have been dismissed or ignored by Lord Deben. I suppose I should be flattered that this vendetta against me indicates that he clearly feels that my arguments threaten some part of his agenda. But on this third occasion he has sunk to a new low. (source)

The similarities to the Australian equivalent are striking. Read the whole thing.

Apocalypse – not

Matt Ridley (from

Matt Ridley, writing in Wired, exposes the end-of-the-world cultism that infects environmental activism, and shows how in almost every case, they got it spectacularly wrong.

From SARS to mad cow disease to acid rain to ozone holes, the environmentalists cannot resist the temptation to invoke apocalyptic prophesies to scare the public witless (and secure more funding perhaps?).

What’s the betting that climate alarmism will eventually be relegated to the dustbin of failed environmental scares? They all have several things in common:

  • an element of reality, which can be large or small;
  • which in each case is elevated to a full-blown scare;
  • by activists, who are usually driven by emotional, political, financial or other non-scientific motives;
  • the scare will command wall-to-wall media coverage, often for many years;
  • eventually, however, possibly decades later, it will be shown to have been exaggerated;
  • followed by a collective wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth from those in power;
  • and the public becomes ever more cynical and untrusting of such prophesies in the future.

In the climate debate, the extraordinary hysteria of the alarmists has polarised the debate to such an extent that outright denial (no matter how irrational) has sprung up almost out of necessity to counter it. Balanced elucidation of a potential crisis usually results in balanced responses – frenzied Chicken Little rants will inevitably result in precisely the same in response.

Ridley correctly concludes that the middle ground is where the debate should be focussed:

So, should we worry or not about the warming climate? It is far too binary a question. The lesson of failed past predictions of ecological apocalypse is not that nothing was happening but that the middle-ground possibilities were too frequently excluded from consideration. In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers” a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey.

We’ve already seen some evidence that humans can forestall warming-related catastrophes. A good example is malaria, which was once widely predicted to get worse as a result of climate change. Yet in the 20th century, malaria retreated from large parts of the world, including North America and Russia, even as the world warmed. Malaria-specific mortality plummeted in the first decade of the current century by an astonishing 25 percent. The weather may well have grown more hospitable to mosquitoes during that time. But any effects of warming were more than counteracted by pesticides, new antimalarial drugs, better drainage, and economic development. Experts such as Peter Gething at Oxford argue that these trends will continue, whatever the weather.

Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger—technology can make it better. If plant breeders boost rice yields, then people may get richer and afford better protection against extreme weather. If nuclear engineers make fusion (or thorium fission) cost-effective, then carbon emissions may suddenly fall. If gas replaces coal because of horizontal drilling, then carbon emissions may rise more slowly. Humanity is a fast-moving target. We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they arise, not through the mass fear stoked by worst-case scenarios.

Read it all, and enjoy Ridley’s list of apocalyptic predictions that didn’t come to pass.

Matt Ridley blogs at Rational Optimist.

(h/t WUWT)

Matt Ridley: The Winds of Change

Climate sense

Matt Ridley’s latest article in The Spectator is a must read:

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world’s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine — despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.  

If wind power was going to work, it would have done so by now. The people of Britain see this quite clearly, though politicians are often wilfully deaf. The good news though is that if you look closely, you can see David Cameron’s government coming to its senses about the whole fiasco. 

Read it here.

Matt Ridley: climate panel must be purged

Matt Ridley (from

An excellent article from Matt Ridley in the Times, reproduced in The Australian:

THIS month, after a three-year investigation, Harvard University suspended a prominent professor of psychology for scandalously overinterpreting videos of monkey behaviour.

The incident has sent shock waves through science because it suggests a body of data is unreliable. The professor, Marc Hauser, is now a pariah in his field and his papers have been withdrawn. But the implications for society are not great; no policy had been based on his research.

This week, after a four-month review, a committee of scientists concluded that the Nobel prizewinning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has “assigned high confidence to statements for which there is very little evidence, has failed to enforce its own guidelines, has been guilty of too little transparency, has ignored critical review comments and has had no policies on conflict of interest”.

Enormous and expensive policy changes have been based on the flawed work of these scientists. Yet there is apparently to be no investigation, blame, suspension or withdrawal of papers, just a gentle bureaucratic fattening of the organisation with new full-time posts.

IPCC reports are supposed to be the gold standard account of what is – and is not – known about global warming. The panel boasts that it uses only peer-reviewed scientific literature.

But its claims about mountain ice turned out to be anecdotes from a climbing magazine, its claims on the Amazon’s vulnerability to drought from a Brazilian pressure group’s website and 42 per cent of the references in one chapter proved to be to reports by Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and other “grey” literature.

Read the rest here.

Must read: Matt Ridley – "Down with Doom"

Matt Ridley (from

Matt Ridley exposes the culture of doom that pervades our existence, of which global warming is but the latest in a very, very long line. It certainly won’t be the last, for as we know, the UN is now focussing on biodiversity as the planet’s next crisis. Personally, I recall, as a small boy growing up in suburban south-west London, the Ice Age scare of the mid-1970s, which terrified the pants off me. I had nightmares about it, thanks to over-zealous environmentalists who extrapolated the small, natural cooling to something catastrophic. Sound familiar?

When I was a student, in the 1970s, the world was coming to an end. The adults told me so. They said the population explosion was unstoppable, mass famine was imminent, a cancer epidemic caused by chemicals in the environment was beginning, the Sahara desert was advancing by a mile a year, the ice age was returning, oil was running out, air pollution was choking us and nuclear winter would finish us off. There did not seem to be much point in planning for the future. I remember a fantasy I had – that I would make my way to the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, and live off the land so I could survive these holocausts at least till the cancer got me.

I am not making this up. By the time I was 21 years old I realized that nobody had ever said anything optimistic to me – in a lecture, a television program or even a conversation in a bar – about the future of the planet and its people, at least not that I could recall. Doom was certain.

The next two decades were just as bad: acid rain was going to devastate forests, the loss of the ozone layer was going to fry us, gender-bending chemicals were going to decimate sperm counts, swine flu, bird flu and Ebola virus were going to wipe us all out. In 1992, the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro opened its agenda for the twenty-first century with the words `Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.’

By then I had begun to notice that this terrible future was not all that bad. In fact every single one of the dooms I had been threatened with had proved either false or exaggerated. The population explosion was slowing down, famine had largely been conquered (except in war-torn tyrannies), India was exporting food, cancer rates were falling not rising (adjusted for age), the Sahel was greening, the climate was warming, oil was abundant, air pollution was falling fast, nuclear disarmament was proceeding apace, forests were thriving, sperm counts had not fallen. And above all, prosperity and freedom were advancing at the expense of poverty and tyranny.

Where are the pressure groups that have an interest in telling the good news? They do not exist. By contrast, the behemoths of bad news, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF, spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year and doom is their best fund-raiser. Where is the news media’s interest in checking out how pessimists’ predictions panned out before? There is none.

Read it all!

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