Monday, March 12, 2007

Chris Huhne - The Mary Whitehouse of the Climate Change Debate

Janet Daley writes an excellent ARTICLE in today's Telegraph on how the green lobby must not be allowed to stifle the debate on climate change. One parapgraph stood out in particular...
Some of the dissident voices on climate change were rounded up for last week's polemical Channel 4 documentary made by Martin Durkin, The Great Global Warming Swindle (repeated tonight on the digital channel More4). Whether or not you were persuaded by their articulate doubts, you could not help being struck by the McCarthyite persecution (up to and including death threats) which their non-conformist opinions had attracted. Scientists with impeccable
credentials, emeritus professors and acknowledged experts in the field being hounded and professionally discredited for their reservations about an established orthodoxy: not a pretty sight. Hundreds of years after Galileo, we are apparently still prepared to suppress inconvenient intellectual opposition once political interests have become entrenched. Among those who attempted to prevent the film being shown at all was the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment, Chris Huhne, who, without having seen the programme, wrote to Channel 4 executives advising them in the gravest terms to reconsider their decision to broadcast it.

This is typical of the way some people are trying to stifle the debate. What on earth did Chris Huhne - who is normally on the saner wing of the LibDems - think he was playing at? He seems to have become the Mary Whitehouse of the Climate Change debate, trying to dictate what the 'little people' may or may not be allowed to watch. I hope to watch the Channel 4 programme in the next couple of days. From what I have heard of it, it was not an emotional programme and tried to look at the facts in a sanguine manner. For Chris Huhne to try to ban this programme from being shown says a lot. It says he's not a Liberal, for starters.
UPDATE. Contrast Chris Huhne’s attempt to get Channel 4 to censor the debate on climate change (whatever you think of the merits of the arguments or not), with Evan Harris – LibDem MP for Oxford – who on the Liberal Democrats national website on 9 March asserted that MigrationWatch must be allowed free expression on their views on immigration…

As Harris states, “I urge the petitioners to debate with or to ignore our opponents, not to try to ban them.”
UPDATE 2: Chris Huhne has just emailed me. He's sent this letter to the Telegraph...
Janet Daley is simply wrong to state that I wrote to Channel 4 “advising them in the gravest terms to reconsider their decision to broadcast” Martin Durkin’s The Great Global Warming Swindle (Monday March 12th 2007). I wrote asking for Channel 4’s comments on the fact – not in dispute – that the last time Mr Durkin ventured onto this territory he suffered serious complaints for sloppy journalism – upheld by the Independent Television Commission - and had to apologise. I note that one of his interviewees on this latest programme has already complained about his treatment.
The notion of Ms Daley that Mr Durkin is some latter-day Galileo is absurd: the academic debate on climate change is entirely free, and the editor of Science has said that it is rare to find a debate on which the consensus is so firm. In 923 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles on climate change in the last ten years, not a single one questioned the global consensus on the man-made causes of climate change though there was plenty of debate about the scale. There is not a single computer model of the global climate anywhere in the world that ignores man-made greenhouse gases in explaining climate change.
Mr Durkin is not seeking to enter into a scholarly debate, but to score points using the mass media to disguise the poverty of support for his argument. Propaganda is not scholarship, as Ms Daley inadvertently reminds us.
Yours sincerely,

Chris Huhne MP (Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary)


Noël said...

You're absolutely right, Iain. Whilst the problem of climate change may very well be as serious as the most vocal proponents of the theory say, their '"facts" seem to rest on far too many as yet unsubstantiated assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Dave Cameron plans to track the flight movement of 60 million people.
Anyone know how he plans to do this?

Anonymous said...

Well done Iain,

I'm glad you're proving to be the voice of reason on this issue.

anon and on and on said...

Master Huhne is in good company. Try this from David Adam in the Guardian:

"...I didn't watch the programme, partly because Mrs Thatcher popped round to discuss the performance of our shares in nuclear energy companies (not good, since you ask), but mainly because I quite like my television and didn't think it would work so well with a hurled plant pot nestling where the screen used to be. The pre-publicity for the show was enough..."

How about "I won't watch An Inconvenient Truth, because I've already decided that Al Gore is a fat fraud, based on a trailer I heard about down at the Dog and Duck."

Comment is Free, but Debate is Just A Tiresome Distraction.

Anonymous said...

so called liberals will always try to ban things for the greater good

Voyager said...

Actually Iain the C4 programme had the most sober and I thought convincing demonstration of what it is that Africa needs....electricity.

It was so much more convincing than Brown, geldof and the rest of the celebrity circus

Young Mason said...

I find that absolutely appalling - have we learned nothing from the past? Sometimes I think my history degree was a waste of time.

wrinkled weasel said...

"Hundreds of years after Galileo, we are apparently still prepared to suppress inconvenient intellectual opposition once political interests have become entrenched"

You might just as well have used that quote in connection with Patrick Mercer, or "cash for honours" but I expect it would have been inconvenient.

Gary Elsby said...

I found this programme fascinating.

It claims that man is not responsible for the rise in Co2 emissions and puts the blame squarely on sun activity.

Al Gore's claim of a correlation of global warming and a subsequent rise in Co2 is ridiculed by the claims of an 800 year gap in correlation.

The reasons for a Conservative funded (Lawson) research project into global warming made me smile and along with all well know world scientists, Lawson now dismisses the findings.

A tax con?

Compulsive viewing, very entertaining and very enlightening.


Anonymous said...

Huhne is a class-1 knob-jockey.

Why the people of Eastleigh choose this little tosser over the far more impressive Conor Burns, I will never know.

I guess Eastleigh *still* haven't gotten over Steve Milligan - so we have to put up with this twat in parliament forever more.

Anonymous said...

As a leftie, I actually agree with you Iain.

This is as bad as the Christians who complained about the Jerry Springer Opera without having seen it.

Anonymous said...

Just read your earlier post on the same issue. Somewhat surprisingly this seems to be about the only political issue on which you haven't yet formed a view. I congratulate you, for once, on wanting to understand the evidence before making your decision - but the issue is rather important so please do not hang around on the fence much longer. You know what we normally call politicians who want to be all things to everyone - Liberal Democrats?

Anonymous said...

spot on, voyager. This show was very good on the distorting power of funding and lots of journo jobs resting on an idea being true. David Starkey's got interesting things to say about this kind of asceticism - it's the C21 version of cancelling christmas because it's too much fun, as Cameron was trying to do on the today prog this morning. only forgive him because he clearly knew it was tosh and only said what he thought midle class hippies want to hear

John Sandell said...

Gary: "It claims that man is not responsible for the rise in Co2 emissions and puts the blame squarely on sun activity."

No, it puts the blame for global warming on sun activity, and blames global warming for the increase in CO2. I found the argument persuasive, and at the very least it reminds us that there are two sides (at least) to this discussion.

It also points out that decaying vegetation contributes more CO2 than all other sources combined. Perhaps we should ban autumn...

Neil Craig said...

I must admit being disappointed with Huhne on "green" issues' when he had such a good record on economic issues.

Being obviously intelligent he may be in a position like you Iain, disagreeing with the Luddite inanities of his party's "environment, environment, environment" policy. As their environment spokesman he is obviously much more constrained than you.

However if this is correct he should never have accepted the environment portfolio when Ming offered it. The phrase would be "poisoned chalic".

Alan said...

Iain, thanks to your link, I missed several hours of sleep last night, and found the programme fascinating, well argued, and very moderate in how it stated its position.

I urge you (and everyone) to view it forthwith.


Scary Biscuits said...

I think this is a bit unfair on Mary Whitehouse. Wanting to censor porn on TV or foul language is one thing (which even Iain does here). Wanting to censor high brow, earnest political debate is in quite a different category.

People in favour of censoring views they disagree with should observe that the church's decision to suppress Galileo was probably the worst error in its entire history. Allowing non-Christains and political pole-climbers to pervert its message of love probably did more harm to Jesus' message than any other mistake in a very long list.

Ed said...

Can someone on each side make sure that GB and DC see the show?

An interesting post on Nick Robinson on this issue too.

Anonymous said...

You've become very grumpy recently, Iain. This isn't connected to WHUs fortunes is it ? Or is it just your middle aged grumpiness ?

Have a cup of tea and chill out a little bit..maybe you've got too much time on your hands...

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.29 - Conor Burns is a maggot who couldn't impress his own mother, which is probably why he didn't get elected.

don't give a XXXX said...

Totally agree with Janet's article, your own comments and those of other commentators. If global warming does exist, it's unlikely to affect us so who cares? Let future generations look after themselves, that's what I say.

AnyoneButBlair said...

The greens are the new totalitarians. Not only does Chris Huhne want to stop incorrect speech and thoughts, no-one has commented in the MSM on the inanities of Sian Berry on newsnight.
She seemed to be saying that climate-change denial was an unacceptable opinion.
How long until it's up there with Holocaust denial?

nadders said...

Great Programme. Biggest issue for all the trots who now are carbon/CO2 freaks is that the CO2 is bad band wagon was launched by our very own Lady Thatch!

40 years ago the equivalent bunch of scientists to our CO" bad lot today, number one concern was a new Ice Age.
One of said group said don't worry as man's CO2 production will increase temps by 1 or 2 degrees so no ice age afterall.

Thus was an industry and science born.

Kafka said...

I will refer you all once again to -- where you'll find even more science than the C4 programme. Some of it is hard going, because it really is science, but it's worth your time.

AnyoneButBlair said...

PS Chris Huhne probably just thinks any publicity is good publicity. However lame.
He's sat on a tiny majority in Eastleigh and Anonymous 1.29 and 2.02 you'll be pleased to hear that has it as a Tory gain. So long Chris......!

Giovanni said...

Are we actually surprised that Global Warming has become the new cause-celebre and new totem/dogma of the chattering classes?

Johnny Norfolk said...

They do not want debate as they have seen it as a way to raise even more tax from us.

The BBC should have done far more to let the other side have a say but they are just the same. Just what has gone wrong in this country.

Anonymous said...

Iain, is the bloke that is angling to be the next Lib Dem leader, before the next General Election ?

Sarkis Zeronian said...

Anon @ 2.02pm,
You are a particularly unpleasant sort of coward aren't you? Why don't you have the guts to stand by the attacks you make with your name?

Bishop Hill said...

One has to ask whether there is anything Liberal about the majority of Liberal Democrats. Can they point at anything they have acheived in local government or in Scotland which is (a) liberal or (b)distinguishable from socialism?

judith said...

The C4 programme was very impressive. It pointed out that rising levels of Co2 appeared to be (belatedly) the consequence of global warming, not the cause. Volcanos create more Co2 per year than all manufacturing emissions, and the most of all is created by oceans - like 95%.

I assume Mr Huhne will be calling for all oceans to be destroyed asap.

Bishop Hill said...

anyonebutblair said:

"How long until it's up there with Holocaust denial?"

There have already been calls to make it a crime against humanity. The LibDems are sure to follow. ;-)

Tom said...

Has anyone linked to Nigel Lawson's sceptical take on the hysteria around climate change? Well worth a read - (click on my name for the link). It's a pdf file.

Anonymous said...

The Great Global Warming Swindle is available to view on demand (for now't) on Google Video:

morrocanroll said...

'Dave Cameron plans to track the flight movement of 60 million people. Anyone know how he plans to do this?'

Easy - passport number. Your flying record will already be databased.

I think Dave is really just 'stress testing' this idea. We might find that the 'mass acceptence' of MMGW is no such thing and that nobody is ready to change their ways. There's a lot of suspicion around that all this is just an excuse for extra tax. If this idea goes bad, everybody will have forgotten by the next election.

Even better, this idea has left Gordo babbling about how only Euro-fanatics can save the world.
And what a strong contrast between Dave tree-planting in his polo shirt and Gordo is his screwed up suit.

mister scruff said...

Here's the entire documentary on Google video for those of you who havent watched it yet.

My my - that Huhne chap sounds like a right Gauleiter. The term "ecofascist" is becoming more and more pertinent every time I hear of stories like this, where opposing views are shut down, and scientists end up getting death threats.

It truely is the new Nazism of the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Funny, Iain you attacked Chris Huhne, what about Idiot Dave's latest 'Tax 'em out of the skies policy' are you going to attack that to?

Newmania said...

without , honestly , wisshing to say told ya so ... ti does soeem to me that the illiberality of Liberals and the Green religion has been flogged somewhat , i `ve done it a fair bit and so have others.

I did notice the Huhne remarks which was the most intersting piece in this article though. No suprise to me

jane said...

I didn't see the programme but a colleague who is a geographer did and was convinced by much of it - and he knows what he is talking about. I am for truth and against fashionable nonsense.

forthurst said...

I understand Al Gore is to make a presentation to the Shadow Cabinet on 'Climate Change'.

When will politicians ever learn, or perhaps they know only too well already, that the answer to any question can be predetermined by whom you ask.

If politicians are to spend billions solving a non-extent problem, they must also overlook the global implications of climate change wraught by the Sun which nevertheless might turn substantial regions to desert. more runways at Heathrow, anyone.

Anonymous said...

Sarkis, why? What has it got to do with you?

Electoralcalculus has one main problem - it doesn't work. Ever.

Anonymous said...

It is important to distinguish between "global warming" and the "causes of global warming".

The earth has warmed up and cooled down at least five times since homo sapiens has been around. (Sometimes I do wonder about the sapiens description). Why did Greenland become so named? Were not these islands omce connected to what is now mainland Europe? About 25,000 years ago sea level was c120 metres lower than it is today. These dramatic changes had nothing to do with human activity and everything to do with the forces of nature.

The current carbon emissions frenzy needs to be seen for what it is - an excuse to put up taxes. It will not make a row of beans difference to the progress or otherwise of global warming.

Man in a shed said...

Well done Iain - for this and the other climate change heresy posts.

Sarkis Zeronian said...

Anonymous @ 3.48pm said...
Sarkis, why? What has it got to do with you?


Not a lot, I just didn't think it very fair that your baseless vitriolic anonymous cowardice went unchallenged. You disgust me, but let's move on.

dr random said...

I'm sorry about this long post, Iain, but I thought it might be relevant. As indicated in previous posts, the producer of your favourite C4 programme has history of distorting arguments and this programme is no exception.

Here is a letter written by one of the contributors whose view was completely distorted. All those who have taken the programme's arguments as reasonable should read it.

Mr. Steven Green
Head of Production
Wag TV
2D Leroy House
436 Essex Road
London N1 3QP

10 March 2007

Dear Mr. Green:

I am writing to record what I told you on the telephone yesterday about
your Channel 4 film "The Global Warming Swindle." Fundamentally,
I am the one who was swindled---please read the email below that
was sent to me (and re-sent by you). Based upon this email and
subsequent telephone conversations, and discussions with
the Director, Martin Durkin, I thought I was being asked
to appear in a film that would discuss in a balanced way
the complicated elements of understanding of climate change---
in the best traditions of British television. Is there any indication
in the email evident to an outsider that the product would be
so tendentious, so unbalanced?

I was approached, as explained to me on the telephone, because
I was known to have been unhappy with some of the more excitable
climate-change stories in the
British media, most conspicuously the notion that the Gulf
Stream could disappear, among others.
When a journalist approaches me suggesting a "critical approach" to a
technical subject, as the email states, my inference is that we
are to discuss which elements are contentious, why they are contentious,
and what the arguments are on all sides. To a scientist, "critical" does
not mean a hatchet job---it means a thorough-going examination of
the science. The scientific subjects described in the email,
and in the previous and subsequent telephone conversations, are complicated,
worthy of exploration, debate, and an educational effort with the
public. Hence my willingness to participate. Had the words "polemic", or
"swindle" appeared in these preliminary discussions, I would have
instantly declined to be involved.

I spent hours in the interview describing
many of the problems of understanding the ocean in climate change,
and the ways in which some of the more dramatic elements get
exaggerated in the media relative to more realistic, potentially
truly catastrophic issues, such as
the implications of the oncoming sea level rise. As I made clear, both in the
preliminary discussions, and in the interview itself, I believe that
global warming is a very serious threat that needs equally serious
discussion and no one seeing this film could possibly deduce that.

What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which
there is not even a gesture toward balance or explanation of why
many of the extended inferences drawn in the film are not widely
accepted by the scientific community. There are so many examples,
it's hard to know where to begin, so I will cite only one:
a speaker asserts, as is true, that carbon dioxide is only
a small fraction of the atmospheric mass. The viewer is left to
infer that means it couldn't really matter. But even a beginning
meteorology student could tell you that the relative masses of gases
are irrelevant to their effects on radiative balance. A director
not intending to produce pure propaganda would have tried to eliminate that
piece of disinformation.

An example where my own discussion was grossly distorted by context:
I am shown explaining that a warming ocean could expel more
carbon dioxide than it absorbs -- thus exacerbating the greenhouse
gas buildup in the atmosphere and hence worrisome. It
was used in the film, through its context, to imply
that CO2 is all natural, coming from the ocean, and that
therefore the human element is irrelevant. This use of my remarks, which
are literally what I said, comes close to fraud.

I have some experience in dealing with TV and print reporters
and do understand something of the ways in which one can be
misquoted, quoted out of context, or otherwise misinterpreted. Some
of that is inevitable in the press of time or space or in discussions of
complicated issues. Never before, however, have I had
an experience like this one. My appearance in the "Global Warming
Swindle" is deeply embarrasing, and my professional reputation
has been damaged. I was duped---an uncomfortable position in which to be.

At a minimum, I ask that the film should never be seen again publicly
with my participation included. Channel 4 surely owes an apology to
its viewers, and perhaps WAGTV owes something to Channel 4. I will be
taking advice as to whether I should proceed to make some more formal protest.


Carl Wunsch
Cecil and Ida Green Professor of
Physical Oceanography
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lord Cashcroft said...

"Chris Huhne - The Mary Whitehouse of the Climate Change Debate"
So that must make Dave Cameron Lord Longford?.........

Andrew Ian said...

Maybe the death threats might have convinced that scientist to change his tale. Just that guy wants to have his bit taken out of the documentary doesn't mean the doc isn't spot on the money.

Oh btw where is this genuis politician condeming the death threats against those who appeared in the program?

Gary Elsby said...

John Sandell:

Quite right, John, I shouldn't have used the word 'subsequent'.

Al Gore claims man is producing more CO2 and therefore global warming.

The documentary claiming otherwise is fascinating if only for the way the counter scientists actually portray their anger, amusement and proof.

Incredible. I feel totally ripped off and demand justice.


dr random said...

andrew ian:

Please look at the scientific publications by Carl Wunsch before jumping to bizarre conclusions about death threats.

A debate about the science would have been nice. This programme was just a polemic that proposed a whole load of entirely unscientific arguments that have no basis in reality, all to fit the producer's agenda. Please don't just listen to what you want to hear.

Anonymous said...

Well Sarkis, it seems you can be as rude as you like as long as it's not a Tory you're talking about. Grow up you little girl.

Julian Jackson said...

Hopefully I can articulate this properly, here goes.... The climate change issue underlines to me the one thing I find most frustrating about politicians and politics. I don’t know what is causing global warming; I don’t suppose that many readers of this site do. I know what I believe is the cause, but I don't know. I'll never be in a position to dedicate years to finding out for myself, nor am I intelligent enough - so I rely upon those in authority to give me a balanced and informed view. What I, we get instead is completely the opposite. We get "fact" wrapped up in political and personal bias, in self interest, tainted to win votes and / or extract further taxation. What a sad indictment that we cannot rely upon those that we have elected to tell us the truth - even if, as I suspect it is in this case, the truth is they just don't know the answer!

Rob's uncle said...

You may find it helpful to read 'The following letter from Carl Wunsch is intended to clarify his views on global warming in general, and the The Great Global Warming Swindle which misrepresented them.' at

and their review of the programme at:

Real Climate = 'Climate science from climate scientists'.

Ed said...

So that must make Dave Cameron Lord Longford?

I think Iain was criticising Huhne's attempt to prevent the broadcast.

The Druid said...

I have not seen the programme but in any case prefer not to watch these sorts of shows as they tend to sensationalism which is not at all helpful. If Hume did as you say Iain he is a silly billy isn't he?

There is of course plenty of reading matter out there for those with the time and inclination to open their eyes.

For those who think GW is all a Marxist ramp confirmation can be found in the reports prepared by that den of trots namely Lloyd's of London.

Equally interesting is the latest report from the IPCC which was published last month.

Its all there in black and white.

Laurence Boyce said...

“Whether or not you were persuaded by their articulate doubts, you could not help being struck by the McCarthyite persecution (up to and including death threats) which their non-conformist opinions had attracted.”

Perhaps we should leave the death threats out of it, seeing as they are both illegal and moronic. The programme was aired, the debate has not been stifled, and methinks the global warming brigade have a few questions to answer.

Sarkis Zeronian said...

Anonymous @ 4.50pm said...
Well Sarkis, it seems you can be as rude as you like as long as it's not a Tory you're talking about. Grow up you little girl.


Still courageously lobbing your insults from behind a wall of anonymity...who is the little girl?

neil craig said...

Interesting to see Profesoor Wunsch's ;etter.

His given complaints are
1) That it wasn't explained that a "critical" programme about warming would be critical.

2) That the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (3 parts per 10,000) has no effect on the amount of warming. He is wrong on this. Venus has a temperature of up to 500C only slightly because it is closer to the sun but very largely becuse its atmosphere is pure CO2. In any case if the amount didn't matter then there would be no reason to worry in the first place.

He says it has been "deeply embarrasing, and my professional reputation has been damaged" which is consistent with the idea that he is being lent on.

If the leaning is being done by the management of his university the concept of academic freedom is clearly under threat.

Young Mason said...

Having spoken to a couple of friends in the 'science world' they're quite convinced that he's back-tracking because his career - and thus grant-money - is at stake.

Andrew Ian said...

Wunsch is covering his arse. The death threats are not "bizarre" they are in fact real.

Anonymous said...

Sarkis - still you I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

What an outrageous authoritarianism, bigotry and arrogance from Chris Huhne. How dare he presume to attempt to censor what we - the ones who elect and pay him - can have access to.

Aside from you and Boris, Iain, I'm becoming totally sickened by politicians right across the political spectrum. Their ever increasing salaries, perks and tax free pensions seem to be matched by ever diminishing respect for the people who elect them.

Leo said...

I'm all for free and reasoned debate, Iain, but that's not what this programme was doing.

In fact, it was dragging up long-since dispelled arguments blaming climate change on the Sun. For a more in-depth breakdown and rebuttal of the key points made in the programme, i urge you to read here:

javelin said...

Global warming could be caused by the sun or maybe by humans. The evidence is so poor it's all just alchemy.

King Canute comes to mind.

What is for certain is the environmentalism is a big industry and a good excuse to apply for grant and raise taxes.

Anonymous said...

It is puzzling that you choose to single out Chris Huhne for disapproval on the same day that Cameron has announced a tax hike based on the same dodgy global warming theory.

My mind is not made up on this issue but, whilst watching the program, I got a strong sense that, to date, we have only really heard the argument for the theory.

I remember how odd it seemed when Thatcher suddenly embraced green issues but, like many other interest groups, the program was persuasive in arguing that the issue has been hi-jacked to enforce and promote a myriad of other policies and prejudices: anti-Americanism, anti-cars, anti-reliance on Middle East Oil etc.

If you haven't seen it, it is definitely worth a look tonight.

Observer said...

it was dragging up long-since dispelled arguments

That is life sunshine. If you read more widely you would see that what you think is long-dispelled actually emerges as an interesting factor.

You are young enough to do a lot of reading on the history of ideas and of discovery.

Much of what is being spouted is part of a Pantheist doctrine going back centuries but which had an outing in the can go even further back and see the cycle.

It may disappoint you at 15 to realise you are not on the cusp of a brave new era but simply on the wave which will rise and fall as they have so many times before.

People love causes especially ones with apocalyptic outcomes predicted - keep a diary - you can look at it when you are 35 and wonder how people fell for that craze or some other.

Remember Jurassic Park ? Hyped movie. Well before that we had Grease and Saturday Night Fever hyped by Robert Stigwood; we had Star Wars - that was an effective hype when it first released - and a whole plethora of issues.

It is the fun of rallies, belonging, and superficial thought - but remember you are shaped by propaganda just like those Chinese kids who ran amok in the 1960s as part of the Red Guard in China because Mao set them loose with their little red books.

bt said...

druid -

The IPCC report is not due to be published for another three months.
What you see are the conclusions written by the politicians and their hangers-on.

Meanwhile (as reported by some of the scientific authors concerned) the IPCC is doing its damnedest to twist the science so as to match their preferred conclusions.

Shades of Hansen.

Richard Dale said...

Dr Random

So Professor Wunsch does not like the conclusions that his own information was used to support. That does not necessarily affect that conclusion.

I can't remember the names of the participants, but the only oceanographer I can recall was giving evidence for the palaeoclimate - the temperature record. The fact that his information has been used to support a conclusion he does not like does not mean that his contribution is not valid.

Unfortunately I think his response is symptomatic of the level the debate has reached. It should not be relevant to his professional standard, as long as his contribution was honest. The fact that he feels embarrassed with being connected with this programme is the telling thing.

anon and on and on said...

And the smoking gun in Huhne's e-mail?

"In 923 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles on climate change in the last ten years, not a single one questioned the global consensus on the man-made causes of climate change..."

Any practicing scientist (and I've published a few papers in my time) will tell you that Peer Review means that anything not accepted by the "peers" is junked - and the selection of peers is a black box process.

It's about as robust as a Grand Inquisitor asking Galileo if a single bishop supported his views on the solar system. "No? Well there you are, then!"

mark williams said...

Having watched the C4 programme a couple of times, I have to say that its position is superficially convincing, but its logic is poor. I am not a climate scientist, but I acknowledge that the sun has a big impact on the earth's temperature - you may have noticed how much warmer it is in the day time. Equally it is an undeniable fact that CO2 can have a sinificant impact on the temperature of a planet - witness the fact that Mercury has a high temperature (700Kelvin) because it is literally baked by the Sun, but Venus, which is twice as far away from the Sun, is slightly hotter, although as it is further away, one would expect it to be colder. The explanation is that Venus has a very thick atmosphere full of CO2, whereas Mercury has no atmosphere (because it has less mass/gravity) and its atmosphere boiled off a long time ago. Hence the effect of high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is widely accepted, and I think it is fair to say that is generally accepted.

The gist of the argument is that climate change has been driven by solar activity, and that doesn't seem unreasonable: the temperature of the earth will be determined by the rate at which it is heated by the sun and the rate at which it radiates energy - the greater the rate at which the earth is hit by cosmic rays the hotter it will get. It follows that more CO2 will be released to the atmosphere from the ocean and hence the lag between temperature changes and CO2 in the atmosphere. When solar activity drops the temperature of he earth will also eventually drop as the atmosphere finds a new equilibrium.

That is all fine and dandy but that model doesn't address the present day. Unlike the centuries of history discussed by the program, for the last 50 years we have been using vast amounts of coal, oil and gas, releasing substantial amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere/environment. That carbon had previously been deep underground, since the carboniferous period when the climate was very different from today. Surely the issue is not what may or may not have happened in the past, but whether the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (for there clearly has been a substantial increase) will lead to a raising of temperatures, to a higher equilibrium or to an instability where higher temperatures cause large amounts of CO2 to be released by the oceans thereby increasing the temperature.

Nobody appears to be wholly convincing on any of these points which makes Miliband and Huhne's refusal to discuss them reprehensible.

On the other hand, Cameron/ Osborne's position on jet fuel seems entirely rational given that we already have very high taxes on car fuel. If we accept that there is some purpose to having taxes on car fuel to discourage car use (although some might argue against that), then it seems illogical to have no similar tax on jet fuel (and bunker fuel for ships). It all gets burnt in the same way and ends up in the atmosphere. The aviation industry says that they account for only a small percentage of CO2 emissions, because that includes emissions from coal and gas burning, but jet fuel represents 1/7th of the output from oil refineries, whereas even after Brown's increase in APD the aviation indutry will only pay £2bn in duty compared to the £32bn VAT and duty on car fuel (16 times as much for 6 times the CO2 emissions). Add to that that there is no VAT on plane tickets nor on the purchase of aeroplanes and their spare parts, and aeroplanes are very lightly taxed compared to cars. Not necessarily a reason to increase taxes, but certainly a reason to rebalance them.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

scary biscuit 1:51. Quite right. Mary Whitehouse was not trying to suppress debate. She was simply fighting a rearguard action against squalid vulgarity, much of it financed by taxation.

As to the scientific consensus: do we remember the 365 economists who were unanimously of the view that Margaret Thatcher's economic policies were bound to fail?

Anonanon said...

Lib Demo

towcestarian said...

Mark Williams said:
"for the last 50 years we have been using vast amounts of coal, oil and gas, releasing substantial amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere/environment"

But how (as a self confessed non-expert) can you say that the amuonts of CO2 are "substantial"? In relative terms they are actually trivial. Back to religious belief again sadly.

anonanon said...


Anonymous said...

I think as the biggest contributor to global warming, we should slaughter the entire stock of European Cattle.

In one fell swoop, we would cut CO2 emissions and take away the market for animal libertarians and starve the whiny vegetarians of most of their dairy products.

It would also have the added benefit of cutting out most of the Farm subsidies which are bleeding us dry, and remove the costly and regular outbreaks of foot and mouth or BSE.

Peter Risdon said...

Wunsch's statement is on his website. He quotes from the letter he received from the programme's makers: "The aim of the film is
to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily
caused by industrial emissions of CO2. It explores the scientific
evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative
theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly
inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the
apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involved,
especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting
industrial growth."

That's a lot more open than you'd believe from some of the comments. Wunsch is also on record as saying: "it is very difficult to separate human induced change from natural change", "I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could "shut off" or that with global warming Britain would go into a "new ice age" are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality." and likening the sensible reaction to the possibility of AGW to taking out insurance on your house.

That's seems reasonable - but it isn't the kind of climate alarmism we hear so often.

In a piece published on the Royal Society's website he basically says that not only do we not know whether there's a human component in global warming, we cannot know it.

More quotes, links and discussion here.

Anonymous said...

So Huhne did try to stop it; he just used a different argument!!

mark williams said...

towcestarian said...
'But how (as a self confessed non-expert) can you say that the amuonts of CO2 are "substantial"? In relative terms they are actually trivial. Back to religious belief again sadly.'

I may not be an expert on the climate but I know a bit about energy, the carbon cycle and power generation, so how about this for an argument:

In this country we produce 80 million tons of refined oil products. This represents about 45% of our use of carbon based energy, so our total use of carbon based fuels amounts to something just under 200 million tons a year. This is 200 million tons of fuel that we have dug out of the ground that has been sitting there for millions of years. How does that compare with the carbon that might be absorbed in a year by natural processes in the UK? Well you can figure that the area of the country is 60million acres and a farmer would be happy to get 3 tons of wheat off an acre, so perhaps 3 tons is about the amount of carbon that can be fixed on average by absorption of CO2 by growing trees or plants. That gives us a similar figure of just under 200m tons a year. The trouble is that a lot of that absorbed carbon is going to turn back to CO2 as rotting vegetation or as food within a very few years.

Hence the value of CO2 that we produce from fossil fuels in this country is of the same order of magnitude as the CO2 that goes through the carbon cycle, so we have basically doubled that figure. OK, we are a densely poulated part of the world and in most other parts of the world the ratio will be a lot lower, but I hardly think that is insignificant.

And to address 2 myths:

(1) According to the US Geological Survey, the worlds volcanoes only emit 130 million tons of CO2 a year, which is considerably less than man-made emissions in the UK alone.

(2) Farting cows may put methane into the atmosphere and methane is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2 although it breaks down into CO2 after 10 years, but the methane comes from vegetation that was fixed from CO2 only a few years earlier. That is very different from releasing carbon that was fixed millions of years ago.

Norfolk Blogger said...

So given that your who assetion has been proved wrong by Chris Huhne, presumably an apology will be forthcoming ?

james higham said...

Interesting how the scientists trotted out to deny global warming have 'impeccable qualifications' whilst the vast majority of the world's scientists who realize the damned thing is happening are presumably backyard experimenters.

Anonymous said...

OK, we are a densely poulated part of the world

Let's reduce population and set a target of say 50 million by 2012 by paying emigration-bonuses and imposing an immigration freeze

A housebuilding ban and office construction restrictions

This would have a major impact

AnyoneButBlair said...

If you read through the comments, whichever side of the fence you sit on, CO2 drive climate change is far from proven, contrary to the media. For example the 10pm BBC news last night had a piece on climate change which used coastal erosion as it's example...Erosion is a perfectly natural process which has being going on in the UK for eternity and has got nothing to do with climate change. More sloppy journalism from the BBC. Given it's far from proven, is this a basis for tax policy? NO

mitch said...

Huhne's letter isn't in The Telegraph this morning. Quite right too.

James said...

Well, Iain you have had to back track quite a bit here. The fact is that Durkan is nbg as a journalist, and the only other people who seek to cast doubt on the thesis that 1) global warming is happening and 2) it is substantially man made are those in the Bush administration with suspiciously close links to big oil. Actually I think you probabaly owe Chris huhne something pretty close to a retraction...

Anonymous said...

Chris Huhne uotes the Oreskes study that all 928 studies published on Climate Change in the peer reviewed literature supported the 'concensus'. Perhaps he is unaware that this study was almost immediately shown to be fallacious due in the main to inappropriate methodology. The work was repeated by Benny Peisner who came to a completely different conclusion.

Newmania said...

Mark that is a good counter blast I do not take what you say as gospel but it has a sincere ring .
We should remember that there are large vested interests in keeping the Greenists at bay as well as tax and control temptations for the worlds bureaucrats to exaggerate the problems. neither has a clean pair of hands

I was only blogging yesterday that theare is an allegation in new Scienstist that the IPCC report was sytematically neutered due to poltical pressurre . IE it is possible the problems are far worse than they appear.

i think the lies that have been told and the careers that have been piggy backed have done a great deal of harm here . Cynicism is natural and the wors t offenders are the Green Party who are collection of dogs on string people looking for a cause.

they do it great harm by association

macles said...

Science demands hypotheses for how something happens be advanced and tested. You will find that the so-called startling new and supressed hypotheses and data regarding climate change, 'exposed' in the C4 program, have been out-and-about in the peer-reviewed literature for some time. As alternative hypotheses to MMGW, they have failed, been rejected, shown to have been based on flwed data (not always the authors fault, but unfortunately the case). One hypothesis for MMGW still stands. It is that man-made additions of CO2 to the atmosphere have warmed the Earth significantly over the last 100 years, and are predicted to continue to do so.

neil craig said...

Mark according to a recent Parliamentary answer to John Redwood manmade CO2 amounts to 3% of the total which can properly be denied the label "substantial".

James says that Iain has "had to back track quote a bit here".

In fact Iain has, probably wisely in light of his duty not to express negative opinions of specific party policy, said absolutely nothing on comments here.

Durkin has clearly been effective as a journalist even if you disgree with what he says.

Actually james, I think you probabaly owe Iain Dale something pretty close to a retraction...

macles said...

neil craig: The remaining 97% of carbon 'emissions' are the carbon cylce itself. As a cycle, it is natural. Though absolute concentrations of CO2 vary over time, tey tend to vary over much longer periods than at present. Our actions are not part of the 'natural' carbon cycle. They are over and above it. Thus, the 3% figure is utterly irrelevant. The magnitude of man-made carbon emissions is best summarised as having raised atmospheric CO2 levels by approximately 100ppm (i.e. 30%) over the last 100-150 years

Arden Forester said...

Chris Huhne? Well, he would say that wouldn't he!

TitzareGlitz said...

"Anon @ 2.02pm,
You are a particularly unpleasant sort of coward aren't you? Why don't you have the guts to stand by the attacks you make with your name? "

Sarkis, it's probably either (a) Chris Huhne himself, or (b) the same anonymous poster of last week who thought he was a very clever little boy posting; "same old tories, same old racists" on this blog over and over again.

Some things never change.

Trace the IP address and track the snivelling little shit down!

James said...

Neil Craig, as Macles says, 3% of total CO2 being manmade is actually very substantial- you are trying to compare a balance sheet with an income statement. To quote Al Gore:

Isn't there a disagreement among scientists about whether the problem is real or not? Actually, not really. There was a massive study of every scientific article in a peer reviewed article written on global warming in the last ten years. They took a big sample of 10 percent, 928 articles. And you know the number of those that disagreed with the scientific consensus that we're causing global warming and that is a serious problem out of the 928: Zero. The misconception that there is disagreement about the science has been deliberately created by a relatively small number of people. One of their internal memos leaked and here is what it said according to the press. Their objective is to reposition global warming as a theory rather than fact. This has happened before. after the Surgeon General's report. One of their memos leaked 4 years ago. They said, "Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of creating a controversy in the public's mind." But have they succeeded? You'll remember that there were 928 peer reviewed articles. Zero percent disagreed with the consensus. There was another study of all the articles in the popular press. Over the last fourteen years they listed a sample of 636. More than half of them said, "Well, we are not sure. It could be a problem, may not be a problem." So no wonder people are confused."

mark williams said...

Neil Craig: The 3% difference may not sound a lot, but it is 3% that was not produced 100 years ago and it has to be borne in mind that there has been a pretty much one way movement upwards in CO2 concentrations at an average of about 0.4% compound growth year on year for the last 50 years from 315 ppm to 375 ppm. I am not a climate scientist so I cant say how much that 25 billion of man made emissions contributes to the increase in CO2 concentration, but skimming the literature, it seems that about half of that CO2 does get absorbed into the natural process (incresing the acidity of the sea), whilst the rest increases the atmospheric CO2. I have no idea whether this behaviour would peak, or whether there might be a positive feedback whereby higher temperatures lead to more CO2 and water in the atmosphere and therefore greater warming.

On balance, rather like the question of whether we can trust the Iranians to own nuclear weapons, I would rather not find out.

Neil Craig said...

3% of CO2 produced by 2 legged creatures bad
97% of CO2 from 4 legged (& 6 since termites make more CO2 than cows & far more rhan us) bad?

I'm unconvinced.
I am also unconvinced by James's leaked memos from the "lets drown ourselves" conspiracy. If he gets it wrong about Iain's remarks here, or rather not here, then his memos may be dubious too.

The "search" which was unable to find a mention of scepticism on 928 articles has been used repeatedly by alarmists as if it proved something. All it proved waas that the woman who conducted it didn't find the rest of the 10s of thousnads of documents on warming available & didn't conduct much of a search. Typical.

mark williams said...

Neil Craig:

OK, another way of looking at it: the 97% of emissions come from short term carbon capture and release, i.e. vegetation that grows and then rots, really just CO2 going round in a cycle in an ecological system that after millions of years has become pretty stable.

We are adding 3% a year to that figure, with CO2 from carbon deposits laid down millions of years ago. It doesn't sound much because we are used to running 3% deficits and paying 6% interest, but in ecological terms 3% a year sounds like quite a lot to me.

If we put an extra 3% a year into the atmosphere it doesn't necessarily all get absorbed by natural processes. The earths ecology would probably adapt to absorb the extra CO2, but that sort of change takes time, meanwhile we are putting an extra 3% into the atmosphere every year.

So let's call it an extra 30% a decade or 300% a century - a century is still not a long time in geological terms. Does that sound significant?

morrocanroll said...

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: AR4

I attended a lecture by one of the most senior automotive engineers in the world (on the greening of the auto industry) late last year and he had been tipped off that the upcoming IPCC report would dramatically reduce the CO2 ppm distaster point from (I think) 550ppm to below 450ppm. Sounds a bit pre-ordained to me.

I'm very unsure about all this. I read a lot of enviro-apocalypse books when I was a teenager (most had been published in the early 1970s). Stuffed with certainties about food shortages and water shortages most, if not all, that was 'certain' just did not happen.

Westmorland Activist said...

There is no doubt that we are introducing new carbon into an otherwise closed system when we burn oil, coal or gas. That alone is a fact.

Will this have a significant effect on the climate or will the change of equilibrium re-absorb this "New" carbon. I don't know and nor does anyone else as far as I can see.

I do know that I can't change the direction of the wind by lowering my kecks and farting.

All responses to the "problem", if it is a problem are based on the "something must be done, this is something therefore it must be done" political analysis.

Be afraid, be very afraid. That is what our masters want.

Personally I would like to analyse the problem, if there is a problem and create an effective carbon sink. Billions of trees probably.

The programme is a valuable if tendentious addition to the debate.

RodM said...

Huhne's reference to "923 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles on climate change in the last ten years" is no doubt a reference to the utterly discredited "research" done by Naomi Oreskes. For an explanation why it is total rubbish go here

neil craig said...

Well Mark that is a theory which depends on the assumption that more CO2 won't just be absorbed by more tres, oceanic abrobtion, etc. Amother one is that the increase in carbon increases plant growth (which it certainly does) & thus stabilises the cycle.

However even if you are right then the cycle appears to be 800 years long (that being the historic lag between warming & CO2) which means we don't have to worry till coming up to 2800AD. In which case we have more urgent problems.

f0ul said...

The easy question is who is paying for all this information to come out. There is a load of money going in to proving man made global warming, and very little going into proving it isn't - yet when an anti mmgw paper comes out, everything including the kitchen sink is thrown at the author to try and discredit them - making you wonder if they are the equivalent of whistle-blowers trying to stop the gravy train!

I tend to take the view that if you need to give someone a particular answer to get your hands on research funds - you would be stupid to risk getting future funds by going against the grain!

Anonymous said...

One of the scientist's on the program, who wasn't aware of it's bias, described it as,

"as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two".

macles said...

neil craig: You misunderstand the nature of the 'lag'. 800 year lags are documented in the paleoclimate record, and occur when climate is 'forced' first and foremost by so called Milankovitch cyclicity - 3 variations in Earth's orbit, and rotation on differing time scales.

Our current situation bears no relation to the past glacial-interglacial transitions. Today, the CO2 is being added to the atmosphere by us. It requires no external forcing mechanism to pre-warm the atmosphere and hydrosphere in order to begin to release CO2. And our current best understanding of the recent (last ~150 years) of warming requires anthropogenic CO2 as the principal forcing mechanism. I hope you see this is not the same as paleoclimatic events of the Pleistocene.

verity said...

Read Melanie Phillips on the great "climate change" con. She quotes reputable science:

It's as the people here (well, the sane, grounded, earthed ones) have been saying on Iain's. It is a huge con and there are billions of pounds invested in it. [She doesn't say this, but why else would multi-loser, but rich, Al Gore be involved?]

It's a con. By the usual suspects. The one-worlder, anti-progress small-planeteers.

Calvin Jones said...

It appears that the recent Channel 4 and More4 documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" has left many viewers doubting that today's climate change is largely humanly caused. In this email, anyone so affected by the programme is urged to view the following information:

1. An introduction to the flaws of the programme. (or Google "climate denial", go to 9 Mar post.)

2. How a similar docu on Channel 4 by the same director Martin Durkin in 1997 was rapped by the ITC, in particular for misleading four featured interviewees and distorting their views. See Parags. 8-11 of,,2001694,00.html

3. Prof. Carl Wunsch says: I was misled and misrepresented in the 'swindle' documentary

4. (or Google "Realclimate", go to 9 Mar post.) Climate scientists' view of some of the key flawed or discredited claims made by the programme (some of which you may have seen elsewhere). A site praised by Scientific American, with explanations for the medieval grapes, why Thames stopped freezing, and loads more.

5. - with THAT graph clearly explained, plus a clear guide to the links of some of the interviewees.

6. Royal Society and science academies around the world joint statement on climate change: (or via Google "Royal Society").

7. A blog discussion on the programme, including details of apparent breaches of the Broadcasting Code, and how to complain. (or Google "Climate Campaign Portal".)

verity said...

Calvin Jones, you know what? STFU.

"climate denial"??? Hello? I deny that I am in a climate?

You're yet one more Al Gore jerk. In fact, Calvin, you may even be the failed Al posting anonymously. Yeah. Calvin's good as a pseudonym for a pseud. If so, Al, go away somewhere and stop bothering the real world. Get a degree in hanging chads. You dropped out of law school. You dropped out of theological school. You lost the presidency of the United States.

Any chance you could shut up now?

verity said...

P.S. Al - the beard. Not good.

Neil Craig said...

My point about the the 800 year lag between warming & CO2 increase is nothing to do with the cause of the warming. The Green answer to this evidence that CO2 is an effect rather than a cause of warming is that the initial warming increases the CO2 which in turn increases the CO2 & so on. I don't actually believe this because it doesn't explain why warming gets followed by little ice ages rather than increasing exponentially. However taking it as the basis for the alarmist case it would mean that the turnover of environmental CO2 would be 800 years & thus not an urgent problem.

Calvin is one of many people going on blogs denouncing the programme but instead of putting arrguments putting links to realcilmate etc. When you follow those links you invariably find them full of sound & fury signifying very little & refering on to other similar links.

This is a herd mentality rather than original thought or even original rewriting of other's thoughts.

Inamicus said...

Wondered if you've seen this Iain?

Chris Huhne MP: a clarification

Last Updated: 12:53am BST 26/03/2007

In Janet Daley's column "Green lobby must not stifle debate on the environment" (Monday, March 12), she referred to the letter which Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary, wrote to Channel 4 executives concerning their decision to commission Martin Durkin to make the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

The Daily Telegraph is happy to make clear:

• Mr Huhne's letter was not an attempt to prevent the film being shown or suppress debate on the issue;

• He attached an article by George Monbiot that alleged that the Independent Television Commission had upheld complaints about the making of a similar series for Channel 4 in 1997;

• He asked Channel 4 to comment on the proposition that, if Mr Monbiot was correct, it seemed "particularly odd" to commission Mr Durkin again.

The Daily Telegraph regrets any misunderstanding that has arisen.