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A review of the Wellington debate

These are the impressions of the global warming debate held at Wellington College of commenter Atomic Hairdryer.

The Wellington Squared debate, a sceptic's view (link)

Motion to be debated was

"The prophets of global warming are guilty of scaremongering"

The venue was interesting. An imposing college built as a monument to Wellington for his services in that old British tradition of warring with the French. The debate itself was held in the chapel, which may have been appropriate given global warming as a religion and prophets but was a somewhat awkward arrangement. The pews were at 90 degrees to the altar where the debaters and screen was placed so not as comfortable as the RI.

While waiting for the event to begin, it got me thinking about Napoleon and his Russian tour, and the part the weather played in that misadventure. Lots of dramatic snowscapes were painted, but the cold may have been exagerated based on this famous graphic-

But Gen.Davidov wrote that the previous campaigns in 1795 and 1807 had been much colder. Early global warming, just climate change, or PR to blame the weather for Napoleon's defeat and horrendous losses.

So on to the debate, with Dr.Anthony Seldon chairing. Format was each speaker had 9 minutes, alternating speakers for and against the motion.

Polling on the way in gave-

For 129
Against 175
DK 29

First up was Prof. Stott who spoke very passionately. He opened with quotes from Prof. Beddington regarding healthy scepticism, Prof. Jones that the debate was not over and Watson's comments in the Times that the effects had been overstated. He pointed out that the climate has always changed and our influence was less certain. He then went on to cover some of the damage caused by scaremongering. The energy agenda has been undermined by AGW and delayed 10-15 years, poverty has been increased by diverting £1.5bn from our foreign aid budget, biofuels have had negative impacts, damage to peat bogs from windfarms, and mercury poisoning from CFL's. His view was water is the dominant driver, not CO2. He then went on to cover the potential damage to the reputation of science caused by bad or sloppy science and the economic impact given the cost vs risk. It is more important to focus on clean water, food and energy given that growing demands will mean food and energy security are the next big threats.

Next up, Lynas. Lovely fellow, not sure if he was searched for baked alaska. He opened by asking who are the prophets? Then spun it around to false prophets on the denier side. Quoted WMO record warm years for 2009 and the Arctic ice melts as proof of AGW. Mentioned the fear of green taxes, but what's the issue, we need to pay. Then went on to complain about the 'deniers' being an organised, well funded conspiracy backed by the oil and coal companies. Stated that the sceptics arguments are incoherent when the issue is simple, we dig up carbon, burn it, produce CO2 and warming. Science is simple and proven. Why do people listen to the false prophets when we wouldn't have heart surgery performed by builders or fly in an plane pilotted by a hairdresser. He then mentioned the work he's doing to help the Maldives transform into a zero carbon economy via wind and solar. Next he linked climate change denial to HIV denial and Mbeki's stance on HIV treatment in South Africa, and closed by stating we have the highest temperature in 3 million years, and are gambling with our children's futures.

So David Davis's turn. Started by mentioning he'd previously been a believer, but swayed by a debate on R4's Today programme where the pro-AGW person attacked the denier prompting him to investigate the issues. He stated no serious scientific debate is ever over, and mentioned a conversation with James Lovelock where Lovelock estimated climatology is at a development stage equivalent to surgery in the 17th Century. He stated he believed the world had warmed, and there is some contribution from CO2, but the effects are uncertain. Climategate came next where he raised the concerns around abuse of FOI and the peer review process. Then the pattern of behaviour in senior climatologists with similar concealment and errors from Mann, NZ and NASA (was busy writing, but may have been specifically some of the 'NASAgate' emails, if so, he's keeping up). He stated that the scientific method matters, ie reproducibility and falsifiability. He then moved on to the errors in temperature, stats, and cherrypicking used, and how the politics have lead to bad science. He covered confirmation bias and noble cause corruption, pointing out scientists are also humans, but the problems with malariagate, hurricanegate damage science. Closed with the dangers to science of crying wolf.

And last but not least, Aaronovitch. He stated this was a proposer's motion and just needed to find a prophet. He also mentioned the chapel was cold, which may help sceptics. Moving on, he questioned whether Davis thought global warming was a bad thing, then levels of certainty required before we take action, some uncertainty or wait for total certainty and if we believed scientists are biased fantasists involved in some conspiracy. But at that point, I stopped taking notes and wrote IDIOT. He rambled on for a bit longer and threw in chutzpah and counting CCTV cameras. Did use the 'B' word and the Master threatened detention, plus reminded him the chaplain was in the audience.

Then on to the Q&A. Not that many questions, so didn't take many notes.

Closing comments-

Aaronovitch- We must do something.
Davis- The IPCC errors and exagerations aren't good science and have cost the UK £603m over the last 10 years.
Lynas- Uncertainty doesn't mean we mustn't do something.
Stott- Important differences between AGW and climate change and the way the issue is falling off people's agendas in opinion polls.

Vote at the end was

For 126
Against 217
DK 5

My thoughts.

Stott performed as expected, Davis also did well. The opposition were the standard anti-denier attack muppets, so somewhat suprised by the results. When he asked who these scaremongering prophets were, well, the two PR types opposing the motion would've worked for me. Both did the standard appeals to authority and emotion. When Aaronovitch made his quip about the cold chapel, I was tempted to shout 'it workd for Hansen'.

False prophets and Lynas's surgery analogies were maybe more interesting. He mentioned a builder, but what about a GP? What exactly makes a qualified climatologist given it covers many disciplines? Should we listen to Mann on science other than dendro? Pielke jnr made this point well at the RI debate, ie don't ask him about aspects of climate change he's not qualified to comment on. Yet Pachauri's qualified to speak on glacier melts, when he's a railway engineer. If scientist stuck to their areas of expertise, maybe climate science wouldn't be in such a mess now. But seems like anyone can become a climate expert, after all Lynas's education seems to have been in history and politics, yet acted as science advisor to 'The Age of Stupid', and now advising the Maldives on climate change. Will be interesting to see how he creates a zero carbon economy from an island dependent on tourism and fishing. It seems to me that the false prophets may exist on the warming side.


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Reader Comments (33)

So we are left with only 126 bedwetters.

Feb 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

I read 217 PG!

Feb 23, 2010 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterroyfomr

Read Aaronovith's column in the Times today. Claims there are masses of peer reviewed literature! I tried to get a letter published quoting Wegman etc but no chance. I have put a comment on timesonline plugging your book - its brilliant. Now reading it for the secondtime - haven't done that since I was at uni over 50 years ago!

Feb 23, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

You're telling me that 3 skeptics and 24 fence-sitters had their minds changed by alarmist drivel? That lovely fellow Lynas must have been quite charming indeed. One certainly must worry about the future when some of Britain's Best & Brightest opt for style over substance.

Feb 23, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Afraid so Robert. The audience was quite mixed with a fair number of students and their families but don't know if that would have influenced the vote. It was more the difference in style between Stott & Davis' reasoned debate and Lynas & Aaronovitches' stock denialist attacks. Davis had a good grasp of the sceptical position though and hopefully he'll end up in cabinet. There are some rumblings of discontent within the Conservatives on Green issues after all. The warmists were far less reasoned and more aggressive in their condemnation which I thought would swing votes for the motion.

Feb 23, 2010 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Any idea on the demographics of the audience?

Feb 23, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

Also just read the Times column. Think the question was actually that there was little evidence for CO2 induced warming. This may again be a symtom of false-prophet syndrome. He drifts off into homeopathy and then GM scaremongering by the green groups. GM foods aren't a simple, single issue either, but they were marketed as 'frankenstein foods'. Yet GM plants are part of the adaptation toolbox for coping with climate change. The green groups were the denialists for GM then, just as they still are with nuclear energy.

His comments on homeopathy may also have some parallels. A third of the audience didn't disagree with global warming, just the way it's been exagerated by the false prophets. Maybe by the time media types like Aaronvitch have got hold of the research and shaken it vigorously, what they end up writing just contains memories of science.

Feb 23, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Demographics, maybe 10-15% students and quite a few family groups possibly boosted by it being end of half-term I think. Based on cars, dress and language mostly high income. Maybe 70:30 male to female, 60:40 middle age to elderly.

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Watson's comments in the Times that the effects had been overstated.

Do you mean the ones Leake made up?

Watson: "The article distorted my statements - I was interviewed for an hour and it was obvious that the reporter wanted me to say that the authors were biased - I said I did not believe that."

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank. I think it referred to this article:

but I can't see any corrections or retractions with Watson as a primary source rather than via Lambert's blog. Personally I'd be more concerned if he really thought replacing the IPCC with a Gore JV would restore climate science's credibility, or be any improvement on Wikipedia's reporting of climate science issues.

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I've said it before and I'll say it again.
The sceptics are too polite.
Most alarmists use bullying and scare tactics and, in passing, insults and ad hominem attacks become standard fare.
I'm sure that Philip Stott is a gentleman and behaves like one. I don't know too much about David Davies, but he was probably very polite.
That debate could have been, no, should have been won. Even the alarmists have admitted that they over hype things.
Lord Monckton has it right. Hit them, and hit them hard.
Marc Morano, not to everybody's taste, also knows how to deal with these people.
We will lose this battle unless we take off the gloves.

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered Commenteribjc

Seems we need a list of the major players with their confirmations that they are not funded by big oil, together with a list of the energy companies' involvments with CRU, Teri and other pro-AGW or self-styled Green activists, which people like Davis and Lawson can wheel out when necessary.

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S


I can't see any corrections or retractions

Leake isn't into that kind of thing.

Feb 23, 2010 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank, Leake didn't get any byline on the Times article I cited. If Watson is concerned about being misquoted, he's senior enough and experienced enough to correct it himself. He should also be experienced enough to make his own recordings of any interview, or maybe even start his own blog?

Feb 23, 2010 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer


"Frank, Leake didn't get any byline on the Times article I cited."

You're right, this isn't Leake misrepresenting things for once. It is Webster and Pagnamenta at the same paper.

It is still the latest in a chain of really dismal reporting on this stuff from the press in general and the Times in particular.

Since Lambert hasn't misquoted anyone your scepticism seems to be highly selective.

Feb 23, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

V jealous, wish I had been there too. However I listened to the recent Monckton vs Lambert debate which was a little bit like listening to anAll Blacks vs the Canary Islands ( I dont think they even have a team) rugby match - a very one sided affair with Monckton knocking Lambert into a small heap of a hat.

But despite Lambert losing his way a few times, frequently needing to be rescued by Monckton during the questions, and generally not scoring much his supporters on his blog thought he was great!

I think the faith, probably the right word here, in anthropogenic global warming goes quite deep for some so it wont be easy to simple to shift - maybe this was the case in Wellington, it is still a very PC belief.

Feb 23, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Sorry should say

"easy or simple to shift"

Feb 23, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

The way Lindzen handled warmista Kerry in the MIT debate was very impressive. He's by far the best skeptic debater I've seen until now. Advantage he's respected by both sides and his to the point scientific approach instead of empty onliners is hard to counter by the believers.

Feb 23, 2010 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

hahaha...if only...

23 Feb: Science Daily: Role of Mass Media in Climate Change Skepticism
Mass media have been a key vehicle by which climate change contrarianism has traveled, according to Maxwell Boykoff, a University of Colorado at Boulder professor and fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES..
Another issue in mass media is the tendency to flatly report on both the claims of contrarians, as well as the accusations made about their claims and motives, he said. The ensuing finger-pointing plays into the conflict, drama and personalized stories that drive news. It also distracts attention from critical institutional and societal challenges regarding carbon consumption that calls citizen behaviors, actions and decisions to account.
"Reducing climate science and policy considerations to a tit-for-tat between dueling personalities comes at the expense of appraising fundamental challenges regarding the necessary de-carbonization of industry and society," said Boykoff.
Among various and ongoing research strategies, Boykoff -- in partnership with Maria Mansfield from Exeter University and the University of Oxford -- has tracked climate change coverage in 50 newspapers in 20 countries and six continents since 2004. Boykoff also has looked at how climate science and policy find meaning and traction in people's everyday lives through work in the United States, United Kingdom and India.
Speakers Stephen Schneider from Stanford University; Naomi Oreskes from the University of California, San Diego; William Freudenburg from the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Riley Dunlap from Oklahoma State University joined Boykoff on the panel.

Feb 24, 2010 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

My Lord Bishop,

I wonder whether this snippet might have altered the views of the callow youth of Wellington College.

Feb 24, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Yer Grace

Dearieme's link to couth and culture in Australia contains this three part literary piece -

Alice's Adventures in Warmerland.

Feb 24, 2010 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

Atomic Hairdryer:

I think you seriously misjudged this debate. You were "somewhat surprised" that the warmists won. I wasn't - see my rather different take on the debate here. They won because Aaronovitch, far from being an "idiot" as you unwisely thought, played his cards well. With the advantages of speaking last and knowing the initial vote was on his side, he stuck to a memorable and simple theme that resonated with much of the audience: given that no serious or responsible person doubts the basic science re AGW or that action is necessary, these pleas of "uncertainty" are no more than the cries of those who are too lazy to take action or have vested interests in doing nothing. If we never did anything because of uncertainty (he said), we'd never do anything. He spoke with good humour and had the greater part of the audience on his side. Note how he got the biggest laughs - even from his opponents.

I think his view of all this is completely and dangerously wrong. But we who oppose the AGW alarmists would do well, not to dismiss them as idiots, but to listen to them and to try to understand them. They (and that encompasses the bulk of today's Establishment - Government, politicians (David Davies is completely atypical), the academic and other institutions, the mainstream media etc.) really do believe that mankind's emissions of GHGs are a threat to future generations. They (largely today of a leftist or "progressive" bent) really do believe that there are old, reactionary forces out there trying - for various selfish reasons - to obstruct action. (This isn't helped by the fact that most who oppose AGW are indeed old.)

It's that firm (and very powerful) belief that we're up against and we'd do well to understand it and not to casually dismiss it.

Feb 24, 2010 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

From another Wellington (NZ) I noticed today that Ian Plimmer's book "Heaven and Earth, Global Warming the missing science" is happily sitting at No. 7 in the non-fiction best seller list in Whitcoull's bookstore in the Airport.

Al Gore's "Our choice" was sitting in the "science" section, no best sellers there.

Plimmer's book has a good go at the Hockey stick and Mann in the first part of the book.

Feb 24, 2010 at 7:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

Robin- Good write up. I think maybe my own confirmation bias was showing and the opponents performed as I expected, with appeals to emotion rather than intellect. The speakers for the debate to me had the more reasoned arguments and should have won the intellectual debate. But as you say, beliefs are powerful emotions to overcome.

It's also as ibjc says, should we take off the gloves and bring the debate down to the alarmists levels? Personally, I don't think so. The alarmists started with authority on their side. We have the IPCC reports as the 'bible' of climate change. Just as the Nicean Council convened to create a consensus on religion, so did the climate bishops to create the bumper book of weather. This was held up as the distillation of thousands of peer reviewed papers supported by every major academic institution. The NGO's, SIG's and media then got behind it, exagerated much of it and started their calls to action. We're trying to counter it with a call to apathy, so I guess AGW is a proposer's motion.

But, we're also taking back aspects of the authority by challenging the science, uncovering the errors in the IPCC work and how the false prophets like the NGO's have managed to insert their own advertorials. They stand to profit handsomely from mitigation or adaptation proposals, even thought those proposals are likely to achieve nothing in preventing or reversing any climate change.

We seem to be winning the science argument, either on factual points with errors like the glacier melt or with the scientific community recognising the damage being done to science in general. The alarmists seem to be switching tactics by throwing more mud. Sceptics become deniers because scientists are meant to be sceptics.

We get the supposed big oil conspiracy, even though oil companies are pumping millions into supporting climate science, and will profit handsomely from any alternative energy plans. We get the tobacco connection, HIV, homeopathy or GM as though by denying aspects of AGW, we somehow deny all science. To me, this should be an indication that they're losing the battle if that's the only argument they have left. But the mainstream media still gives these increasingly strident and paranoid claims space.

I think the challenge is to overcome the calls to action and probably focus on the money. We have our energy security challenge. The green solution is to build ineffective windmills because the green groups have spent so much time and money scaremongering and creating irrational fears around nuclear. This will increase energy costs for everyone. We have recycling created to reduce landfill, which again affects everyone. Green groups spent more time and money promoting recycling and denying energy recovery via incineration. We have the ludicrous carbon trading proposals that generate profits, but do little to solve any real problem as we've seen with Corus.

Rather than having the debate about 'do something' vs 'do nothing', focus on 'do the right thing'. Stott mentioned the risk analysis, so perhaps expand this to a cost/benefit analysis for current 'green' proposals vs alternatives. I think this would show high personal costs for little individual or global benefit, and a lot of money being taxed by the false prophets.

Feb 24, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Wellington College students and parents.
A demographic for whom a £1000 per year heating bill increase is small change.
And a small price to pay for feeling good about themselves.
Even so, given your review, an amazing result.

Feb 24, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentercjcjc

David Aaronvitch was the most competent debater there. He was brilliant in his dissection of logic and engaging for the audience. David Davis was as humble, nice and assured as usual. Didn't think much of the other two. Lynas was appalling. Massively counter-productive. Just threw lazy insults and revelled in his supposed superiority. Also kept using the Maldives connection as some sort of currency. The Maldives!!!! Yeah like the important lessons there will become the well spring from which our future civilisation draws.

Feb 24, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Slaughter

I disagree with his dissection of logic. Robin's review of his comments is better than mine, so picking up on energy and poverty. He claimed taxes would only affect the rich, yet in the UK high energy costs are increasing fuel poverty. Land used for biofuel helps increase the cost of food, again increasing poverty. CCL adds costs to many businesses and public sector organisations such as schools and hospitals so tax money can be diverted to alternative energy providers and generate more profits than useful energy. The wealthy can absorb these cost of living increases and adapt better than the poor. Biofuels also mean less food grown, so less that we can donate in food aid.

He thinks it's ok to do something with renewable energy, just so we can say we tried. Even though that's increasing energy bills, even though Ofgem reckon it will cost us £200bn and even though we know the problems it's caused in Denmark, Germany, Spain. It's very expensive, inefficient and means we'll still need to build conventional generation when the wind doesn't blow, as happened this winter. Subsidies seem to flow to alternative energy companies even if energy doesn't flow from them in return.

I'd also question his logic regarding vaccines. We've seen science-based false prophets and very real profits generated by scaremongering over swine and avian flu. That's perhaps another example of crying wolf and media exageration, but doesn't help the reputation of science.

Lynas is a bit more interesting. The guy does after all have his climate consultancy to run, so like all businesses, needs to do some marketing. He's no doubt proud to be appointed as climate advisor to the Maldives government.

That could become a useful test bed for green policies. He said he wants to make the islands zero carbon, and it'll be interesting to see how that's achieved. Tourism has grown massively and added to the pressures of providing the luxuries people using upmarket resorts expect, like aircon, power showers and fresh laundry every day. Looks like it currently generates around 53MWh via oil so a few dozen 5MWh wil no doubt do the trick. Power for the desalination plants shouldn't be an issue and it could provide useful research data regarding infrasound on marine and coral environments. What could possibly go wrong?

Feb 24, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer:

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Yes, Stott and Davies had the more reasoned arguments. But Aaronovitch was the canniest debater (I agree with Old Slaughter there but not re "his dissection of logic". However, he's right about Lynas.). Above all, Aaronovitch had the massive advantage of being on the same side as the Establishment (see my earlier post).

Some find it hard to appreciate the Establishment’s resilience and power and to appreciate how unlikely it is that it will change its mind about a concept that it believes is a given (the basis of Aaeronovitch’s position), especially when the continuation of that concept provides extensive advantages to those in power. Shouting at them or taking the gloves off – as recommended by ibjc – most certainly won’t do it. Indeed, it will only reinforce its position. Nor, and I have found it hard to come to terms with this, will reasoned argument. Reasoned argument, as deployed by Stott and Davies, is necessary and has its place – but pursuing it directly with the Establishment is pointless. (I suspect from your most recent post that you're still making that mistake.) No, the weapon of choice has to be what amounts to guerrilla action. That means, above all, 1) taking note of Sun Tzu’s injunction (from The Art of War) to “know your enemies and know yourself” (essentially: they’re strong and we’re weak) and (2) constantly seeking ways to subvert people and institutions, focusing on weakness and making them stumble and look foolish (an example is how the name Pachauri is now routinely preceded by “embattled”). The tool of subversion is the Internet: it enables individuals to access relevant data and, by networking, to exchange thoughts and ideas, to refine their views (especially those challenging the so-called scientific consensus) and, increasingly, to make things happen. And to do all this with extraordinary speed - it’s chaotic, very effective and improving all the time. It needs no organisation or structure and it needs no funds. The Establishment hasn't even begun to come to terms with it – hence, for example, the “organised by big oil” claim.

There’s no doubt it’s a strategy that’s working: the slight shift in the media’s attitude and the fact that the debate happened at all are evidence of that. It will continue to succeed. But we have to be ready for a long campaign.

Feb 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier


Yes, I understand the Establishment having once been part of it, then leaving because it moved way to slowly for my liking. Davis is a part of it and a useful ally but he scares parts of his party, so currently has limited influence although I suspect that may change post-election. The Internet is a great information tool, but we need to move beyond that and into the establishment. As you say, that's started to happen with more mainstream media coverage and our guerilla warfare or 'army of Davids' needs to get off the Internet and move with it. Now's a good time to work with the Establishment given elections are coming up, and it's easy to get involved with those. Politicians may not understand all the science, but that can be explained and translated into policy, social or cost implications which they do understand and I think is becoming a concern.

The NGO's understand this kind of activism, the scientists much less so. Many of the NGO's policy recommendations stop making sense if they're dissected, or the science underpinning them is unreliable. The NGO's are better at lobbying and mobilising activists behind a cause, but they like single issue politics, like tobacco, or GM 'frankenstein foods' and some of them are becoming 'Establishment' themselves, so slow to react to a more nuanced debate like AGW and mitigation/adaptation.

I think Lynas made this mistake when he said our argument was 'incoherent'. That's odd if we're all working from some organised conspiracy script produced by some mysterious PR machine, but not odd if we believe the debate is more complex than many people have been lead to believe. The alarmists do provide a more coherent debate because they've got the PR, they've even got a new iPhone app to help them stick to the script, but not if we go off-message and keep asking awkward questions. Or, as Sun Tzu also said-

"Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected"

where again the velocity of information via the Internet helps against slow moving establisments.

Feb 24, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

ps. Good example of things the Establishment may understand about AGW here-

The idea of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 makes for a nice soundbite but how do we achieve this? Lots of scope there to question the wisdom of the policies proposed by alarmists.

Feb 24, 2010 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer:

DD may have been part of the then Establishment when I first knew him: he was widely respected Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and I ran an agency reporting to the Cabinet Office. But he's certainly not part of the "new" Establishment I described in my post here earlier today. You may be right about his post election influence - but (as I noted here) he doesn't think there is any prospect of the party changing its position on dangerous AGW.

Re your view that "we need to move beyond that [the internet] and into the establishment", I understand your thinking but suggest your tactical approach is wrong - and your liking for the Pielke Jr comment is illustrative of that. I hope you will allow me to leave it at that. Apologies - but I'll continue tomorrow.

Feb 24, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Sorry to be late to this thread, but I think atomic hairdryer is right , saying:

'I think the challenge is to overcome the calls to action and probably focus on the money.'

It is indeed about the money, and this is an area which people can relate to much more easily than the science.
For example, much more needs to be made about the information provided by Christopher Booker here:

There is much more to be found, e.g. at

Once people see what their acceptance of the 'precautionary principle' entails, they'll be more inclined to listen to the scientists telling them why AGW is nonsense.

Feb 25, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Atomic Hairdryer:

It's probably too late to make a useful contribution to this thread. But I'll put it simply by pointing out that Lawson and Lomborg have, for years, been lucidly pointing out the impracticality of various so-called "solutions" - they've had some slight influence but not much. The bien pensant classes have barely noticed. Your example of the "20% by 2020" absurdity would be more of the same - interesting but having little effect. But what has brought about the substantial changes in attitude of recent weeks? Simple: it's been the relentless stream of revelations on the internet, revelations that have had too much substance to be ignored. Remember: blogs such a Climate Audit, WUWT and (to a lesser our genial host's site) are noticed these days by the MSM. It's the blogs wot did it.

Feb 25, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

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