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« State-run banks | Main | Darrel Ince gets it »
Saturday
Feb062010

Sir David King, conspiracy theorist

Sir David King says that some climate scientists have been overstating things:

Some science we stand on as totally solid and valuable but when we do it with something as complex as climate change we can get ourselves into difficulties so I am very annoyed with some of my colleagues for not following the scientific process," he said. "I have been irritated by some of my colleagues who have overstated the science.

It's funny, but I can't think of a single occasion on which Sir David has spoken of these concerns before, but I guess it's good to know now.

But the remarkable thing about King's interview is that he doesn't seem to have learned the lesson of his earlier utterances about foreign intelligence services being behind the climategate leak/hack, again bringing up national security as an issue for consideration in the climate debate:

He even suggested that British intelligence may have knowledge of who is behind the campaign.

"It is a security issue. We are talking about something that the British Government among others believes is putting our people at risk".

I was talking to an off-duty policeman in the pub last night, trying to get a perspective on why the National Domestic Extremism Team might be involved in the climategate investigation.  He thought the "nothing better to do" explanation was possible, but was also attracted to the "policing-overkill-covers-backsides" theory. And having now read Sir David's comments, I wonder if he's right. If the people in power in London are going to tie themselves up in conspiracy theories over the motley band of global warming sceptics being funded by vested interests and foreign powers then it's hardly surprising when anti-terrorist forces are used to against concerned, but law-abiding citizens.

 

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Reader Comments (15)

Sir David King was responsible for the ‘AGW is worse than terrorism’ quip that hit the headlines in 2004 when he was the Blair government’s Chief Scientific Advisor. Of course, another major concern at that time was the self-inflicted ‘war on terror’. Competing ‘We’re-all-going-to-die/fry’ scenarios might have been down partly to plod and the boffins scrapping it out for space in the funding trough but that doesn’t justify King airing his arrant nonsense in public.

All in all, 2004 was a busy year for the man: he was telling anyone who would listen that Antarctica would be the planet's only inhabitable continent within a century and he appalled Russian scientists by trying to prevent their presenting counter-AGW evidence at a Russian-organised (!) climate conference. (The episode was widely reported at the time and there is a short account in Booker’s book.)

King IMHO can reasonably be described as bonkers.

On a different tack, I’m not sure it’s accurate to describe the National Domestic Extremism Team as ‘anti-terrorist forces’. Its intervention in the UEA affair is overkill but arguably no more than that evident in their role in, say, recent Greenpeace protests at coal-fired power stations.

The unit was set up in the wake of hysterical over-reaction to an admittedly nasty campaign by a tiny section of the animal rights movement. It seems to have done little since except snoop on eco-activists at tiresome stunts. Perhaps they don’t have enough to do and, keen to be seen as important, swallow tosh from the likes of eco-zealot Ed Miliband.

(Have you noticed that when Greenpeace stages a stunt, you never see the likes of top man John Sauven carted off between two heavies and stuck up before the beak in the morning? It’s always little people with their heart in the right place and their brain up their backside – no martyrdom for the eco-bureaucrats. After all, you can’t give a gong to a con.)

Feb 6, 2010 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave B

The man has no self awareness whatsoever. His op-ed in the Telegraph in littered with double standards and hypocritical cant, as I have written about today. I think a closer examination of his vested interests is in order.

Feb 6, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAutonomous Mind

I'm sure that part of the explanation for the involvement of NDET and King's statements, is that the government is so committed to climate change policies, that they regard the hack/leak as akin to releasing state secrets. They can't actually say that, because it's ridiculous, but that's what they seem to believe from the way they behave. It also appears to be the way they want people to think about the leak.

Feb 6, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Buy your Peeler friend a pint the next time you see him at the pub. He is right, NDET = CYA.

As for Sir David King, what a joke.

Feb 6, 2010 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Bonkers isn't the word!

Andrei Illarionov, former chief science adviser to President Putin:
… in respect to the presentation made by representatives of the so-called official team of the British government and the official British climate science, or at least how they introduced themselves at the seminar. I personally was surprised by the exceptionally poor content of the papers presented…
Simultaneously, they revealed an absolute—and I stress, absolute inability to answer questions concerning the alleged professional activities of the authors of these papers. Not only the ten questions that were published nine months ago, but not a single question asked during this two-day seminar by participants in the seminar, both Russian and foreign, were answered.
When it became clear that they could not provide a substantive answer to a question, three devices were used… The British participants insisted on introducing censorship during the holding of this seminar. The chief science adviser to the British government, Mr. King, demanded in the form of an ultimatum at the beginning of yesterday that the program of the seminar be changed and he presented an ultimatum demanding that about two-third of the participants not be given the floor.The participants in the seminar who had been invited by the Russian Academy of Sciences, they have been invited by the president of the Academy of Sciences Yuri Sergeyevich Osipov. Mr. King spoke about “undesirable” scientists and undesirable participants in the seminar. He declared that if the old program is preserved, he would not take part in the seminar and walk out taking along with him all the other British participants.
He has prepared his own program which he proposed, it is available here and my colleagues can simply distribute Mr. King’s hand-written program to change the program prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences and sent out in advance to all the participants in the seminar.
A comparison of the real program prepared by the Academy of Science and the program proposed as an ultimatum by Mr. King will give us an idea of what scientists, from the viewpoint of the chief scientific adviser to the British government, are undesirable. In the course of negotiations on this issue Mr. King said that he had contacted the British Foreign Secretary Mr. Straw who was in Moscow at the time and with the office of the British Prime Minister, Blair, so that the corresponding executives in Britain should contact the corresponding officials in Russia to bring pressure on the Russian Academy of Sciences and the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences to change the seminar’s program.When the attempt to introduce censorship at the Russian Academy of Sciences failed, other attempts were made to disrupt the seminar. At least four times during the course of the seminar ugly scenes were staged that prevented the seminar from proceeding normally. As a result we lost at least four hours of working time in order to try to solve these problems.
During these events Mr. King cited his conversations with the office of the British Prime Minister and had got clearance for such actions.
And thirdly, when the more or less normal work of the seminar was restored and when the opportunity for discussion presented itself, when questions on professional topics were asked, and being unable to answer these questions, Mr. King and other members of the delegation, turned to flight, as happened this morning when Mr. King, in an unprecedented incident, cut short his answer to a question in mid sentence realizing that he was unable to answer it and left the seminar room. It is not for us to give an assessment to what happened, but in our opinion the reputation of British science, the reputation of the British government and the reputation of the title “Sir” has sustained heavy damage.

Feb 6, 2010 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

This would be the Sir David King who said global warming was so catastrophic that by the end of the century Antarctica would be the "only habitable continent". Nothing overstated there then.

A vision of a very large rat leaping from a sinking ship comes unbidden to mind.

That is a very interesting quote Geronimo & should be kept to hand.

Feb 6, 2010 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

As I've observed before, King appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Any Questions some time ago. As one boilerplate Leftist opinion followed another it rapidly became clear both why he was Bliar's anointed adviser and why he had no choice but to believe in AGW.

Like so many on the Left, King must have found AGW a Godsend - it offered a pseudo-scientific justification for just about every cause they had been trying to flog since the collapse of the Soviet empire left them without hope. They'd had the cart ready for decades. Now here came the horse.

Feb 6, 2010 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterGCooper

Neil Craig,

"This would be the Sir David King who said global warming was so catastrophic that by the end of the century Antarctica would be the "only habitable continent". Nothing overstated there then."

Not even the fragment of the sentence you quote is accurate.

Check your sources. You're being lied to.

Feb 6, 2010 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

OK So perhaps he was being lied to by another environmentalist :
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/why-antarctica-will-soon-be-the-ionlyi-place-to-live--literally-561947.html
Trying to weigh up whether Sir David King is more unbalanced that Geoffrey Lean could be tricky. However I give Mr Lean the benefit of the doubt.

Feb 6, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterChas

Sir David King was perfectly happy for the British press to report that by the end of the century the only habitable place to live would be Antarctica even though he hadn't quite said that. What he said was that CO2 levels by the end of the century were expected to be at the level they were 60 million years ago when "No ice was left on Earth. Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life...we will reach that level by 2100".

What actually is the scientific merit in that juxtaposition? He can claim that he never actually said what the newspapers reported, viz "Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked" However, his juxtaposing the CO2 levels in 2100 and 60 million years ago when only Antarctica could have supported human life, had such life been around, and the world today is completely cynical. Of course it was deceptive, misleading and alarmist, and he never complained about the hype that was caused by the newspapers. Why? Because it served his purpose to lead people into making a fallacious connection. He set it up to deceive, and delivered it expertly. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Of course, he wasn't so keen on Fred Singer deriding it in the Great Global Warming Swindle. Oh no. It's just fine to be misunderstood (as intended) by the MSM in order to serve the alarmist agenda, but quite unacceptable to be derided by sceptics. That MUST be stopped. So he made a formal complaint to Ofcom. The Royal Society also weighed in.

King's assertions about dark foreign forces being involved in a CRU hack are of a piece. It is pure spin and alarmism, and we now know he never had the slightest evidence for such an assertion. He intended to lead us all up the wrong path.

Feb 6, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

'ScientistForTruth'

"Sir David King was perfectly happy for the British press to report that by the end of the century the only habitable place to live would be Antarctica even though he hadn't quite said that."

Fair point.

But two wrongs don't make a right. Neil is still repeating a lie, one he most likely got from one of dozens of 'sceptic' sites or the GGWS (which had many other problems which so-called 'sceptics' failed to spot).

Feb 7, 2010 at 4:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer Neil Craig,"This would be the Sir David King who said global warming was so catastrophic that by the end of the century Antarctica would be the "only habitable continent". Nothing overstated there then."

Not even the fragment of the sentence you quote is accurate.

"Sir David King was perfectly happy for the British press to report that by the end of the century the only habitable place to live would be Antarctica even though he hadn't quite said that."

.. two wrongs don't make a right.???? Neil is still repeating a lie, one he most likely got from one of dozens of 'sceptic' sites or the GGWS (which had many other problems which so-called 'sceptics' failed to spot).

You have committed only one wrong - that of supporting a liar and his lies.

David King - the Earth is entering the "first hot period" for 60 million years, when there was no ice on the planet and "the rest of the globe could not sustain human life"..."No ice was left on Earth. Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life," he said. Sir David warned that if the world did not curb its burning of fossil fuels "we will reach that level by 2100". http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/why-antarctica-will-soon-be-the-ionlyi-place-to-live--literally-561947.html
(the level in other words where there would be no ice left on the planet and "Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life," - direct quote of David King.

The Independent article reporting on David King went further.

1. The headline - "Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live - literally"

2. Wrote in the article - "Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week."

This was on what he said in April 2004. Did David King then rush to deny that in 2004?

No! When asked "...whether or not you stand by the remarks that you made in your article for Science magazine where you said that you believe climate change was a more serious threat than terrorism?.."

He replied "My direct answer to you is no, I do not withdraw any of those comments,.. what I was trying to draw attention to was the severity of the warnings from climate change scientists at the moment. ..if we look back in time for the globe we probably have to go back 55 million years before we find carbon dioxide levels as high as we are now at, and, of course, our carbon dioxide levels are still rising. Fifty-five million years ago was a time when there was no ice on the earth; the Antarctic was the most habitable place for mammals, because it was the coolest place, and the rest of the earth was rather inhabitable[?un] because it was so hot. It is estimated that it was roughly 1,000 parts per million then, and the important thing is that if we carry on business as usual we will hit 1,000 parts per million around the end of this century. SO [therefore, thus] it seems to me that it is clear on a global and geological scale that climate change is the most serious problem we are faced with this century..."

He explains why "climate change is the most serious problem we are faced with this century" the earth will be uninhabitable by the end of the century at the present rate of CO2 increase. Can anything be clearer?

In 2004 he stood by his claims, when AGW seemed unassailable, but now when scandal after scandal is being revealed, he says "I have been irritated by some of my colleagues who have overstated the science.". What a cowardly, lying turncoat.

Feb 7, 2010 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Richard,

"The Independent article reporting on David King went further"

Yes it did. But King didn't, as your quote shows.

Feb 7, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

"It's funny, but I can't think of a single occasion on which Sir David has spoken of these concerns before."

He says this in his book The Hot Topic.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnapple

Listen to the Paul Drockton Conspiracy Radio Show!

Mar 2, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry

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