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Gregory Barker, the climate change minister has given an interview to the Guardian in which he discusses problems with the climate change debate. He also touches on Climategate:

Barker said: "Over the last two years the climate agenda has been on the back foot. The IPCC scandal last year, the email leaks from the University of East Anglia – all were grist to the mill of the climate sceptics.

"Although their significance was greatly exaggerated and the actual substance of those incidents did nothing to undermine the science, the impact on the reputation of climate science was huge. We underestimate it at our peril. There is a need for new voices and a new coherence for those advocating urgent action on climate change.

Several points are worth making here. Firstly we do not know if the incidents at UEA undermined the science because none of the inquiries looked at the science. Secondly, one wonders why there is a a need for new voices if they are also required to have coherence about advocating urgent action on climate change. Wouldn't the same old faces do just as well?

And then there's this:

Barker was careful not to talk in detail about the emails at the UEA, but he said: "That was symptomatic of a view that you must win at all counts. In science, it is really important that dissenting voices are heard and listened to."

So why were McIntyre and McKitrick not heard at any of the inquiries? Does Mr Barker agree that the inquiries were inadequate? And why do none of the ministers at DECC ever seem to speak to anyone who is not either in the energy industry or an environmentalist? Why no sceptics? Why no representatives of consumers?

It's hard to equate Mr Barker's actions with his words.

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Reader Comments (31)

"the email leaks from the University of East Anglia"
Interesting choice of words there.

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

He doesn't get it does he.

I use the Jehovah's Witnesses as an analogy. They have a plan and a message and they try to convince the public. There is no possibility of a compromise - of being a half-Jehovah's Witness. You either buy the whole thing or nothing.

There is just no point in any half measures - it doesn't make anyone happy. What is he suggesting? That the climate message is half true ? That there is a half-tipping point?

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Bish - can you start a caption contest for the grauniad photo ?

I'll kick off with

Greg wondered why the gift from 10:10 was ticking...

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

The headline’s interesting, too. “Climate change arguments incite 'weird religiosity', says Greg Barker”. And he goes on to say:
"If you look at the extremes of the climate debate, whether it is the extreme climate sceptics or the extreme climate zealots, there is a slight religiosity there which is weird”.
and then:
"I think the broad base of sound scientific opinion, of sensible and respected science, supports urgent climate action..."

So on the government side there are extreme zealots, but also sensible science supporting urgent climate action. How to tell which is which? He doesn’t say.
This is government by focus group. He’s relaying the public reaction of “a plague on both your houses” while standing above the fray, and saying in effect: “Don’t listen to the zealots advocating extreme action. Listen to the sensible scientists and ministers advocating extreme action”.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has completely retooled its Climate Change page. (The article is by the chief political correspondent). They’re still churning out five climate change articles a day, but with no more boring old science. Their science writer David Adam has gone to Nature, where the readers are more respectful. Monbiot has taken a vow of silence, Lynas is no longer welcome. The entire Guardian Environment Network, from Gavin Schmidt to Kofi Annan, has been dismantled. No more guest articles by Lord Stern and the head of the BMA. Important people are no longer willing to have their views ridiculed by readers. The emphasis now is on politicians; the message, the need for Strong Leadership. Hickman, having been brutally manhandled by the Bishop’s stormtroopers, is supporting calls for Monckton to be banned from speaking at universities.

The Guardian still has one radical cause it’s supporting - assisted suicide. But does it really need assistance?

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:44 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Judging by its financial state the answer would have to be a resounding NO!

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Yes, another small monument to cognitive dissonance.

He strikes the typical entrenched Warmist pose "grist to the mill of the climate sceptics", "significance was greatly exaggerated" and so on, and then calls for harmony and discourse.

You simply can't introduce the idea of promoting rational discussions on this topic using loaded statements. Who does he think "the skeptics" are? Little Red Riding Hood?

Jun 29, 2011 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford


The climate change minister believes he has built up enough credibility with the green lobby ...

Now why is that statement a cause for concern? Is his policy based on appeasing the greens? Worryingly it seems so.

With people like Barker at the helm, we should be very afraid as he carefully steers SS Great Britain towards the rocks, whilst other countries head for open waters.

Jun 29, 2011 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Jack Hughes

Bearing in mind

I can think of several captions. But the Bish (quite properly) would take a dim view. This is a family blog, after all.

But I like the Grauniad quote:-
"Although their significance was greatly exaggerated and the actual substance of those incidents did nothing to undermine the science, the impact on the reputation of climate science was huge. We underestimate it at our peril."

So he isn't "underestimating", he is (sorry Bish) "denying". Most likely he's never bothered to sit down for half an hour and look at the ruddy emails because, if he had, he would realise that they certainly DID undermine the pseudo science practiced by Jones and his merry team.

Much more important to take "urgent" action. Who cares whether it is needed or even appropriate?

Greg Barker. Man of Urgent Action.


No wonder he has "credibility" with the Greens. So far as I am concerned his "credibility" is even lower than that of his boss BuffHuhne.

The Assistant Chief Idiot.

Jun 29, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

It's interesting that he says 'Decarbonisation doesn't mean de-industrialisation'.

The problem is that these turkeys haven't a clue about what industry is and how it will vanish if we have differential carbon taxes. How will they deal with the extra millions unemployed?

Jun 29, 2011 at 7:30 AM | Unregistered Commenteralistair

For months the Guardian’s Climate Change page was headed by a photo of the corpse of a dead cow. This has been replaced with a photo of David Cameron.

The Greg Barker interview is sandwiched between an article by David King (ex chief scientific advisor to the government) warning about “the probably catastrophic effects of climate change” and calling for Strong Leadership, and an article by Environment editor Damian Carrington, calling attention to the King article, and interviewing a number of people also calling for Strong Leadership, among them Ed Miliband's special envoy on climate change, who called for the money spent bombing Gaddafi to be used for fitting solar panels.
Phil Bloomer of Oxfam says Cameron must urgently take on the international leadership, while Friends of the Earth's senior parliamentary campaigner Martyn Williams talks of the need for bold leadership.
All is not gloom however. King praises the government's domestic action on climate change, saying "My cynicism about pre-election statements was squashed with the announcement that the UK will cut its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2025. Furthermore, the fairies at the bottom of my garden have given me a magic pea which makes me invisible and gives me superhuman powers to read your thoughts and get Olympic tickets to the event of my choice."
Brought to you by the Hari School of Journalism.

Jun 29, 2011 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Greg wondered why the gift from 10:10 was ticking...

Steady, Jack... one a month will do; although I admit this one above is also a classic which may require Joshing...

Jun 29, 2011 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

I would take issue with what does or oes not undermine "the" science.

Anything that reveals any practices or behaviour that is not consistent with the scientific method must by logic "undermine the science".

Jun 29, 2011 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Barker spends most of his day talking to NGOs, if a recent post here is anything to go by.
Can't be good for your health or sense of reality.

Jun 29, 2011 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

On the Grauniad photo of Greg Barking:
Is the prominently displayed “Save our Planet” cushion for chewing or for hugging during sleepless nights of global warming catastrophe-induced anguish?

Roger Carr says of the 10:10 gift:
“Steady, Jack... one a month will do

supporting my theory that the 10:10 Splattergate bloodfest had more to do with PMT than AGW.

Jun 29, 2011 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers
As Geoff Chambers says'Monbiot has taken a vow of silence'
However a visit to the CACC website reveals a very youthful George declaiming -
'Climate Change is perhaps the gravest calamity our species has ever encountered. Its impact dwarfs that of any famine we have confronted so far. It makes genocide and ethnic cleansing look like sideshows at the circus of human suffering'.
All great stuff for a young activist, but how he must long to escape his connection with this group of yobboes of which he is still nominally chairman, and leave it to the irredeemable Caroline Lucas and arch-hypocrite Michael Meacher.
Monbiot has done too much damage and offended so many people that he can hardly do a Mark Lynas.He may be busy sanitising his old blog posts, but taking down his 'gravest calamity' mantra would be a step he dare not take.
No wonder he's 'taken a vow of silence', wouldn't you ?

Jun 29, 2011 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Jack Hughes

Don't hold yourself back. Two world quotables in 2 weeks demand more.

For myself, I blame the age group of my peers for being central to the destruction of CAGW. What made us this way? As a scientist, I hypothesise that it was the chemicals in newspapers used in childhood, since replaced by soft material named toilet rolls. (The change of preference is reversible).

BTW, did you know that my country, Oz, uses toilet paper at over 1,500 km per hour? That's way past the speed of sound at sea level, but we await a definition of sea level. That paper leaves a big carbon footprint, or should that be fingerprint?

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Geoff Chambers writes "For months the Guardian’s Climate Change page was headed by a photo of the corpse of a dead cow. This has been replaced with a photo of David Cameron."

Our PM is more versatile and can do a passable rendition of a dead cow. Two themes for the price of one.

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Geoff Sherrington:
You have confused yourself, Geoff. On the one hand you advise Jack Hughes: "Don't hold yourself back. Two world quotables in 2 weeks demand more." then at the end of the same post you say: "That's way past the speed of sound at sea level, but we await a definition of sea level." which is a definition you applaud Jack for having provided in your first line...
Tch, tch; Melbourne demands better than that. son...

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

I feel some sympathy for Monbiot. George the investigative journalist saw straight away the implications of the climategate emails, and called for Jones’s resignation. Then George the CAGW believer had to backtrack and swallowed Russell, GLOBAL, and Pachauri’s self-audited charity accounts without a murmur, and went back to protecting badgers and nagging Monckton. He’s passed the torch to Carrington, Hickman and co, but you can tell their hearts aren’t in it. The CiFilitic articles flow still from the Graun, but the comments are at a tenth of their previous level, and still running in our favour. Hence the desperate call for a Strong Leader. It’s the FuhrerPrinzip or bust.

I say, bring back the dead cow.

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

There was quite a similar article written by Louise Gray about a year ago:

Barker, who sits next to a cushion in his Whitehall office emblazoned with the words "Save Our Planet", said:

• Mistakes made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the email scandal at the University of East Anglia had put the climate agenda "on the back foot".

“There are people that take different views. I am not a scientist, but I do understand science is about probabilities. I think, if anything, the slightly preachy tone that some in the climate-change debate have adopted and the rather intolerant tone of those who have genuine concerns is not helpful.”

The cushion, currently out of stock, is available at 21.99 online here.
Strangely, the title bar describes this as a "Save the Planet Cushion Ego Cushion".

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

When a minister in a tory govt seeks and obtains assistance from the guardian, you get to appreciate that both are getting desparate and clueless

Jun 29, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Geoff Chambers. you're right, one is tempted to feel some sympathy for Monbiot until you scroll through the brutally vindictive 'ad homs' he's posted over the last two years.
I still remember trying to talk about AGW to a lady friend 18 months ago, she replied 'I know all about it, I've been to hear George Monbiot'.
Even in his hey-day, Billie Graham never had a following like that !

Jun 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Andy, I am intrigued that Barker sits next to a preachy cushion in his parliamentary office. Does that imply that the cushion does most of the thinking in that office?

Jun 29, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K


Jun 29, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

So the DECC can not work out the cost of reducing CO2 emissions

David Cameron rightly objects to the UK's £25m compulsory contribution to a new Brussels vanity project

Europeans are not exactly wild about bailing out the Greeks again, and the cost to the UK is how much per household?

Cameron worries about bad publicity.

If the words "Jeffrey Archer" could become a new financial measure, could someone calculate the cost of the DECC proposals, in terms of "Brussels Vanity Projects" (BVP) and "Greek Bail Outs" per household per year?

And copy it to Downing Street, as it is unlikely anyone else will point out these trivalling sums to the inhabitants

Jun 29, 2011 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Had an interesting morning watching the Greek Vote live on tele in California, cup of coffee in hand as the sun rose. It was a CNBC business show that covers the financial world each morning. Obviously, the Greek Vote was the story of the day.

One of the commentators, clearly a Euro Skeptic, said once the Vote was in, "So what changed? They had a vote. However, the people are against it and they too have a vote."

It seems to me that this applies to the current topic. In time, the British people will realize that they are being had and have a vote. I predict that the average German punter will sour first, as they are just about fed up with the PIIGS, With that will go the grandiose Green Scheme.

It is just a matter of time.

Jun 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

One wonders at how completely lost some people would be without their approved talking points.

Thinking is hard -- which is why so few try it.

Jun 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Andy, I am intrigued that Barker sits next to a preachy cushion in his parliamentary office. Does that imply that the cushion does most of the thinking in that office?
Jun 29, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Beware, heretics, of The Soft Cushions

Jun 29, 2011 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

"I think the broad base of sound scientific opinion, of sensible and respected science, supports urgent climate action”

Doesn’t it depend on who you talk to? Do I detect Sir Paul Nurse’s consensus here? Opinions held in the main by a selection of highly regarded specialists in unrelated fields? Information from the old boy network in most cases originating from government funded pals? So some circularity in the situation here.

A few weeks back, as a mere bureaucrat in the crowd of scientists that inhabit this blog, I posted that the science that was ‘in the bag’ was a tiny proportion of the science required to understand climate. It seems I must have been right – nobody here complained. So what if the Bishop’s bloggers have a better handle on climate science than the Sir P’s friends? Then the broad base of sound scientific opinion, of sensible and (maybe should be) respected science, would NOT support urgent climate action.

“Barker was careful not to talk in detail about the emails at the UEA, but he said: "That was symptomatic of a view that you must win at all counts.”

Two thoughts:

(1) Probably reflecting a feeling that the case they were making was very weak; and
(2) These were people under pressure who responded by trying a bit harder and being pushy. ‘We can choose this and not that, hide this and maybe no one will check etc etc.’ I cannot see why Mr Barker should criticize; after all that’s what his government pays them to do. Maybe he thinks they could have obfuscated their obfuscations a little better, but that’s a politician’s art, not a scientist’s!

"The climate debate, which was started by Margaret Thatcher who was the first world leader to call for concerted action on man-made climate change,….”

Yes, that was back in the good old days when you could be green in the safe knowledge that the only conceivable policy implications were that a few daft local authorities would put bottle bins into car parks so the dedicated could sort their empties. I have read that the lady never forgot that the devil was in the detail and so suppose that were she active now she would not make the same call.

“But decarbonisation must not mean de-industrialisation," he said.

I agree with Alistair on this one: how is the ‘must’ to be brought about? Is this not PXXXing into the wind?

Extend the thought: it is the prospect of de-industrialisation because of the supposed need for decarbonisation, rather than climate change, that requires ‘a call for concerted action because the former presents a far more imminent danger than the latter.

Can anyone get that across to the Minister?

Jun 30, 2011 at 5:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Extremely significant that Barker speaks of "leaks" from UEA

Jun 30, 2011 at 7:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Roger Carr re definition of sea level...

No, no, no, I was merely agreeing with the more clever Jack Hughes, who was also pointing out that a definition of sea level was lacking.

Jun 30, 2011 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

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