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« 1984 and all that | Main | Another petition »
Friday
Dec072012

Huppert on 28gate

Don Keiller has sent me copies of his correspondence with his MP, the Liberal Democrat Dr Julian Huppert. Huppert is one of the few ex-scientists in the House of Commons. He is also, incidentally, the son of Herbert Huppert, one of the scientists on the Oxburgh panel.

Dear Dr. Huppert,

I am writing to you about a serious concern regarding the BBC’s reporting of climate change science and associated issues.

From the detail emerging in the aftermath of Mr. Tony Newbery’s F.O.I case (EA/2009/0118) it is absolutely clear that the BBC is in breach of its Charter, which requires it to be impartial.

Furthermore it knowingly and wilfully breached its Charter in this regard and has since tried to hide this fact from the Public and license fee payers, at the public's expense.

In June, 2007, the BBC Trust published a report entitled “From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st Century”. That report, which is fully endorsed by the BBC Trust, contains the following statement (page 40):

The BBC has held a highlevel seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus."

This statement forms the basis for the BBC’s decision to breach its Charter and abandon impartiality on the subject of climate change and instead provide a highly biased and alarmist presentation of the science of climate change, without any attempt at counterbalancing argument, let alone “equal space”.

Since then attempts have been made, via FOI requests, to find out the identities of the so-called “best scientific experts” who attended the “high level seminar” which thereby provided the justification for the BBC to abandon its principle of impartiality in this area. To my best knowledge, the BBC has not abandoned its impartiality in this way, even in wartime.

Tony Newbery, a pensioner, clearly felt the same way and has gone through a long series of FOI requests and processes, culminating, earlier this month, in a tribunal at the Central London Civil Justice Centre (case no. EA/2009/0118). The FOI request was for the identities of the “best scientific experts” who attended the seminar. In order to conceal this information, the BBC fielded a team of 6 lawyers, including barristers, at an estimated cost of £40,000 per day, to prevent the list of names from being published. Whilst they were successful, it was a pyrric victory, as it transpires that this information, that the BBC had tried so hard to conceal, had been in the Public domain for some time.

So who were these “best scientific experts”? 

It turns out to be a motley collection of climate alarmists, activists, environmental advocates and those with vested financial interests:

  • Blake Lee-Harwood, Head of Campaigns, Greenpeace
  • Andrew Dlugolecki, Insurance industry consultant
  • Trevor Evans, US Embassy
  • Colin Challen MP, Chair, All Party Group on Climate Change
  • Anuradha Vittachi, Director, Oneworld.net
  • Andrew Simms, Policy Director, New Economics Foundation
  • Claire Foster, Church of England
  • Saleemul Huq, IIED
  • Poshendra Satyal Pravat, Open University
  • Li Moxuan, Climate campaigner, Greenpeace China
  • Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund Ethiopia
  • Iain Wright, CO2 Project Manager, BP International
  • Ashok Sinha, Stop Climate Chaos
  • Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
  • Matthew Farrow, CBI
  • Rafael Hidalgo, TV/multimedia producer
  • Cheryl Campbell, Executive Director, Television for the Environment
  • Kevin McCullough, Director, Npower Renewables
  • Richard D North, Institute of Economic Affairs
  • Steve Widdicombe, Plymouth Marine Labs
  • Joe Smith, The Open University
  • Mark Galloway, Director, IBT
  • Anita Neville, E3G
  • Eleni Andreadis, Harvard University
  • Jos Wheatley, Global Environment Assets Team, DFID
  • Tessa Tennant, Chair, AsRia.

Not one of these could be described as “scientific”, let alone an expert.

The remainder:

  • Robert May, Oxford University and Imperial College London
  • Mike Hulme, Director, Tyndall Centre, UEA
  • Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
  • Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

are scientists, but were misleadingly described in court by Helen Boaden (of Jimmy Saville infamy), as “scientists with contrasting views”. In fact all are unashamedly alarmist. Pointedly, not one of these scientists deals with attribution science, or the atmospheric physics of global warming.

So where are the real experts? Scientists from the Met Office, or the Hadley Centre, one of the foremost climate research centres in the world? Where are the names of Dr.

Chris Landsea, World expert on hurricanes, or Dr. Nils‐Axel Mörner, World authority on sea level rises? Or Professors Richard Lindzen, or Murry Salby, World experts on atmospheric physics? Why are there no experts from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia?

It now crystal clear why the BBC went to such great lengths and expense to withhold the names of those attending. They are not the “best scientific experts” but rather a group overwhelmingly comprised of environmental activists and NGO’s, with no scientific training, whatsoever, or those with a vested interest, often financial, in keeping climate change alarmism firmly in the Public eye.

In conclusion I put it to the BBC Trust that:

1. The BBC and, by endorsing the report, the BBC Trust, have lied to the public that they organised and/or attended a seminar at BBC Television Centre involving the “best scientific experts” on climate change.

2. That its change of policy to no longer be impartial on the subject of climate change was not based on scientific evidence, or the views of the “best scientific experts”, but in fact was as a result of listening to the views, advice and lobbying from inappropriate and biased individuals, groups and organisations including Greenpeace, Tearfund, US Embassy, BP, IIED, IBT, AsRia, E3G etc.

3. That the BBC and the BBC Trust are in breach of the charter and acting unlawfully. The following quotations are taken from the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-editorial-values-editorial-values/

1.2.1 Trust

Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.  We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences. 

1.2.2 Truth and Accuracy

We seek to establish the truth of what has happened and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output.  Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information to get at the truth.  Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language.  We will strive to be honest and open about what we don't know and avoid unfounded speculation.

1.2.3 Impartiality

Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences.  We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented.  We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts. 

1.2.4 Editorial Integrity and Independence

The BBC is independent of outside interests and arrangements that could undermine our editorial integrity.  Our audiences should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures, or any personal interests. 

Each and every one of these guidelines has been knowingly breached.

This is a scandal that is, in its own way, more disturbing than the one over the Jimmy Savile affair, as it has implications for the whole population. Interestingly the key players in this scandal, George Entwistle, Helen Boaden, Peter Rippon and Steve Mitchell, are also key players in the Savile affair. However whilst the Savile scandal is being looked into by a series of inquiries, this has been ignored.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course on this matter. Please also be advised that I have sent a copy of this letter to the Director of the BBC Trust.

 

Yours sincerely,

Dr. D. Keiller (M.A., PhD., Cantab)

And here is Huppert's response

Dear Don,

Thank you for writing to me with your concerns about the BBC Trust and the BBC’s reporting of climate change science.

I do appreciate your concerns that the attendees of the BBC’s ‘high-level seminar’, where it was decided that there was enough evidence about climate change to justify not giving equal space to “the opponents of the consensus”, were originally withheld from the public. I would have like to have seen a greater amount of transparency on this point. However, it remains the case that the FOI request made by Mr Tony Newbery to reveal the names of the attendees was denied.

Because the BBC has not published the list of attendees we can only speculate as to whether the list you have provided is indeed accurate. To my mind the list – whether it is correct or not – is impressive in that it suggests a wide range of views would have been represented, including a number of experts in the field.

I appreciate that you are likely to disagree with my interpretation of whether those mentioned on the list are experts or not. However, I am satisfied that the list is not compromised of merely alarmists and activists.

Furthermore, although the seminar was significant as it was on this occasion that the decision to accept climate change as a fact was made by the Trust, the BBC have engaged with a huge range of scientific experts to discuss this issue since then. In your letter you have asked why scientist from the Met Office and other experts in various fields of research were not included in the seminar’s attendees list. I would like to point out that on numerous occasions the BBC has collaborated extensively with the Open University, Met Office and academics from a number of distinguished institutions to produce broadcasts and news articles concerning climate change and I am afraid that I do not share your concerns about the BBC Trust having breached its charter in the ways which you have suggested.

As a former scientist I know all too well the need to work from a solid evidence base. Indeed, this is a principle which I apply to politics as well. I am proud that the Lib Dems are a party which believe in evidence-based policy making and if I thought that an institution as important and as influential as the BBC has developed its policy towards climate change on anything but the most reliable and compelling evidence then I would raise my concerns with the Government in the strongest possible terms and without hesitation.

Although I do not share your views I would like to thank you for taking the time to make me aware of your concerns. I hope that you receive a helpful response from the Director of the BBC Trust.

Yours sincerely,

 

Julian Huppert

Member of Parliament for Cambridge

I'm speechless.

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Reader Comments (128)

Don - a specific, penetrating letter from you has been brushed aside. IMO this is a moment for a pause for thought before replying.

In Mr Huppert's reply I think there are toehold's for progress - namely in his second para where he states he would like to have seen more transparency on the matter and in his second to last para where he states he understands the need to work from a solid evidence base.

These assertions on his part are now testable by going back to him and asking, in the interests of transparency, for the evidence on which he bases his claims of the fifth paragraph. Can he support his claims with specific evidence or correspondence regarding the no.of experts the BBC consulted with, the occasions they did so and the views that were represented to them? If he can - great, one can assess whether opposing views have been adequately examined, if he cannot - then his letter is nothing but hot air. If he cannot or will not then a possible follow up would be an foi request for all correspondence between himself and the BBC and its Trust, or members thereof.

I hope the above doesn't come across as teaching you to suck eggs - ignore or apply as you see fit. I know you have made significant efforts banging your head on these matters over a long period of time and, as an observer, I appreciate your resolve. Best wishes.

Dec 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Don - he's my MP too - and a totally different animal to our previous (also LibDem) MP, who made a tremendous effort to assist with some serious NHS shortcomings in the treatment of my brother-in-law; and whom I used to meet frequently on the platform of Cambridge station as he and I both caught the 0745 to Kings Cross (he always travelled Standard Class, by the way).
Julian Huppert has come out with some fatuous comments on (for instance) cycling in Cambridge; also the A14, which is horrendously overloaded; kills people on a regular basis; and on which there is an accident pretty well every day, causing huge hold-ups and stretching Cambridgeshire's emergency services to the limit. Julian Huppert's sniffy view on the matter..? 'I have decided that the people of Cambridge don't want a ten-lane superhighway...' Oh, well - that's that, then, isn't it..?
Anyway - back to the matter in hand - with the greatest respect, I think that you are wasting your time trying to get a sensible answer out of this guy. Try Lord Patten...

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

"....the BBC have engaged with a huge range of scientific experts to discuss this issue since then...."

No they haven't - in fact it was this 'seminar' that gave them the green light not to.

This response is worse than the 'non answer' responses that I've received from Greg Barker of DECC - and that's saying something!

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

I feel a Josh cartoon is in order.

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Chatham House Rules are extremely valuable. I have organised several events that simply would not have happened without their use. They enable people who are normally opposed to each other in public e.g. industrialists and NGOs to sit down together and debate issues of concern in the knowledge that any movement away from the "party line" will not subsequently be blown up in the media out of all proportion. Such meetings can be extremely helpful in finding compromise positions between what appear to be irreconcilable views and enable bridges to be built between warring factions.

The reason for invoking CHR is not to keep things secret, indeed under the CHR it is permissible to discuss what was said at a meeting just not attribute it to an individual. The reason is to prevent unscrupulous individuals using partial quotations in an underhand manner.

I do not defend the specific BBC usage but don't rubbish the whole CHR concept.

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I corrected principal to principle, and also a misplaced apostrophe in Don's letter. Don't want the conversation diverted onto spelling and punctuation.

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Bish, is discussion of other points of English allowed?

I had always thought it was "A consists of x, y and z" or "A comprises x, y and z" but that "A is comprised of x, y and z" is wrong.

Dec 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'd still like to know if Huppert really did say "I am satisfied that the list is not compromised of merely alarmists and activists" or if his actual words got mangled in transcription.

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Arthur Dent:

The reason for invoking CHR is not to keep things secret

Not in every case, certainly. I remember a close friend of mine using the term some years ago as we began some gathering or other, relying on discreet nods of heads for agreement. I never would use it, because the historic allusions it brings to mind are not for me beautiful. But it's mostly a red herring in the 28gate case. I agree with 'not banned yet' that Huppert's

I would have like to have seen a greater amount of transparency on this point

is the high point of his reply. One should try to build from there and from the concept of evidence-based policy. One key question is how he or anyone else can have confidence that reduction of carbon emissions, even down to zero, could achieve a predictable cap in global temperature. This is not evidence- but faith-based, because we cannot run the experiment with a control earth, over decades, with identical starting conditions and unchanged emissions. Whatever we do to reduce emissions - and China shows no sign of making the experiment anything more than tokenism anyway - we will never be able to detect the effect. It's meaninglessness forward and back - except for the probing of the IPCC on sensitivity, from anyone from Lindzen to Lewis, based on real-world data. That's the key, evidenced-based foundation of everything else and there the story is shakier than many of us imagined even two years ago.

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

My MP, Andrew Lansley, also replied to a similar letter I wrote with...

"A Freedom of Information (FOI) request was made for material held by the BBC relating to a seminar discussing climate change held in 2006. The BBC tell me that they refused disclosure on the basis that the documents were held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature, and are therefore outside the scope of the BBC™s designation under FOI Act. The Information Tribunal unanimously upheld this in its decision of 8 November 2012.

The seminar was conducted under the Chatham House Rule to enable free and frank discussion, something that the BBC felt necessary for its independent journalism. Further information about the Rule including the publication of lists of attendees can be found here: www.chathamhouse.org/about-us/chathamhouserule.

I am informed that the 2006 seminar was one in a series of seminars looking at a range of global topics. They are used to inform the BBC’s journalism through debate and access to expertise, though the setting of the BBC’s editorial policies is a formal process involving BBC Boards and the BBC Trust. Impartiality is key to the BBC’s reporting and is the subject of continuous scrutiny by the BBC and the BBC Trust.

If you would like to complain about the BBC, I suggest you do so directly to the BBC Trust, at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/. "

...i.e. parroting the BBC's line. As was mentioned: Weasel.

My response...

Sir,

So I take it you are quite happy that the BBC are treating parliament with contempt by deliberately contravening their legal Charter of impartiality?

I take it that you don’t mind that the Head of News most probably committed perjury when answering judge’s questions, or at the very least, deliberately misled the judges?

I take it that you are happy that the recent departed Director General was in full knowledge of this deliberate disobedience of the Charter when he took up the post, yet failed or refused to correct it.

I take it that you are quite happy for the BBC to deliberately mislead the public by the statement that ‘experts’ were present, when the vast majority were clearly not.

I take it that you are quite happy for the BBC to secretly decide partisan editorial policy when it is a public service broadcaster paid for IN FULL by the taxpayer to be neutral?

I take it you are happy for the BBC to spend (waste?) inordinate sums of money attempting to defend the indefensible?

I suppose it’s the same ‘happy’ logic that the government has just applied to multi-national corporations, who when obeying tax law are turned upon and called “immoral”.

I suppose it’s the same ‘happy’ logic that says it is trying to reduce the deficit and debt, yet blows away £2 billion on politically motivated renewables in foreign territories?

I for one, am not happy!

It should not be I who complains to the BBC, but yourself who gives Chris Pattern a proverbial boot up the backside for failing to do his job!

It is Parliament who created the BBC’s Charter, so it is Parliament, of which you, our servant, are a member, who should be enforcing it.

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterilma630

@Simon, I have checked the original letter- the term Dr. Huppert used was "compromised".

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Delighted to hear the Freudian malapropism stands!

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Martin

"comprised of" is a common mistake, as you note, but I haven't met "compromised of" before!
Perhaps he has a sceptical secretary...

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Don, misgivings allayed. Thank you.

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

I reckon this idiot MP ran straight to the BBC for help in writing a reply.

The letter was a strong complaint to the constituency MP about a major public body. It is normal practice for MPs to pass such letters straight on to the Minister with direct or oversight interest in the public body. Why did this not happen here ?

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Anderson

Is this guy a member of Common Purpose?

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

John Anderson: That's exactly my thinking and exactly my question. Maria Miller is new to the job but should not have been bypassed. But perhaps those with a vested interest in propping up an increasingly shaky consensus now have to avoid 'contamination' not just from those they treat as nutters, from the likes of Bishop Hill, but from officials of our elected government, of which they are officially coalition partners. This is not a good combination for them.

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

ilma630

Excellent reply, let us know the reponse, I for one am interested having had the experience of dealing with M Beckett MP has a degree in metalurgy but is a parrot on AGW (It might already be too late apparently).

Best wishes
Sandy

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

What this demostrates very clearly is that the AGW meme is very deeply engrained in the psychie of the stupid.

Also, something that evryone in the UK knows, I think, is that Lib Dems are idiots from their roots to their 'leader'.

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

"Dec 7, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Mike Fowle"

Well, Richard A North hasn't contradicted the list, and he was there. Perhaps he could be contacted to conform that for the benefit of Mr. Slippert Huppert?

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Two problems coming up with your blanket statement, Stephen Richards:

Also, something that evryone in the UK knows, I think, is that Lib Dems are idiots from their roots to their 'leader'.

But first let's remember your comment early on in what became the mighty Quantifying Uncertainties in Climate Science thread five days ago:

13 years I studied for my qualifications only to have these morons make it all worthless. jeez !!

For that our host gave you this warning, with one other person who soon after apologised:

Steven Richards, Don Keiller

Your comments are over the top. I think reasonable people can agree that Tamsin has shown that she is not one to hype things. I would also echo Richard B's comments about Jonty Rougier, who was highly critical of mainstream paleoclimatology's approach to statistics when I spoke at the Met Office.

Tarring everybody with the same brush doesn't help.

But why learn anything from that?

Here are two reasons this time around. First, not all Lib Dems are idiots. David Laws is a powerful counter-example, based on this piece in the Telegraph on 23 Jun 2012:

Mr Laws argues that cutting state spending would be in keeping with the founding fathers of the Liberal Party.

“Even after the existing fiscal consolidations, state spending will account for some 40 per cent of GDP, a figure that would have shocked not only Adam Smith, William Gladstone, and John Stuart Mill, but also John Maynard Keynes and David Lloyd George,” he says.

“The implication of the state spending 40 per cent of national income is that there is likely to be too much resource misallocation and too much waste and inefficiency.”

One of the earlier headlines linked to from that article reminds us "David Laws regrets hiding homosexuality". In other words, by his own estimation, he's not been wise on everything. Which of us has? But Laws I think deserves considerable respect for what he said here. One reason your statement deserves to be seen as very shallow.

The other is that Don Keiller has already told us that he's pointing Julian Huppert to this thread. In what way will your unqualified insult of his party help him feel that Bishop Hill is a place he'd like to come back to, to learn? Don't tell me you know he wouldn't anyway. That's totally self-fulfilling. One day somebody will, as long as the pointless bile begins to dry up.

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"...The reason [for Cheat 'em House Rules] is to prevent unscrupulous individuals using partial quotations in an underhand manner." --Arthur Dent

And thus to facilitate the entire event being used in an underhanded manner.

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The MP's reply, however it is infinitesimally parsed by critics or supporters, is consistent intellectually with the generic CAGW monologue we hear globally on a daily basis. For that I can significantly credit Roger Harrabin of the BBC who was central to the creation of the government media's endorsement of the 'monologue era' of the scientific processes; a scientific dialog has been replaced by a monologue. Is Harrabin envied by Andy Revkin?


I just came from the AGU meeting in San Francisco. In the Atmospheric Science and Global Environment sections there was only the CAGW monologue with just a couple of exceptions (Judith Curry being one) out of the hundreds of talks. There was no hint of fundamental debate which could in any way be called a scientific dialog . . . that I could see.


The dominate proponents of CAGW in the 'monologue era' of science are not going to engage in dialog voluntarily; it is their fundamental strategy not to. They need to be pushed by ever increasing intense public scrutiny into debate / dialog. I sadly say that about the science community; the once vaunted science community's self-correction processes appear to have been conveniently enfeebled in favor of the monologists in the climate science community.


BH and his denizens are doing an excellent job on the intense public scrutiny thingy. Thank you. Please persist.


John

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

There was no hint of fundamental debate which could in any way be called a scientific dialog

John, while this may seem like a travesty of science to AGW sceptics, I would guess that to the vast majority of the participants, this is no different from the total lack of dialog regarding creationism that you'd find at a biology/genetics conference.

They aren't going to discuss the problems with CAGW because they don't believe in the existence of such problems.

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

"Because the BBC has not published the list of attendees we can only speculate as to whether the list you have provided is indeed accurate. To my mind the list – whether it is correct or not – is impressive in that it suggests a wide range of views would have been represented, including a number of experts in the field."

Q1. Are there people that would be unacceptable to Huppert for shaping the BBC's bias in this regard?
Q2. As the list is is possibly not correct how can he be sure that those people did not attend?

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Completely OT,

Sorry

Don Keiller, are you related to the Dundee jam making company, and the guy who excavated Stonehenge?

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpalantir

In the interests of balance I have to say that I have met and talked with the good Dr Huppert and on the politician's scale of slipperiness I thought he came across as pretty straight and well-meaning albeit new to his trade. He will learn no doubt and maybe this demonstrates he is picking up the required traits quickly. I am disappointed by his response which is too dismissive even if he was not to be expected to share the degree of outrage.
I wonder if the same letter sent to another MP would get a similar, centrally drafted response? Huppert has had input in this case but the bones of it might be a brief.

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

I have to view this in the reality of politics. The Liberal's have 'climate change' as a crusading policy. Greeno Cameron handed them DECC on a plate in the coalition agreement. The BBC is their prime asset and represents their evangelical pulpit, spreading the gospel. MP's soon learn to duck and weave. An outed Liberal climate change sceptic would be like deliberately stepping on a land mine. It's hard to know how passionately they feel about an issue most of the time, but if they lie low on something its a fair bet they have misgivings and are keeping their head down.

I've not done this yet for Huppert bu good clues come from searching Hansard- seeing what speeches and debates they participate in and whether they have forceful opinions, how they voted, opinions in press articles or media appearances. Anyway, whatever the reply, good persuasive information might sink in. But whatever he replies, it probably comes back as guarded and evasive if you've just issued him with the standard police warning 'anything you say may be taken down and used....'

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

+1 Pharos

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I am more than ever certain that the reason why the likes of Huppert, 'former scientist' or not, can reply in such airily condescending tones to a series of eminently reasonable questions, none of which he can bring himself to address, is that long, long ago he was not merely force fed but eagerly swallowed the notion that any critic of man-made globe warming was either a kind of drooling idiot or a flint-eyed semi-fascist whose views were self evidently worthless, a view the BBC clearly supports.

In such hopeless cases, with what he supposes are his higher brain functions having been permanently disabled, very little short of several tons of TNT is likely to have much effect.

In other words, better to smile and nod in the certain knowledge that one day at least he will have relegated to the tiniest of footnotes in the history of these distressed times.

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

David -

u say "try Lord Patten" -

2009: Oxford Today: The Oxford Today interview: Chris Patten, Oxford's Chancellor, on facing up to global challenge. Greg Neale reports.
Of all the topics that he considers in his book, there is one that Lord Patten describes as 'the only really existential issue facing the world': climate change.
'It isn't very often that you get such a wide scientific consensus on an issue', he commented. 'Four years ago, Sir David King [the British government's former Chief Scientist, now Director of Oxford's newly opened Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment] said that climate change was more dangerous than terrorism and he got dive-bombed, as it were, by ministers and others for saying this. But it's true. There aren't any terrorists who can melt the permafrost; there aren't any terrorists who can change the weather patterns in the Atlantic so as to prolong the drought in Sudan-Darfur; there aren't any terrorists who can influence the rate of glacial melt in the Himalayas. So I do think that climate change is the biggest issue that we face. And as David King has himself argued in a wonderful little book, Hot Topic, the issue is not whether global warming happens - it is happening. The issue is whether we keep it nearer to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, or whether it goes up to three degrees, with pretty dire consequences - and it is going to be difficult enough in the range of two to two and a half.'
While international negotiations on steps to tackle climate change have moved slowly since Patten was an environment minister in the late 1980s, he is cautiously optimistic. 'I think things are changing quite rapidly. And Barack Obama's election is going to help, I hope. So there are hopeful signs. But there's a down-side as well - there are politicians, like [Silvio] Berlusconi [the Italian prime minister], who say that because we are in such dire straits economically, we should postpone or dilute our commitments on climate change, which I think is ridiculous and economically illiterate. But by and large, I think, people have got the message. The question is whether they can manage successfully the extraordinarily complex diplomacy which is going to be required in order to get this fixed.'...
https://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/page.aspx?pid=1042

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Dec 7, 2012 at 5:25 PM | steveta says,


John,

while this may seem like a travesty of science to AGW sceptics, I would guess that to the vast majority of the participants, this is no different from the total lack of dialog regarding creationism that you'd find at a biology/genetics conference.

They aren't going to discuss the problems with CAGW because they don't believe in the existence of such problems.


- - - - -

steveta,


Appreciate your comment. I agree with you.


Myopia of scientists wrt CAGW inclines me to consider that either:

1) it is a myopia of convenience; to engage un-skeptically in a professionally fashionable trend; a myopia based on a desire to be accepted as part of a perceived 'consensus'.

or

2) the myopia is a systemic result of an underlying bias in the way climate science research is selected, funded, reviewed (for journal publication), publicly audited, assessed and finally reported in the media.


I think it is mostly the first, because I cannot yet have such a low opinion of the ability of scientists to think that they cannot be scientifically critical.


If the second were the case, the question is can climate science ever be open? It might take a fundamental revolution in how climate science is related to government and to professional independence / objectivity / integrity.

John

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

I have a good friend who is active in local politics and is of the LibDem persuasion. He is highly intelligent. I bumped into him a year or so ago and somehow the conversation got round to climate change. He had no idea that there was any controversy at all. And this is a man who has a questioning mind. He had simply swallowed the party line. The science is settled.

I have also had occasion to correspond with Nick Clegg from time to time on climate change. He has made it clear that he will not listen to any evidence that contradicts his belief system. I sent him a copy of the letter that Don sent to his MP and asked him for his views. Clegg deliberately ducked the issue as politicians do. He did not address the issue of BBC impartiality but simply said that as he and I hold differing views on climate change there was no point in continuing the exchange. I have subsequently retorted to point out that the issue in question was impartiality and just because the BBC's breach supported his world view did not exonerate them.

So we have in the LibDems a political party with a very small public mandate in a position where they are exercising power far beyond their mandate. Of course, come the next election they will be history but it is the damage they are doing now that will haunt us for a long time.

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSeymour

Jeremy at 4.49.

Yes, that thought occurred to me. I don't think anyone could seriously argue that the list is not accurate, which is why I thought it was weaselly to try and suggest it might be. But as Argusfreak says, it is clearly a centrally drafted reply and it is entirely in character for the civil service/advisers to try and undermine the case by raising such doubts (even though they know they are not valid).

Dec 7, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

AGW belief is a social dysfunction and is not amenable to calm reason. Think of the deeply co-dependent wife whose husband is able to philander in plain sight and she will still deny there is a problem. AGW believers are able to write the sort of drivel quoted here with utmost sincerity.

Dec 7, 2012 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Huppert - Muppet?
Someone must be pulling strings, how can a politician let alone a "former" scientist accept that the BBCs' behaviour is acceptable. That the BBC is corrupt and biased worries him not. That statutory charters can be ignored at will is a mere trifle. Are you guys sure that the LimpDems are not actually the Socialist Workers Party? How about sending all this material to the local paper of this Muppet. You never know an actual journalist may work there.
Time to follow the money again.

Dec 7, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick in Vancouver

Dec 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Martin

You're kidding aren't you?

So 71 % of the voters supported parties with a "green" slant.

You forgot the Vote Blue. Go Green party. In fact, it's worse than you thought - it's very close to the magic CAGW number of 97% - 97.3% of the votes in Cambridge at the last election were cast for parties enslaved to the green mantra.

Two point seven percent of those voting cast their votes for UKIP and an independent, the proprietor of the 'Old Holborn' blog, who is probably not green.

Dec 7, 2012 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Well he is a politician ! May not recognise truth if it contradicts the party line but he would certainly pay attention to a good kicking in the ballot box1

Dec 7, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave38

The most useful comment was one that suggested a file of those that have died as a result of this stupidity. Nothing will make a politician squirm as much as the allegation that he is responsible for a death. That is the way to go. Forget reasoned argument. Politics trumps reason every day of the week. Delingpole or Booker could be invaluable here.

Dec 7, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Dewhurst

Huppert is spouting the all party line that global warming is true and man is responsible for it because the Government Chief Scientist says so. That is the same response I get from my MP.

I too have written to my MP. He has forwarded my two letters on the subject (with Orlowski`s accounts as attachments) to Lord Patten for comment. In due course - and on past form - he will probably forward a copy of Patten`s reply to me - it is his line of least resistance.

I see little chance, in the short term, of getting any change out of MPs on the scientific arguments however well put. MPs will take the default position I mentioned above. A more fruitful way to get change may well be the force of the economic argument - the line taken by Peter Lilley MP. As energy prices keep going up and the winters get colder there is much mileage in this idea. There are even those believers in CAGW who think that windpower is a loser, without a future, and who are looking at other solutions such as geo-engineering (don`t laugh, they have already got grants to research it). I sent BH a link to a the recent Oxford alumni weekend, entitled "How to swallow an elephant" on this very same subject of countering CAGW - perhaps he could post the link which I do not have immediately to hand.

Incidentally, Lord Patten is a fan of the idea of exploiting shale gas - he said so in public in his Oxford alumni weekend talk on the question "Has the West had it?" (Rather optimistically, I thought, he concluded that it had not had it). There are signs that Osborne is going as far as he can, within Coalition constraints, to push gas fired power stations. So when you write to your MP it is a good idea to point out the economic futilty of present climate change policy.

Dec 7, 2012 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

"The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension,
the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
-- J Goebbels

Dec 7, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen

I was going to respond to Stephen Richards about all Lib Dems being idiots although Richard Drake did a good demolition job so no need. However emotionally I totally understand why Richard concludes that all Lib Dem are idiots because how can intelligent people hold those views? This is a really good idea for a discussion; why is it that highly intelligent people on both sides seem unable to get into reasonable dialogue with each other?

The other side quite obviously have had the same thoughts, hence attempts by people such as Adam Corner to "study us", they cant understand us just like we can not understand them.

It is not possible for me to "know" but from those people on BH who have spoken to me, almost all came to their current position because they questioned what they were told and then investigated for themselves. At that point the internet allowed them to find others who held the same views but the questioning came first.

The starting point for both sides would have to be the media; books, films, tv, the press. The message from all of these was the same; DISASTER IS COMING AND WE ARE TO BLAME.

It seems obvious that the majority of people simply accepted it and never questioned it, even highly intelligent people just did not ask questions.
I have to say my own view is that we are pragmatists and they are idealists, gullible idealists. Give them a cause that allows them to believe they are saving the planet and you can kiss goodby to any hope of reasoned argument.

Dec 7, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Don if Mr Huppert does pop along be sure to draw this to his attention

‘UK manufacturing output sees sharp fall’ - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20638091

And just in case he is one of the few people in the world who does not know

‘Cheap energy is the surest way to encourage economic growth.’ Matt Ridley knows this and so does my mum.

Dec 7, 2012 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Dec 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM | ilma630 -
I wrote to my MP Francis Maude about this and have his reply in front of me. It is more or less word for word identical to that which you have received from Andrew Lansley. Now there's a surprise! Is this an agreed Cabinet response or a wider collusion?

Would you mind if I used some (or all) of your reply wording in my reply?

Don Keiller - Would you mind if I used some or all of your original letter to Dr Huppert?

Both of you have a far better command of the English language than an old expat Scotsman.

Dec 7, 2012 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

For those of you that don't know, Don's letter is based on and follows my own to my MP and the BBC trust. I have had a response from my MP but I have not decided whether I should publish or not on line. For me, this is not a circus, it is a very serious issue about bias in the BBC. Those of you who read my post on the uncertainty thread maybe understand that I have a serious concern about the politicisation of science. If you want to understand where I stand on this, please read that post.

Don has a LibDem MP. The response published is hardly surprising. What did you expect a LibDem MP to say? Their policy is clearly stated and a LibDem MP is hardly likely to contradict the party line. This is politics, after all. Please don't be so naive.

Changing the view of politicians is a serious business. The prize or goal is not one for the chattering classes, as seems to be the case here. I am sorry to seem critical, but some things are far more serious than idle chit chat or public spectacle, like the corruption of science,. My MP has responded in a politically neutral way but is actually indirectly quite supportive. Thids gives me some encouragement, My letter has been passed to the relevent minister. I am waiting on a reply from the BBC Trust. I anticipate a drawn out argument with them . I do not anticiapte posting this on line until some kind of conclusion is reached. I am not going to jeopardise my arguments by posting on line and therefore turning the complaint into a public spectacle. When a conclusion is reached I will post the outcome.

As an aside, I have an old friend from school and Venture Scouts. He is a very intelligent and well educated individual (certainly more so than me). He made a mint in the oil industry and now is very involved in the LibDems and and has stood (so far unsuccessfully) as an MP. I saw him recently at a conference. I am clearly a denier and he was clearly not going to discuss my views. With the LibDems the conversation is closed. I suspect it may be with Labour. With some Conservative MPs the door is (privately) open to intelligent dialogue. Don't expect anything else from your MP. This is not a game, nor is it entertainment for the masses. The BBC and the BBC Trust need to be brought to account for breaching the Charter. It is not a circus, it is deadly serious.

Dec 8, 2012 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Thanks TS. Fight the good fight.

Dec 8, 2012 at 1:08 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Does anyone think that even worse than the secret 28 seminar is the advice the the BBC on how to "construct" its own "factuality" provided by Linguistics consultant Gill Ereaut and writer Nat Segnit? I think this shows a far more cynical and deliberate decision by the BBC to drive their 'consensus agenda'

From: ‘Warm words How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?’

"This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. This must be done by stepping away from the ‘advocates debate’ described earlier, rather than by stating and re-stating these things as fact."

"The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken. The certainty of the Government’s new climate-change slogan – ‘Together this generation will tackle climate change’ (Defra 2006) – gives an example of this approach. It constructs, rather than claims, its own factuality.”

http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2011/05/warm_words_1529.pdf

From Joanne Nova's blog

Dec 8, 2012 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Fraser

ThinkingScientist

You are held in high regard by many on BH but considering your last post; I fail to see why.
You said:

Don has a LibDem MP. The response published is hardly surprising. What did you expect a LibDem MP to say? Their policy is clearly stated and a LibDem MP is hardly likely to contradict the party line. This is politics, after all. Please don't be so naive.

To expect someone to be honest is naive? To expect the people we elect to have some sense of what is and is not ethical is naive? To expect the people we elect to have more consideration for their constituency supporters than for their political careers is naive?
I assume then that for you words like tranparency and openness are also naive because of course us plebs do not understand the way of the world. In your world things are best left to the cognoscenti to discuss behind closed doors.
To expect your MP to be dishonest and unethical is unfortunately realistic but to expect better is not naive.

Dec 8, 2012 at 1:44 AM | Registered CommenterDung

"I am sorry to seem critical, but some things are far more serious than idle chit chat or public spectacle, like the corruption of science." Thinking Scientist

My view is that people who are actively challenging the CAGW meme where it matters and could make a difference, like TS and Don Keiller, should be allowed to do it each in their own way.

For a reality check I suggest that everyone should read this perceptive post by Mike Haseler:

http://scef.org.uk/index.php/comment-opinion/409-do-sceptics-really-want-the-global-warming-scam-to-end

As a regular reader and poster on many sceptic blogs I've often been extremely frustrated at the lack of action by sceptics. They talk a lot, but, for example, it is almost unheard of for a sceptic blog to contact the press. All that talk and no real action? It always seemed such an incredible waste of talent. What was the point in convincing other sceptics that it was rubbish, when the real need was to convince the public, media and politicians?

Imho every practical means of influence should be brought to bear on this very serious issue of media bias, and the wider CAGW bandwagon. The only quibble I have is that TS may be overestimating his capacity to be listened to in the corridors of power, considering that Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, and many other eminent scientists have been ignored to date. Let's hope that Mike Haseler is right and that the end of Kyoto will signal the end of the scam.

Dec 8, 2012 at 3:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Arthur Dent

You are very correct that the Chatham House Rule (CHR) is useful in facilitating honest dialogue in a meeting of a heterogenous group of participants. However, if it is used in a meeting in which the participants are largely homogenous AND the results of that meeting are used to define an issue of high social, political and economic public interest, at the very least the public is entitled to know what exactly was discussed and what conclusions were reached and why.

It seems, however, in this case at least, the CHR is being used to obfuscate the decision making process from the general public. Can we not get a copy of whatever was discussed and decided by the gang of 28 without violating the CHR in regards to individual identifications?

Dec 8, 2012 at 4:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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