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« Something strange in the atmosphere | Main | Bringing politicians to Booker »

SJB's last hurrah

It is Sir John Beddington's last week in the job, and he has chosen to take one last opportunity to speak out on climate change. He is making a raft of media appearances today, having been on the Today Programme on Radio 4 and BBC Breakfast telly already. There will be more on Radio 5 later on. I gather that the TV and Radio 5 will be speaking to Benny Peiser after 8am.

I'll post links and reaction as I get them.

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Reader Comments (77)

Beddington’s clearly media-trained but he’s odd too, in that as the UK’s chief scientist, he’s supposed to have been ‘batting for Britain’. I say media trained because he comes in, near the start of the interview, saying ‘I want to say three things’, which is a standard media trick. What was really odd, was his three priority things; world population, the growth of cities and climate change.

Within reason, why should the UK care about global population or the growth of cities apart from how these might affect UK supplies, markets, and business opportunities? We definitely haven’t been paying him to worry about the first two things on his list, but what about his ‘more climate extremes’ third priority?

Well maybe it will get more extreme, but whether that’s due to human carbon dioxide emissions is a moot point. And he sort of admitted that whatever we do emissions wise the extremes will happen. So, surely the priority has got to be for UK society to become more resilient, and able to adapt and cope with whatever nature throws at us.

But that’s not Beddington’s priority. His plan isn’t for us to become more resilient, it’s in effect, by us ‘renouncing’ the evil of fossil fuels, to become less resilient, with far more expensive power, far slower economic growth, and far less of everything in general.

So, we’ve had a chief scientist for five years whose main focus appears to have been on things that don’t directly, and won’t directly, affect the UK. Whilst he’s evangelical, about us doing something that’s impossible, and that will do permanent damage to our economy.

We’ve paid him for five years to be the UK’s chief scientist, not the World’s chief scientist. I hope that Sir Mark Wolpert (the next Chief Scientist) is far less evangelical and far more focussed on the practical needs of the UK, and not ‘the world’. Parochial, yes; and that’s what we pay him to be.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Piney

Aggrieved interloper.

Your first paragraph made a good point. Sadly your second paragraph rather spoiled it for you.

SJB has clearly demonstrated that he is a very skilled scientists with the talent to reach the highest professional level. Unfortunately his various appearances in the media today had little to do with science and everything to do with propaganda. It becomes very difficult for even reputable scientists to question what they have preached so passionately for years and SJB is another example of one has lived off the Global Warming gravy train for so long. Few on this site think that Global Warming is some sort of conspiracy by Big Oil, I think most realise that it's just been a convenient vehicle used by politicians, activists, scientists and the media to progress their careers. As usual, follow the money.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSheba

Out, out, damp pale.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I nearly stuck my foot through the telly...

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Creating fear is an honored tradition. Political ego is the only real threat to mankind.

“God Almighty has a quarrel lately with all Mankind,” lamented the Welsh historian James Howell in 1647, “for within these 12 years there have been the strangest Revolutions and horridest things happened, not only in Europe but all the world over.” The world, he thought, was “off the hinges”. He was not alone. As civil strife raged in the British Isles, rebellion tore holes in the empires of the Ming and the Ottomans, and central Europe bled in the Thirty Years’ War, other commentators sank into despair. Every day, recorded the Oxford scholar Robert ­Burton in 1638, brought news of “war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions; of towns taken, cities besieged in France, ­Germany, Turky [sic], Persia, Poland etc”. Four years later, a Spanish tract suggested a terrifying but increasingly popular explanation: “This seems to be one of the epochs in which every nation is turned upside down, leading some great minds to suspect that we are now approaching the end of the world.”

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterWindy

I wonder if his replacement has similar views. Looking at his background he is likely to listen to Paul Nurse for advise

Sir Mark Walport, who has been director of the Wellcome Trust since 2003, has today been appointed to succeed Sir John Beddington as the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser. He will take up his new post in April 2013.

Sir Mark said:

"I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the Government Chief Scientific Advisor. Science, engineering and technology have transformed the infrastructure of the modern world, and have a vital role to play at the heart of policy making.

"They are critical both to economic recovery and growth, and to addressing many of the greatest challenges of our time, such as environmental change and the ageing population. I look forward to working with colleagues both inside and outside Government to ensure that the best possible advice can be provided from the most expert sources, based on the strongest evidence, to facilitate the wisest possible policy decisions."

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

John Beddington's experience as a Professor of Applied Population Biology is in fact highly relevant as he has spent a lifetime analysing complex statistical data and it is the cumulative evidence from multiple data sources which points in his opinion (though obviously not yours) to man made climate change being a genuine phenomenon.
His background in monitoring worldwide fish stocks is also pretty relevant given the damaging effect on marine eco-systems caused by the increase in temperature of sea water. by Aggrieved interloper.

"Man made climate change"? Well, certainly man can change the climate on the micro scale - see how the effects of a large reservoir can cause quite considerable local effects on climate.


What you are mouthing about of course is CAGW which somehow metamorphosed into "climate change" when the diviners suddenly realised their "runaway warming" models were somewhat awry. Thus, did the sophists go to work and came up with the catch all motto - "climate change" - which is still wrongly and obscenely predicated on the supposition [for that is all it is] that mankind's emissions of CO2 are causing the world's atmosphere to warm.
All the statistical method in the world, including those of Penn State creativity department and their fellows in the CRU have steadfastly been unable to prove their wild supposition [CAGW], try as they might.

So, we have an idea, an idea [man made warming] which is unproven but to which the political elite still cling to and promulgate to their utmost and into the bargain promoting the big lie are some government officers who have taken the Judas coin.
A good scientist he may have once been, all he is now is a paid shill and a pretty mediocre one at that.
The money wasted in pursuing the unproven chimera, spent on bird mincers and solar power at the same time as closing down major generating plant not only puts the whole national energy supply at risk - it threatens all our livelihoods. A threat in that - we will be unable to compete industrially and the manufacturing of Britain will 'offshore' [as is already occurring in Steel, chemicals and ceramics] - these are the proven consequences of the green agenda.
The green agenda, financially is killing Britain and literally in many tragic cases [winter death rates] of this winter and the many before it: adherents of the climate change dogma desire for us all to pay much more for electricity and gas - are guilty by extension and association.

He should know better but the green agenda - one to which SJB is a fully signed up member - thus he is culpable in so many ways - his mewling and totally incoherent rambling on the TV this morning showed him up - that he's lost the plot completely.

And on his background in fish stocks - water warms - the fish migrate - agreed though - the biggest enemy of the marine environment is mankind - and his industrialised fishing methods.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


The most confusing thing in all this, is Pallab Ghosh's use of the phrase 'so-called'.

OK hyphenating "so called" seems a bit odd but that isn't what confuses me. Why are climate sceptics, 'so-called climate sceptics'?


Generally, "so called" is a loose term of abuse and dismissal. You can compare it with "bloody" or "sodding" in the way it's often used.

I remember in the 60s there was a BBC programme where viewers' complaints were examined (ridiculed and dismissed). Every other letter refered to what it was complaining about as "so called".

Mar 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Aggrieved interloper.
"His background in monitoring worldwide fish stocks is also pretty relevant given the damaging effect on marine eco-systems caused by the increase in temperature of sea water."
Unfortunately his monitoring of fish stocks worldwide from the depths of his armchair, all the while bending the data to fit his AGW meme have been proven irrelevant by real researchers in Canada and the west coast of USA who recently have written many papers documenting the part played by the PDO in the 1990s crash of Pacific salmon stocks and the prolific resurgence in numbers and catches in the past five years as the temperature cycle turned negative.
In the UK and Europe where the burgeoning, yet peaking temperatures of the AMO hold sway, salmon and especially sea trout numbers have also crashed and those few marine biologists whose livelyhoods are not dependent on the AGW meme are looking to the AMO and the fingers of the Gulf Stream around Svaarlbard where juveniles congregate for answers.
The blinkers of Beddington and the old guard of convinced warmist researchers in ignoring the PDO have perhaps done a grave disservice to the Atlantic salmon and their enigmatic cousins the sea trout.
The consequences of the pernicious crede that is AGW, permeate and sour many unexpected areas of human interest and endeavour, and cannot just be measured by the exponential proliferation of the excrescences that blot so many of our land and seascapes.

Mar 25, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

There are now transcripts of BBC Radio 5 Live's interviews this morning with Sir John Beddington and Dr. Benny Peiser available here:

Mar 25, 2013 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

In his acceptence speech the new Chief Scientist used among other platitudes the term 'envionmental change' as one of his challenges.This might be the next transmogrification from Global Warming to CAGW to Climate Disruption to Weather Wierding - who knows?
Guests on this site who are expecting the stable to be swept of droppings with a new broom are, I am afraid, going to have their hopes dashed.
Two quotes from Sir Mark Walport in the past have been -
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not only essential to help tackle climate change, but is also an important way to improve public health" Bear in mind that he is an immunologist by trade. No doubt he will be aware of the extra 8,000 deaths which have occured in the first two weeks of March in England and Wales many due to weather extremes. (I have no figures for Scotland, but we have Groupen Furher Salmonds windmills to keep us warm).

His other braamer was that the BBC "is giving too much weight to fringe views on climate change"

BTW, whilst it is encouraging that Lord Lawson is accepting the invitation to meet the Royal Society,I hope they can field a stong player. Poor Peiser Pleadings on the wireless this morning was not his finest hour, and that lassie scored heavily IMO. When 'we' get these rare oppertunities to comment on the Biased BBC it is essential to field 'our' first team.

Mar 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

This has been a depressing day. Everytime I try to listen to the news I get reminded enthusiastically by the BBC that global warming really is an established fact. Richard North reckons that the new man is already a True Believer who thinks that the BBC gives the deniars too much air time. Benny Peiser tried to reassure people this morning that no one knows what the climate will be like in the future - true enough, but it would have carried more weight if he had told listeners that JB was talking complete b***ocks and spouting predictions from a computer model that thinks that every winter will be warmer that the one before.

Mar 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAggrieved interloper

"Damp squib" in the sense of producing a little hissing noise but no substance?

CA, a precise summary of your post.

Mar 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Austin

There's now a transcript of BBC Radio 4's Today programme interview with Sir John Beddington available here:

Mar 25, 2013 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

If we thought the BBC was bad, it appears as if the ITV news at 1830 tonight 25/3/13 has gone beyond the pale.
Lawerence McGintys coverage is really insane.
I cannot find it on their playback as yet.
Perhaps some whizzkid can do so, and make a formal complaint to ITV/ITN?

Mar 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

Patrick Healy 7:02pm -
You took the words out of my mouth. Having long ago given up on BBC news I was also watching ITV news at 18.30. Apparently "climate change" means that the snow and blizzards we're now seeing will become the norm or even get worse. Sir JB was interviewed and apparently it's all due to the Jetstream getting lazy and moving further south because of warmer temperatures in the Arctic Circle caused by greenhouse gases released 25 years ago. So we must expect it to get MUCH WORSE because greenhouse gases are far higher now (and still rising) than they were 25 years ago. I swore at the telly and my good lady didn't even look at me sideways! It was all accepted as gospel with no questioning whatsoever.

Mar 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

The one thing to remember about Beddington is his email to Lord Oxburgh:-

as Steve McIntyre said:-

"The Oxburgh panel was held out as not merely professional, but selected for eminence by the UK Royal Society. A distinguishing characteristic of “professionals” is an obligation of due diligence. Mistakes happen, but, by exercising due diligence, professionals protect themselves against accusations of negligence in the event of a mistake or error.

The Oxburgh panel flouted both usual inquiry standards and recommendations from the Parliamentary Committee. Among other lapses, the Oxburgh panel did not take submissions, did not interview CRU critics or take any transcripts of their interviews. In my opinion, because of both their inadequate due diligence and cavalier procedure, their incorrect findings about CRU chronology practices, applying to Polar Urals and the regional chronologies, were not merely a mistake, but a negligent mistake, perhaps even recklessly negligent.

It is disquieting, to say the least, that UK Chief Scientist John Beddington should describe such negligence as a “blinder well played”. "

Let's hope this eggregious con man enjoys his obscene index-linked pension whilst the 'little people' shiver in their hovels.

Mar 25, 2013 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Even assuming that Sir John is correct about the science (I don't think so, but let's pretend), I wonder if he appreciates the meaning of the term 'Pyrrhic victory' and its relevance to the UK or World economy should we ever achieve the goal of >80% reduction in CO2 emissions?

One more thing, when has the case for CAGW ever been subject to a balanced debate? I've never come across such a thing and I'd challenge Sir John, or any body else, to identify one.

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Beddington's final gift to his current employers was a legacy statement to enable more of the same complete tripe to be imposed upon an increasingly disbelieving public. The ever-reliable BBC delivered a puff piece to be proud of. They think we don't notice, but we do. We so do.

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Just to say the ITV News segment with Lawrence McGinty and Sir John Beddington can be found on this page:

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

So what Climate related gravy train job does this failed politico advisor have up his sleave?

Mar 26, 2013 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

And it has all been repeated today in the Daily Telegraph in an article about the cold weather part authored by Louise Gray. Despite it being the third coldest March for many a year, including 1970, it is, according to Beddington, all to do with greenhouse gases released 25 years ago, blah, blah, blah, climate extremes, blah, blah, drought, floods, blah, blah.

Mar 26, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

What green quangoes and advocacy groups will he be joining in to soften his retirment funding?

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterGerry

The feebleness of Beddington, his utter lack of penetration, his poodle-like role is illustrated by Paul Homewood's post here in which he takes a look at rainfall variability in the UK:

We have been badly served by having had such a docile lightweight in such a position. But would the politicians accept any other kind of player there? Is the next one going to be any different?

Mar 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

More support for the 'Beddington is an Irresponsible Buffoon' hypothesis is coming in:

Talk about sitting ducks!

Paul Whitehouse writes:

I commented yesterday

Could it be that the Professor is overreacting to the events of just one year, or is not aware of the historical facts? It is difficult to understand how a top scientist could make such basic errors, but it is hard to come to any other conclusion.

It increasingly looks as if I was right. Coming hard on the heels of Environment Agency head, Chris Smith, making unsupportable claims about convective rain without first checking , it appears that facts no longer matter to our public servants.

Mar 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade


Thanks for that, Alex.

Interseting, isn't it, how alarmists can claim "the last few years" tells you something about the future when it suits (hot summers, snowless winters, floods, droughts, whatever) and, at the very same time, dismiss the "last few years" as irrelevant when it does not suit (flat or falling temperatures, increasing Antarctic ice, freezing winters, increased snow, cold summers)?

They are no better than astrologers.

Actually, come to think of it, they're far worse than astrologers. They're responsible for people (real, actual people, not future hypothecated "future people") dying right now by artificially creating scarce, expensive energy. They are causing suffering and misery to the poor and the vulnerable, the very people in whose name they claim to be acting.

They truly have blood on their hands. (end quote)

As an astro met I take issue with this poor understanding of what constitutes good astrology. First of all no astrologer EVER for over three millennia, has blood on their hands, and secondly, astrologers who use this ancient method of weather forecasting successfully, and have to sit by whilst scientists accuse them of what they are guilty are not funded by state governments, do not set out to scare the population and do use a time tested and verifiable system that offers rules and methodology that stands the test of time.

Even Carl Sagan dmitted that before condemning astrology you have to give reasons for doing so, and that would involve studying it first, something I fear you have never ever done? Please stop condemning it out of sheer prejudice and a need to preserve professional boundaries.

Yes 90% of astrology on the globe is perpetuated by charlatans, some of them even running schools and handing out certificates, but a minority of highly trained astrologers, do produce excellent weather forecasts consistently and verfiably.

Apr 1, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commentertricia

More for the record. Beddington's buffoonery about climate would be a joke had he not occupied such a potentially influential position. Here is more analysis to suggest he spared not a moment's thought before passing on some glib remark he came across, perhaps in a Met Office briefing, about increased variability of rainfall in the UK: . Well done Paul Homewood for sticking to this trail.

Apr 4, 2013 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

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