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« Homework fail - Josh 222 | Main | Updated climate sensitivity estimates using aerosol-adjusted forcings and various ocean heat uptake estimates »

Lilley's reply to Anderson

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed Professor Kevin Anderson's rather strange article in which he claimed, somewhat improbably, that Peter Lilley had maligned him. Lilley has now passed on his response to Anderson, which I am reproducing here with his permission.

Dear Professor Anderson,

Thank you for drawing my attention to your response to my Spectator article on shale gas.   I apologise for the delay in replying.

I am sorry if you were offended to be called the ayatollah of the green movement.   Far from being intended as an insult, it referred to your extreme frankness.  

I had no idea you were so sensitive, still less so paranoid and egotistical, as to imagine my article is entirely about you and critical of you.   In fact you are the Rosencrantz of my article, not the Hamlet.   My sole reference to you, rather late in the article, is: “Professor Kevin Anderson, former head of the Tyndall Centre and ayatollah of the green movement, frankly states that ‘from a climate-change perspective this stuff simply has to stay in the ground’.”   I commend your frankness in admitting that the reason for leaving the stuff in the ground is what I earlier describe as the “legitimate argument that the world should phase out fossil fuels to minimise global warming”.   Your frankness stands in marked contrast to those green lobbyists whom I criticise for resorting to spurious arguments to discourage shale drilling.

Despite that you decide to treat every criticism I make of the green lobbyists as a personal attack on you.  You write: “I especially take exception to [Peter Lilley] attributing views to me that I do not hold.”   You then list nine criticisms I made of green lobbyists not one of which I attributed to you.   The only green lobbyists I mentioned were Friends of the Earth, WWF, CCC and DECC.  I hate to puncture your inflated egotism but you only get a single mention, quoted above, quite late in my article.  Still, if the cap fits, wear it.   Your egotism resurfaces when you assume that the briefing for the PM from which Cuadrilla was excluded was the same as the rather less important hearing of the Select Committee which Cuadrilla did attend, as did you and I, but not the PM.   The PM has his own briefings quite distinct from the Select Committee.   Nonetheless, if you wanted to use my reference to you as a green ayatollah as an excuse to dissociate yourself from the spurious arguments of the green lobbyists, I would not complain.  

However, you then really demean yourself when you continue: “The level of repeated dishonesty is sufficiently blatant as to raise serious questions about his [Peter Lilley’s] motives for the piece or at least enquire whether he may have some personal financial interest in shale gas development?”   To accuse someone of “repeated dishonesty” is as serious as it is unpleasant.  But since you do not and cannot quote a single, let alone repeated, dishonest phrase in my article I suggest you withdraw the libel and apologise. 

You also libelously impugn my motives without a scrap of evidence.   Sadly it has become standard practice for climate alarmists to accuse their opponents of being in the pay of ‘Big Oil’ while overlooking the financial interests of those who draw their salaries from ‘Big Green’.   Alas, I have no financial interest in shale gas development  – except as a taxpayer keen to see a new source of revenue which is why I argue that “tax breaks for shale proposed in the budget look unnecessary: why give concessions to Big Oil as well as Big Green?”  This is unlikely to endear me to the petroleum industry my sole interest in which – apart from a decade or two as an energy analyst – is in the conventional sector in Central Asia.  Another apology is due.

In thirty years in parliament I have never accused my opponents of lying however mistaken and misguided I may have thought them to be; and, I am pleased to say that they in turn have never accused me of dishonesty.   But I have observed that those who do accuse their critics of dishonesty are invariably those who are most economical with the truth.

Best regards


Peter Lilley


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Reader Comments (59)

but will he sue?

May 25, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused


May 25, 2013 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilW

Over to you blue leader ... er ... green leader.

May 25, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Ouch! That going to leave a mark!

May 25, 2013 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

This is the second response we've seen from parliamentarians to scientists telling said scientists that they are lying (Lawson to Nurse being the other). I know from personal experience that contrary to the public perception scientists are as venal and self-serving as the rest of the human race, but they do seem to be emotionally immature when it comes to responding people with different views, certainly more immature thant ordinary folk. I am guessing that a life in academia has so inurred some people from the reactions of the real world that they believe they can get away with openly lying like bad-tempered adolescents

May 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

grab a napkin homey, you just got served.

May 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Peter Lilley has written exactly what needs to be written in answer to this conceited ass. At least we have one MP who is willing to speak his mind on the subject.

May 25, 2013 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Hear, hear to the above comments. Anderson makes a good living from climate alarmism; he is another academic who can see his well-rewarded lifestyle ending and so has been ramping up the alarmism.

May 25, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

...."you are the Rosencrantz of my article, not the Hamlet"
I can't wait to use that next time on the wife.

May 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Uh oh, I feel the accusations of Big Shakespeare coming on!

May 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Very well said Peter Lilly.

May 25, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Bravo to Mr Lilley.

That has to be the best MP's letter I've ever read.

May 25, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

A very reasonable and informative response by Lilley. He has clarified the tussle admirably.

Anderson is a like a featherweight trying to start a fight with a heavyweight. The parallel with the recent Allen and Ridley exchange is obvious.

When and where, and why not yet, will the alarmists find someone of more substance and character to push their woeful case? Is it perhaps something to do with the case itself, and the kind of personality for whom scaremongering is attractive?

May 25, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Good to see the PM appointing someone who really knows her stuff.
Tara Singh from Malvern Girls College has been trained by that comedy duo Zac Goldsmith and John Selwyn Gummer and was up until recently a lobbyist with British Gas.
I'm sure she's much more knowledgeable than that Peter Lilley who might tell Cameron what he doesn't want to hear.
Ever wondered why we don't have an energy policy ?

May 25, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Er........excuse me, professor, it's your move sir.......

Read this wonderful reposte, three times.

May 25, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

@ John Shade

as I think the Gavin Schmidt/Roy Spencer TV "debate" showed, the best advocates that the alarmists can put forward are not even a match for the average, non-scientifically qualified, blog contributor.

May 25, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

Accusing your opponent of having a financial motive as a way to end a tricky argument you are losing needs to have a snappy name like Godwins Law.

How about:

Anderson's Law: the curtailing of a scientific or economic argument which you are losing by alluding that your opponent is financially compromised and thus his argument is not sound. A species of Argumentum Ad Hominem.

May 25, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Well done Peter Lilley.
It needs a wide audience.

May 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterG. Watkins

DECC = green lobbyists! "Says Number 10 advisor!" TREMENDOUS! Tell it how it is Peter!

May 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered Commentertherealstephen

Good job they outlawed duelling. At least Anderson comes out with no blood loss. I can imagine the level of his humiliation. Worse than the wife saying, "Was that it?"

May 25, 2013 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

A perfectly reasonable, reply, redolent of the conciliatory approach of the practiced politician. How could Prof. Anderson take exception to any of that?

May 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man


When CAGW Activists step out of their comfort zone... well actually it is probably best they do not.

Trouble is, it is shrinking by the minute.

May 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I like the fact that Lilley includes DECC in a list of green lobbyists.

May 25, 2013 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterScooper's

A sublime take-down, packed with punchlines and as so often in this debate, it (scepticism) appears to have facts and reason on its side. DECC & CCC also correctly called out as alarmist.

Expect squeals of defiiance shortly...

May 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

We need to talk about Kevin.

Read a previous post about how he walked travelled by train to Sicily instead of staying at home flying to Sicily. He really does seem to be clever-stoopid - stuck on the finer details of the wrong picture. But at the end of his agonising is this odd paragraph as an afterthought:

Is it really surprising that the hoi polloi are indifferent to our pronouncements and politicians pay only lip service to our analyses, when those of us working on climate change exhibit no desire to forego our own high-carbon lifestyles?

It's a momentary glimpse of self-awareness that is usually so lacking among the "climate-concerned-community".

I think Kevin needs to get out more. Out of the academic bubble. Away from the weirdoes at the guardian. Maybe he could get a pet?

May 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

The name and meaning of "Big Green" needs to be disseminated widely.

May 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterColinD

Well said Mr Lilley. If you've got it burn it, get cheap energy.

May 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Excellent response and thoroughly deserved.
Well done Peter Lilley, one of the few MPs I can actually have respect for.

May 25, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Great stuff from Peter Lilley - already a hero of mine for being one of only three MPs that voted against Ed Miliband's egregious and suicidal (for the UK) 2008 Climate Change Act - 463 sheeple voted 'for'.

I can't think of a better man to lead the Tory party, or better still, defect to UKIP!

May 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

John Shade,

yes it does come over a bit Billy Elliot v Mike Tyson doesn't it.

Why do they do it? Is their judgement really that bad (rhetorical)? This stuff is a politician's stock in trade and as they are showing they're very good at it.

Oh and you can add Nurse v Lawson to your list.

It's about flipping time the alarmists were properly challenged by influential people. Now can someone take Slingo to task in similar fashion about the Met Office's abject performance.

May 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonW

Professor Anderson made a specific request, on this Blog, for me to provide him with papers on
"This is not my area so given you've read the relevant papers any summaries reflecting the breadth of views for different ppmv ranges and rates of change would be appreciated."
Thanks Kevin

I did and was ignored. Speaks volumes for his methods of scientific enquiry.
Full details below.

Hi Don,

I don't think there is much/any disagreement with the concept of CO2 fertilisation - certainly I was aware of it being considered and commonly factored in to analysis many years back. However, as with most things it's a matter of scale (level and rate of change). What is your reading of the ppmv level of a high CO2 world? - and also what's your understanding of the impacts on ocean ecosystems where presumably acidification may offset benefits to a degree (or even land ecosystems away from impacts on specific species). This is not my area so given you've read the relevant papers any summaries reflecting the breadth of views for different ppmv ranges and rates of change would be appreciated.



May 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

A great and measured response.
I do not expect a reply.

May 25, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

Er.... pot.... kettle... black...
How many times do the 'greenies' have to accuse us 'sceptics' of being in the pay of 'Big Oil' when in reality it is far more likely that it is they who are in the vociferous pay of 'Big Green'..?
Don't know about the rest of you out there, but I personally do not work for, or have shares in any energy company; pay full price for my petrol; and get no concessions whatsoever in the agreement for my household energy.
Excellent letter...

May 25, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Is this the same Professor Anderson who said that "gravity will remain roughly the same"?

Fings ain't wot they used ta be.

May 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Velvet glove, iron fist.

Splendid riposte!

Again the Realists, invariably and at every juncture win the war of words - alarmists bested in science and slapped down in eloquent but whetted diatribe, in words and no doubt we could do Beaux art - if yer like.

I salute you - the Rt. Honourable. Mr. Peter Lilley, damn it all Peter we - the British people are in such desperate need of men of your intellect, integrity and straight talking in the cabinet of the executive. Fat chance of that - your clear logic, unbending questioning of the green agenda sends shivers down the spineless Oxford-Eton one - shame on him for his denial - for it denies the whole nation of a great talent.

Well said indeed.

May 25, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

When I debated Kevin Anderson last year, the thing I said that most annoyed him was that we agreed: he was dead right in arguing that only by completely dismantling modern consumer society could we in practice achieve the sort of emissions reductions necessary to be sure of no temperature increases. However, I thought that dismantling consumer society so people no longer had enough heat, light or transported goods would do more humanitarian harm than the problem it was designed to address. Lillley echoes this in his outstanding letter. It's time these bullies were stood up to in this way.

May 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

*[My opinion of MPs has been on the slide since B-liar took office. His obvious desire to be a “war leader"] tipped the slope even more, and then the expenses (i.e. blatant theft) scandal put it into free-fall, from which I did have doubts it could ever recover. However, step forward, Peter Lilley; you have now made me realise that there are MPs who like to keep a check on the real world, take the time and effort to get information other than through their pet “advisors”, so forming a more accurate idea of what is going on, and are not afraid to voice opinions which might be in direct contradiction of their beloved leader.

There are times when it is soooo delicious to see someone getting poked in the eye.
* [edited as per request below. BH]

May 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Anderson probably now knows that venturing out of the scientist's demesne should come with a government health-warning, and Peter Lilley also has some Physics education on his CV.

Whatever else they may be, politicians are rarely stupid.

There is at least one vote for Lilley if he ever wishes to move to a constituency further North.

May 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Dagnamit - where is the edit button?!

Please preface the above with "My opinion of MPs has been on the slide since B-liar took office. His obvious desire to be a “war leader” ..."

May 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

michael hart:

Sorry, Michael - he's my MP. We're proud of him and have no intention of letting him go elsewhere.

May 25, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I like the reference, and for those who may find the Shakespeare to be too quaint and obscure in it's language (and yet there is a delight in the florid prose), I can recommend the play by Tom Stoppard, and this is also made into a feature film, by the same hand, and direction.

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead", is an absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy by Tom Stoppard, first staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966. The play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The film, like the play, focuses on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and their actions (or lack thereof) within the play of Hamlet. The film begins as they travel on horseback to Elsinore, contemplating fate, memory and language. Rosencrantz finds and continually flips a coin which always comes up heads, causing Guildenstern to conclude that something is wrong with reality. I won't add any further "spoiler", but the title though is a bit of a giveaway.

Starring :
Tim Roth as Rosencrantz
Gary Oldman as Guildenstern
Richard Dreyfuss as the leading player
Ian Richardson as Polonius
Iain Glen as Hamlet

imdb dot com/title/tt0100519/
Now available on DVD & BlueRay

Low resolution stream available at VEOH online now.
click name "Stoppard's View" above to see link page.

May 25, 2013 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterStoppard's View

Oh what an absolutely wonderful letter, to be re-read, I think, in darker moments for pure enjoyment

May 25, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMary Young

Why thank you, your Bishness...

Apols for any delay in acknowledgement, but my present connection is sporadic and slow.

May 25, 2013 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Matt Ridley: "we agreed: he was dead right in arguing that only by completely dismantling modern consumer society could we in practice achieve the sort of emissions reductions necessary to be sure of no temperature increases."

I disagree; I think it could be done, but not that it should be done.
If all existing taxes were eliminated and replaced (revenue neutral) with a no-loopholes carbon tax worldwide (might require war with China) and restrictions on free markets and nuclear power eliminated, then market forces would probably reduce carbon emissions enough for atmospheric CO2 levels to stabilize in 10 to 20 years. Modern consumer society would look a little different and might be somewhat poorer, but still exist.

May 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Reynolds

Well done, Peter Lilley. Well done Andrew Montford for giving Peter Lilley airtime.

May 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered Commentermariwarcwm

@Matt Ridley

Will you be responding to the several letters which have appeared in The Times in the last few days ?

May 25, 2013 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil

Truely the Green Taliban - diehard fundamentalists - "the end justifies the means" - no matter how immoral they behave in supposedly saving the planet.

May 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton


May 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

Thzt's gonna leave a mark.

May 25, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

May 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Steve Reynolds pontificated ....

"for atmospheric CO2 levels to stabilize in 10 to 20 years"
- This is utter nonsense, and presupposes that there is some "stable" value for CO2.

"Modern consumer society would look a little different and might be somewhat poorer, but still exist."
- Dream on

"nuclear power eliminated" & "war with China"
- Now you really are on some other plane of existence

May 25, 2013 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterNO CANDU ?

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