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« Walport the soothsayer | Main | The Unprofessional Panel on Climate Change »

Yeo makes the big time

Gallery Guido has taken it upon himself to cover the Energy and Climate Change Committee hearings and, in typically astute fashion gets the members of the panel about right:

Suffice it to say that John Robertson’s questioning would have been a credit to a clever dugong. Albert Owen nearly grasped the idea that that a Greenpeace activist in charge of an IPCC Chapter might lack objectivity. And Tim Yeo’s chairing was as good as a golf club captain in a Saturday night lock-in.

And the exchange between Lindzen and Yeo about the pause comes in for special mention:

It dawns on Lindzen the chairman has special needs. He explains how a 16-year smoothing average means one thing, how a pause and plateau means another.

The lasting impression seems to have been that most of the committee members are not up to the job:

These particular MPs are simply not up to it. Climate enthusiasts will be embarrassed by them, and sceptics contemptuous. They are treasured, however, by sketch writers.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (53)

A fantastic sketch and very important, given the coverage Guido gets.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

I couldn't agree more with Guido about those members of the CCC. Amazing incompetence!

However, it will give Josh plenty of food for his sketches!

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Great sketch, as are all Simon Carr's contributions to Guido. It's just a pity that the unmoderated comments on that site (many of them very funny) are often just a little OTT for my more sensitive friends and relations.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob MacLean


Jan 30, 2014 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Perhaps members of Yeo's constituency party, who will be voting shortly on whether to drop him as candidate, should be made aware of what an idiot he appears on this.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

"very uncertain consequences for the environment" (Lindzen)

Or, as one of the commenters observed, we never had rain like this before the windmills went up.. :-)

Loved the 'Paleo-Labour' remark, too!

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Albert Owen - I thought was a particularly toxic "progressive" - essentially telling Donna that "everybody's opinion is valid" - the man would put Dracula in charge of the Blood Transfusion Service.

Dudongs everywhere will be outraged - Robertson seemed like a shoo-in for a Rab C. Nesbit bit part - he'd no doubt look quite fetching with a string vest and bandana.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM | Registered Commentertomo

"Yeo: Do you go further and say we shouldn’t do anything about it?

Lindzen: I’m saying that not only we don’t know what to do about it but that almost everything proposed would have very certain consequences for people – and very uncertain consequences for the environment . . . It is clear that there is no policy that is better than doing nothing.”" [My bold]

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

It dawns on Lindzen the chairman has special needs. He explains how a 16-year smoothing average means one thing, how a pause and plateau means another.

Spot on there, I didn't see it all but I saw that bit. Yeo was practically jumping up and down and yelling and Lindzen seem utterly bemused. I'm guessing Yeo is hoping for a friendly write up by some dim enviro to make the exchange look good in print but it looked bad on TV.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I am afraid this frightens me. It exposes very effectively that Yeo and crowd are being deliberately obfusticating for their own ends, or are incredibly unintelligent. Who is paying them?

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Churchill

just because they have learnt to tie their own shoe laces doesn't mean they don't still need adult supervision

that's why god gave us Lindzen

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterdolphinlegs

Guido has got the aerosol issue the wrong way round. Its effect is smaller than previously thought so "large warming offset by large aerosol cooling" has had to become "small warming offset by small cooling".

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:17 PM | Registered Commentertranwell

The Yeo vote is due to be announced on Monday. I imagine - it being a postal vote - that a) most of the votes have already been cast, and b) there will be accusations that the vote was run like an election in a banana republic if Yeo loses, as seems likely.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

You would think if you were on a climate change commitee responsible for far-reaching policy decisions that you should at least attempt to read the whole of the 2000-page IPCC report, not just the 31 page cheat sheet.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

How long is the 'ever' in 'the warmest decade ever'? Since the Earth was hit by the big whatsitsname that resulted in the Moon? Since the geological record began? Since air temperatures were higher in a previous warm period? Since some favored instrumental record was left to the mercy of climate scientists?

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

JamesG -
"You would think if you were on a climate change commitee responsible for far-reaching policy decisions that you should at least attempt to read the whole of the 2000-page IPCC report, not just the 31 page cheat sheet."
I think that's unreasonable for a non-scientist. Heck, even I haven't read all of it yet, and may well not read it completely. That's what the summary is for. One could have wished for more nuance in the SPM, but I suspect that (as with many things) the reader's preconceptions strongly affect how it's read, and more acknowledgment of uncertainty or level of understanding would not be taken in anyway.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

I've put the complete part 2 of the HOC CCC from yesterday online here

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

That would be a reasonable stance if the SPM was simply that — a 31-page summary of the 2000-page report.
It isn't. It's what the IPCC wants the policymakers to hear and all the world and his wife — scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians themselves — get to have an input.
If all Yeo reads is the SPM then he is, to a great extent, going to hear what he wants to hear. Politicians don't like doubts when they read reports; they don't like ifs, ands, and maybes. They want unequivocal advice for positive action.
The SPM gives them that; the full panoply of AR5 doesn't.

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I've put the complete part 2 of the HOC CCC Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change from yesterday online here
Jan 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

Fixed it for you. They are not the same thing.

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Another point that Yeo came out with, he used the word 'ever' when he should have said 'on record' when he said it was the warmest decade. Are we sure he knows that it has been warmer before and in recent terms, not millions of years ago. I think we overestimate what these people know.

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


The other issue with the SPM is that it is released BEFORE the final versions of the chapters - which are then changed so that they fit what the politicians have said in the SPM. If there was nothing else, this fact alone completely discredits the IPCC as a scientific process.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

I am not very informed about politics, but I think Guido is widely read by those who are. If so this is very encouraging to see such penetration into the goings-on and issues being addressed by this committee. More of this and the Yeos and Debens and Sterns and the whole clamjamfry of the climate academics and institutes and centres dedicated to milking the climate/CO2 scare regardless of its lack of substance as an hypothesis or as an aid to improving skill in climate forecasts for planning purposes, are in for a lot more ridicule and contumely.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

@Mike Jackson
"Fixed it for you. They are not the same thing."

Thanks, but the C(limate) C(hange) C(ommittee) acronym was deliberate...

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

MJ will ConECC do?

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Rob and Mike Jackson -
I agree with the criticisms of the SPM, and the entire process, which Donna LaFramboise put so well at the hearing.
And I would be quite pleased if the policy-makers actually understood enough of the science to understand the limitations of our knowledge, and why it may well be that "no action" is the most reasonable policy. But that's in an ideal world. Given what's out there, I can't fault a policy-maker for reading only the SPM. I think it a credit to the Committee that they invited some critics of the report rather than take it as gospel, although clearly some were not interested in listening with an open mind.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

John Shade,


Thank you for introducing me to that word.

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Jabba the Cat / NeilC
The meeting that was held yesterday was the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change which like the equivalent Health, Foreign Affairs, Public Accounts, Treasury, etc Select Committees has some sort of oversight of the relevant Department.
To call it the CCC is not correct; that is the abbreviation for the Climate Change Committee which is an advisory committee set up under the Climate Change Act to advise the government. Different function; different people; different chairman; different thing!
I can't fathom why you would deliberately call one thing by the name of the other.
I would have thought ConECC would do if you're looking for an abbreviation; ComECC might be better. Or SelECC. Since we rightly hold climate science to maintaining high standards of accuracy it doesn't make a lot of sense if we can't maintain high standards ourselves.

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:55 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Clamjamfry is Rabbie Burrrens, isn't it?

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

You're right enough.
I would be a bit more confident if the SPM wasn't a work of art created by the vested interests. At least the IPCC does appear to be making some attempt at objectivity even if a certain bias shows through anyway. Those who shout loudest at the SPM meetings have no qualms.
I don't think Yeo can excuse himself. He is the chairman of that committee and while I don't expect him to read all 2000 pages when some aspect of the science is disputed by a witness I would at least expect a competent chairman to dig a bit deeper.
Sorry, I just realised I used the word 'competent'. As you were!

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:01 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

On behalf of Australian dugongs, I strongly object to the comparison with Robertson.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Is Yeo really that stupid?

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderlandsteve

'It dawns on Lindzen the chairman has special needs.'

Utter gem!

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

'It dawns on Lindzen the chairman has special needs."

Like regular injections of cash?

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

In Britain these days, almost all of popular society bows to the inescapable and vacuous cult of the celebrity and they hang on their every word - for the 'talking head' is deemed to be the instant expert' - whether he or she knows bu88er all or not. Celebrity culture in Britain, is ubiquitous as the north sea is cloudy and shallow.

All too sad to say, that, it's rare to come across a man who is truly at the top of his subject, a bloke who really can say, "I know what I am talking about".

Professor Lindzen, is just one of a few people [in the world] who can say that he knows of what he utters.

But that wasn't good enough for Yeo. Unbelievably, Yeo had to quibble and argue - with a man who studied in physics and applied mathematics and gained a doctorate in atmospheric physics*, thus - a dialogue betwixt man who knows nothing of what he spiels against a man who has forgotten more than Yeo is ever likely to understand.

Incredible but it happened.

In the end - what would convince Yeo - that he is wrong?

Doctorate thesis: "Radiative and photochemical processes in strato- and mesospheric dynamics".

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Leopard, "friendly write-up by some dim enviro..."
See Bob Ward's latest fumings, or Richard Telford's blog.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

@ 1:27:00

It is amazing to watch Lindzen's clear and concise point be utterly missed.

The fact that it is countered with "we're not going to agree on that" shows just how incapable the "policy makers" are at following a rational argument.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

Professor Lindzen tutors Yeo:

Jan 31, 2014 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Wow, I thought we had dumb politicians in the US.

Jan 31, 2014 at 2:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Never seen or heard Yeo before, never want to again, what an arrogant conceited dumb pillock he is.

Jan 31, 2014 at 4:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

The gratuitous rudeness by the ignorant and ill-informed Yeo and Robertson towards Donna and Lindzen [why does that remind me of reindeer?] who after all had taken the time and trouble to come over here to give evidence, was a disgrace and compared most unfavourably with the obsequious absence of such insulting behaviour towards enquiry panels which have got their parliamentary buddies giving evidence. Robertson's comments about everyone using aersols beggared belief, coming from someone who presumably was supposed to have a duty to have at least a passing interest in. the subject. the excuse of "I'm a plain man" does not wash from someone who is an MP.

As someone said earlier, I really, really hope Yeo's (and Robertson's) constituency members were watching this.

Jan 31, 2014 at 7:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:47 PM | HaroldW

I think it a credit to the Committee that they invited some critics of the report rather than take it as gospel, although clearly some were not interested in listening with an open mind.


Sorry Harold but I can't agree ... why invite leading sceptics and then proceed to insult them with childish behavior ? We're these sorry excuses for representatives of the British people trying to emulate US political inquiries according to Hollywood portrayals ? In which case the succeeded only in making complete asses of themselves.

No, the sole purpose of this farce was to denigrate the sceptical representatives ... they didn't come with an open mind.

Jan 31, 2014 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

You are exactly right. I can't think of the exact quotation but it is something along the lines of only the ignorant think they know everything. That being the case why wouldn't they invite some experts to show how little those experts know? The inevitable result is that only the ignorant come out badly, but are still unaware of their ignorance.

Jan 31, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

Messenger: "...Donna and Lindzen [why does that remind me of reindeer?]..."

Now you've done it! I won't ever be able to hear those two names without that thought invading my consciousness. It also begs raises the question: who would make the other reindeer?

7.Donner - Donna
8.Blitz-en - Lindzen
9.Rudolph - Red-nosed Yeo?

Of course, I always thought there is a tenth: 'Olaf' (I will explain if pressed) :-)

Jan 31, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I've just completed a blog post on the aspect of the hearings that I found most depressing: that politicians (and so many others) clearly think that ignorance of science doesn't matter:

Jan 31, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Lindzen's comments on abilities of academics I think is a more important than people realise. Until the mid 60s , those people going up to read maths,physics , chemistry at universities such as Cambridge, Imperial Manchester, MIT, Harvard, Yale etc, etc were very bright and received very rigorous training . The expansion of universities post mid 60s reduced the ability of the lowest and as a consequence reduced the average ability. The expansion of subjects such as environmental science and geography attracted those who were poor at maths, physics and chemistry ( especially physical chemistry). To understand the physics of climate requires a very good understanding of fluid dynamics and complex non- linear maths. To understand the statistics relevant to climate requires the sort of mathematical skills only found amongst those undertaking work in the medical and mining world.

If we look at the standards required to win scholarships in maths and physics to Cambridge or Imperial up to the mid 1980s and one compares the standards over the last 10 years , then there has been a decline . The very high standards achieved by people taking the Cambridge Part III Tripos in Maths or similar Imperial Masters in the 1980s compared to today plus combined with the decline in numbers taking maths and physics degree, would I suggest mean there are fewer highly numerate people around who understand climate.

Also the decline in manufacturing numbers of highly numerate armed forces officers , would I suggest mean that the average numeracy of the middle middle and upper middle classes has declined . I would suggest that a retired engineering officer, say Royal Engineers, trained at Woolwich and educated at Cambridge , which would have been fairly common 50 years ago would make an excellent member of the H of Commons for assessing scientific and engineering issues. But alas they no longer exist.

Freeman Dyson, a brilliant Cambridge mathematician has stated that we understand fluid dynamics but we do not understand nearly so well the mathematics of clouds. Only the very best mathematicians and physicists actually understand the limits of our knowledge.

The vast increase in numbers of environmental scientists with poor understanding of maths, physics and chemistry all seeking research money may be a major reason for the AGW scare.

Jan 31, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

An interesting article in Der Speigel this morning demonstrates that the stupidity and cupidity of those with a greenish tinge extends into the business activities of "renewable" energy generation.

Jan 31, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBraqueish

Interesting article, Braqueish. This is how a lot of people will wake up to the scams, by losing money themselves or knowing people who do.

Jan 31, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Tim Yeo's deselction ballot is supposed to be coming Monday.

Fingers crossed, it couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Jan 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Having listened to the whole hearing, I think you Brits are blessed with a far more effective legislative hearings than the US. On this side of the Atlantic, there would be 2-4 times as many questioners, each with a rigidly enforced period of about 5 minutes to question witnesses - usually after wasting half of their time making their political position known before asking questions. (They aren't there to learn anything from the witnesses; they are simply looking for allies who agree with their position.) Many questioners simply regurgitate a series of standard talking point and questions that they have been provided by their party. The most annoying ones walk in late, ask questions that have already been answered, and walk out. By the time the junior members (the ones who may actually be looking for real information) get their turn, most of the members have already left. When asked an awkward question, the witness can usually provide unresponsive answers until the questioners time is up. Rarely does anyone get to a definitive answer about anything.

Jan 31, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Amusing take by Orlowski in the Register:

Jan 31, 2014 at 5:57 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

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