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« The Sun says | Main | The great cat catastrophe »

Paterson at the GWPF

I was away from my desk yesterday, as I headed south for Owen Paterson's GWPF lecture (full text here). The cat was already out of the bag as far as what was going to be said, but it was an interesting trip nevertheless, with plenty of networking opportunities and the chance to renew some old acquaintances.

I was intrigued to learn that Brendan Montague was lurking outside the venue beforehand, taking photographs of those who were attending and handing out leaflets. I arrived so early that I didn't see this myself, but it did mean that everyone had an inkling of what Paterson was talking about when he referred to "bullying" by the green blob.

There were plenty of journalists in attendance and David Shukman did a piece on the BBC 10pm news (from 14:30 here, but only today).  Needless to say, Twitter was on fire. The lecture therefore gets more play in the papers today (Telegraph, Mail) and I gather that Paterson was also on the Today programme this morning (here, but not available yet at time of writing).[Update: I've uploaded excerpts from Today below - there's an interview with Lord Turner followed by Paterson]

So while the greens are trying to portray Paterson's words as a last gasp, the fact that the lecture has enjoyed sustained media attention for several days suggests quite the opposite. It will be interesting to see where we go from here.




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Reader Comments (51)

'" i would like to thank the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to deliver this lecture".
Brilliantly delivered, even if it was, as alleged, written by his brother-in-law Matt Ridley.

Oct 16, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

in the Today headlines at 06:00 there was a distinctive note of scorn when the item about this was read – particularly where Owen has suggested dumping the Climate Change Act. (Inciidentally, ‘dumping’ became ‘cancelling’, which became ‘suspending’ at various times throughout the programme).

Adair Turner shouted down Humphrys at every opportunity, and told a lot of porkies about the success of wind and solar, particularly in Denmark and Germany. Now, as I recall, the wind farms in Denmark have become recognised, largely, as failures, and Germany is building new coal-fired stations. He also said that renewables would become much cheaper. Really?

We were then informed that they would be interviewing Owen Paterson at “ten to eight”. In fact, they wheeled him in much earlier. I wonder if that was deliberate?

Then we eventually heard Paterson being hammered and interrupted the whole time. I have to say, I was disappointed with his performance – he seems very weak, and still thinks that “emissions” of CO2 cause “warming”, and that we should “decarbonise” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). No mention of the 18 years of non-warming (yet that was mentioned in the headlines), and nothing on the faulty, over-exaggerated “science” of a changing climate (which was also mentioned in the headlines).

Altogether disappointing, I think – no doubt everyone in the Today studios were giving each other high-fives.

Although believing for some time that Paterson might be an asset to UKIP should he jump ship, I now have my doubts, and hope he stays put. What a wimp.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

The green blob seems to be putting it around that Cameron sacked Paterson due to incompetence: not the fact that the yellow blob in coalition couldn't tolerate anyone disagreeing with their energy and climate change secretary. I sincerely hope that Owen Paterson will continue to talk sense, and attract the, not insignificant, numbers of sceptical back benchers, from both sides of the House.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I heard most of Pattersons bit and it didn't seem to me to be as weak as Old Goat suggests. I thought he fought his corner quite well. I suspect he was making an effort to be measured, reasonable; if so, he did it pretty well and the interviewer wasn't able to make him appear an idiot/reactionary/Big Oil stooge etc.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

@Old Goat, yep largely agree ..I made some comments over on Unthreaded earlier
- He was certainly no Bob Carter (thats why Carter is banned by BBCEco-warriors) , but independent listeners should have got the toxic atmosphere & agressive unfair stance of Michelle Husseins questioning and realised that the Alarmists are running scared ..the talking was mostly her, but he did get a few points in and reinforced the silent majorities suspicions that Climate panic has been overhyped and that activists and renewable corps cannot be trusted.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The real problem is that the green blob has infected (infested) virtually everywhere, with its insanities.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Armies of green blobs have rallied together to respond to Paterson - I've put a list of some of the links here.
RTCC says that
"The event was door-stepped by a photographer from DeSmogBlog, an activist website set up to expose the individuals bankrolling climate change sceptics."
But then adds
"Hardcore sceptics themselves handed out leaflets, looking very far from anyone being funded by a millionaire."
Does anyone know who was handing out leaflets?

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paterson wants bureaucrats to control my fridge. There's some way to go, I'm afraid.

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

On the Journalism at Brunel website Paul Lashmar will not have been amused by Guirme's comment:

"Given that we are seeing record amounts of sea ice in Antartica, increasing amounts of sea ice in the Arctic, we have had no planetary warming for over 18 years and several recent scientific studies are showing lower climate sensitivity to CO2 then it would be completely unsatisfactory of the BBC not to be questioning some of the wilder claims of the global warming fraternity. Sadly this is an area in which the BBC have often seemed to lack journalistic instincts and have failed to be robust in their questioning of those who are somewhat over zealous in their global warming views. It is entirely appropriate that Owen Paterson’s views, reflecting those of very many UK citizens, should be featured."

Oct 16, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

To be charitable to him, Owen Patterson pulled so many punches this morning on the Today Programme that he must still believe he has a future in the Conservative Party.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

I have not heard the media interviews, merely read the speech, the text of which is helpfully provided by the Spectator Coffee House blogs web site. I think he makes a well argued and unanswerable case for the suspension of the Climate Change Act and the adoption of new energy strategies for the UK. I am all in favour of the development and use of UK shale gas deposits, but do not know enough about his other ideas on CHP and small scale nuclear power to offer an opinion. I remain very wary of letting government control household energy consumption through smart meters or their equivalent, though he claims this could lead to significant energy savings. I smiled at his comment that under such a regime, owners of electric cars might be surprised to discover, in the morning, that their batteries had been drained of power overnight to supplement the national grid.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Neil McEvoy
Why would this be a problem? If you read his speech you can work out for yourself the potential savings that demand management (properly applied and that is the crunch of course) could be considerable both in terms of energy saving which is a benefit in and of itself and in terms of savings to the consumer.
With 'properly applied' taken as read the chances are that no-one would ever know whether the fridge was off because of its "natural" cycle or because of the demand management though, being as suspicious of "them" as the next man, I sympathise.
But I do believe we need to make use of technology (as we always have done) to improve our general standard of life and I believe that better control of energy use if we have the facility to do that is a reasonable aim.
'Properly applied' is the sticker of course! Fridges are one thing; equipment that relies on a continuous power supply for accurate operation is another altogether.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Lashmar's comments are supremely, wonderfully incoherent. I almost wonder if they are not an elaborate parody.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

If they stick more electronics into fridges and the like I suspect we'll see more domestic fires and earlier arrival of fridges etc into landfill (whatever). No thought there at all....just need to make them simpler. You don't short cycle fridge/freezers, or you do at peril to your wallet.

Smart meters on the way don't forget.

Isn't it the case that Denmark exports its non dispatchable wind power to Norway and everybody then pays much more on return...BBC won't have time for that.

I think mini nukes around the place will get us on Lucas trips forever...again. Might need to install them on military sites for security....a risk in itself most likely.

Turner...the type that makes your stomach turn.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Judging by the state of such once reasonably reliable sources of news as the Telegraph and the BBC, it would appear that young Mr Lashmar (I'd take a bet on his age) is proving very effective in his role as an educator of wannabe hacks.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

The price of the climate change act is beginning to drive energy bills higher while the poor and middle class are making wealthy land owners rich with leases for renewable energy. So the public is interested and angered by the former and the latter has them ready to grab pitchforks. Many working class jobs will soon be at risk as UK energy prices rise as the rest of the worlds falls. Temperatures aren't rising, global sea ice has returned to normal and extreme weather events are actually falling. If this winter is very cold and the lights start going out, green might have a lot of people seeing red.

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean

Paul Lashmar's "antipathy towards the ideal of free speech"

Academics only bother about free speech when they are criticised or challenged to produce evidence. Presumably public money pays for his activism like many academics!

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Bless the Beeb - shameless as ever.
As well as David Shuckman's mainly ad-hom attack, we had the Photoshopped black smoke/chimneys picture on the web site yesterday, and an "energy expert" called Richard Black telling us that Patterson was wrong.
It's all a bit like some science fiction story about a dystopian future where the green blob has taken over the world - oh, wait...

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Bless the Beeb - shameless as ever.
As well as David Shuckman's mainly ad-hom attack, we had the Photoshopped black smoke/chimneys picture on the web site yesterday, and an "energy expert" called Richard Black telling us that Patterson was wrong.
It's all a bit like some science fiction story about a dystopian future where the green blob has taken over the world - oh, wait...

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Once again I make the point that,unfortunately or not, the very fact that it was reported at all was a victory of sorts. How Shukman as an apparent expert on everything can get away with a report which is really an ad hominem attack is beyond me. However,Paterson aka Matt Ridley's arguments are so positive that even the BBC cannot rubbish them without losing their samite of impartiality. I'm afraid that the future of the UK as an industrialised country lies in the balance, and so long as the voice of reason is equated with a political stance then little is likely to change. For those of us who remember the three day week and rolling blackouts, decisions are often forced by "events dear boy".

Oct 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

Sorry Bish - it seems that posting to this blog is a bit dystopian too - I think I tried to preview twice (timed out both times) then post once (timed out). Re-open page and see *four* identical posts!
Let's try just one "Create Post" and see what happens..
[Repeats now deleted. BH].

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

The mention on the BBC 10.00pm news started with a brief character assignation: totally irrelevant to climate change.
Floods and Badgers etc. The totally failed to put over his argument about the reliability of wind and solar. All in all a terrible piece of biased journalism typical of the BBC.

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Recently came across the fridge/freezer load balancing trial outline PR, intro below with link. It uses the mains frequency as mentioned by Mr Paterson therefore not needing the smart meters to operate. Includes requisite buzz words and claims. :)

"The cool way to cut CO2 - Europe's first smart fridges trial starts in UK -


A domestic fridge freezer that automatically switches on and off to save carbon could be set to make massive cuts in the UK's CO2 emissions as Europe's first residential trial of the technology starts.

The new 'smart fridges' respond to signals from the national grid and shut down for short periods when energy demand is at its highest, so reducing the output of power stations, without any effect on performance or the freshness of food.

If the trial proves successful, the technology has the potential to make sizeable reductions to the nation's carbon footprint. Government studies suggest that if every home in the UK was fitted with a smart fridge, CO2 emissions could be cut by two million tonnes each year.

Three hundred smart fridges will be delivered across the UK in the coming months with the first being delivered to residents of Sandwell in the West Midlands. This will be followed by further installations, with up to three thousand fridges set to be included in the trial over the next two years.

The smart fridges rollout is a joint project between npower; social landlord Sandwell Homes; the UK's leading white goods company, Indesit Company, and smart grid technology developer, RLtec under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), a Government directive which obliges energy companies to help homeowners save energy and carbon."

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

The Telegraph concentrates on Pattersons blaming Greenpeace & others in the "Green Blob", for opposing GM crops that could reduce the 6,000 people a day dying of vitamin A deficiency.
Greenpeace spokesman Lawrence Carter said

"When Owen Paterson talks about energy and climate, you can almost hear the nation's sigh of relief that he's no longer sitting anywhere near the control room," Mr Carter said.

"Blinded by ideology, he would happily ignore ninety-seven percent of climate scientists and scrap the UK's Climate Change Act, putting billions of pounds of clean energy investments and thousands of jobs at risk.

However, as John Cook of Skeptical Science admitted last month, the 97% is not all climate scientists and is about belief in the trivial AGW theory. Also, in response to Patterson saying that Greenpeace is ideological-motivated, Carter throws the response back. I have noticed the same strategy with "bias" and "cherry-picking" of data.

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The problem with Paterson's policy proposal is that it amounts to a novelty constructed to replace a novelty. No one of sense disputes Paterson's observation that the Green novelty currently embraced as government policy is leading the country to ruin... his answer could have been to demand a return to proven, traditional solutions - for which infrastructure exists or can cheaply and easily be replaced - not to see it as an opportunity to muscle onto the 'climate change' table his own alternative blue-sky ideas for a low-emission energy supply.

Some of Paterson's novel suggestions may well have value in the future - but to present them in response to the real needs the country now faces is show oneself as colluding in the problem - not positioning oneself as part of the answer.

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

Like a few here, I too listened to OP's interview with Mishap Hussein and was quite disappointed by his lack of 'fire in the belly' with some of his answers. I was horrified by his espousal of 'demand management', but impressed with his grasp of HoC procedure when he put MH in her place over how the CCA could easily be suspended (she claimed it was impossible) by just changing the 80℅ target to 0℅ - with a Ministerial order.
It was very annoying to hear the BBC news headlines continue to claim OP had wanted the CCA repealed when he kept repeating he wanted it suspended.

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Mishal Hussein - not Mishap! (Interesting mistype for Android spell check!)

Oct 16, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

The Lashmar article on the BrunelJournalism site which you link to ends with a “What do you think?”. There's one (pro-Paterson) comment so far, at 10.14am. My comment has been held in moderation since 10.31am. Has anyone else tried commenting?

Oct 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"a return to proven, traditional solutions"

One of which could be more employment. HMG is currently pretty exercised about this, having rather unexpectedly got the figure below 2m (with a bit of massaging, no doubt) and the suggestion that their energy policies might destroy any gains, by exporting what's left of our industry, might help them concentrate a bit more.

Oct 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The curious thing is that all Patersons suggestions were first proposed by the green lobby, including Greenpeace (in the case of CHP). This is the thing that strikes me most about the greenies; they never want rapprochement. Mostly they just want a reason to protest against capitalism and some just admit outright that they seek an end to economic growth!

Oct 16, 2014 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I caught the tail end of this/ a comment by John Humfries this morning, something like...

"Paterson accused Greenpeace of disrupting golden rice trials, which they deny. If you go to our homepage there's an article explaining what actually happened."

I was immediately struck how blatantly the BBC were acting as apologists for Greenpeace.

Oct 16, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

An excellent article by Paul Homewood

Oct 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

@Nial 2.52.30s Mishal Husein "Paterson said..Greenpeace have emphatically denied this ..there is a story on the BBC website that explains this incident" maybe this ie GreenActivists not exactly Greenpeace

"this action was carried out by different groups – which received some verbal support from Greenpeace in media statements, but clearly Greenpeace itself was not involved in the destruction." Mark Lynas GREAT original article

quoted in his story 3 hours ago
still do skeptics ever get any corrections from the BBC ? never mind within the hour

Oct 16, 2014 at 3:46 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Paterson's main points - We are going to miss our CO2 by miles & We are the only country with a binding target
Yet 99% of green commenters were strangely NOT bothered about these, but rather reacted with "Ban him, Paterson should not be allowed on air" ..then insinuated .."who funds him? etc."

"Did anybody listen to what Paterson actually said? He said that current energy policies and actions are going to miss the 2050 target by miles as well as putting £billions onto all our bills. The missing of the targets is what needs to be addressed."
- that was the 1 rational green comment I found when I just checked the Today Facebookpage

Oct 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@ Uncle Badger - Lashmar, judging by his Brunel website, bio is in his late 50s. Interestingly, (or not) his main academic preoccupation is with the intelligence services. A failed, wannabe spy perhaps?

Oct 16, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

@Mick J Oct 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM
Re smart-fridges ..4 years after that hype new press seems failure
a search of the Npower press releases shows
Historic villages part of first trial of ‘smart’ fridges
The cool way to cut CO2 - Europe’s first smart fridges trial starts in UK -
Fridges unite to save the planet
National Brand
Smart Fridges to save the planet!
(I checked the website is still functioning for other 2014 stories) you think the SMART-FRIDGE trial was successful ??
So will everyone who thinks who thinks tiny fridge power will magically smooth gigawatts of grid deficiency in the UK stop pretending unless they have some new evidence

Oct 16, 2014 at 4:01 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Adair Turner was created a life peer in September 2005 as Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, for "public service to the Nation". As Chairman of the UK "Independent" Committee on Climate Change before Gummer, he told the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on the 4th of February 2009 that: -,

"The core (of the UK Climate Act} is contract and converge. We cannot imagine a global deal which is both doable and fair which doesn't end up by mid-century with roughly equal rights per capita to emit and that is clearly said in the report. (The first CCC report, under his chairmanship). This is strong support for what Aubrey Meyer has been saying."

(Aubrey Meyer is the author, climate campaigner, composer and former member of the Green Party. who co-founded the Global Commons Institute in 1990. At the request of the IPCC in 1992, Meyer presented his perception of ‘The Unequal Use of the Global Commons’ to the Policy Working Group of the IPCC and gained support in the UN for his "Contract and Converge" idea).

On the 4th of March 2009, the House of Commons Energy Committee (ECCC) then told Lord Adair Turner that: -
"Your pragmatic support for Contraction and Convergence from the meeting with the EAC, is very welcome."

In 2006, he teamed up with Al Gore to launch the Carbon Disclosure Project -

Fully "green" he is a former WWF trustee, his wife was Chair of the Soil Association Council.

"From blue chips to the green dream Adair Turner, former CBI boss and now Britain's climate change tsar, tells Nick Mathiason why carbon reduction must begin at home"

"It is Turner who will now take charge of setting CO2 emission-reduction targets. His first priority is to establish whether the government's 60 per cent cut by 2050 is enough. He will also give clear indications as to what the country must achieve by 2020."

When Lord Deben took over the CCC job in July 2012, he said "I look forward to building upon the firm foundations that Adair Turner has laid. I am determined that the Committee on Climate Change will remain firmly independent, giving impartial, scientifically well-founded advice to the UK Government and devolved administrations.”

Secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey, welcomed the appointment by saying: "The Committee on Climate Change plays an absolutely critical role in advising the government on the direction and progress of its energy and climate change policies."

Oct 16, 2014 at 4:41 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

If Paterson is still sticking to his new-founded views on the CCA, when (if) he gets re-elected as MP for North Shropshire next May, I might be prepared to give him a metaphorical pat on the back. But I think it is all a backside-saving ruse to try to protect himself from the local opposition to 'green' projects in the County that started under his watch.

Oct 16, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Oct 16, 2014 at 4:01 PM | stewgreen
(I checked the website is still functioning for other 2014 stories) you think the SMART-FRIDGE trial was successful ??
So will everyone who thinks who thinks tiny fridge power will magically smooth gigawatts of grid deficiency in the UK stop pretending unless they have some new evidence

I provided the link for illustration purposes rather than a conclusion, as to my thinking, I have no direct knowledge but a google using "uk smart fridge trial" provides the following project report.

It claims that it is has value and results in a reduction in fuel burn.
Still looking at some of the detail.


Oct 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

One of the interesting (if unsurprising) things about the evening was his admission (in response to questions) that he had voted for the CCA 2008 and that he'd only really realised the size of the problem and particularly the uselessness of ruinable energy in the last few months (perhaps since he had had more 'leisure' time?) when he'd done some personal 'research' into the issue.
I have to say that, when I was working full time and was also a Unitary Authority councillor there were two specific issues for which I accepted 'received wisdom' whilst being concerned that the 'received wisdom' seemed 'counter-intuitive', shall we say. One issue was the way the EU works and the 'benefits' of membership. The other was the 'Settled Science of cAGW').
When I eventually made time, after falling on my sword in May 2003, I was amazed how weak the cases for the EU and for global warming actually were. It didn't actually take all that long but, when you are spinning a lot of plates, it is difficult. And I wasn't Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, or Secretary of State for the Environment.
So I can sympathise with Paterson and personally I gave him credit for at least being frank.
I suspect that a lot of MPs also haven't 'had time' to look at the evidence, other than the 'evidence' from the press, the beeb, the hand-picked activist greenie 'Scientific Advisors', Prince Chuckles and the all rest of them.
I fear that nothing will really change much until people shiver in the dark.

Oct 16, 2014 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

@MH cheers mate I'll leave it with you a quick glance the research was 2010-1012
1st guess is that if it was so great it would be all over the net by now

Oct 16, 2014 at 9:11 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I attended the Owen Patterson lecture last night as well. I have mixed feelings about it: it is very positive that a senior Tory has said publicly that the CO2 reduction targets in the Climate Change Act should be suspended and then the Act should be repealed. His arguments in support of this view are the most important ones: the cost of compliance with the Act is unaffordable, the methods being deployed to comply are ineffective and the fact that the UK is the only EU country to have legally binding CO2 reduction targets will achieve nothing in respect atmospheric CO2 concentration and put our economy at a competitive disadvantage.

But I felt that Mr. Patterson in some ways was typical of current senior Tory politicians: intelligent and articulate but able to advance contradictory arguments without, apparently, realizing the incoherence of what he is saying. He explicitly referred to the virtues of the “hidden hand” – Adam Smith’s metaphor for an economy where prices determine investment and consumption decisions, the Hayekian economy towards which Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson strove when they were in power. He explicitly criticized Governments trying to “pick winners”. But then he went on to propose price distorting Government subsidies of investment in a particular winning technology he wanted to advocate, thorium nuclear, Government intervention of an unspecified nature to promote modular nuclear and CHP. I have looked at CHP and it is rarely profitable because of the huge costs of heat distribution and the lack of economies of scale in small scale electricity production plants. It is only worth investing in when building a large volume of property to be heated in one place from scratch. If it were profitable, it would be more common.

He also proposed a weird Stalinist type rationing system for electricity consumption imposed by Government on fridges. Imagine that he had proposed dealing with excessive food consumption by Government imposed time locks on fridge doors to manage demand for food. What’s it got to do with Government?

Shouldn’t a Tory be advocating that the Government gets out of the way of electricity production by getting rid of price distorting subsidies and taxes and allowing investors to risk their money, succeed and fail, based on actual production costs and prices of electricity?

My second criticism of the speech, if valid, may explain what is behind the incoherence outlined above. Listening to Mr. Patterson reminded me of Divinity lessons at school where debate was allowed as long as it wasn’t debate about the existence of God. The only way critics of suicidal energy and environmental policies feel they can enter the debate is by saying that they do believe that atmospheric CO2 concentration is a driver of atmospheric temperature and that therefore there really is a social cost Government should price as an externality and we really should be reducing CO2 emissions, but that there are better ways to do it and that the Stern type cost/benefit estimates are too low. The GWPF itself, Nigel Lawson’s “Appeal to Reason”, Matt Ridley and the Bishop himself do the same – we have to be Lukewarmers to get a hearing. This view may be right but if, in fact, it is the case that CO2 emissions do not affect atmospheric temperature at all or materially, and there is no evidence that they do, none of Owen Patterson’s recommended policies are sensible.

I agree that currently, it is most likely that policies will be changed by Lukewarmers’ influence because they are beginning to get a hearing, but I wish it weren’t so. The religious zealots are being challenged by the religious moderates but the atheists are still personae non gratae. If the incentives to keep quiet were removed, I would love to see real scientific debate taking place about CO2 in the public and academic arenas, not just in the blogosphere.

David Hume’s amusing Section X, “On Miracles” in “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” lists the ways in which human beings lack complete reliability (Wikepedia summary):

- People are very prone to accept the unusual and incredible, which excite agreeable passions of surprise and wonder.
- Those with strong religious beliefs are often prepared to give evidence that they know is false, "with the best intentions in the world, for the sake of promoting so holy a cause".
- People are often too credulous when faced with such witnesses, whose apparent honesty and eloquence ….. may overcome normal scepticism.

He said that in 1748.

Oct 16, 2014 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuy Leech

Mr Paterson mentions the mistaken extinction of the Aldabran banded snail as if this were evidence that 'forecasts of effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated'.

However, the paper mistakenly claiming the extinction never did actually attribute this to AGW. The author wrote:

At present, the data from Aldabra are too limited to confirm that the climate change pattern is part of the drying trend of Southern Africa and not merely a local or short-term phenomenon.

This 'example' is therefore merely a strawman.

Oct 17, 2014 at 12:55 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard Betts@12:55

But then they held out a glimmer of "hope"

However, it is to be expected that the impacts of the changes reported here will be detected in more species in the future as rainfall patterns change.

Oct 17, 2014 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Not to mention that the "strawman" shows some eerie similarities to overblown claims in other areas of climate science, especially with regard to getting comments published, once the "peer-reviewed" shields are in place and the wagons get circled (to mix metaphors).

Oct 17, 2014 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Richard Betts
The "real" straw man (if that's not a contradiction in terms) lies in the phrase "the data ... are too limited to confirm that the climate change pattern is part of the drying trend ..."
It's a close cousin of the third-rate journalist's line, "There is no truth in the rumour that ..."
If there is no truth or the data are too limited to confirm, then STFU.
As John M points out, a chronic disease in the climate science community is the introducing of "climate change" into virtually every conceivably less than pleasant outcome to any event, usually then accompanied by the disclaimer that "no one event ..." but reinforced by "however, this is what we must expect ..."
It's dishonest and it's not scientific. It's purely a propaganda technique which may get applause from the sycophants in the community but is beginning to make everyone else feel mildly sick.

Oct 17, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Oct 17, 2014 at 12:55 AM | Richard Betts

However, the paper mistakenly claiming the extinction never did actually attribute this to AGW.

Using the link provided by His Grace to the Spectator page showing the text of OP's speech, OP mentions "climate change" eight times and "AGW" zero times.

"Climate Change Act" (4)

"The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment .... "

"I also note that the forecast effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated thus far."

"Despite all this, I remain open-minded to the possibility that climate change may one day turn dangerous."

"Among most of those who marched against climate change last month, ............"

It is apparent that OP made no reference to "AGW" in his speech and, as you point out, neither did the author of the paper; both refer to "climate change".

So, once again you stay up past your bed time, jump into the thread with both feet and get it wrong.

Oct 17, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Oct 17, 2014 at 12:55 AM | Richard Betts

Well, this is a slight improvement over your banging on this particular drum via twitter (which I had commented on over in Failure to Deny [Oct 17, 2014 at 9:50 AM]).

And I see that at least we now agree on Paterson's intro: 'forecasts of effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated' (even if you didn't paste in the full paragraph).

But, considering that:

a) The title of this paper is:

Short-term climate change and the extinction of the snail Rhachistia aldabrae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata)

and (setting aside the lack of any definition for "Short-term climate change")

b) The paper's abstract reads:

The only known population of the Aldabra banded snail Rhachistia aldabrae declined through the late twentieth century, leading to its extinction in the late 1990s. This occurred within a stable habitat and its extinction is attributable to decreasing rainfall on Aldabra atoll, associated with regional changes in rainfall patterns in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. It is proposed that the extinction of this species is a direct result of decreasing rainfall leading to increased mortality of juvenile snails. [emphasis added -hro]


c) As Brownedoff noted, above, neither Paterson nor this paper's author, Justin Gerlach, even mentions "AGW" (or even the word "anthropogenic" for that matter!)


d) While you now quote the following from Gerlach's "Conclusion":

At present, the data from Aldabra are too limited to confirm that the climate change pattern is part of the drying trend of Southern Africa and not merely a local or short-term phenomenon.

I'm not quite sure I understand why you chose to omit the immediately following sentence:

However, it is to be expected that the impacts of the changes reported here will be detected in more species in the future as rainfall patterns change. [emphasis added -hro]

Perhaps your view is that "abstracts" cannot - and should not - be relied on (nor, it would seem, should final sentences!)

If so, where might we find your critique of Cook et al's "award winning" 97% paper - which (amongst its many faults) relied entirely on abstracts?

Come to think of it, Gerlach's abstract would have been a great item for Cook et al wouldn't it?!

But that aside ... could you share with us the steps you have taken to encourage the Royal Society to withdraw or update this paper, so that there's one less alarm we should worry about?!

Or is it the case that you intend to keep on beating this same (context-free) irrelevant drum?!

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Richard, forgiveness for error will be thin on the ground until remorse is thicker.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM Hilary Ostrov

But that aside ... could you share with us the steps you have taken to encourage the Royal Society to withdraw or update this paper, so that there's one less alarm we should worry about?!

Do not hold your breath, RB is well aware that boats must not be rocked if one is to rise to being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

There is also the matter of RB updating us regarding the status of his 2007 paper which missed the cutoff date by a mile and therefore should not have been mentioned in AR4 - has there been a correction notice?

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

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