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« Quote of the day, rake's progress edition | Main | Deben admits the pause »
Thursday
Nov132014

A worrying tendency in Mark Lynas's work

Last week Mark Lynas accused Matt Ridley of climate denial. This appears to have been an allegation that popped unannounced into Lynas's head and found its way from there to his blog post without even a thought, let alone a cursory attempt at checking to see whether it was true or not. Shortly afterwards, Lynas was forced to retract the allegation and apologise.

And just in case anyone should think that this was just ignorance about the climate debate on Lynas's part, readers should be aware that he has known what a lukewarmer is for a long time.

Some months earlier he had accused Matt of writing a "fact-free" article about wind power. When he was provided with sources, he failed (to the best of my knowledge) to withdraw the allegation.

Today, Lynas has returned to the fray, accusing yours truly of "celebrating" the removal of Anne Glover from her role as Chief Scientific Adviser to the EU. Well, I think there are better ways of providing science advice on complex technical issues than through people whose expertise lies in other fields, but whether that amounts to celebrating Prof Glover's removal is a moot point. But Lynas, as now seems characteristic of the man, lobs in some unresearched bombs to try to liven things up.

But look – who else is celebrating the decision to abolish the European science advisor role? The climate sceptics, who hated Anne Glover’s equally accurate advice on the serious danger of climate change just as much as the greens hated her scientifically-accurate views on GMOs. It looks like Greenpeace has found itself with some uncomfortable but rather apt new bedfellows.

The link is to BH. I must say I have long had something of a soft spot for Prof Glover, who comes across as much more level-headed than many CSAs I could mention, but having searched through my work, I can only find one mention of her since she came to her post. This was when she referred to Antarctic sea ice as being in decline, which at the end of a steady 30-year increase would not normally be described as "accurate". Except by Mark Lynas perhaps.

aDissentient @EU_ScienceChief struggling to understand simple line graph arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IM… @esa

So I think we can say that I took a wry amusement of her scientifically inaccurate advice to the EU. Elsewhere in the BH archives you will find a commenter recommending a talk she had given. But of evidence that I or anyone else at BH hated anything about her work at all there is not a sign.

Is it just me or are we uncovering a worrying tendency in Mark Lynas's work?

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Reader Comments (32)

"The climate sceptics, who hated Anne Glover’s equally accurate advice." When her name and job title came up I thought 'never heard of her'.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I believe you also applauded her once when she revealed that the EU science advisory is mainly to be badgered by various commissioners to come up with something 'sciency' to support a policy they have already decided they want to push through regardless.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

As it happens I would never have heard of Mark Lynas if it wasn't for his habit of making mistakes, some of which he later regrets but does not learn from.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

They are all in panic mode as their world tumbles around them. Australia's government dropped the cause, the American political system is now blocked to them, the Chinese just ignore them and carry on regardless.
Anything that can get a few words out to further the cause is grabbed at with desperation, even evidently by the BBC science team and all so very apparent on twitter with even the likes of Michael Liebreich responding to my tweets, never happened previously, so the disarray has begun probably due to the impending chill in the air.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

"Is it just me or are we uncovering a worrying tendency in Mark Lynas's work?"

I believe it is called a rear guard action.

Since the CAGW is in retreat on all counts, its believers (Mark Lynas, Roger (Green Parrot) Harrabin, Lord Deben, Richard Black, etc, etc.) are mounting a defence in a hope that the climate "scientists" will have a secret weapon.

Or should that be Vergeltungswaffen

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

lol
It's certainly a new experience, being insulted by being accused of being in bed with Greenpeace (better than the German Green Party, I suppose).

I can't get too exercised by this Lynas chap. I suspect he is more interested in chasing ratings and Alexa rankings than worrying about being accurate.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I'd like Mark Lynas to give me six numbers for Saturday night - after all, he seems to be confident in his prediction that climate change is 'dangerous'.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

They say that really fast copy-typists get up to speed effectively by by-passing their brain's inclination to think about the words, so in a sense the visual signals from the page get converted more directly to instructions for the fingers. People who can write quickly and are excited (or even alarmed) about something can do something similar, with their output outpacing their thinking. Mark Lynas may well be in such a condition. That is not to forgive his crassness with respect to Matt Ridley, nor his loutishness with you. He is still responsible for his writing, his attitudes, and his ignorance, and his bad manners. I suspect he needs to calm down a bit.

Nov 13, 2014 at 12:51 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

For religious fanatics, to believe is not enough , what matters is you believe in the ‘right way’ and unquestioningly.
that is Lynas problem hear .

Nov 13, 2014 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

It takes courage and integrity to admit you were wrong and apologise. Whatever his other faults may be, Mark Lynas deserves credit for his correction and also for publishing Matt Ridley’s response and associated comments on his own blog.

Nov 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeB

Woman I've never heard of advises people I've never voted for. Replaced by people nobody's ever voted for advising people nobody's ever voted for.

Progress? Or its opposite?

Nov 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Full disclosure: I like Mark Lynas. I meet him for coffee from time to time, and I admire his courage in standing up to a lot pf pressure from people who were once his friends because he has changed his mind (to put it mildly) over GMOs and nuclear energy. He has a lot of integrity, in my view, and I also appreciate his speedy apology to Matt Ridley last week. So, Bish readers, let's cut him some slack, while continuing to point it out if we think he might have gone wrong. But he's no fanatic: quite the opposite. He's a person who cares deeply about the environment, but would also quite like to preserve civilisation, too. And he's someone you can agree to differ with.

Nov 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose

Would that worrying tendency be : "Making stuff up"?

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I've met Mark as well. I even know where he lives! gave him a lift to lunch with Jonathan Jones as he had a bad back..
happy to chat, and never deletes comments on his blog..
I do wish he would drop the denial/denier stuff in public now though

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

JamesG said:

I believe you also applauded her once when she revealed that the EU science advisory is mainly to be badgered by various commissioners to come up with something 'sciency' to support a policy they have already decided they want to push through regardless.

Yes. Commissioners commission from June this year.

Perhaps it was Glover's willingness to point out how the Commissioners operate that got the role deleted.

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Congratulations. He is beginning to recognize the impact your good work is having.

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

I hope Mark Lynas con continue his progress. Skeptics deny nothing except obsession, fanaticism, moral hazard and rent seeking. That puts entirely on the wrong side of the climate concerned and their policy ideas. But it does not make us wrong.

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

>Is it just me or are we uncovering a worrying tendency in Mark Lynas's work?

That tendency has always been there. In fact his behaviour has been gradually improving over the years as the green religion slowly slips away from him.

Nov 13, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCal

In many climate forums the term "denier" is now thrown at anyone who is thought (in the minds of the thrower) to be ignoring science or facts. It is not just used on those who reject entirely the idea of AGW.

Nov 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

Well whether he is a nice man or not, it's the santimoniousness that belief in thermageddon somehow elevates these faux-greens magically to the moral high ground, despite using no less energy than the rest of us, that grates on my nerves.

Regardless of the uncertain and diminishing 'danger' of a probably natural and so far beneficial warming of 0.6K/century we have absolutely no uncertainty that replacing reliable, cheap energy with unreliable, expensive energy will cause misery and poverty for all. There's nothing moral about it!

I say that as a lifelong supporter and sometime practitioner of alternative fuels research. Not because I ever faintly believed in this latest enviro-scare after the false ice age, acid rain, gulf-stream shift and deforestation scares before it, but because fossil fuels are ultimately dwindling. Until the godsend of shale gas/oil came along there were predictions from the commodity 'experts' of 250 to 300 dollars a barrel. We saw exactly how much that hurt in 2007 as rampant speculation and panic brought about a global food shortage. As Christie truly said, life without energy is brutal and short!

Nov 13, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Barry Woods 'gave him a lift to lunch with Jonathan Jones' I hope mean on your bicycle and not 'evil fossil using car, which he and Jones are so very bitterly opposed too, as I hate to think he is typical green hypocrite calling on others to do that which they no intention of doing themselves

Nov 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

David Rose
The situation with Lynas is much easier.

Take Anne Glover and the EU Commission. The EU doesn't like Glover so it gets rid of her. It listens to superstitious green pressure groups' precaution-mongering and sets aside good science. This favours its pursuit of power.

The story is the same with climate except the above has gone on for close to a quarter-century. The EU, US, UK and Australia have set aside good science or have not allowed unbiased science to grow. Instead an army of researchers examining issues in a one-sided manner has been awarded, promoted and pushed. The Anne Glovers are long gone. The same superstitious precaution-mongering green pressure groups set the tone. Both public and politician buy and sell the same greenwash.

There is not much connection between the climate skeptics and active supporters of GM. But you see the same people pushing climate and anti-GM activism. **This includes Lynas.**

Nov 14, 2014 at 12:57 AM | Registered Commentershub

Nov 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose
"He's a person who cares deeply about the environment"

David, that expression is SO 1970s. It implies a person with so little of substance that dreams about fairy tales dominate the head space.
All of us care about the environment, however defined, in some way.
However, not all of us choose to express our care in ways dictated by others with dominance agendas.

As you age, you find solace in reflecting on what you have done, about if you have generated significant positive achievements. If you have, this self-contentment is powerful. It beats dollars and fame as funds run out and people forget the men and women of yesterday.

Both you and Mark Lynas might benefit from some introspection and thoughts about the value of what you are now doing. Will you, as you near the end of your allotted times, be able to think back with satisfaction and say "I put back more of value into society than I ever took out?"

Nov 14, 2014 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

From this perspective (personal opinion, of course) it appears that Mark is desperate for attention, any attention even corrective.

Mark appears to have a run out at the mouth condition known to occur in people who do not bother to think before espousing or typing. They're in too much of a hurry to speak/type lest they miss an ad hominem or accusation.

Keep your sensible quite level headed approach to blogging and let the web savor and save for future enlightenment Mark Lynas's copious lesser and least intelligent attempts at internet bullying.

Nov 14, 2014 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

"This was when she referred to Antarctic sea ice as being in decline, which at the end of a steady 30-year increase would not normally be described as "accurate". Except by Mark Lynas perhaps."

An interesting sight indeed... If Mr. Lynas wants to maintain that a leveling-off of temperatures at the end of an extended 30-year rise is not a 'decline' or even a 'pause', then how can he claim a different logic as it applies to Antarctic Sea Ice...?

Nov 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterSalamano

I also appreciate his speedy apology to Matt Ridley last week. So, Bish readers, let's cut him some slack, (...)
Nov 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM | rDavid Rose

He's still using the D-word for those who are unimpressed by the use of unvalidated computer models "to predict future climate"?

Cut him some slack? You are joking.

Nov 14, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

(1) Artificial energy rationing in the extreme is the clearly stated goal of nearly every green activist, with almost none of them calling for a serious Atomic Age renaissance instead of deadly Marxism.

(2) Even moderate artificial energy rationing is undeniably genocidal and promotes diseases that threaten us all such as ebola. Impoverishing those near forests clearly threatens the environment too.

(3) Genocidal tendencies are psychotic and evil.

(4) Greens are psychotically evil, no different from ISIS, NAZIs, Stalinists or a murderous doomsday cult.

(5) Mark still supports the green agenda to depopulate the planet. He does so by attacking objectively CORRECT skeptics, and only apologizing as necessary damage control in the moment. Mark is yet another psychotic and evil wannabee doomsday guru.

Where is my logic not 100% accurate?

Nov 14, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

If we put David Rose's and NikFromNYC's comments side by side, taking them both seriously, we have an interesting psychological situation, I think.

Nov 14, 2014 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterrw

There is value in starkness.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

My logic is long in Love.

Nov 16, 2014 at 4:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

Wilhelm von Occam , a Muslim savant from Detroit said already that " the simplest explanation wins"

efties are parasites so that do what parasites do

he discovered america BTW, then invented turkey
this is why turkey is associated with columbo and thanks but no thanks taking

Nov 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

This thread has become a little peculiar. Shub, Mark Lynas not only supports GMOs, he is working with Cornell University to develop them. NikFromNYC, I don't think comments as extreme as this really get us anywhere. They certainly do not tend to win arguments or persuade people to reassess the view that climate alarmism and the policies that flow from it are wrong. And as for your comment, Geoff Sherrington, all I can say is that I feel in no hurry to depart this life just yet, and for the time being, I am in excellent health. As for putting something back: well, one does one's best.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose

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