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« Walport and his evidence | Main | CSAs at the Energy and Climate Change Committee »
Tuesday
Mar112014

Naming names

There was a fascinating exchange at the Energy and Climate Change Committee this morning when Graham Stringer asked Gregory Barker about the climate consensus. Barker opined (10:58) that

...the number of people who are refusing to accept that the climate is changing or that man has a role in that are diminishing and are given disproportionate airtime in the media.

Pressed to identify the people involved, Barker seemed to back down on the insinuation of his remarks a few seconds earlier that those involved were some kind of refuseniks:

I think some of the people that deny the very science of climate, who represent a perfectly valid opinion and by no means are...there are scientific voices that have that view...but I think when it's presented as a 50:50 - either, or -...

Stringer pressed him again to identify individuals, a question that seemed to produce a retreat and an advance from Barker, almost in the same breath, this time on the question of whether these wicked people were getting too much media attention:

I wouldn't say that they are giving undue attention...it would be invidious to name individuals...but I do think the climate coverage tends to over-represent the climate sceptic opinion when it is discussing the science.

Before moving on to say that the debate should be on responses to climate change.

Later on, Peter Lilley pressed him again (11:19) for names and was told, for his pains, that Barker didn't want to "make it about personalities".

It's probably possible to name every single sceptic who has appeared in the UK media since 2009. The list would take in Lawson, Peiser, Ridley, Lilley, Stringer and myself and perhaps a few others. I'm reckon I can come up with evidence that every single one of those named accepts that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

I think it's fair to say then that there are some ministers within the Department of Energy and Climate Change who are cynically mispresenting the facts.

But I wouldn't want to name them. I wouldn't want to make this about individuals.

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Reader Comments (29)

He's probably got a little list.
Don't tell them your name, Pike!

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Macdonald

Dehumanize instead.
=======

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Barker's "are diminishing" claim is false, as reported to the committee by James Painter at the last hearing. Climate scepticism is increasing - according to one newspaper report, "soaring".

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

When we've had Gordon Brown stand up and lie so shamefacedly that even a room full of morally compromised journalists collectively express astonishment, I suppose it should be no surprise anymore when a Climate apparatchick does it.

We're way past simple things like honesty in this debate now. Too much is at stake for them. Way too much power and money.

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Barker is on very dodgy ground now that the Russians who (used to?) employ him** are threatening to turn off the gas supplies to the West if there is any significant objection to their invasion of the Ukraine. Remember well that the EU's windmill programme was designed by Gerhard Schroeder who, whilst still in office, negotiated with GazProm and Putin to be given Chairmanship of Nordstream, the gas pipe line across the Baltic to Germany. Angela Merkel when young was a Young communist leader in East Germany......

**From Wikipedia: "Barker also developed strong links to the Russian oil companies, being Head of Communications at the Anglo Siberian Oil Company from 1998–2000 and also worked in Russia for the Sibneft Oil Group, owned by Roman Abramovich."

Do we want as a Minister someone who may be an agent for a hostile foreign power?

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

First time I have seen Greg Barker. Deeply unimpressive. We are in even worse trouble than I thought.

Mar 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

"Angela Merkel when young was a Young communist leader in East Germany"

I doubt there was a lot of choice.. :-)

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Spartacusisfree stop naming names,departments,company, countries, communists and anything to do with oil or gas.

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

"disproportionate airtime in the media"

As he's so reluctant to name names, perhaps he could name programmes?

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

From The Times article which Paul Matthews links:
'HUNDREDS of climate scientists and government officials head to Stockholm to finalise next week's report on climate change..'
Hope they're not using PLANES or anything like that - because if they were they could be accused of HYPOCRISY...

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

jamesp:

"Angela Merkel when young was a Young communist leader in East Germany"

I doubt there was a lot of choice.. :-)

Are you suggesting that it might have been a bit of a challenge at that point to be an "Old Communist?" ;-)

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

It is now estimated that Climate Change policies in Europe alone will cost in the region of £165,000,000,000 annually or ~1.5% of European GDP . But this figure does not include the attendant losses to the European economies of industries leaving the EU for regions with more realistic / rational energy policies, thus diverting their own CO2 emissions to countries with less stringent limitations on CO2 production.

And these are expenditures, which may well be trying to combat a problem that is likely to be insignificant or perhaps does not even exist. But current governments do not want to hear that good news.

One would have hoped that any aware politician who had been told there was even a scintilla of doubt about policies this expensive and this damaging to the economy would have been willing to seek further questioning of the matter. But it is clear that there are none so blind as those who will not see.


For example from Hansard, UK Parliament, 10/11/2013.
Steve Baker: “We have agreed here that science proceeds by conjecture and refutation, so in an attempt not to have a cloying consensus, will the Minister fund some climate scientists who wish to refute the current thesis?”


Gregory Barker, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change: “I am afraid that I do not have a budget for that sort of research.”

Mar 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered Commenteredmh

If you want to work on the climate in any University this side of the 'iron curtain' there is NO CHOICE that AGW is REAL and is HAPPENING NOW!

Mar 11, 2014 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

The benefits of timing.

Obama was too late to stop shale gas. The Greeshirts of the EU learned and are stopping shale in the EU.

That means the EU dies. The chemical industry leaves. Putin has the EU by the short and curlies. Heavy industry will leave.

And the Greenshirts Idiots Rule. They have lists. Long, lists. Get out while you can.

Mar 11, 2014 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Classic bullying behavior: Dehumanize, delegitimize, and make vague acusations.

Mar 11, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Russia Today has been running some very prominent and sympathetic stories on anti-fracking protests near Manchester, loads of interviews with protestors. I can't possibly imagine why the mouthpiece of Europe's biggest gas exporter would want to support opponents of UK gas exploration.

Mar 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

He exhibits one of the classic traits of the propagandist: when pressed for details, they always sputter and retreat.

What they are asking is that everyone ignore the voluminous uncertainty and accept mainstream prescriptions for mitigation solutions despite the lack of compelling evidence that there is a serious problem.

Mar 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Is it just me or are the climos stepping up the "war on skeptics" ?

Mar 11, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Jack Hughes

I think it is more interesting than that. The IPCC and a lot of mainstream sources are dialling back on the "alarm" - eg Richard Betts, Connolley, James Annan etc - however the activists are getting even more worked up than ever - including people such as Yeo, Walport, Barker, Tamino, the "cute" Rabett, Tobis and various commentators on other blogs, such as BBD,Steve Bloom and Dhogaza. Make of that what you will. And of course Sceptical Science is as remorseless in telling us that the world will fry in 10 years' time as ever.

Mar 11, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

'its a conspiracy I tell you
so where is your proof
' I could show you but then the conspiracy would get me'

Its odd that is AGW sceptics get labelled as conspiracy nuts when its AGW proponents that often sound like 9/11 truthers when they talk about 'dark forces ' and 'paid shrills ' but can never actual prove they exist or often even name them.

Mar 11, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

Jack Hughes, I have noticed this as well. The climate cretins are after jobs, position, and money of skeptics- anything to silence us.
While at the same time claiming that everyone agrees with them and they are in charge.

Mar 11, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Greg Barker should not be let out without parental supervision.

Mar 11, 2014 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeadless Chicken

In the run up to the 2010 GE the Tories put out a short video (hopefully paid for by them) showing Greg Barker "interviewing" two women in Bangladesh and who confirmed to him that the weather had "become much worse" in recent years, which to Barker seemed to be good scientific evidence of AGW. I assume he hoped that we are as gullible as he is.

Mar 11, 2014 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Spilligan

I'll tell you who used to be in the media and express sceptic views Dr David Bellamy, now what happened to him?
There was a chap called Johhny Ball who did entetaining maths programmes for children but expressed sceptic views. What happened to him? Certainly they now have disproportionate airtime like zilch.

Mar 11, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

This ridiculous use of phrases like "deny the science of climate" is really starting to overload my BS meter.

There is not a more arrogant way that the alarmists could state their case than that. Maybe it helps explain why rational people who can weigh evidence and make a decision are having such a hard time buying the snake oil.

Mar 11, 2014 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterOutDoorRink

@kellydown
There is absolutely no truth in the rumor that Alex "Pink Shrek" Salmond is going to run with the Ruble (руб) as Scotland's new currency and the Putin has agreed to secretly extend Nord Stream pipe to Grangemouth.

About a year back there was some talk about Russian proxies dumping *cash* into Greenpeace and WWF via Switzerland. I quite like the Venezuelans hooting and whistling from the sidelines as their stateside sponsored anti fracking poster boy Josh Fox scampers around rounding up useful idiots.

We get hassled at high street banks over "money laundering" - but if somebody's working from a suitcase of used notes - well... who's to know?

Mar 11, 2014 at 11:59 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Take up Brazilian Jujitsu & learn to quietly put opponents to sleep in 7 seconds. It's going to be a necessary skill in the near future. Lessons at your friendly neighbour dojo.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:08 AM | Registered Commenterperry

Mar 11, 2014 at 5:55 PM | diogenes
" .... The IPCC and a lot of mainstream sources are dialling back on the "alarm" - eg Richard Betts, Connolley, James Annan etc - however the activists are getting even more worked up than ever - including people such as Yeo, Walport, Barker, Tamino, ...."

Of course, the scientists know they've been rumbled, while for the politicians it's only ever been about the rhetoric.
In their desperation they're just sounding sillier & sillier to normal people. Let them keep putting their foot in the mouth.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterGary Waters

"Barker didn't want to "make it about personalities".
----
It seems there is a reluctance, albeit variable, running through government on matters climate, to see any discussion on anything spring up that may not suit.

This is from the transcript of an exchange from one of the recent, ongoing, 'Future of the BBC' Parliamentary inquiries:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14615
http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/WrittenEvidence.svc/EvidenceHtml/5368

****
Paul Farrelly: There is more I want to come to later on.

Chair: Let us get back to the mainstream debate.


Q10 Angie Bray: We are talking about whether or not there are subjects that the BBC might shy away from, for whatever reason. I wonder whether I could get a comment from you on the other issue, which I think the BBC has had a very set view on in recent years, which is climate change. We have all now read about the semi-secret gathering a few years ago, which Roger Harrabin was responsible for, when the BBC decided that there was a set science now, that there was no room for any further denial that there might be manmade climate change and that they agreed that this was going to influence the way they covered the issues. Does that—
Chair: Can we please do this briefly, since we are straying an awful long way from the subject, the future of the BBC?

Angie Bray: But that is another issue, which I think needs to be addressed in terms of how they—

Chair: Okay.

Angie Bray: This may be because there is a mindset there, which kicks—

Steve Hewlett: In the case of climate change, I am not sure that there is. Just a couple of points on this. I have not read in detail the BBC’s reasons for opposing the freedom of information request, which has ultimately exposed the existence of this briefing. I am guessing—and if you know better, please do not let me put my foot in it—they would say, “This is an editorial matter and therefore, quite properly and quite rightly, outside the scope of FOI”. Is it wrong for BBC journalists and editorial executives to acquaint themselves, as fully as they can, with views from all sides of the argument about these things, and possibly do that in private and in circumstances that are not widely reported? My own personal view is I would rather they were better informed than less informed, and so probably, yes.

I am not sure how strong the case is to say that the BBC is overwhelmingly one way or the other on climate change. I think it is a difficult issue because the balance of scientific argument and evidence must be taken account of. Balance can never simply mean on one hand or the other; otherwise we would still be arguing about the world being flat. It has to take some account of where the debate has gone and what the balance of opinion is. I am not sure that I see the fact that this meeting took place and that executives went to it and discussed it, as evidence of a broader conspiracy to report in a particular way.
Angie Bray: I think you just need to look at the list of the people that were there.
Chair: Let us get back to the future of the BBC.

Steve Hewlett: In fairness that will not be the only thing they have done, will it?

David Elstein: Who knows.

Steve Hewlett: Well, I would be surprised.

****

The committee is supposedly about the Future of the BBC which, if you look at the written submissions - http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/future-of-the-bbc/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter - does include concerns with what it does with the money it is handed.

However, so far it seems more concerned with finding away to keep the money flowing and with as little accountability as currently. So it seems there are some deals that have been between politics and media made on such as climate that are hardly serving the public interest well. This may come as a shock to some.

Angie Bray does raise a pertinent point. 'Expert witness' Steve Hewlett intervenes to say he doesn't know much about it, but then spends a lot of time making some inspired guesses and rather interesting claims, which Angie Bray tries to follow up upon but is intercepted by the chair.

It would be interesting to discover if this committee will in fact get around to looking at matters of dodgy dealings across the board (but settled science does already leave the BBC woefully exposed), or is simply there to rubber stamp new funding wheezes being concocted by James Purnell and others.

Given how critical climate is to deliberations at high level, and how significant the influence of broadcast media to policy, I can only wish Graham Stringer more luck in getting some actual answers to legitimate questions.

Because all I am seeing, from public sector Trust Chairmen to Ministers, is allusion and obfuscation to outright mendacity on core matters, and it's really not on.

Mar 12, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkkMale

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