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« Something a bit neffy | Main | Walport and his evidence »
Wednesday
Mar122014

The works of Lord Deben

This is a guest post by Matt Ridley.

Lord Deben is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, a body funded by the British taxpayer. He draws a salary of more than £35,000 from you and me. On the masthead of its website the committee claims to give “a balanced response to the risks of climate change” and “independent, evidence-based advice to the UK government and Parliament”.

Yet the committee consists entirely of people who think climate change will be dangerous; no sceptics or lukewarmers are on it, even though most hold views that are well within the “consensus” of climate science. Under Deben’s chairmanship since 2012 its pronouncements have become increasingly one-sided. Deben himself is frequently highly critical of any sceptics, often mischaracterizing them as “deniers” or “dismissers”, but has never to my knowledge been heard to criticize anybody for exaggerating climate alarm and the harm it can do to disadvantaged people. These are not the actions of an impartial chairman.

In the past year, as I shall detail, Lord Deben has three times launched sharp criticisms of me for arguing that some climate change projections are exaggerated. In each case, I have replied with detailed rebuttals based on peer-reviewed scientific literature to show that his criticisms were wrong, but my replies have been dismissed or ignored by Lord Deben. I suppose I should be flattered that this vendetta against me indicates that he clearly feels that my arguments threaten some part of his agenda. But on this third occasion he has sunk to a new low.

On 28 October 2013, I made a speech in the House of Lords in which I gave “nine separate examples of ways in which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has retreated to a slightly less alarming and less certain position than six years ago”. Notice first that this was a very mild claim. I was not saying there was no cause for alarm in the new report of the IPCC. I was not even saying that overall the document was less alarming (though in my judgment, it is). I was merely saying that in nine instances, it was “slightly” less alarming than in the previous report.

In other words, I was not adopting a position of denial, or even of skepticism. I was adopting, as I usually do, a “lukewarm” position: that there is a strong chance that climate change will happen but will be comparatively mild and slow and may well do less harm than the policies promoted in its name. The IPCC is slowly coming closer to this position in its main reports. My nine examples show this clearly. AR5 has acknowledged:

  • the recent “hiatus” in temperatures;
  • the likelihood that medieval temperatures may have been as high as today’s;
  • the unpredicted increase in Antarctic sea ice;
  • that 111 of 114 models had predicted too much warming over recent years
  • that the low end of equilibrium climate sensitivity is lower;
  • that the high end of transient climate response is lower;
  • that likely sea level rise is not as high as some experts have forecast
  • that collapses of the Gulf Stream, of Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets or of methane clathrates are “very unlikely” ;
  • that there is “low confidence” in the collapse of tropical forests, of boreal forests and of the monsoon, an explosion of greenhouse gases from the Arctic permafrost and an increase in megadroughts.

All in all, it is not unreasonable for an intelligent reader of the AR5 report to conclude that in these nine respects, the IPCC is reflecting the fact that scientists are slightly less alarmed or certain than they were six years before. I am not the only person to have reached this conclusion. Professor Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, testifying to the Senate recently went considerably further than I did:

Multiple lines of evidence presented in the IPCC AR5 WG1 report suggest that the case for anthropogenic warming is weaker than the previous assessment AR4 in 2007.

A chairman of a Committee on Climate Change and who read my speech might decide to argue with me, and might even commission a report from an expert to assess my claims. He would however (1) tell me he was doing so; (2) seek my response; (3) tell me he was publishing the report on my speech; (4) publish the name of the author(s) of the report on my speech. He may not be under any legal obligation to do these things; but he would be under a moral one.

Lord Deben chose to do none of these four things. He did not have the courtesy to tell me he was commissioning a report, despite seeing me regularly in the House of Lords. He did not have the caution to ask for a response in case his report had missed an important source I had used. He did not have the manners to tell me the report had been published. He did not have the courage to put the report’s author’s name on it.

I came across the report by accident one day, when checking something else on the Committee’s website. I immediately wrote to Lord Deben (letter here) asking him a set of specific questions and giving a detailed response to his report. I pointed out that his report had several errors. The most striking was that in quoting the IPCC AR5 report they had cut some words and numbers out of a sentence. Those words and numbers were the very ones that proved me right, by showing no warming during the past 15 years. The only reason for excising these words and numbers was plainly to alter the sense of the sentence to mean something other than what it plainly said.

...the rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012; 0.05 [–0.05 to +0.15] °C per decade), which begins with a strong El Nino, is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.

The words in bold were omitted.

In more than 30 years of science reporting I have never come across such a deceitful trick, let alone in an official government document. It is the sort of thing I might have expected to find coming from some of the more rabid and intolerant activist green groups, yet I do not think even they would stoop this low. Yet this was only one way in which the anonymous author of the report on my speech had cherry-picked, omitted, mined and distorted the words of the IPCC to try to imply that I was wrong in my moderate and careful assessment that in nine respects there is “slightly” less alarm in AR5 than there was in AR4.

I received a reply from Lord Deben that was dismissive and empty (see attached). He answered none of my questions, addressed none of my points and merely reasserted his right to commission such reports – a point I had not challenged. Having given him the opportunity to respond to my questions, which he has spurned, I am now prepared to go public.

So I am now publishing this account of the sorry saga, so that readers can decide for themselves whether my original speech was fair, whether the criticisms made by Lord Deben’s anonymous report were fair, and whether this is an appropriate way for a public servant to have behaved. I am putting it in the public domain so that, if others share my concerns about the bias of the Committee on Climate Change they can raise them with the committee themselves.

It would be interesting to ask: Who wrote this document? Why was it published without informing me? Why were key words omitted from key sentences in quotations? Why does the committee never challenge exaggerations in the same way as it challenges those arguing that climate change is moderate? How much did the preparation of this report cost? Why was I given no right of reply? Why did Lord Deben refuse to post my response to his report on his website? If you do raise these questions, please be polite, be factually accurate and be brief. And, as always, please quote exactly the words I or others used, not some paraphrase of them.

My recent experience, of being smeared in an inaccurate way about this topic of climate change policy by somebody employed in a public body is not unique. The same thing has happened to Roger Pielke Jr recently at the hands of Dr John Holdren, to Nic Lewis, Donna Laframboise and Dick Lindzen recently at the hands of Bob Ward, and to Bjorn Lomborg and Richard Tol also at the hands of Bob Ward. Not forgetting Ward’s attacks on Bishop Hill.

As I mentioned above, this is not the first time I have been attacked by Lord Deben. About a year ago, in a lecture in Oxford he mocked me for having a doctorate in biology (he has an English degree), and falsely charged – on the basis of a blog post written by a novelist (!) – that I had not cited the mainstream scientific literature when writing about ocean acidification. In fact in the relevant passage I had included direct quotations from 17 papers in the mainstream scientific literature, including a major meta-analysis of 372 peer-reviewed papers. Despite being requested twice to do so, Lord Deben declined to write to the organisers of the lecture to correct his mistake.

Later he wrote to fellow peers following a debate in the House of Lords saying that the “facts that were presented [by me in a speech] would be denied by almost every climatologist in the world”. I replied with direct quotations to show that I was citing mainstream scientific publications in every item of my speech. He ignored my letter.

In taking part in the debate on climate change over more than 25 years I have always tried to act with good manners, despite severe provocation. When I first covered this topic, I accepted alarming projections on trust. Since becoming more sceptical of exaggerated claims, I am used to being abused, ridiculed, smeared and inaccurately misquoted not only by amateur bloggers but by senior scientists and politicians and their spin doctors. I try never to respond in kind. The rudeness of the climate establishment towards anybody who argues for moderation is quite extraordinary, but I do not believe in emulating it. On Twitter Lord Deben has recently criticised sceptics for their rudeness. He should look in the mirror.

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Reader Comments (70)

Forgive me but Lord Deben's credibility was shot in 1989 when he fed his daughter a beef burger on TV during the BSE thing.

Mar 12, 2014 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

So J S Beefburger is a nasty piece of work. Who knew?

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Well said. I'm a New Zealander. Our Prime Minister,John Key frequently challenges Russell Norman, Leader of the Green Party with "when will the Greens start being honest with the New Zealand people?", when faced with their alarmist hyperbole and fact free policies.
I suggest you do the same. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Ps love the blog- keep it up.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I think it was Walport who insultingly said about Ridley something like "He had doubts about his being rational".

The Great Delusion, maintained by the Great and The Good, is not going to lie down quietly.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I should think that being attacked by Deben is well covered by Denis Healey's famous assessment of Geoffrey Howe:

"Like being savaged by a dead sheep"

But at least Howe was a gentleman and I can't believe would have stooped to the lows of Deben.

That said, it is people like Deben who give me the will to carry on the fight (in my own very small way). He would have me a "Denier"; I would rather that than a "Warm-monger" be. But right now I am converting to being a "Swatter": whenever I hear of the alarming (Hah!) rise in GAT and sea levels predicted by the alarmists I say, "So what!" and, "Where's your proof?" Because, believe me, we may all soon become "Shiverers".

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

When I tried the link given to Ward's attack on BH, I got a message saying the page is unavailable.
Now, why could that be, I wonder?

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

I've often pondered an FOI to find out who is funding Lord Deben's Twitter activities and whether that would contrast with the idea that the CCC is balanced, which it isn't obviously.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

@ Robinson 8:59

The daughter/beefburger incident is a poor example to use to criticise Deben; she survived it.

His formal title could be criticised though: "The Right Honourable The Lord Deben"; he's neither right, nor honourable.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

@messenger ..cos the html was wrong
Corrected link : Not forgetting Ward's attack on Bishop Hill Reply in the Guardian

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Error in the link:

Bob Ward's attack here:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/cif-green/2010/sep/10/hockey-stick-graph-illusion

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Deben is just another freeloader cashing in on "Catastrophic Climate Change".

He shouts loudly and insults reasonable people, like Matt Ridley, because he is defending his place in the trough.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

So Debden has shown himself to be like most other CAGW fanatics: mean, spiteful and completely unscientific. To these attributes I suggest it is fair to add - corrupt.

Mar 12, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I dunno guys...but it's about time some of these catastrophiliacs were sued for libel. You can't fight a "war" with one hand tied behind your back while your "enemy" use every trick in the book to "kill" you with!

There is no such thing as a moral and ethical victor!

Mailman

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Like most unthinking climate zealots, Lord Deben has no scientific knowledge or qualification.

Further in line with nearly all CAGW believers, he is too cowardly to enter a public debate, rather he sits on the sidelines and throws puerile insults at non-believers.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Known for having strong environmental credentials, BBC Wildlife magazine described him as the "Environment Secretary against which all others are judged", placing him as one of its top ten environmental heroes. In 1997, he was also awarded a Medal of Honour by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Friends of the Earth described his as "the best Environment Secretary we've ever had".

wiki

How can a man be persuaded who has already convinced himself of his own unassailable wisdom?

Deben would have to recant everything he's ever spouted about all things environmental, as to who penned "Scrutiny of IPCC report “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” - the bullet points are telling:



Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.

Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth’s energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Projected climate change… is similar to AR4 in both patterns and magnitude, after accounting for scenario differences.

Good grief, it has the MO's mucky paw prints all over it - a particularly equivocating piece of scientific flummery, if Deben believes that quoting the above rot closes the argument - then he is more stupid than even I took him for.

As they say Mr. Ridley - 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'.

It must be somewhat similar scenario leading asses to the fount of knowledge...........but an even more hopelessly forlorn pursuit. That Deben wields power, is of far greater concern but at the last - we do not live in a democracy where free ideas and honest and open discourse can change minds.
Further, and as I've always said about CAGW - there is no science to it - it's all a political fiction - follow the money, always follow the tainted money, or should I say it more accurately - FLEECING THE TAXPAYERS is what keeps the alarmist gravy train chugging down the tracks and they're not going to concede any ground.

The public know though, they sense it with all of their beings in that, the warmist scam is and always was total BS but it is also dying [throughout the world - see Australia, Canada, Japan] and Britain is one of the few nations left who still buy in to alarmism and all it entails. Britain, here; greenpi88, FoE and the WWF have powerful friends [Deben et al] and with considerable political clout - how stupid can our political claque be? For, they've been rumbled and still like Chicken Littles - they flounce and scream - "the sky is falling in!"

Yet, The TRUTH will out Mr. Ridley and we are right and righteous with it - we'll keep on and meet them at the rail head - the train is running out of track and steam. If Deben were a clever man, he'd be readying to depart and be alighting the carriage.


Alas,
a. mule headed purblind obstinacy is not one of mankind's more endearing traits but it is an all too common affliction in our Parliament.
b. What damage will still be done, God knows it will take years to restore.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

The initial omission of important facts in this report (from a public body) could always be considered as an error. But when a serious error (with proof) is brought to the attention of the publisher (Deben), and it is not corrected or acknowledged, then that becomes a serious matter, particularly from someone in public office. There might be a case here of "Misconduct in Public Office", an offence which carries severe penalties. A formal complaint to the police might be in order. There are situations when the public put up with too much crap from public bodies.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterD.M.

"The rudeness of the climate establishment towards anybody who argues for moderation is quite extraordinary."

How true. They cannot argue on a scientific basis so they resort to smear tactics and ridicule to silence the critic. This is a disgrace and seems to be the leading characteristic of the climate establishment as you state so eloquently.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Lord Deben is President of GLOBE International: http://www.globeinternational.org/foreword-by-lord-deben

This is not to be confused with the eponymous Australian skateboard manufacturer. Instead, it is a group of legislators whose self-appointed task is the apparent enslavement of the World's population, to save it from imaginary CAGW, by totalitarian World government. At the same time, the families who own the carbon traders, the renewables and the land will get incredibly rich. Deben and in the above picture Davey, have via relatives got fingers in this enormous pie.

The arguably viciously spiteful behaviour of such politicians is par for the course of their ilk but is contrary to Deben's strong religious views. However, hypocrisy is very common amongst such people, apparently.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

John Gummer (aka Lord Deben) has been pushing environmental policy since he was pps to minister of agriculture in Heath's government. It was Heath who created dept of environment.

In 1990s Gummer created EA when environment secretary

Now as chair of DECC he continues to push his environmental agenda to detriment of uk

Deben is not a dead sheep, neither is going to be diverted from the path he has followed for over 40 years by anything so trivial as facts.

As chair of DECC Deben is still involved in setting uk government policy

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

I wonder what Fred the Shred thinks of Lord Debden's work?

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeide De Klein

With all due respect to the Bishop and this blog, I don't consider this as being prepared to go public.

When we see this article on the leading pages of the Telegraph, for example, or on the BBC's website (lol) then we might feel that some progress is being made.

Until then little will be achieved. Surely there must be one decent MP who can be trusted to speak truth to power and start to hold these people to account?

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpyDenier

Recently WUWT had an article on the Anti Defamation league which highlighted their actions against anyone comparing the Holocaust to other more 'trivial' events.

They never seem to have a problem with climate sceptics being called deniers though, even though at WUWT they linked to all the times 'denier' with respect to climate change was explicitly linked to Holocaust denial and complained to the Anti Defamation League. And the answer was, silence.

So the Anti Defamation league is no such thing, it is just another group of politically motivated ideologues.

Sue anyone calling you a denier is the way to go. It has to be actionable.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

A powerful and helpful account, thank you Matt Ridley.

In taking part in the debate on climate change over more than 25 years I have always tried to act with good manners, despite severe provocation. When I first covered this topic, I accepted alarming projections on trust. Since becoming more sceptical of exaggerated claims, I am used to being abused, ridiculed, smeared and inaccurately misquoted not only by amateur bloggers but by senior scientists and politicians and their spin doctors. I try never to respond in kind. The rudeness of the climate establishment towards anybody who argues for moderation is quite extraordinary, but I do not believe in emulating it. On Twitter Lord Deben has recently criticised sceptics for their rudeness. He should look in the mirror.

Emphasis mine. I was thinking about this again as leader of the opposition Ed Miliband weighed back into the debate at PMQs on 26th February. How crucial the phrase "climate change deniers" was to that exchange. It was spoken as if everyone knew what it meant but actually it is entirely plastic: it means anyone who has become "more sceptical of exaggerated claims," as you put it, where the claims, about science, economics or policy, are otherwise subjected to no scrutiny at all. And in practice that day it meant Owen Paterson and John Hayes. I continue to say it's a hateful term with a hateful history (unlike the verb 'deny' used without the preceding noun). But even if it were not, it's completely plastic in definition and exists solely to declare individuals beyond the pale without having to consider their arguments. It in itself is the argument for the likes of Miliband. I feel we have still to face up to what a terrible position that places each of us, and our country, in.

But this calm statement of Deben's bias and dishonesty can only help to wake a few more up.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There is no evidence either known or unknown that will force the likes of Deben to change his mind - his reputation would be ruined by such a humiliating U-turn. That's what he and his ilk are most concerned at - loss of reputation, of their legacy of 'Saving the World'. They're financially and professionally incentivised, and are not neutral; never have been, never will be.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

All-in-all, Gummer is not fit for purpose.

But at least he has not yet descended to the level of Sir Thomas More whose virulently scatalogical attacks on Martin Luther are unrepeatable in a family blog.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

We had best hope that 2014 is on, or below the current trend line. After this we have many years of mostly cold to come. 2016 will be very interesting (read bad for us in the UK - it is a 'return' to 1837 - [a trade secret in long-range forecasting is revealed here for those who wish to do the math]).

If we can get through this year the unwavering support that Tom, Dick and Harry currently receives when practising ignorance, spouting exaggerations and outright lying will dissolve.

Until then we can continue to be amazed and disgusted at the antics of the sure brigade.

http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/76238-the-exceptionally-cold-spring-of-1837/

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

I suppose it is pointless to ask this dishonourable hypocrite to do the honourable thing.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

None of Lord Ridley's complaints surprise me. I've often found Lord Debden's tweets so biased, rude and offensive, that for some considerable time I thought it couldn't be him; that it had to be someone operating a spoof account purporting to be him. The fact that this man chairs an important advisory committee is a damning indictment on the motives of those who appointed him.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterHG54

[Snip O/T]

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

Deben's letter citing "our experts" unexplained appraisal is shockingly dismissive when you consider this is a peer responding to another peer from the same party.
Kind of confirms my impression that Deben's rhetoric about dismissers is just projection; seems he just loves the fact the climate wibble moral shield offers a position where he gets to dismiss criticism without fear of having to closely justify doing that.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Deben is a rabid environmental zealot without a bone of impartiality in his body. The fact that he was appointed to chair this 'independent' Committee testifies to the risible preposterousness of the appointment procedure, which is nothing more than the appointment of a yes-man placeman by DECC themselves to facilitate their decarbonisation agenda. The appointment procedure is a charade. See it here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmenergy/555/55506.htm

Nothing will change until an enlighted set of politicians recognises and eradicates the whole labyrinthine ediface of climate zealots esconsed in influential cosy Establishment roles.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Leopard: "...seems [Deben] just loves the fact the climate wibble moral shield offers a position where he gets to dismiss criticism without fear of having to closely justify doing that." So far...But when the tide has turned....

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

So Deben and his CCC claim to give a "balanced response…"

Erm, would that be a balanced response in the same way as an unhinged door gives a balanced response?

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Dawkins

Eventually truth and reason may trump ideology and politics but history teaches us that it can take a very long time and a lot of bodies. I'm more of a rational pessimist.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Lord Deben claiming that Germany produces 30% of its energy from renewable sources (and 60% peak) to the UK House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee on January 8th 2014: http://youtu.be/YSwulZAvKyA.

As the true figure is 8% he is either dishonest or incompetent.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think.

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

Every time you examine in detail what the troughers are doing, you find basic dishonesty. It's their nature.

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/a-climate-of-deception-deceit-lies-and-outright-dishonesty/

Pointman

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Nicholas Hallam:

I'm more of a rational pessimist.

Matt Ridley is too, once government interferes too much, strangling the remarkable power of "ideas having sex". At least that how I read him. I've been known to oversimplify :)

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

No point in beating around the bush with these people. Take a hard line not like a lukewarmer. People listen and enjoy robust debate and are more likely to listen to those who take a realistic and tough line against the warmists. As an example Boris Johnson and others like him (even though I can't stand the bloke) didn't get where he is today by seemingly sitting on the fence and taking a "balanced" view. No they took the bull by the horns and spoke their mind which people respect.
When you appear on television or at committee hearings you must laugh in their faces and humiliate them. To do otherwise is merely playing them at their own game where the public ignore and see this issue as relatively minor and nothing more than day to day parliamentary talking shops.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Paul: We need something that works in the public arena and that is much easier said than done when there is this weight of having consistently been "abused, ridiculed, smeared and inaccurately misquoted" for so many years. Boris is far too smart an operator to ever come out with something unequivocal on climate science and policies, for example, though he will throw us a few scraps from time to time, to stop the votes going to the other chap.

Matt Ridley himself has for me been outstanding on Andrew Neil's Daily Politics recently. I'm not at all sure that more foaming at the mouth (and anything that can be interpreted as foaming at the mouth) is going to help. James Delingpole can be very effective in his use of humour and sarcasm - and sometimes isn't. I'm all for different styles being given a try - but we're deeply limited by how many decent thinkers in this area the BBC and its ilk are willing to invite.

Most of all, though, we should in my view absolutely heed Matt's advice on writing letters:

I am putting it in the public domain so that, if others share my concerns about the bias of the Committee on Climate Change they can raise them with the committee themselves.

It would be interesting to ask: Who wrote this document? Why was it published without informing me? Why were key words omitted from key sentences in quotations? Why does the committee never challenge exaggerations in the same way as it challenges those arguing that climate change is moderate? How much did the preparation of this report cost? Why was I given no right of reply? Why did Lord Deben refuse to post my response to his report on his website? If you do raise these questions, please be polite, be factually accurate and be brief. And, as always, please quote exactly the words I or others used, not some paraphrase of them.

Self-control needed. And I'm sure one day rewarded.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Thank you Matt Ridley. One of my heroes, I had a battle with a Warmist last week and got into a real temper. It is utterly maddening to be abused by a half wit who only reads Wikipedia and the Guardian, so it is very comforting that the sainted Lord Ridley suffers the same experiences.

Mar 12, 2014 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermariwarcwm

HG54

"I've often found Lord Deben's tweets so biased, rude and offensive, that for some considerable time I thought it couldn't be him"

I read a comment in that vein last year, and it was answered: "those who don't know him think it must be a spoof, but those who do know him are convinced it's real", which sounds about right.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It is perhaps pertinent that John Gummer was Secretary of State for the Environment when the Environment Agency was handed the responsibility for maintaining our rivers in 1996. The "no dredging to mitigate flooding" policy dates from then.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

One of the parties to this dispute is a gentleman. The other is not. What is going on is tantamount to a war where one force respects the rules of engagement recognised by civilised society whereas for the opposing side such rules do not exist and their single minded army is out to win the war at all cost.

While the above guest post describes the bare minimum response, that is, to continue to demonstrate and to practice the scientific method, exactly as Viscount Ridley is doing, the war will not be won on the scientific front. Rational, optimistic arguments in war can indeed be dismissed as no more than a weak defence. The worst of it is that such defensive arguments are not actually known to be impregnable with any certainty, which is itself an acknowledged part of the scientific method.

They are not winning all battles but they are still winning the war. It follows that Deben and friends must be removed from power. The initiative which channels the tide towards common sense, pragmatism, the elimination of waste, etc, will come from politics. Short of bloody rebellion it will have to be the bloody ballot box. The rationalists must be equally single minded and vote for candidates solely on their determined intentions with regard to the most important couple of issues, one of which must be ‘decarbonisation’. But this will also require removing the possibility of the relevant laws being imposed upon the UK by foreign entities.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

"The rudeness of the climate establishment towards anybody who argues for moderation is quite extraordinary..."

Indeed. And more than just rudeness, doctoring quotes goes much further than being rude. But I'm not sure one can defend against the likes of Deben and Ward individually. They appear to be skeptophobes, who are protected by the larger CAGW entity, and just like bigots everywhere their actions seem to be aimed at robbing you of your dignity and your reputation, I guess ultimately your humanity. While arguably milder, this has the same root purpose as the deployment of the 'denier' phrase, i.e. dehumanisation. But actions like this are only possible because these guys feel that they have the implicit backing of a large majority who will not object, who ultimately feel that the cause of CAGW justifies such behaviour.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Is it skeptophobe or sceptiphobe? A key idea, I think - because I recently was under the impression I had originated it. (I'm sure someone else did. But aren't we allowed an 'i' before the 'phobe'?)

"They're not really scared of warming, they're scared of people disagreeing with them, scared of anyone who even asks a question." That was the thought that came to me. Sceptiphobes.

Mar 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I'm with Paul...for what its worth.

Mar 12, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Lord Deben even presumes to lecture the Aussies on their climate policies:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/67fa339e-9f0b-11e3-8663-00144feab7de.html#axzz2vlCqrl67

I see this as an insult to the people of Australia, who elected Tony Abbot in part because of his stand on the carbon tax.

Mar 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

I wonder what Fred the Shred thinks of Lord Debden's work?
Mar 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM Heide De Klein


"Nice work if you can get it."

Mar 12, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Mar 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Cheshirered

Lord Deben? Reputation?
Could it possibly get worse?

Mar 12, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

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