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Should we take the Grantham Institutes seriously?

Steve McIntyre has dipped his toe into the murky waters of the ongoing furore about the Lawson/Hoskins interview and the BBC's decision that Lawson's position on last winter's floods was not (allegedly) supported by the scientific evidence. Amusingly, McIntyre finds that Lawson's views on the UK floods is entirely supported by Hoskins' prior statements on the subject.

In respect to the linkage between the floods and global warming, [BBC editorial complaints guy] Fraser Steel’s views are unequivocally wrong. Even IPCC – surely the most fervent advocate of climate models imaginable – stated that GCMs did not provide useful information on precipitation extremes (and, a fortiori, floods)...

The conclusion is clear:

If Hoskins and the Grantham institutes want to persuade more people of the seriousness of the issues, Hoskins’ obligation is to do a better job, rather than have Lawson silenced by a Grantham apparatchik. I think that Hoskins should write to the BBC Complaints Unit, separating himself from Ward’s complaint and, at a minimum, conceding that Lawson’s position on the (lack of) linkage of floods and global warming is either correct or one that can be reasonably argued.

It is, of course, vanishingly unlikely that Hoskins would do anything so gracious. Hoskins was the go-to person for the University of East Anglia when the Royal Society laundered the list of articles for the Oxburgh inquiry: although Hoskins himself had no informed knowledge of the literature, he immediately endorsed the UEA. Later, he acted as a supporting authority for refusing FOI requests.

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Reader Comments (37)

Murky is the best way to describe the state of climate science and the institutes that support the "Team's" belief

One can see how the BBC acts when comparing:

The Lawson complaint - dealt with extremely fast, no critical discussion and the result was a knee-jerk endorsement of the complaint by a green advocate.

Large number of complaints about "Climate Wars" where the programme makers completely viewer's concerns while the Editorial Standards and the BBC Trust procrastinated over a year, finally stating it was good enough for a popular science programme.

Viewers do not seem to matter to the BBC if they are not Green and do not follow the AGW doctrine!

Jul 14, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

The BBC has acted on incorrect claims by green activists and rejected Lawson's measured, accurate description of the scientific position.

I think the BBC owes Nigel Lawson a public apology, as does the Grantham Institute.

Jul 14, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

If I had made a fortune such as Jeremy Grantham has done, I too think I would want to spend it on 'good works' and 'good people' to further some 'good cause'. But what a blunder it would be to pick a 'bad cause'. I would have buyer's regret big time looking at Hoskins and Stern and Ward, and presumably there are even more where they came from. Not a penny more would be my immediate thought, before considering how to begin to make amends.

An open letter from Prof Hoskins to the BBC spelling out dismay at their reaction to his broadcast conversation with Lord Lawson would be a fine thing, and might help my imagined me find a way forward.

Ah well, back to reality....

Jul 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

As always, SteveMc has done a dispassionate, accurate and deep analysis. The man is unique.

Jul 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Perhaps someone should suggest linking up the BBC, with a local broadcaster close to Steve McIntyre, so he and Professor Hoskins might have a debate on CAGW. I'm only joking, of course: the BBC would never put Hoskins against another 'amateur', would they?

Jul 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I do not have time to get involved in this, and I have not read the blog post at Climate Audit. Having said that, I have something that might be of relevance to the discussions.

Last year, I had a brief e-mail exchange about extreme rainfall with the Chief Executive of the Met Office, John Hirst. Here is an extract from one of Hirst’s messages.

The evidence that increases in greenhouse gases and the subsequent rise in global temperatures has increased the severity of short period (up to a day) extreme rainfall for the Northern Hemisphere is documented in the IPCC’s special report on managing the risks of extreme events in disasters to advance climate change adaptation. This was published in 2012 and can be found on line at the following address:

The reasoning underlying the finding you refer to about the seasonal extreme rainfall of autumn 2000 and subsequent flooding is documented in the peer review paper by Pall et al, Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000, which was published in Nature In February 2011.

The SREX report, in particular, seems pertinent.

Jul 14, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." comes to mind.
We should, at least for the time being, be grateful that deniers do not suffer the fate of the man who wrote to Stalin suggesting ways that Soviet Science could be improved and was set to the gulag for his pains.
Since Soviet Science was already perfect to say otherwise was to be a running dog of capitalism.
We are not quite there yet but wait and see.

Jul 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon

The global warming debate has been very deliberately diverted to comedy.Both Lawson and Grantham are ultra right wing comedians. There is not one sliver of left wing politics involved in AGW. It is a massive redistribution the other way.

Grantham and Lawson won't be freezing next winter. That's a shame.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

The whole debate seemed to be about the UK which is just a tiny part of the whole Globe. If there are a couple of sunny days the BBC sees that as evidence of AGW.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred Sage

How wonderful for Mr Grantham, and his financial beneficiaries such as Mr Ward, for him to have found a 'worthy cause' where he hopes to become even wealthier [through carbon trading] while saving the planet at the same time.

There is scope for a different interpretation, of course, but it seems it has not yet occurred to the BBC.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

This was covered by Christopher Booker in the Sunday telegraph in his usual factual way. Worth a read.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

To E. Smiff (11.00AM)

That's very uncharitable of you to wish to see Lord Lawson freeze. He has made a huge contribution to try and keep energy prices down. This is not a right wing issue at all, it is an issue of control. Those who wish to control our lives according to their beliefs. The science and politics are the tools being used to further their agenda. Lawson could easily just enjoy a comfortable retirement; we owe him a great debt.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

It seems to be Bob Ward who owes the apology. Like he does to Donna Laframboise, Lord Lawson, Prof Richard Tol and numerous others who have been on the recieving end of his "complaints" and lies.

Jul 14, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The clever thing Grantham did was to set up an academic institute at the LSE. Its purpose is to lend weight to his pole dancing propagandists, delectable Nicky Stern and the lucious Bobsy Ward.

Serious ?

Jul 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

On CNBC right now a professor who believes CO² can warm the planet. He is saying that models are crap, CO² is good for the planet.

Jul 14, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards


No one, bar a few dope addled, unwashed Greenpeace tunnellers actually believes in AGW. It's essentially a class issue. It denotes that the individual believes a clean environment is more important than the size of his gas bill. He is morally superior. See immigration for similar issue.

Jul 14, 2014 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Steve McIntyre's approach to these types of issues could form the basis of a course on rhetoric. He is masterful: Fraser Steel, Hoskins and Ward have some crow to eat and apologies to make.

Jul 14, 2014 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

The BBC is fast becoming a global laughing stock over its global warming obsession.

Its job is to be impartial. If it did just that, it would not be in the current mess. However, being the BBC it had to back the warmist bandwagon.

For years it has reported every alarmist story it can find in the Guardian and avoids reporting anything that that questions the science, such as the record ice in Antarctica.

Then, in an attempt to head off criticism for biased reporting, it commissioned the report on science reporting which helpfully concluded that the BBC should give less airtime to “deniers”.

Now the BBC has got itself into the ridiculous situation where any interview with a sceptic triggers an enormous protest and deluge of complaints from the warmists and greens.

Is the BBC going to use “health” warnings about future contributors? Are they going to censor science that does not agree with IPCC conclusions? Are they going to ban climate scientists who have not got written approval from Greenpeace?

Fraser Steel’s views about the scientific evidence of climate models provides a startling measure of BBC competence in this matter. Unless they give up all pretence of having debates and just wheel on a green alarmist to do a set piece, the Corporation is heading for a truly degrading fiasco which will certainly be entertaining for the sceptics.

The Corporation only has itself to blame. It chose to dance to the tune of the eco-activists and now it is locked into publicly being one.

The BBC should apologise to the public and stop trying to manipulate the way climate change is reported. After all, the science is losing credibility at such a rate that a public debate is long overdue.

Jul 14, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I guess having been a a supporter of the BBC for much of my life, now having followed the climate debate over the last 5 years or so I now fully realise how naive I was on what is and what has been reported to the public not just on the climate. How dare they & most other media outlets mislead the public !
The more you read the more you disbelieve
Guess I'm now in my 'Arab Spring' phase and require 'regime change' starting with the dismemberment of the lying BBC propaganda machine
I was happy in my ignorance .........

Jul 14, 2014 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK_PEARL

"How dare they & most other media outlets mislead the public !"

Of course, they dare do so because they don't think they are misleading anyone. The standard Guardian/Independant readership, and that probably covers are large proportion of BBC staff, have no doubts that Lawson did indeed spout some nonsense on Today, even if when questioned they couldn't actaully remember exactly what it is that is wrong with what he said.

Jul 14, 2014 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

SM: [my bold] "Lawson, an experienced man of affairs though not a “climate scientist”, briefed himself on the matter..."

A masterly use of English - and a phrase that will come to mind when faced with the odd troll demanding that only 'climate scientists' can discuss 'the science'.

Jul 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

steveta_uk is quite right.

There are millions of decent, honest people who believe every word of the green propaganda. They take on trust the alarmism they are taught as students then read about in the press. They believe what the BBC tells them in the News and in once well respected science programmes like "Horizon".

These people are not stupid; they may lack the time or the interest to delve into the subject of global warming to see the facts for themselves, so they have no reason to doubt the Government and the establishment and bodies like the Grantham Institute. Some of them may even hate us as evil fanatics who are trying to prevent the earth from being saved.

However, the facts tell a very different story. Uncertainty and natural variability may dwarf any effect of man-made emissions of CO2. The billions we are throwing at reducing CO2 are not just being wasted, the justification is probably wrong too. The huge investment in the movement and the power of mass groupthink makes it a difficult bandwagon to stop. That is the big story the BBC should be exploring. It is rather ironic that Steel used the output of climate models as being scientific evidence. If he knew anything about the subject he would have realised that the output of the climate models is the evidence of their own failure.

Jul 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Cat, last Christmas I was discussing this very issue with some family members who think I'm some kind of denialist nutter. They are all fairly intelligent, well educated, and well read individuals.

At one point I asked about the hockey stick controversy, to see if they were aware of it. None were, and when I then asked if this means that they trust Michael Mann's output in general, the response was "Who?".

Jul 14, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

No, the Grantham Institute should not be taken seriously at all. It is a con-job. A pseudo-scientific gang that exists to sell alarmism and hype and suppress reaosnable discussion.

Jul 14, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Of course we should take the Grantham Institutes seriously. They're two propaganda organisations who have infiltrated the publicly funded education system financed by a billionaire hedge fund manager whose purpose is to make sure that their employees Ward and Hoskins are heard on the publicly funded media and that Lord Lawson isn't. And it works.
The solution proposed by many here is to abolish the publicly funded media (and even publicly funded education). What about abolishing billionaire hedge fund managers?

Jul 14, 2014 at 6:38 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

You need to take very seriously any individual who uses his wealth to distort public policy and to enrich himself further over the those unable to defend themselves from his mendacity.
The only thing that separates Grantham from, for example, Murdoch is that you at least know who Murdoch is and you can avoid enriching him further if you choose to. In addition, Murdoch's empire is (at least in theory) subject to some form of governmental control through the licensing of his products and/or quangos whose job it is (again at least in theory) to ensure a certain standard.
Grantham is an egomaniac answerable to nobody. He continues to make his fortune on the back of the increasingly dubious hypothesis of catastrophic global warming and sends his ambassadors* out to do his dirty work for him.

"An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country." (Sir Henry Wotton, 1568-1639)

Jul 14, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The Grantham Institute should be taken seriously, in the same way a man who pulls out a knife and demands
your wallet should be taken seriously,. In the end both want to do you harm to their own financial benefit.

It's hardly surprise that the BBC take Grantham's paid shill seriously , the other cheek of the rear end , the Guardian, regularly hands itself over to Bob 'fast fingers ' Ward for use has PR machine for his masters voice .

Jul 14, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

I don't know how many climate science experts there are but I would guess that no more than
10% would subscribe to CAGW.
Unfortunately, the 90% who do not are completely irrelevant, as are the 90% of green peace,
friends of the earth, the WWF and all the rest.
In germany, the large majority of reasonable people were powerless under hitler and we all know
what the result was. Throughout history, governments have turned on their own people with
unspeakable consequences and we are facing something similar today with the climate disruption
What is to be done????????????

Jul 14, 2014 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

A BBC spokesman insisted Lord Lawson had not been banned, but said implying that his views were on “the same footing” as those of the climate scientist who featured in the debate had created “a false balance”.

I cannot think of any other controversial subject or debate where the BBC would dare suggest this. It is intolerable that the BBC should impose its own value judgement. It is completely wrong for so many reasons.

Jul 14, 2014 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Possibly OT.
The BBC, the Grauniad and the other usual suspects are rejoicing that Owen Paterson, one of the few Cabinet Ministers to achieve anything sensible, has been 'sacked'.
Has Bob Ward been at his poison pen letters again?

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

OT, So apologies to all:-

"What do the privileged elite in Washington know about cold homes in January, or of needing to chose between freezing and food? At their glittering, January parties the only ice they know is in their drinks, as they pontificate the politically correct arfing they call profundity. They know how to frown at the words, “strip mine,” while waving away the subject of unemployed miners, who they never face eye-to-eye. They know the correct disapproval to show for the rural poor’s smoking wood-stoves, and the right way to clasp hands and smile as wind turbines kill eagles. They rumple brows over a tenth of a degree rise in world temperatures they can’t feel, enacting legislation that chills the homes of the poor they never meet ten to twenty degrees.

The fact such legislated “energy poverty” is barking mad was already proven, by an increase in the death rate of the elderly in England by 30,000 in the winter of 2012-2013. The elderly of England could not afford both food and fuel, and didn’t get enough of either. Because the old can’t withstand cold, especially when hungry, and because a common cold can swiftly turn to pneumonia, turning down the heat meant death for 30,000."

Jul 15, 2014 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNumber 7

What is it with hedge fund managers, Steyer in the USA and Grantham in the UK, wanting to seize power and control over the populace ?

Jul 15, 2014 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

The BBC view is wrong because Hoskins is a scientist and was espousing a scientific argument, but Lawson is an economist, and his argument is essentially economic, not scientific. His main theme is that even if the science is right, the proposed means of preventing climate change would be ruinous for the world's economy, while the cost of adapting is affordable.

Jul 15, 2014 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Colman

Streetcred asks a vital question. What is it with these uber-rich financiers that makes them want to live out being a super villain in a James Bond film?
But the circle of interest should certainly be enlarged to include Soros and Buffet, I think.

You pegged it: The BBC decision is not about science. It is about silencing people who disagree with their extremist view on climate. And their desperate hope to end a discussion they are beginning to realize they cannot win by open debate.

Jul 15, 2014 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Troll comment and follow-ups removed.

Jul 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"...stated that GCMs did not provide useful information on precipitation extremes (and, a fortiori, floods)..."

I read that and had what I can only describe as a satori...

"Climate change" is two things, not one. First, it's actual changes that are or may be happening to the global climate, (providing there really is such a thing).

On the other hand, it's the theory, "the science", which we are told is "settled" and can never be questioned. It may well be. It doesn't make any difference unless you're a climate scientist or a Guardian journalist. It doesn't necessarily reflect reality (though it may do, If they've done their sums right).

I'm a Catholic, so I'm used to the Pope declaring people to be saints. The uninformed think this gives them a ticket to get into Heaven. It doesn't. It simply reflects Il Papa's considered opinion on whether or not they are saved.

It's scary that the College of Cardinals understands this kind of distinction, but many scientists these days apparently do not.

Jul 16, 2014 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Gus

Uncle Gus

That is it "In nuce"

Jul 16, 2014 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

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