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« Quiet satisfaction abounds | Main | More alarmist than thou »

Venting and venting

Robert Wilson is nothing if not grumpy, and his grumpiness can lead him occasionally to a kind of foolishness that he might have avoided if he had taken a deep breath before clicking on the publish button.

Today's post is a case in point. Entitled  Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor it is something of a rant at "right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers" (he forgot "eeevil" and "big-oil-funded"). According to Wilson, BH readers and people like that are actually cold, callous, heartless bad people who are unconcerned about our fellow human beings unless they are, like us, bloated plutocrats. What seems to have pushed him over the edge was a tweet from Junkscience's Stephen Milloy, which had a poverty-stricken Indian lady asking "Who exactly is 'the Pope' and why doesn't he want me to have electricity?". It does look rather as if Wilson's ire has been prompted more by the fact that these are difficult questions for global warming adherents to answer rather than anything else. Certainly it's a crashing logical fallacy to respond as Wilson does:

Bring up climate change, and these people will rush to defend the interests of the poor. It’s the first port of call. Bring up welfare, the state of public health provision, foreign aid, disability benefits, free school meals, inequality, the state of public housing, and this concern for the poor is absent. In fact, bring up these other issues, and these bleeding hearts will be in a mad rush to do all they can to screw the poor.

Apart from Milloy, Wilson's considerable ire is directed at Matt Ridley. But while I don't hang out at Junkscience much these days, I'm much more familiar with Ridley's output, so I was rather taken aback by Wilson's case against him (if I can dignify it with that term):

It is perfectly consistent to complain about rich land owners making money from wind farms, while you yourself being a rich landowner who makes money from coal mining on the land you inherited.

So, here is a challenge for a social scientist. I have a hypothesis and I believe it needs to be tested.

Here it is

Right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers show orders of magnitude more concern for the poor when they are writing about climate change than any other issue

This hypothesis can easily be tested by compiling the inconsistent and hypocritical comment pieces by Matt Ridley, the land owner referenced above, et al.

As a way of advertising that your rant has not been preceded by any great thought, this is going to take some beating. Can Wilson really not detect a qualitative different between a subsidy, extracted mainly from the poor via the tax system and handed to the wealthy, and a contractual payment, negotiated freely on both sides and not involving the poor at all? And where is Wilson's moral compass pointing if he cannot?

Moreover, I have at hand a copy of Ridley's Rational Optimist, which readers are no doubt aware is a natural history of how mankind became wealthy and healthy, and something of a primer in how poverty can be reduced. It's hard to open the book without reading discussion of the plight of the poor and tales of how poverty has been done away with, often unwittingly; or very often, how it has been exacerbated by those who have been claiming at the tops of their voices that they are the only ones who care.

It's also worth mentioning this excerpt from the front page of Matt Ridley's website:

Supporting Rational Optimism

I have donated roughly half of the advance royalty received for my book The Rational Optimist to two charities (here and here) that are helping those in need, especially in Africa, to trade, farm and innovate. If you like The Rational Optimist and are feeling generous, please take a look at their work.

I also support small local charitable causes in south-east Northumberland through the Ridley Family Charity.

So it's Ridley thinking and doing, versus Wilson venting and venting.

Case closed, I would say

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Reader Comments (38)

"Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor"

So after Paris how much Carbon Tax does he propose putting on Aviation Fuel and really help out the Tunisian and Greek Tourist Industry.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Bish: This item has several typos. I suggest a quick proof-read.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby


Struggling to see anything, but they do say you can't proofread your own work. Give me some clues.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:14 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Who is Robert Wilson?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

First sentence "in"
Second para, 4th line something missing after 'like'
Second sentence of para beginning with 'Moreover' seems to be missing something.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:28 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Looks like cognitive dissonance finally caused this poor fellow to crack. After Paris fails, there will likely be a lot more of this sort of thing.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Proofreader at your service.

Line 1 "if"
Line 7 "like that"
Line 8 "about our fellow"
Line 26 "without discussion"

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

If the majority of the Carbon Counter posts appeared here or at another sceptic blog,

They would have been cheered (and attacked) for their skepticism..(mainly energy policy, renewables reality, etc)

I think this makes Robert a but grumpy sometimes... as he doesn't seem to like climate sceptics


There is no renewables revolution in China. Here are the numbers that show this

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Omnologos: a relative of Richard's? I don't believe it!


Why bother even entertaining the likes of this?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:39 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I think his argument really is something like, as he or anyone he knows doesn't care about 'the poor' he doesn't think anyone else can either. Obviously 'caring' is very open to interpretation. Anyone actions and not words are the important thing anyway.

I'm not sure what Matt Ridley is supposed to be a hypocrite about, he always comes across as a decent guy and I definitely disagree on some of the things he says.

Doesn't Rob live off the taxpayer anyway though?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

From Wilson's piece:

Right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers show orders of magnitude more concern for the poor when they are writing about climate change than any other issue
One of the most basic logical fallacies: Buckets hold water, therefore, anything in a bucket is wet. Well, that certainly describes Wilson: wet! So all 'deni@rs are 'right wing' - oh, pulease. Such lazy intellectualism!
And we care for the poor effected by climate change more than our home-grown poor? What a crock. First, it's all to do with the poor affected by the 'solutions' to AGW; and the 'home-grown' poor? There is no such thing in benefits-laden Britain (compared to the third-world). One day, Wilson will realise that the 'cure' for his world's faux epidemic is worse than the disease (which is non-existant).

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

its usually a very good read..

Can You Make a Wind Turbine Without Fossil Fuels?

Various scenarios have been put forward showing that 100% renewable energy is achievable. Some of them even claim that we can move completely away from fossil fuels in only couple of decades. A world entirely without fossils might be desirable, but is it achievable?

The current feasibility of 100% renewable energy is easily tested by asking a simple question. Can you build a wind turbine without fossil fuels? If the machines that will deliver 100% renewable energy cannot be made without fossil fuels, then quite obviously we cannot get 100% renewable energy.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I guess we should be grateful that Wilson actually named someone in his rant, so people can check for themselves.

I hope I can make his day worse by saying that, if anything, frequent tirades about 'right wing deniers' has helped push this mildly left-of-centre denier further towards the right.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Wilson's real problem is that mitigation of CO2 is bad for people and bad for the planet. Matt Ridley lays this out and so does Mark Lynas.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

I think he's probably right that the deniers show more interest in the poor with regard to climate change than they do about other political issues.

But, and this is a big but, that doesn't make them wrong. The poor will be much more affected by the policies suggested by the CAGW bedwetters than is currently admitted. We deniers bring that up not because we particularly care about the poor more than other people but because our opponents generally claim to do so. We are striking at the weak point in their argument, claiming to support the Third World but actually interested in making the First World pay for their alleged guilt in robbing Gaia, not asserting moral superiority.

Partly it is also that people interested in climate are more interested in climate than other things. I'm sure WWF supporters care far more about wildlife in China than they do about education there, for example. And Greenpeace supporters will show more interest in GM there than they will in roading policy. How could people very interested in one topic not be more interested in that topic than in other ones?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers show orders of magnitude more concern for the poor when they are writing about climate change than any other issue

What about us left wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers?
Don't we demonstrate that the issue of climate change involves the poor because the Green policies affect the poor?

I show the same characteristic. I discuss the poor far less when commenting on rights for women and minorities, for example. That's because the opponents aren't actively trying to impoverish them. It's a debate about how to structure society.

But on climate change the Greens are genuinely demanding an increase in poverty today to fund a vague future. That's going to lead to more discussion of the poor.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:02 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Is there something wrong with being right wing?

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Re Jun 29, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered Commenter Barry Woods


I also recall a mention a while back on Red Power blog of one wind farm in Colorado getting a semi-trailer load of Mobil 1 synthetic oil (expensive) per fortnight.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

M Courtney, thank you for pointing out that not all people from left of centre, make stupid sweeping generalisations.

MOST of the dimmest wets on climate change, come from left of centre, and get their knackers into hypocrisy overload when confronted by images of Green Blob fabricated poverty.

Jun 29, 2015 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Matt Ridley has also been scrupulously honest in declaring his coal interest in every article I've ever read. Maybe they should shine the light on the renewables lobby for a change.

Jun 29, 2015 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

The need to create an 'evil other' has opposed to righteous believer is a standard feature of all religions,of course this approach has no place in science , but then this is nothing to do with science.

That CAGW followers fall a constant need to pain sceptics has not merely wrong , but 'mad or bad' shows how its virtual all about emotion for them , which to be fair given then cannot use a fact based argument for the simply reason the facts do not support them , is what you expect.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Who is Robert Wilson?
Jun 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM omnologos

Presumably it's the same Robert Wilson who three years or so ago stated on BH "...some of the personal e-mails sent to me today would be rather embarrassing to some of you if I posted them on BH. So let's please keep this civil. I can accept that some/many of you are rather sceptical, but insults will not help the discourse."

When challenged, no emails were forthcoming. So I put in a FOISA request for the insulting emails which was denied by the university. I requested a review of the decision which remained unchanged. So I appealed to the FOISA commissioner and she ruled that Wilson's university had broken the law in its handling of my requests and she directed that the insulting emails should be released.

Here is the only "insulting/embarrassing" email that Wilson's university had:

Dear Rob,
You write.

"I am currently funded through the European Union''

This should read

"I am currently taxpayer funded, via the European Union."

The EU has no money other than that it removes from the taxpayer.
A small point, but most important. We are your paymaster, not the EU,
and it is us you are responsible to, we the
taxpayers, not the EU.


My conclusion. Wilson is a bullshitter.

Jun 30, 2015 at 12:24 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, that an e-mail so polite and factually correct has caused such a response from Wilson clearly denotes a major personality disorder. No organisation with any sense of integrity should employ him in a position of responsibility. Possibly why he ended up with the EU

Jun 30, 2015 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I have to confess, although the great warming scam vexes me most intensely by far it is not the only string to my bow.

There's lots of ills in this world and some of them are burning problems - metaphorically and literally.

Doctrinal Politics is the bane of mankind - with its self inflicted regressive crackpot policy directives and direction, plus moon beam technology as panaceas.

I'll make a comment about Wilson and all of his ilk - Socialists love spending other peoples money - they inform gullible people, assuring them that, "we'll make the world a better place". Right.

It is an infallible and categorical truth, that, the ideology of Socialism in all of it's twisted forms - will make as night follows day life worse, far worse.

Left wing ideology........ and if allowed to entrench in an ongoing social experiment - all Socialist dogmas and policies - will lead to NATIONAL bankruptcy and eventual financial calamity. Soviet Russia a good example, Kampuchea/Cambodia, Cuba are others - and China - authoritarian as it ever was is by a very long stretch no economic miracle either.
The imminent collapse of the Socialist Empire of Brussels will soon come about - crushed by a massively useless but top heavy bureaucracy, business strangled by a green agenda which is off-shoring companies and business and the sclerosis of red tape not least the anti logic of diversity quotas and equality legislation. The EU is a Mafia paradise, where endless corruption makes billionaires out of common crooks, barking mad spend thrift capital projects [Calabria, Knock, Barcelona new terminals - empty Airports - anyone?] and a system of laws which allows a overly generous welfare system open to all comers free and with instant access - yup = financial, fiscal and economic, commercial insanity.

Cheer it - bye bye Brussels - coming soon I predict.

Runaway Man made Global warming - Socialist loons, it's their Bible.

Jun 30, 2015 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Again, we need more people like Robert Wilson "speaking up". I can think of nothing doing as much damage to their cause than these hysterical rants.

Jun 30, 2015 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

It's been noted before, not just by me, that Wilson appears to keep having "turns." I suspect he's building up to another one at the moment.

Get well soon, Rob!

Jun 30, 2015 at 3:04 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

There was a BBC programme on recently where Chris Packham was interviewing Monbiot (farmers bad, rewilding good) and some lefty artist (giant hen harrier carrying a Range Rover) who had just made a film about the miners strike . Just how long can these champagne socialists simultaneously support the end of coal use and the striking miners before they see the obvious contradiction? One of many examples of their unwillingness to face reality! I guess they also forgot that Pol Pot's Sartre-inspired agrarian socialist utopia killed the intellectuals first.

Jun 30, 2015 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


"The imminent collapse of the Socialist Empire of Brussels will soon come about - crushed by a massively useless but top heavy bureaucracy, business strangled by a green agenda which is off-shoring companies and business and the sclerosis of red tape not least the anti logic of diversity quotas and equality legislation."

I do hope so.

Jun 30, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Martin A (12:24 AM), Your quote is from Rob Wilson, a distinguished academic and thinker about climate who has been willing to entertain discussion on the topic in ways which set a good example to others in academia and elsewhere. Your quote is from a minor part of a comment he made late on in the discussion on a guest-post by him here:

I cannot find any such complimentary things to say about this Robert Wilson. He seems to be a blowhard out of central-casting, but that's just a first impression. Perhaps if others can spot some merit in his stuff, they could set me right.

Jun 30, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

John Shade: 'Perhaps if others can spot some merit in his stuff, they could set me right.'

How about this?

Jun 30, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

If you are looking at posts here or on WUWT, rants about how climate change are going to impoverish the poor further are more likely because these are CLIMATE BLOGS. I also applaud the recent Supreme Court decisions in the raisen takings case and the Texas cosmetology cases as examples of increasing the freedom of the individual to make money, but I only bring it up here because Wilson thinks otherwise.
It is also the case that fully implementing policies called for by people like James Hansen (shut down all coal plants immediately) would be devastating to the entire economy but always moreso for the poor.

Jun 30, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

Is this the same guy who occasionally comments at ClimateAudit?

Jun 30, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Thank you, Robin (1:49 PM). I had not come across this chap before, and I confess I did not read beyond the piece quoted in the main post, nor did it make me want to. But your link, assuming the numbers are sensible (I have not checked any of them) is at least reassuring that he is not completely unhinged and intemperate. That's a relief - we don't really need any more of such personalities!

Jun 30, 2015 at 6:54 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

<I>" but always moreso for the poor"</I>

And the newly poor, made so by the implementation of said policy.

Jul 1, 2015 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterkcom

Jun 30, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Is this the same guy who occasionally comments at ClimateAudit?

There are two people called Rob Wilson being talked about on this thread.

(a) Rob Wilson, the "CarbonCounter", is the author of the above mentioned essay - "Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor " - he is a researcher at the University of Strathclyde and looks like this:


(b) the other Rob Wilson is currently at University of St Andrews and looks like this:

This Rob Wilson (insulting emails) did a guest post on BH in 2012 (see MartinA 12:24 am 30/6 and John Shade 11:01 am 30/6)

This Rob Wilson also featured, when he was a PDRA (University of Edinburgh - 2003 to 2007), in several posts at ClimateAudit in March 2007:

and which mentioned this paper:


Hope this helps.

Jul 1, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Evidently there are at least two Rob Wilsons:

1. The FOISA Rob Wilson (St Andrews University) - The bullshitter who posted on BH about nonexistent insulting emails.

2. The Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor Rob Wilson.
I am a researcher at the University of Strathclyde modelling marine ecosystems. My side interest is energy and climate change.

[Just seen Browndoff's more detailed comment above]

Jul 1, 2015 at 9:44 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Two words that make a nonsense of the right wing denier wibble.

Graham Stringer.

Jul 3, 2015 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterLynne at Counting Cats

I won't bother him again!!! what a charmer.

Robert Wilson responded: July 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm
Ah, very true Barry. What goes on in China can be used in a variety of ways.

The climate concerned van twist the facts to show that we cannot use Chinese inaction as an excuse for our own inaction.

On the other hand brazen immoralists, such as yourself, point to a bigger neighbour pissing in the pool and use this as a reason to unzip and unleash the consequences of excessive coffee drinking right beside where a fellow human is trying to do his twenty laps."

Jul 4, 2015 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

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