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Casual smears at RTCC

A year or so ago I caught the people at the Responding to Climate Change website fabricating a story. They had claimed that an island in the Solomons was being evacuated due to climate change but a little research showed that it was due to a tsunami. RTCC had simply tried to appropriate the story for "the cause".

Today I find that RTCC editor Ed King has done a drive-by smear on Matt Ridley, alleging that he is the owner of a coal mine. The insinuation is fairly clear - that Ridley argues against decarbonisation in order to protect this business interest. Of course as readers here know, all subsurface energy assets in the UK are the property of the state so it it is not even possible for Ridley to own the coal under his land. Moreover the mines there are operated by H.J. Banks Ltd: Ridley is therefore neither owner nor operator. In fact he only receives a wayleave from Banks for access to the site.

This does not make him a "coal mine owner".

It's such a stupid smear to boot. Why would anyone seeking to protect an interest in coal argue so forcefully in favour of a shale gas industry being developed in the UK? In the US, coal has been the principal victim of the shale gas industry.

One is therefore forced to step back and consider the interplay between King's ethical standards and his intellectual ones and to consider which has won out in this case.

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Reader Comments (69)

Andrew. I personally bet you £500 you cannot find out how much Matt Ridley's "wayleave" actually is. I haven't managed to so far. It's incredible what you "sceptics" take on trust with those you agree with and now quick you are to accuse people of conspiracy if what they are saying is at all unsettling.

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrendan Montague

Not to mention that Ridley has repeatedly declared this fact in his writings...

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

Brendan Montague
And just why is Ridley's wayleave any of your business?
Are you about to tell us who pays you for what and how much? Thought not.
And what exactly are we "taking on trust", please? And who exactly are we accusing of conspiracy?
I can say that, judging by his website, King is either a fantasist or a liar. Never managed quite to work out which yet but I reckon you and he make a good pair.

And guess what? When he tell him that he's too much of a coward to print it.

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

RTCC just another example of very poorly researched and lazy journalism, perhaps this should be more of a concern to Mr Montague rather than the business interests of Matt Ridley.

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper


The bigger the wayleave, the more reputable Ridley would be, because he is arguing for gas. That's why your attempts to smear him are so dishonest. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:41 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It's an old shtick by now, but it still gives me a stiff pain. "You have Monsanto shares, you must be evil!" "You watch Fox News, you must be evil!" "You smoke (or vape), you must be evil!"

"You own a coal mine, you must be evil!"

Almost as bad as believing that evil resides in a substance, CO2, chlorine, lead, etc. That's the real meaning of that good old Victorian phrase, "moral imbecile"!

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Gus

A quick internet search shows that Brendan works for De Smog Blog UK. Just about explains everything you need to know. I would advise everyone DNFTT.

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Brendan, Bish, Anyone,

Who finances Responding To Climate Change? I am only asking because of the importance that Brendan attaches to the subject. Presumably all financial details are open to disclosure and have not been concealed.

Bish, check spelling of tsunami, or I need to have words with my spielchequer
[Dealt with, thanks. BH]

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The main reason I became a skeptic was because of people like Brendan, and Ed King. It seems given a choice they will lie whenever possible, so why believe their opinion on science?

Jul 16, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg

I think Brendan is trying to deflect from the central issue here. The article referred to includes a factual error. Now that error is pointed out, what could have been put down to bad research, becomes a willful lie. A correction and apology is in order. I'm not holding my breath.

Ridley has declared his interest both in his published material and in the Lords register ( Does it matter if it is £10 or £10m? No public money is involved. It's not coming out of anyone's pocket except Banks'

Only the politics of envy would dictate an interest in the detail.

Perhaps Mssrs King and Montague would like to declare their interests to even things up?

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Greg, it is wonderful how people like Brendan Montague do so much great work to retard their cause.

I don't know if he is paid by the hour, smear or year, but he has brought a lot of happiness, and laughter to so many people, with a simple post.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

RTCC / DeSmog?

fantasy, posing + cowardly name calling from a distance is the MO = woeful.

Ed and Brendan look like cases of arrested development from here - pre-modding comments guys? c'mon .....

Brendan - care to put that £500 in escrow ? it's not that we don't believe (trust?) you or anything.....

... yeah thought not.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I think we are missing the bigger picture here, namely that the Bish can pick up a quick £500.
Find that wayleave Andrew, he didn't say anything about telling anyone what it is :)

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Perhaps Brendan can win back some credibility by donating the 500 pounds to a charity of the good Bishops choice. ;o) But my guess is we will not be hearing from him again on this thread.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"It's such a stupid smear to boot. Why would anyone seeking to protect an interest in coal argue so forcefully in favour of a shale gas industry being developed in the UK? In the US, coal has been the principal victim of the shale gas industry."

A good point but keep in mind is the repeated vilification of Exxon-Mobil or any other "big oil" with respect to climate change and CO2 emissions. "Big Oil" has few reserves of oil. Oil reserves are mostly owned by sovereign states. Big oil just process the stuff. The reserves they own are more likely to be natural gas. The forced decarbonization of the utility scale electric is being accomplished mostly by switching from coal to natural gas. New renewable generation can barely keep pace with retirement of nuclear plants. Big oil is the biggest beneficiary of the climate crusade and big oil knows that. Climate crusaders are patsies for big oil, increasing sales for the people they routinely demonize. So stupid smears is more than a habit; its a way of life for activists.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

Andrew. I personally bet you £500 you cannot find out how much Matt Ridley's "wayleave" actually is. I haven't managed to so far.

Investigative reporting equivalent of a Script Kiddie.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterterrymn

Indeed, eternal optimist. The only issue would be how to convince Montague that his Grace has been told the amount. Perhaps we could provide a list of "approved persons" from whom Brendan could select one to swear an affidavit that they had seen the wayleave. Happy to volunteer, Bish, as a PRA approved person.
Or does he think we are all liars like Ed King?

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

It is an illogical smear. Coal and gas are in competition.

So why did they run with it? Is that really the best they can do?

I confess that I was not certain of Matt Ridley's virtue but it seems he is a proven angel.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Here is what Matt Ridley had to say about his coal interests in his recent in-depth interview with Russ Roberts at Econtalk, It seems to me that he has behaved ethically.

(Guest = Matt Ridley)
And it's true that I have got personal investments in coal mining near my home; in fact, my family has been in it one way or another for a couple of hundred years. So, maybe I have a vested interest in carbon dioxide emissions. But I've always declared that; I've always made that very explicit. Russ: You owned that coal when you were worried about global warming. Guest: Well, exactly. That's right. Russ: Kind of gives you a [?]. Guest: [?] It's held me back. I've thought--I better not, I must be being influenced by my own vested interests here, so I'd better be careful. So, for a long time I hesitated before expressing my skepticism, for that reason

Here is the transcript:

Then there is the money his family trust receives from a wind farm which he uses to fund a writing prize (after paying tax on it)

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Brown

Absolutely David S.
I have no doubt that Brendan judges us by his own standards. which is both sad and annoying

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

I would genuinely love to see an article by Matt Ridley where he says he agrees with climate science. He has been attacking climate science since 1996 from what I can find. The conversion narrative is always very convincing. It's a line Benny Peiser has used, and also Julian Morris. Unfortunately, when I started reading the science I only discovered it was worse and more likely than I had originally thought. I'd be delighted to convert, if the facts would only allow.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrendan Montague

If I were an "investigative reporter", which I only ever was incidentally to reporting on school fêtes, golden weddings, and council meetings, and I couldn't find out what Banks were paying for a wayleave I would be revising my CV.
Montague is one of those dilettante butterflies whose opinion of himself exceeds what any normal human being is entitled to.
The fact that he contributes to de smog blog really tells you all you need to know about his ethics and his IQ.

Jul 16, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike J @ Jul 16, 2015 at 4:58 PM -- Yep!

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterterrymn


I'd be delighted to convert, if the facts would only allow.
That is something that I have been saying for the last 20 years. Provide me with some believable evidence
that the late 20th century warming was outwith normal variation;
that the (alleged) 1.2° of warming attributable to a doubling of CO2 will be increased to 4, 5, 6 (any advance .....) by positive feedbacks;
that wind/solar can ever provide cheap, reliable energy;
that last week's paper by the University of Northumbria presaging a new little ice age in 20 years can be safely ignored;
that the entire global warming/climate change scare is any more than yet one more attempt by the eco-numpties to get their way in the face of 95+% opposition from "real" people;
that people like you and King and Rice and the activist community in general are not interested in truth, only your own agenda ...

and I will be quite happy to join the club. Only none of you can. All you ever give us is lies, obfuscations, hand-waving, insults, and a simple refusal to discuss*.
Where, Brendan, is your evidence, and why are you all so reluctant to debate it?"

* Sorry; I forgot to mention the ad homs and the childish belief that we are all funded by Big Oil or Big Coal, as if funding by Big Green is OK.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The 'climate science'
Whatever that is. My guess is that it is whatever supports your view on AGW - and your political leanings to boot. IMHO climate science is surpassed by Airfix: at least their models bear some relationship to reality.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I am not a fan of Poptech, but he is useful at times and capable of good work:

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Ridley is an albatross round the neck of the anti AGW movement thanks to his iconic status as a ridiculed right wing extremist. Same goes for Lawson, Monckton, Heritage Foundation et al.

They are all identified as people who are driven by ideology, not facts.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Brendan, I hope you are getting a bonus for your self promotion, to make the smears worth your time.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

smiffy, that's always the problem when you are in opposition to people who will tell barefaced lies about their opponents.

Today, I just wish they'd cut to the chase and say the coal mines are operated by orphaned baby polar bears taken into slavery by tobacco lawyers. It'd save us all a lot of time.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart

You are completely correct. However, there is the very real matter of Northern Rock.

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

"right wing extremist"

Right... anyone who who doesn't vote for a party on the left is automatically an 'extremist'.
What is it about left-wingers that makes them so given over to childish hyperbole?

Jul 16, 2015 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid smith

" You are completely correct. However, there is the very real matter of Northern

Doesn't seem very right wing, they did a great job of giving free money away didn't they. I worked for a building society at the time.

Jul 16, 2015 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Rob Burton

True, and Ridley being a supernaturally decent chap would never have thought of asking for a penny of those 200% mortgages back.

Jul 16, 2015 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The first time I got accused of being in the pay of Big Oil I was really taken aback. I knew that the warmists believe that anyone who questions climate change alarmism MUST be in the pay of Big Oil, but it was still difficult to believe it when I was accused of it in a political blog by another commenter.

Then the commenter trotted out a whole series of alarmist claims that I recognised as originating in the Guardian and Skeptical Science.

It made me realise that many of these people are like mindless members of a cult, brainwashed in what to think and what to say. At least most sceptics are those who question climate alarmism and make an effort to study the actual scientific evidence.

Jul 16, 2015 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Brendan Montague:-

"I would genuinely love to see an article by Matt Ridley where he says he agrees with climate science."

I would be astonished if Matt Ridley did not agree that the scientific evidence is incontrovertible that both subtle and dramatic climate change has occurred on all time scales for at least 3.5 billion years of earth’s history without any human intervention.

It is those, apparently including Brendan, who believe that mankind is now the prime causative agency of climate change and able to “manage” the earth’s climate (inter alia by restricting the use of fossil fuels) who do not "agree with climate change" not those who cannot find credible scientific support for the proposition that mankind is both responsible for climate change or capable of changing the earth’s climate.

Jul 16, 2015 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

I'm truly amazed by the likes of Montague who, of the left, vilify coal so much, yet would probably have stood shoulder to shoulder with Scargill in 1985. Funny old world, as someone said (esmiff's mum?).

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Tried to leave a comment informing them that they were wrong about Ridley supposedly owning a coal mine.
True to lefty form, they couldn't hack the truth, so they deleted my comment

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid smith

Schrodinger's Cat

"It made me realise that many of these people are like mindless members of a cult, brainwashed in what to think and what to say. "

That is a very good description of the entire modern, corporate liberal, PC, 'left'.

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Well said Mike.

I just love when someone like Brendan taks about "facts", yet can never mention any of them.

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

appalling bad arguments from Lord Deben :
“Any fool can make a profit if he sells his product at low cost and that’s exactly what the fossil fuel industry is doing,” he said.

Title : "‘Rude’ and ‘touchy’ climate sceptics losing UK battle, says Lord Deben"
Contradicted by quoting from this same article.
"This month’s budget saw taxes on clean energy hiked, purse strings for fossil fuels relaxed, incentives for cleaner cars weakened and a move to privatise the country’s flagship Green Investment Bank."
"quietly dropped its ‘greenest ever’ moniker in favour of cutting short term costs."

- His evidence does NOT support his claim so he just resorts to ad hominem attacks also projecting cos he's just is RUDE himself :“less and less credible” “dogmatists” “pre-rehearsed line” “who hasn’t listened for years,”

- 'climate action won't hurt the world’s poor' "Oxfam, Save the Children, Action Aid and Christian Aid all support slashing fossil fuel use." That's fallacies of authority and ad popularem from Lord D.

"More work also needed to be done to explain to the public the vast levels of subsidies lavished on the domestic oil, gas and coal sector, he said." why Lord D ? You just told us "climate sceptics losing UK battle"

Deben said green groups were also to blame for the lacklustre debate ... Why Lord D ? You just told us "climate sceptics losing UK battle."

At MPs surgeries Deben wants "at least one person raising the issue of climate change – and it’s not difficult to do that… but where are these much vaunted numbers ? "
why Lord D ? You just told us "climate sceptics losing UK battle"

"onshore wind,", ""which is the cheapest form of low carbon electricity."
Em no it's not. Is it cheaper than Hydro Lord D?

- Of wind turbines he said
“I like them – I have no problem… but we never managed to win the battle.”
Why Lord D ? You just told us "climate sceptics losing UK battle"

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:31 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I had two comments deleted on RTCC re this subject. I took screen shots as proof.

Shame that the 'team' refuse to debate but sceptical websites allow full discussion.....

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Given Matt's candid admission of the Ripley estates coal income , it seems obtuse for the Bish to deny what he advertises- turning coal mine dumps from a major eyesore into a monumental tourist draw:


It sure beats pickling sharks in formaldehyde.

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

"turning coal mine dumps from a major eyesore into a monumental tourist draw"

Jul 16, 2015 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Russell, have you been to Wigan Pier?

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Steve Richards: I just looked at the RTCC piece and there are no comments on it at all. I'd have liked to have seen yours.

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I just posted on

Ed: I take it your are against coal. Does that mean that you think Scargill was wrong to want to keep the mines open in 1984/5?
at RTCC. It went into moderation immediately.

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

...and then it was deleted! ROFL!

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:33 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

I tried posting a link to this page, but it went straight in to moderation and then seemed to disappear. I suppose someone hit the delete button.

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"Unfortunately, when I started reading the science I only discovered it was worse and more likely than I had originally thought. I'd be delighted to convert, if the facts would only allow."

I'm sure that that's the same science I read, but I ended up 'converted'. There are three possibilities.

1. I'm right and you're wrong.
2. You're right, and I'm wrong.
3. There's more going on here than 'science'.

It is amazing how 'facts' only seem to be important some of the time. They don't seem to be important when Matt Ridley is being referred to as the owner of a coal mine. For someone who boasts about his powers of investigative journalism -- your search for The Truth -- you seem quite unconcerned by your green comrade's mishandling of the facts, and seem keen to deflect attention from the implications for King's journalism.

And you yourself seem somewhat carefree in your own deployment of the facts, saying that Ridley 'disagrees with climate science' -- a claim which doesn't merely take liberties with the facts, but is so imprecise as to be not just unscientific, but anti-science. As with Deben, it is as if an argument can be judged, not on the basis of its scientific merit, but the extent to which it agrees or disagrees with a political consensus. No science needed.

It is hard not to conclude, even from just your brief comments here, and without going into any detail about Ridley's putative disagreements with climate science, that your view of the 'science' and of the 'facts' was coloured long before you looked for the 'facts' concerning climate science, the Ridley estate, or Ridley's argument.

Jul 16, 2015 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

The Motive Fallacy
"If you hear someone challenging the motives of another, it might mean their argument is weak."
- Deben and Brendan don't like Ridley's arguments so they seek an easy way to reject them. It's that it’s a lot of work to refute a view. That would require reading, investigating, and thinking.

It's a form of ad hom ;ad hominem circumstantial argument ,cos you are not attacking the argument , but rather the man, the mans circumstances.
It's used as part of Poisoning the Wells to easily dismiss all a person/groups arguments.

Arguments stand on their own merits irrespective of an interest .
But DECISION MAKING that's different cos if someone is in a position of authority to make public decisions about things that benefit them that is Conflict of Interest that could benefitvthem at the expense of others or the public.

- Brendan can you tell us about Lord Deben's business interests in renewables and whether it's a conflict of interest with his power on the Climate Change Committee to influence UK government DECISIONS?

Jul 16, 2015 at 9:08 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

It's a developmental / growing up thing....

Probably a psychological cause ...chronic skunk mebbe?

Paging Doctor Lewindowsky ... oh, wait a minute...

Jul 16, 2015 at 9:12 PM | Registered Commentertomo

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