Newsbytes: Walport in a storm

UK Government Chief Scientist Accused Of ‘Name-Calling For Lack Of Evidence’

Matt Ridley Calls On Mark Walport To Withdraw Unsubstantiated Accusation

Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century. This is not some barmy, right-wing fantasy; it is the consensus of expert opinion. Yet almost nobody seems to know this. Whenever I make the point in public, I am told by those who are paid to insult anybody who departs from climate alarm that I have got it embarrassingly wrong, don’t know what I am talking about, must be referring to Britain only, rather than the world as a whole, and so forth. –Matt Ridley, The Spectator, 19 October 2013 

The chief scientific adviser to the UK government, Sir Mark Walport, has told MPs not to expect any benefits from a warmer climate, adding that the effects in the long-term will be harmful. Walport was commenting on science journalist and climate denier (sic) Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist, which argues that climate change will more beneficial to the UK than it will harmful. A similar claim that global warming will bring benefits to the UK was made by the environment secretary Owen Paterson in September last year. He said that warmer temperatures could prevent more cold deaths in the winter and boost food production. –Ilaria Bertini, Blue & Green Together, 12 March 2014

I understand the point [Matt Ridley] is trying to make but I think he’s completely wrong unfortunately. While there might be trivial benefits in some parts of the world for some of the time the long term direction for all of us is a negative direction. And frankly I think he is…he described himself as a “rational optimist”. I’m not sure about the rational bit. –- Chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport, House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, 11 March 2014

Another entertaining episode in the hearings [of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee]  was when Mark Walport was asked about Matt Ridley’s suggestion that global warming would bring net benefits over 40-50 years. I wonder if Walport has any actual evidence to support his position that Ridley is wrong. The words read like our chief scientist substituting name-calling for a lack of evidence. –Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill, 11 March 2014

It is possible that you had not read my article on the benefits of climate change directly, but had relied on second-hand accounts of it, in which case I can understand how you came to be misled. Are you saying that the academic, peer-reviewed work by these 14 teams, and the meta-analysis of them by Richard Tol, as well as all the other studies I cited in my article, are all “completely wrong”? Or are you arguing that my reporting of this work was “completely wrong”? Professor Tol thinks my reporting of his paper was accurate, and none of the other authors have objected, so the second charge is certainly unfair. –Matt Ridley, email to Sir Mark Walport, 12 March 2014

A surge in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions could create a boost for parts of the British economy, a government report will suggest this week. The National Adaptation programme, to be published tomorrow by Defra, the environment ministry, will suggest that farming, forestry and tourism will all benefit from warmer summers, while shipping will profit from the shorter sea routes caused by the melting of the ice caps.  A preliminary report, the Climate Change Risk Assessment, suggests there will also be benefits, with farming and forestry seeing surging crop yields, and warmer temperatures boosting growing rates. Warmer weather would also make the UK more appealing to tourists. –Jonanthan Leake, The Sunday Times, 30 June 2013

People want wealth and comfort, not only for themselves but for others, too. They are unmoved by the campaign against climate change not because of its “weirdo words” or complicated ideas, but because it is at root an elitist mission to convince us that our material desires are destroying the planet. Far from being irrational, the mass public apathy towards climate change that so freaks out eco-experts is entirely sensible and logical; in fact, it renews my faith in humankind. –Brendan O’Neill, The Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2014

European Union leaders will set an end-of-year deadline for a decision on climate and energy strategy for 2030, according to a draft political statement to be adopted at a summit later this month. The planned framework has divided governments and industry. While 13 member states including the U.K. and Germany called earlier this month for a swift decision to adopt an ambitious strategy, a group of nations led by Poland urged further analysis of the proposed policies on the bloc’s economy. A postponement of a decision on 2030 rules may be a setback for global efforts to cut emissions and for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is convening world leaders on Sept. 23 to set out ways to curb fossil fuel emissions. –Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 11 March 2014

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38 Responses to Newsbytes: Walport in a storm

  1. Eric Worrall says:

    IMO shows what a senseless doomsday cult climate alarmism has become – to admit there might be any benefits whatsoever is blasphemy.

  2. jauntycyclist says:

    there’s a bit of a co2er propaganda drive on at the moment

    “No “serious voice” in government questions climate change or Britain’s stringent green targets, climate change minister Greg Barker has said. ”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10691190/No-serious-voice-in-government-denies-climate-change-Greg-Barker-claims.html

    remember if you promote betting billions on predictions from unvalidated models then you are ‘serious’.

    sort of like the iraq dossier was ‘serious’ and done by ‘experts’

  3. AleaJactaEst says:

    let’s be careful here not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Are we watering down our [skeptical] argument that there is a lot less warming caused by “man-made” greenhouse gases than the collected set of failed models imply or are we moving onto acceptance that there is “considerable” or “in line with models” warming caused directly by us? This change in tack is a slippery slope.

    No I say! We need to continue to ram home the “pause” to prove that a zero trend global temperature line over 17 odd years with an increasing amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is DIRECT evidence that CAGW is claptrap. Let’s not lose our steely commitment to the siren calls of the dark side.

  4. David L. Hagen says:

    CO2 = Plant Food => Benefits Farmers
    Carbon Dioxide Emissions Stimulating $15 Trillion in Crop Production

    Between 1961 and 2011, carbon dioxide emissions stimulated $3.5 trillion in agricultural production beyond the baseline scenario without higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The study reports the cumulative benefits between 1961 and 2050 will top $15 trillion.

    Farmers in developing countries urgently need all the agricultural benefits we can provide by increasing their supply of “plant food” that increases agricultural production!

  5. ConfusedPhoton says:

    Mark Walport has very little scientific credibility in the climate “science” area. He espouses many of the Alarmists pronouncements but will never enter public debate. Why not?

    Like most of the Government advisers, he is a cowards and does not want the public to see how incompetent he is!

  6. jauntycyclist says:

    to sex it up to get the message across for the public maybe this will help?

    http://howtogrowmarijuana.com/growing-marijuana-with-C02

  7. DirkH says:

    jauntycyclist says:
    March 12, 2014 at 7:23 am
    “to sex it up to get the message across for the public maybe this will help?”

    More efficient methods of producing the drugs are most definitely of highest priority for the leaders of the American narcostates California and Colorado.

  8. pottereaton says:

    Paul Matthews posted the following quote at Bishop Hill yesterday in comment on the same subject:

    “In conclusion, it may be said that the combustion of fossil fuel, whether it be peat from the surface or oil from 10,000 feet below, is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power. For instance the above mentioned small increases of mean temperature would be important at the northern margin of cultivation, and the growth of favourably situated plants is directly proportional to the carbon dioxide pressure. In any case the return of the deadly glaciers should be delayed indefinitely.”

    Guy Callender, 1938 at Bishop Hill yesterday in a post on this subject:

    I posted it on another thread at the Washington Post and some idiot named “StopPoisoningMotherEarth” or something similary ridiculous (his/her posts have since been deleted) noted disdainfully that the quote was “from 1938 hahahaha,” to which I replied that Arrhenius’ green house gas theory theory was formulated in 1896, hahahaha indeed.

  9. richard says:

    NAsa earth observatory- northern hemisphere has been greening over the last 30 years.

  10. Jaye Bass says:

    The narcostates would be WASHINGTON and Colorado. At least get your facts straight, SoCon.

  11. Chris Edwards says:

    Imagine the famine if the world had cooled a degree over the last 17 years? If these people who want to reduce the population get their way we should cleanse the “believers” first because I fear there is no cure, they are the 21is century zombies and hollywood has shown the only cure for them!

  12. Eugene WR Gallun says:

    Eric Warrall 7:13am

    “Doomsday Cult”. Got to love it.

    Eugene WR Gallun

  13. Eric Worrall says:

    AleaJactaEst

    let’s be careful here not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Are we watering down our [skeptical] argument that there is a lot less warming caused by “man-made” greenhouse gases than the collected set of failed models imply … No I say! We need to continue to ram home the “pause” to prove that a zero trend global temperature line over 17 odd years with an increasing amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is DIRECT evidence that CAGW is claptrap. …

    Whoa, its not impossible that the low end of IPCC climate sensitivity intersects the correct value. It is the high end sensitivities which seem suspect.

  14. Joe Born says:

    Based on nothing but my knowledge of academics and human nature, my guess is that Richard Tol’s assessment of the cost/benefit of increased global temperatures is too pessimistic.

    This is not to criticize Dr. Tol, who for all I know did a meticulous job on his meta-analysis. But any studies of the type he surveyed necessarily are based to a great extent on human judgments, which in turn are affected by the prevailing zeitgeist, so they would tend to emphasize the bad over the good.

    It would accordingly make sense to treat his work as providing only a lower bound on the benefits of global-average-temperature increases.

  15. tom0mason says:

    Learned people such as Matt Ridley may well give his opinion to this committee but they will not recognize it for it full worth. After all they(the committee) did not say they were to be rational or scientific – they’re only a government run circus aka The Energy & Climate Change Select Committee. You can’t expect too much from sitting on such committees as these members are reduced to mere government fuctionaries paid to toe the line.

  16. James Strom says:

    Joe Born, I agree. As we see more estimates of sensitivity coming our at around two degrees, a fallback position seems to be developing in which people say, well that shows that warming will be catastrophic, since two degrees is an indicator of danger. It might be time to revisit why a two degree increase would be catastrophic.

  17. Walport , previous Government CSAs eg King and Beddington, heads of the RS ,the Met Office and the UK climate establishment in general have so firmly tied their professional reputations to the CAGW meme that they are simply incapable of objective independent analysis of the climate data. All these discussions of the benefits of warming are really bizarre because it is more likely than not that the earth entered a cooling trend in about 2003 which will continue for at least 20 years and perhaps for hundreds of years beyond that. What we really need is an analysis of the damage which 1 – 2 degrees of cooling in the northern hemisphere would do to world food supplies. It is now very clear that the Modelling method has no skill in forecasting and should be abandoned. For estimates of the timing and amount of the coming cooling based on the 60 and 1000 year periodicities in the temperature data and the neutron count as a proxy for “solar activity ” see several posts at
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

  18. michael hart says:

    This quote came from a report of a dinner/discussion at the Royal Society in 2001 with a title “The Role of the Chief Scientific Adviser”

    “How could the misleading arguments of such bodies as the Animal Liberation groups and some of the environmental NGOs be countered except by vigorous assertions by the CSA of the primacy of scientific methodology?

    http://www.foundation.org.uk/events/pdf/20010626_summary.pdf

    That was ten years before Mark Walport was elected as a member of the Royal Society.

  19. Mickey Reno says:

    It’s amazing to see how people that cannot even design a sensible experiment to test their hypotheses about the effects of CO2 on the climate, who cannot understand the scientific method and it’s rigor, who cannot predict jack s*** about the climate, who do not understand the limitations of their silly computer models, now suddenly claim expertise in biology, agriculture, sociology, economics, and politics.

  20. Tom J says:

    ‘People want wealth and comfort … are unmoved by the campaign against climate change … because it is at root an elitist mission to convince us that our material desires are destroying the planet. Far from being irrational, the mass public apathy … is entirely sensible and logical; in fact, it renews my faith in humankind. –Brendan O’Neill, The Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2014′

    Bravo! I have never read about the real deep, dark secret behind CAGW described better than Brendan O’Neil describes it. We may think humanity is fluid and protean, and that the modern world is somehow uniquely different than the past, but the reality is that people today are governed by the same motivations our forebears were. It may seem a vestige of a past age but Thomas Jefferson’s caution that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance is as true today, and always will be, as when he said it. It is high time to begin putting CAGW in its rightfully deserved coffin.

  21. stewgreen says:

    Today : European Union paid Climate propaganda ads are what comes up today at the top of the WUWT and No Frakking Consensus web pages. (and on this page)
    I posted screenshots on my FB page
    The ad is “Objetivos da UE para 2030 em matéria de clima e energia” on Youtube
    here’s the ad link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxEWiFTQXeo
    The english version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nMVZWtcFHw
    …all outrageous propaganda the EU taxpayer has paid for

  22. rtj1211 says:

    I think it can fairly be said that the global temperature is but one input factor in determining whether or not agricultural yields will increase or decrease.

    ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL (which usually they are not), plants will grow more rapidly if the temperature in the UK rises, since we have a mild temperate climate where cool-climate crops (such as potatoes, beans, onions etc) often do better than warmer weather ones (like tomatoes, peppers, squashes etc).

    However, there are several other things which affect crop productivity, notably:
    1. Sunshine hours: temperatures can be hotter but sunshine hours can decrease if muggy conditions pertain.
    2. Many areas of the UK’s agricultural base are on the arid side of the fertile window – notably East Anglia and up through Lincolnshire. They would benefit from slightly warmer and wetter conditions during the growing season.
    3. The areas more to the West, however, enjoy considerably more rainfall and farmers would prefer any excess warmth not to be accompanied by excess rainfall in those areas.
    4. The successful retention of water to even out spells of dry weather can affect radically the overall fertility of an agricultural ecosystem, not to mention ensure that a large population’s needs for city water can be provided without expensive desalination plants. There is evidence that Britain is finally learning of its laxity in addressing such matters, however the ownership of the water infrastructure might suggest that it is beyond the narrow means of the UK Government currently to enforce remedial actions should they prove desirable.
    5. The overall temperature is rather less important than its overall variability, since agricultural productivity can be radically affected by frosts at either end of the growing season; droughts during it; violent storms during it; and extended periods of heavy precipitation at any time.
    6. The quality of the topsoil is also a key factor in determining how well plants can take advantage of increased sunlight and warmth. This is impacted by farming practices, not to mention Health & Safety legislation which regards farmyard manure as a menace rather than a fertility boost. It is also impacted by hedgerow practices, particularly in more upland areas where average wind speeds are higher.

    There are many, many assumptions made whenever people make prognostic judgements about the effects of changing one variable of a complex system.

    One thing which should be challenged, however, is the concept that those who made their lives practicing reductionist science are uniquely more capable of synthesising accurate insights into complex dynamic chaotic systems which are intrinsically not amenable to the scientific approaches which made those ‘leaders’ ‘leaders’.

  23. Resourceguy says:

    Is no one in the UK even looking at the fall of the AMO with some worry? Or is this a case of wait-and-see crisis management like Mad Cow disease control? And what were they debating in the UK just prior to Hitler turning his attention their way?

  24. Caleb says:

    Warming would be beneficial, but sadly is unlikely for the next thirty years, at least.

    How stupid some of these debates are going to seem to people struggling to get by in a colder world.

  25. Chip Javert says:

    Jaye Bass says:
    March 12, 2014 at 7:44 am
    The narcostates would be WASHINGTON and Colorado. At least get your facts straight, SoCon.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Guess you haven’t been to one of the many MANY conveniently located CA medical marijuana joints, er, “dispensaries”…could be there are at least 3 narco-states.

  26. marcjf says:

    Perhaps Sir Mark would enlighten us all by outlining how much colder it needs to become before the UK benefits? Though we would allow a caveat if it was the wrong sort of snow…

  27. David G says:

    Only a moron would call any of these, Narcostates, Joe Bass. I guess that puts you in the right cataegory! Marijuana is not a narcotc, idiot!

  28. Joseph Murphy says:

    ConfusedPhoton says:
    March 12, 2014 at 7:17 am
    Mark Walport has very little scientific credibility in the climate “science” area. He espouses many of the Alarmists pronouncements but will never enter public debate. Why not?

    Like most of the Government advisers, he is a cowards and does not want the public to see how incompetent he is!
    ——————————————————–

    I am not educated in climate science, my education lies in politics. I believe what you wrote falls under sophistry. You did not argue that Mark is wrong, you simply assert that he is incompetent, cowardly, and lacks credibility. It is left to the reader to assume Mark is wrong, interesting. If you are correct in your assertions I congratulate Mark on his success despite such mental shortcomings. Lucky for us science cares not for competence, intelligence, or credibility. All science cares about is verifiable, reproducible results.

    “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” -Richard Feynman

    Alas, I don’t want to leave anything for the reader to assume. Sophistry is used by people who are ignorant of that which they speak about, are to cowardly to admit what they don’t know, and are to incompetent to realize their folly.

  29. Bill Parsons says:

    Matt Ridley is a gem. I have high regard for his (or anyone else’s) ability to frame this debate in terms of what most people want and need – positive outcomes. I hate alarmism and snark, and Ridley manages to rise above both to provide objective analysis and reasonable, humane solutions. What a team he, Lomborg and Goklany would make in a debate.

    The Spectator needs a proofreader: “Consensis” or “consensus”. ?

  30. Matt says:

    Can someone kindly help me out on this one:

    Has citing the Daily Telegraph ever furthered anyone’s cause?

  31. Bill Parsons says:

    AleaJactaEst. I agree. Skeptics need not yield any ground on CO2 as a “pollutant”. It simply is not a pollutant.

  32. NRG22 says:

    David G says:
    March 12, 2014 at 11:22 am
    Only a moron would call any of these, Narcostates, Joe Bass. I guess that puts you in the right cataegory! Marijuana is not a narcotc, idiot!
    ———

    You couldn’t say that without personal attacks?

    The US considers it a narcotic and if someone was growing, selling, etc in a state that it is illegal in the bust is covered by the narcotics division of the police department.

    Wiki:
    The 1961 Convention exercises control over more than 116 narcotic drugs. They include mainly plant-based products such as opium and its derivatives morphine, codeine and heroin, but also synthetic narcotics such as methadone and pethidine, as well as cannabis, coca and cocaine.

    The WHO: For example, narcotics control legislation in Canada, USA, and certain other countries includes cocaine and cannabis as well as opioids.

  33. u.k.(us) says:

    When even the weather has become politicized, when the ultimate ice-breaker in social discourse has become a reason for conflict.
    It might lead one to believe that conflict is advantageous to someone.

  34. pat says:

    murdoch’s Australian newspaper carries the story, by a Staff Reporter:

    13 March: Australian: Staff Reporter: Chief scientist attacks ‘irrational’ Ridley
    Science journalist Matt Ridley’s suggestion that the benefits of climate change will outweigh the risk is “completely wrongs”, according to UK government scientists who report to Cabinet, The Financial Times reports.
    According to the newspaper, the ideas of Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist, were being discussed in British parliament, prompting the response from the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport.
    “Whilst there may be trivial benefits in some parts of the world for some of the time, the long-term direction for all of us is a negative direction,” Sir Mark said. “I understand the point he’s making but I think he’s completely wrong, unfortunately. He describes himself as a rational optimist. I’m not sure about the rational bit.”
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/latest/chief-scientist-attacks-irrational-ridley/story-e6frg90f-1226853468472

  35. catweazle666 says:

    “Government scientist” is an oxymoron, and in the UK we seem to suffer from a particularly egregious variety.

    Here’s a previous incumbent, Sir David King:

    “Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government’s chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/why-antarctica-will-soon-be-the-ionlyi-place-to-live–literally-58574.html

  36. FrankK says:

    AleaJactaEst
    Whoa, its not impossible that the low end of IPCC climate sensitivity intersects the correct value.
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    No not impossible but highly improbable.

  37. Ulric Lyons says:

    ” I’m not sure about the rational bit. –- Chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport,.”

    I’m sure that Walport is irrational. UK temperatures have been on a decline since 2008, and given the low solar activity levels, repeats of the cool wet summer of 2012 which hit UK farmers particularly hard, are inevitable.

  38. Fred says:

    NRG22 says:
    March 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm
    ———

    The US considers it a narcotic and if someone was growing, selling, etc in a state that it is illegal in the bust is covered by the narcotics division of the police department.

    The government also says that CO2 is a pollutant – doesn’t mean they are right.

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