Founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change: 'Time to ditch consensus'

Top British boffin: Time to ditch the climate consensus

Don’t use science to get round politics, says Hulme


Interview Just two years ago, Mike Hulme would have been about the last person you’d expect to hear criticising conventional climate change wisdom. Back then, he was the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, an organisation so revered by environmentalists that it could be mistaken for the academic wing of the green movement. Since leaving Tyndall – and as we found out in a telephone interview – he has come out of the climate change closet as an outspoken critic of such sacred cows as the UN’s IPCC, the “consensus”, the over-emphasis on scientific evidence in political debates about climate change, and to defend the rights of so-called “deniers” to contribute to those debates.

As Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, Hulme remains one of the UK’s most distinguished and high-profile climate scientists.

He treats climate change not as a problem that we need to solve – indeed, he believes that the complexity of the issue means that it cannot be solved, only lived with – and instead considers it as much of a cultural idea as a physical phenomenon.”

When we spoke to him on the phone, Hulme cited as evidence the 2007 protests against Heathrow’s third runway, where marchers made their case by waving a research paper at the TV cameras under a banner bearing the slogan “We are armed only with peer reviewed science”.

Read the complete story here in the Register: Top British boffin: Time to ditch the climate consensus


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Sounds like a thoughtful, reasonable fellow who just caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror.

Pamela Gray

If any of this nonsense about CO2 makes it into legislation in the form of taxes or cap and trade here in the US, I for one will volunteer my time to sit in jail for my refusal to pay any additional costs to what I buy as a result of this voodoo snake oil science. In other words, a tea party sounds like a good idea in the near future.


The book is excellent, and should be read by both sceptics and warmists.
Another Hulme remark worth sharing was along the lines of, ‘zero degrees temperature rise causes climate problems for billions of people in the world.’


“Climate change can only be understood from a position of dis-census, rather than artificially solved by creating consensus,”
Karl Popper would approve.
Show us the falsifiable content.

chris y

Anthony, thanks for posting this in its entirety. Very well written.

Ron de Haan

Does he have any choice other than to ditch the consensus?

Mark N

I think he’s blowing the whistle too late!
The steamroller has Prince Charles and his mates coming out of the closet now. It is a high climate profile year for the old chap and my thoughts go to succession.
Sorry to go off topic.


Climate skepticism is a broad church, all are welcome. Well done Mike for recognising the damage being done to science and society by the the AGW orthodoxy. No doubt he will become subject to personal abuse by alarmists for making his views public.

This Fora TV clip with Mike Hulme in a panel debate is good. Politicians should see it! (*)

I made a translation of a part of what Hulme says:
I noted that a democrat politician behind the Waxman-Markey bill, Edward Markey, made the completely opposite statement regarding the responsibility of scientists vs. politicians, 1:07:30 into this clip (I think he comment the rejection before of Cap and Trade…(?)) :
“…the problem back in that era was that rather than to listening to National Academy of Sciences this congress […] decided that they would […] ignoring the National Academy of Sciences. So it was not a science based decision. It was strictly political, and that’s what we now reeping the harvest of, because when you put something in your river […]”

Jim Steele

It amazes me that there is such widespread consensus/fallacy that government sponsored or peer review science is the only analysis that maintains integrity. Today’s SF Chronicle tells yet another story the spotlights that fallacy. National Park Service scientists with held and misrepresented data trying to frame an oyster fisherman as environmentally harmful. Imagine that. Falsifying science and not being paid by big oil.


Don’t use *science* to get around *politics* ??? They’ve still got it backwards.

Pamela – the point Mike Hulme is making, and I do recommend his book, is that we loose a part of our humanity if we start throwing stuff around like ‘voodoo snake oil science’!! I hope it was in jest!
Hulme’s book, which I have had for review, is true scholarship – but I could find no critique of the orthodox ‘science’ that underpins the politics and policy. Mike is foremost a social scientist rather than a hands-on climatologist, and so would not be in a position to analyse the science. Its not voodoo snake oil that we have to deal with – if it were, decent people such as he would have spotted it. The orthodox view is built upon computer models that create a virtual planetary ecosystem. Those models cannot handle cycles. All they can do is posit a natural variability – regarded as essentially random. It is an inherent limitation of the maths.
In the whole of Mike Hulme’s book you will find no reference to cycles. The real problem we have is that Mike’s viewpoint – that the establishment should open discourse with its critics, is not shared by the climate modelling community. Thus, he makes no reference to the detailed scientific critique of the model that shows how cycles – particularly the oscillations in ocean basins, created the late 20th century peak, and have brought global cooling since. Nor does he reference the solar science that points to a possible new Little Ice Age by 2030.
If we are not getting through to such an open person as Mike Hulme, then I have to say, I don’t know what course remains…..but we must not fall into the trap of slagging off the orthodox science created by a skilled and well-meaning community of climate modellers who simply cannot see their error, and who are protected from engagement in a wider debate by their managers eager to provide the simple answers that policy makers demand.

Well, it seems that the story of gobal warming is coming to an end finally.
However as it is said above “due to the fact that action on climate change is widely seen as a progressive goal…” a strong retaliation should be expected, because from a psychological point of view, to all those who their Berlin Wall unexpectedly fell down, won’t let this global warming or climate change wall to fall so easily…they surely will desesperate and turn violent.

I mean that Edward Markey says that there are scientific answer on politics, so that politicians shall not debate politics but just obey when scientists says what is truth for science and for political action. So Edward Markeys view exclude political debate, but I therefor rather define it as fascism.


“To hide behind the dubious precision of scientific numbers, and not actually expose one’s own ideologies or beliefs or values and judgements is undermining both politics and science”, says Hulme.
So, how can we get our elected officials to understand that we need individuals with this perspective leading the discussions on AGW instead of the passionate ideologues who currently are in charge?
Hulme recognizes a simple fact about human behavior which is, the more passionate, emotionally connected and outspoken one is to a position or cause, the more resistant and less rational and logical one will be in accepting any information that runs to the contrary.
I would argue that one cannot be both a legitimate scientist and an advocate. A good scientist needs to be objective, analytical, detached, unbiased and impassive. Once you advocate for a cause, your ego, self-esteem, accumulated power and influence and career all are at risk if the positions that you advocate are shown to be false or even less true.


Peter Taylor,
The point is that AGW is a social science problem, and not a climate science problem, at all.


A thoughtful article, indicative of the slowing “Ship of Climate.” Were it not for the alarmist attempts to obfuscate their political agenda with ever-more complicated science – the debate would not have devolved as it has. The alarmist approach, used successfully in the past, is to attack critics by appeal to authority, re-framing arguments, and ad hominem slur.
The red flags should have flown high when the first critical voices of science were shouted down. Then came the river of cash in the form of liberal grants for those researchers who towed the agenda – aka “payoffs.” The SUNY Albany case is the first of many needed to correct the tainted results.
The article states:
“In pushing to open up climate change debates to non-scientific disciplines, Hulme runs the risk perhaps of attracting accusations of not only “denier”, but also of “relativist”, which is almost as dirty a word in scientific circles. Hulme’s Christian beliefs might be a further invitation to ad hominem responses.”
Indeed. To be labeled a “relativist,” and commanded to limit uncertainties is confining in the classical sense. But the fact is uncertainties are far less today than when the debate began. Even while natural variability suggests a certain amount of chaos to be normal with climate.
Hulme’s suggestion to include non-science disciplines is a good one. There is a place in the heart of artists that deeply respects truth, regardless of political propriety. And alarmists must confront their outed “psychology of shame” – wherein evolved practitioners accuse primitive humanity of fouling the nest. The accusation has merit when discussing real toxic pollutants. It has zero merit when applied to man-made CO2. And social scientists should question the reasons for social engineering. Is it based on sound community approval, or mob reaction to mass media scare tactics?
Today, “business as usual” is the continuance of a fear-based campaign designed to limit market economies and tax the emission of a naturally occurring trace gas. The tax revenues are to finance social and political agendas by circumventing the democratic process. This is an attack not only on good scientific method founded on skepticism – it is an attack on the very nature of man. And those who oppose it deserve the honorific: humanitarian.


This is an excellent INDEPENDENT report of GW:


A breath of fresh air from an AGW believer. The thing that so many of these frantic “true-believers” don’t grasp is that what they call “global warming” involves a lot of separate theses, only a few of which involve climate science. For example, “global warming would be a bad thing” isn’t so much climate science as agriculture and economics and marine biology and so on. “Global warming can best be stopped by restricting CO2 output” is a statement not about climate science at all, but about the economics and technology of the 21st century, which NO ONE knows much of anything about.


To summarize this long winded article, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Jeff Wood

Somewhere in the Guardian website – probably in Comment is Free – there is a piece by Mike Hulme from about two years ago, in which he calls for something he named “Post-normal Science”. As I recall, he felt that that pesky things like evidence should be o’er-leaped, so that politically correct conclusions could be drawn on global warming.
If he has really repented of his folly, then good.

Leon Brozyna

Another True Believer leaves the fold (though not the belief). And now when he tries to speak in the language of true science, can expect to become yet another target for ad hominem attacks.
He helped create the monster he now laments; he should not be surprised when it turns on him as well (as he is already apparently aware).

Pearland Aggie

despite the “poorly understood connection,” that won’t prevent us from publishing sensational statements like…
In fact some researchers think the next predicted solar activity peak, in 2012, could be one of the strongest ever, potentially kicking up storms that could bring modern technology to its knees.
Little Ice Age Unlikely, Scientists Say
so, we dismiss out of hand the low levels of activity but hold out hope that the peak in 2012 will be one of the strongest ever, regardless of what the data suggest. i guess i shouldn’t be surprised…this kind of yellow journalism and science has become far too common these days!

Mark T

bsneath (09:07:46) :
I would argue that one cannot be both a legitimate scientist and an advocate.

I’ve made this argument about Hansen on many occasions. Once he became an advocate, he was no longer a legitimate scientist, no matter how long his laundry list of accomplishments. This was not intended to diminish past accomplishments in any way – since I’m not really familiar with his non-advocate work, just to point out that NOW, he is behaving like an ideologue, not a scientist and the head of NASA GISS.


Magnus A
You are right, it is facism. To maintain power they must preserve the “consensus” by avoiding debate and ridiculing or discrediting the opposition. We all know that we should fear “police states.” But police are just a manifestation of authority. Scientists/Academics also have power of authority, which we must trust is supported by greater education and understanding. What is a NATIONAL Academy of Sciences? If, as Markey suggests, science should take precedence over democratic ideals, then we must submit to a scientific dictatorship. Is that better than any other dictatorship?


From the article:
[He stresses that he has little problem with the basic scientific understanding of climate change. It’s just that, if progress is to be made in debates on how to respond to that knowledge, they need to be opened up to other disciplines, from the arts and humanities, for example – and to good old-fashioned politics and ideologies.
“However much we agree on the fundamentals of the physics of climate change, there are huge ethical, political and ideological differences that remain about what climate change signifies for society”.]
I cannot agree with this. The science behind AGW is flawed, and the proclamations of it’s effects are exaggerated, upside-down and backwards.
Are we to assume that Chicken Little is correct and sit down to discuss the social ramifications of the sky falling down upon our heads? Nothing of any value could possibly result from that. There is no agreement on the fundamentals of the physics of climate change. We must stay focused upon that and not allow ourselves to be distracted by a tangential perspective of a non-existent problem.
On that note, here is a must-read that demonstrates […that the AGW hypothesis, as it now stands, is either false or fundamentally inadequate. ]


In any case, if the present solar activity is related to Ehrlich cycles or the theory in which the magnetic field of the sun twists and untwists, how can a solar cycle be so strong right after a period of which the sun been in a magnetic flux? It takes time to crank up the thermonuclear machine to get to that sort of magnetic coupling that can bee seen during high solar activity.
Maybe this little drop back in 2005 is related to this magnetic field relaxation and until we see a sudden rise in the graph, the sun will stay in a low magnetic coupling phase.


Jeff Wood 09:52:13
“Somewhere in the Guardian website – probably in Comment is Free – there is a piece by Mike Hulme from about two years ago, in which he calls for something he named “Post-normal Science”. As I recall, he felt that that pesky things like evidence should be o’er-leaped, so that politically correct conclusions could be drawn on global warming.
If he has really repented of his folly, then good.”
I hope he really has repented; however on reading the article, I had the strong feeling that the ground was being prepared for “the science” to be ignored when the full scientific reality – as is so well demonstrated on this excellent wuwt blog – eventually causes the wheels to come off the AGW story, and the “politically correct conclusions” can then be drawn as before.

One of the climate related theories that possibly will be confronted with reality is that one of Dr. Henril Svensmark. Plain logics indicate that It works ! but, i’m afraid, just in the lab. Why?, simply because for those kind of Cosmic Rays of Doom to work they need humidity, and having cooler seas we have in turn less evaporation and, consequently, less clouds. Bad luck if those rays are at its peak precisely when seas cool. That’s bad luck I would say.


Here is a little more info on the Ehrlich cycles:
Solar Resonant Diffusion Waves as a Driver of Terrestrial Climate Change
Robert Ehrlich,
Department of Physics, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Abstract. A theory is described based on resonant thermal diffusion waves in the sun that appears to explain many details of the paleotemperature record for the last 5.3 million years. These include the observed periodicities, the relative strengths of each observed cycle, and the sudden emergence in time for the 100 thousand year cycle. Other prior work suggesting a link between terrestrial paleoclimate and solar luminosity variations has not provided any specific mechanism. The particular mechanism described here has been demonstrated empirically, although not previously invoked in the solar context. The theory also lacks some of the problems associated with Milankovitch cycles.
The full article is found at:


Speaking as a lowly biologist, I would have to say that Hulme’s perspective is exactly correct. Climate change debate has to include the social sciences/humanities because science is indifferent to humans. Scientifically, climate change is never good or bad, it just is. Climate change was bad for dinosaurs, good for mammals; bad for mammoths, good for humans; bad for polar bears(?), good for a number of other species. Our social ideologies will decide what we do about climate change. I wonder how history will define the two factions. Maybe environmentalists vs. humanists?

Pearland Aggie (10:02:44) : “We live in interesting times indeed”, what we can already see is how is it going earth’s energy budget, how much our seas saved that “warm money” and how much of it it have spent up to now.
What we are to see, also, is if in a minimum there is an increase of volcanic activity and if, as a consequence of emitted areosols temperature lowers.
I don’t know if there are enough sources of information to get all the data needed, however we’ll know it through WUWT for sure.

John Galt

I really enjoyed the closing paragraph:
It’s not hard to get labelled a climate change “denier”. You don’t even have to deny that climate change is real, man-made and a problem. As Bjørn Lomborg, climatologist Patrick Michaels and political scientist Professor Roger Pielke Jr have discovered, you merely have to challenge the orthodox political policy responses. Or, like Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre, dare to scrutinise the statistical workings behind influential climate research papers. If you stray from agreeing with the political prescription, you’re an immoral person.
‘Nuff said!


Tamara (10:54:59) :
How can Gore make $$$ if the social sciences decide that global warming is good for humanity and most of the planet? They would never allow them to give their opinions.
But regardless of what we human decide of what is good or not regarding the climate… nature will just follow it’s course and there is nothing we can really do about it else than get better technologies to control our immediate environment and certainly not the global environment.
Peope have no idea how big the earth is and it would be foulish to try to control the climate on a global scale.

M White

Saturday, 4 November 2006, 08:06 GMT
By Mike Hulme

This is off-topic…
but did anyone else catch Chris Matthews asserting that if you believe in God you cannot be trusted on science issues? He also suggests that if you do not believe in Climate Change you cannot have an credible energy policy because rejection of climate change is to reject science.
I find it disturbing because this is the problem with the politics involved in science and how science is taken hostage of ideology.
I blogged it on my website with a link to the video
Or watch the video directly and comment here
Select the Video : Political Party Building 101


“Climate change can only be understood from a position of dis-census, rather than artificially solved by creating consensus,”
Karl Popper would approve.

People, he’s not talking about the scientific consensus among climate scientists.
He’s talking about *political* consensus.


That reminds me of when I was young and reading comics. You always had this doomsday sayer guy with long beard, a sandwich board and a gong that would yell to the world that “The End is Coming, repent”. Of course nobody listened to those idiots.
How times have changed. We have the same people (cleaned up though) but now lost of people beleive them.

‘This is a very rare book. A scientific book about climate change, that deals both with the science, and our own personal response to this science. It does all this supremely well, and should be compulsory reading for both sceptics and advocates. However, it does so much more, it is a book of great modesty and humanity. It uses climate change to ask questions more broadly about our own beliefs, assumptions and prejudices, and how we make individual and collective decisions.’
On the strength of these unusual words of recommendation, posted at Amazon, I’ve ordered Mike Hulme’s book. Being aware of the reality of the spiritual/inner dimension generally, in my experience, makes it more natural to observe one’s inner reactions, and thus have a chance to mature in one’s attitudes.
Prof Hulme may have changed, and he may be open to further change. I want to give him a chance. Hehe, for all I know my own Skeptics Climate Science Primer (click on my name) may be something to interest him…

Mike Bryant

“Tamara (10:54:59) :
…Our social ideologies will decide what we do about climate change. I wonder how history will define the two factions. Maybe environmentalists vs. humanists?”
Maybe Misanthropic Ecophiles vs. Eco/Anthrophiles?


In the sidebar box of the referenced article were some other interesting articles. The site looks, at a casual glance, like it’s directed at computing professionals (folks with a tendency to be particularly picky about every single dot, dash, comma, and semicolon being exactly right… – I once spent the better part of 2 days tracking down that my FORTRAN program was not working right because an 029 keypunch was missing a dot on the comma print out so I thought that a dot was a comma like all the other dots… and the printer smeared dots into comma like print, so the listing was “right”… and WRITE(10.100) had a much different effect than WRITE(10,100) in the Burroughs FORTRAN of the era… We come by our exactitude honestly… I eventually retyped the card and compared the punched holes to find the error. I can still read 029 punch card holes… )
So it doesn’t surprise me that these folks seem to have a skeptical bent.
The articles?
Shows a NASA study implicating smog reduction in increased arctic ice melt of the past several years, not CO2. It’s the GREENS that melted the Arctic!
8-0 !
Pointing out mafia involvement in the wind biz… Government guaranteed excess profits? Of course it will be abused…
Youz wuz tinken meby dey wuz honust?
The story we’ve already seen on WUWT about Japan falling off the AGW bandwagon…
“See how they distance themselves, Kohai?” (Rising Sun)…
I love my Borderline Aspergers brothers and sisters for their intolerance of sloppy science and of misplaced assertions of causality; and misplaced dots and commas 😉 If it’s not Just So then it’s WRONG and no amount of harangue from the warmistas will change that in a person with a compulsive Tidy Mind… We won’t go into how I know this…
BTW, had about 2 hours of sun today in “sunny” California. Back to overcast and cool… This Is not mid May weather…

Dave Andrews

M White,
Quote from that BBc viewpoint by Mike Hulme
“I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. “
Kind of says it all really.


Of interest is the fact the Hulme is the Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, which, along with the Met Office and the BBC, is part of the “Temple of AGW” in the UK. With him at the helm, maybe there’s hope yet.

Pamela Gray (07:47:03) : If any of this nonsense about CO2 makes it into legislation in the form of taxes or cap and trade here in the US, I for one will volunteer my time to sit in jail for my refusal to pay any additional costs to what I buy as a result of this voodoo snake oil science. In other words, a tea party sounds like a good idea in the near future.
I’m fond of Red Rose Tea… I think I’ll change my logo to a nice Red Rose 😉
BTW, it might be easier and have greater effect to simply arrange with a friend to ship in the things you need from a place without such increased costs. I’m sure a lot of internet traffic will go into buying things from low cost suppliers… in other lands…
FWIW, another friend has started a tobacco garden. He’s a smoker and has just given up on $5 / pack as acceptable. (I’ve given him the seeds and shown him how to process the leaves. I don’t smoke, but tobacco “tea” is a great natural insecticide… and I don’t have to buy high priced petroleum and tax laden insecticides. But I’m not keen on the idea of ingesting something that kills other living things. However, I’m happy to let him make his choices and help him to his goals. Live, be free and let other be free too…)
That, BTW, is how these things generally sort themselves out. Joe and Jane Sixpack just making their own individual choices; and the “leaders” be darned. One person, one decision, one failed policy having inverse consequences at a time.
Like the California increase of tax rates that resulted in an $8 Billion reduction in revenues. I don’t expect them to figure it out, I expect the state to fail catastrophically, then it can reboot. At 11% income tax and 10% sales tax I now actively avoid any income I don’t absolutely need (keeping it in tax sheltered accounts) and actively avoid any expenditure I can avoid. Good for the soul and the wallet.
So a tea party sound fine to me, and I’ll participate. But I’ll also substitute home made bread in my bread maker at 30 CENTS a loaf for the $3 stuff headed to $5 loaded with CO2 taxes, fuel costs, and high priced labor.
(Yeast is the dominant cost. The grocery store packets are outrageous but the monster package from Costco can be decanted into a glass jar in the fridge and kept live for years at a penny or 2 a loaf. I’m still working off the package I bought a few years back. 4 oz jars, most in the freezer, one on deck in the fridge. Or you can grow your own with a little flour and water. Or you can make sourdough. There are always other ways…)
And that is all it takes. Tune up the car yourself (the very old ones are much easier to work on and you don’t pay high sales taxes and reg fees). Make your own bread. Plant your own garden. It’s really that simple to be a revolutionary 😉
I’ve been looking for a thea chinensis (they grow well anywhere that their first cousin Camellia grow and California is great for them). Maybe I’ll try a little harder. It would be nice to have a tea party with non-taxed tea 😉 You can process it in your oven on warm.
BTW, that is how these policies inevitably fail. The “economies of scale” can only carry so much weight. Once the tax and “diseconomies of scale” (like shipping costs) outweigh the advantages, the market starts to fall apart as folks either just do without or “roll their own”. The poor folks do it first (having no choice) but the more rich follow soon enough. And THAT is why I have so much faith in the impact of Joe & Jane Sixpack. I grew up with them and know their strength and resilience…


Climate Heretic,
To be Chris Matthews is to reject rational thoguht processes.

Mark T

Climate Heretic (11:55:56) :
but did anyone else catch Chris Matthews asserting that if you believe in God you cannot be trusted on science issues?

He, like any other “believer in the consensus,” prefers the ad-hominem over rational argument any day. What happens when an atheist (or agnostic, or Buddhist, etc.) says he doesn’t believe in climate change? Does that make him right?

Frank Lansner

Mike Hulme
Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
“What has pushed the debate between climate change scientists and climate sceptics to now being between climate change scientists and climate alarmists?”

Ray (09:34:42),
Thanks for that interesting report:
It provides easy to use bullet items if anyone wants to send a comment to the EPA on the EPA’s proposal to find that CO2 is a “pollutant”.

Rough quote:
“The good science of the IPCC and the good communications of Al Gore will deliver peace on Earth”

(about 1:10 minutes into clip)
Limiting CO2 will deliver peace on Earth?? And AGW is science and not politics??

Gary Hladik

E.M.Smith (12:59:38) : “This Is not mid May weather…”
But then it’s not mid May yet, is it?
Yes, I’m in IT, too. 🙂