By Paul Homewood
Ed Davey, the UK Secretary of State for Energy, has made a speech attacking the press for reporting the views of climate sceptics, saying
“But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups. This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing. This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness. This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided. “
My first reactions were:-
1) Astonishment that a government minister should make such Orwellian threats against the freedom of the press.
2) What platform? With an extremely few exceptions, the MSM have slavishly followed the consensus position, and their journalists have babyishly failed to check basic facts. (The Telegraph article, reporting the speech talks, of John Cook’s paper, stating “One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm. “)
Until the Mail’s David Rose published an article last year, pointing out that global temperatures had not increased in 16 years, most of the public would have been totally unaware of this fact. So much for “sceptical reporting”!.
So here’s my open letter to Ed Davey, explaining why there is a pressing need for more debate, not less.
Having heard your call for the media to shut down their reporting of the views of those sceptical of the consensus position on climate change, can I offer you ten reasons why such a move would be wrong, and why there should be more public discussions of the topic, not less.
1) Global Temperatures
It is fact that global temperatures have flatlined in recent years. Current temperatures, for instance, during an ENSO neutral period, are lower than the 10-Year average. You claim that this is “misreading the evidence”, but surely the public have a right to see these facts, just as they would with, say, unemployment figures, regardless of how inconvenient they might be.
In any event, it is impossible to deny that this flatlining, whatever the cause may be, has huge implications for future projections of global temperatures. As such, this should be at the very centre of public debate.
2) Climate Models
It is also a fact that nearly every climate model has grossly overestimated global temperatures over the last two decades or so. There are many examples I could give, going back to James Hansen’s predictions in the 1980’s, but let’s look at a couple closer to home, produced by the Met Office, who you praise for their excellence.
In 2004, Vicky Pope told us that global temperatures would be 0.3C warmer within 10 years. Reality? Temperatures are actually lower.
And, more recently, in 2007 the Met were still making similar predictions. And again, they were abysmally wrong.
Are you seriously suggesting that the public do not have the right to be told about such utter failures? And do you deny that the failure of these and other models does not have huge implications for climate model projections in future decades?
3) Climate Sensitivity
At the heart of the debate over climate change, although you appear to deny there is any such debate, is the matter of climate sensitivity. The predictions of the IPCC, Met Office, and many others have been based around the concept that positive feedbacks will lead to much greater temperature rise than would otherwise be the case.
There is, in fact, little or no evidence to support this contention; it is essentially a product of climate modelling. There are many scientists, who fundamentally disagree with this conclusion, and it is not acceptable for you to try to marginalise these scientists, nor close down debate on the issue.
You say “Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science”, but the matter of climate sensitivity is much, much more than “an uncertainty”. It actually goes to the heart of the matter.
4) Climate Projections for the UK
The Met Office has done much work analysing how the UK would be affected by climate change, and this work has been fed into government planning, via, for instance, DEFRA’s Climate Change Risk Assessment Report or the UK Climate Impacts Programme.
Not only have most of the Met’s predictions failed to materialise, but in many cases the opposite has occurred, e.g.
a) Winters have been drier, not wetter as predicted.
b) Summers have been wetter, not drier as predicted.
c) Heatwaves have become much less frequent, and summer temperatures have been declining in recent years, in total contrast to projections.
d) Similarly, annual temperatures are in decline. CET has been steadily dropping for the last decade, and is now well below the 1981-2010 average.
I realise that these are all relatively short term events, but they hardly inspire much confidence in the Met’s ability to predict future climate change. Again, it is utterly wrong to shut down debate in this area.
5) Extreme weather
It is frequently predicted that climate change will lead to more “extreme weather”, and it seems that, nearly every time an extreme event occurs, the media wheel out some expert, (often a representative of Greenpeace or the like), to tell us that this was what climatologists had predicted.
The reality is that there is no evidence at all to back up these claims, a fact that even the IPCC have admitted.
A good example of this is the recent EF-5 tornado in Oklahoma. I have yet to see any media outlet in the UK explain that the frequency and severity of tornadoes in the US is actually low by historical standards.
Far from suppressing debate on these issues, the press should be providing much more in the way of facts to the public.
6) Dissenting Scientists
You promote the idea that the “science is settled”. This, as you should know, is far from the truth. There are literally thousands of qualified scientists who disagree with the IPCC position. For instance, see here.
This does not necessarily mean that they believe GHG emissions will not lead to any warming at all. It does, though, mean that their views should be reported, because if they are right, it would have a huge impact on public policy.
7) Natural Factors
The role that natural factors play in climate change, both that we have seen and expect to see, is one where there is a great deal of scientific debate. Yet, when the IPCC was set up, it had no remit to investigate this.
These are matters that should be fully discussed in the open.
I believe it is fair to say that government policy on climate change draws heavily on IPCC reports. However, there have been a number of criticisms in recent years, about the way that the IPCC operates and how its reports are put together.
The press would be failing in its duty, if it did not publish these criticisms, and the views of scientists who disagree with the IPCC consensus.
9) Public Policy
It is a fact that climate change science and public policy are inextricably interlinked. To shut down debate on the former has the effect of also shutting down debate on the latter.
This is not acceptable in a democracy.
10) Energy Policy
You conclude by saying
“Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit,”
In doing so, you conflate climate science with energy policy. They are in fact two totally separate things.
Whether we agree or not on climate science, it does not follow that we agree with your energy policy. Indeed, there is no evidence whatever that it will make any noticeable difference to global temperatures.
Your own Department confirmed this to me last year.
Many people in this country are concerned about what sort of country their children will inherit, if your policies are carried through.
On a matter of such import, I find it ludicrous and insulting that you seem reluctant for the public to be given all the facts, and to allow them to make their own minds up.
Far from being a hotbed of disinformation, the Media has, for the most part, been sadly lacking in its reporting of climate change issues, and the full range of scientific views.
I would have hoped that you would want to encourage the reporting of all aspects of this topic, rather than restrict it to the bits that are convenient to you.
- Ed Davey attacks papers who report ‘destructive’ climate sceptics (telegraph.co.uk)
- Ed Davey, the UK’s Energy Bully (nofrakkingconsensus.com)
- The Intolerance of Climate Change Zealots (iaindale.com)
- Long List Of Warmist Scientists Say Global Warming Has Stopped…Ed Davey Is Clueless About What’s Going On (notrickszone.com)
- Ed Davey makes the silliest speech ever (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Ed Davey has his knickers in a twist about climate sceptics (tallbloke.wordpress.com)
- Climate change sceptics are just ‘blinkered publicity-seekers’ blasts top minister (express.co.uk)
- Minister attacks climate sceptics (bbc.co.uk)