Skip to content

Harrabin Attempts To Misrepresent Tol And Ridley

November 19, 2015

By Paul Homewood




Biased BBC has a detailed account of how Roger Harrabin attempted to misrepresent Richard Tol, in his Changing Climate programme last week, and then went on to do the same with Matt Ridley:-





Roger Harrabin has spun a few comments by professor Richard Tol into a huge confection of pro-climate change pap to sugarcoat the usual bitter pill that Harrabin tries to ram down our throats on climate.

Harrabin starts with this rather dramatic headline…Society ‘to be hit by climate change’

What he is less inclined to emphasise is that what Tol is talking about are the economic effects of climate change and that they are relatively minor… Harrabin dodges Tol’s main conclusion that those effects will be far less serious than climate alarmists like to predict and that climate change is not the most pressing danger for the world…..’Statements that climate change is the biggest (environmental) problem of humankind are unfounded: We can readily think of bigger problems.’

Here is Tol’s latest conclusion which is not reflected at all by Harrabin’s sexed up headline…


‘Climate change will probably have a limited impact on the economy and human welfare in the 21st century.’


This is the ‘dramatic’ effect of climate change up to 2.5 degrees…


‘A global warming of 2.5ºC would make the average person feels as if she had lost 1.3% of her income. (1.3% is the average of the 11 estimates at 2.5ºC.)’


1.3% of your income?  You wouldn’t even notice….especially as by the time 2.5 degrees is reached your income will have increased by far more than 1.3%


In sum, breaking the 2ºC target is not a disaster. The most serious impacts are symptoms of poverty rather than climate change. Other impacts are unlikely to have a substantial effect on human welfare.


Interesting that Harrabin likes to use the word ‘Contrarian’ to describe climate sceptics…a word which suggests irrational, stubborn disbelief rather than a critique based upon genuine reason and science….Harrabin once again is trying to discredit and insult the sceptics.

Harrabin’s article, based upon his ‘Changing Climate’ programme is as dodgy, if not more so than that programme.

He sets up sceptic, Matt Ridley, up for a fall and places him in opposition to Tol… that is highly dishonest because Ridley bases his comments on the science of Tol…something Harrabin doesn’t mention in this article (but admits in this interview with Tol on a site run by Harrabin’s old mate and climate activist, Dr Joe Smith, from the propagandist CMEP which he and Harrabin used to manipulate the BBC’s climate programming via their infamous seminars……RH I think he references you in order to make that conclusion.)

Here is Harrabin’s spin…


‘Human societies will soon start to experience adverse effects from manmade climate change, a prominent economist has warned. Prof Richard Tol predicts the downsides of warming will outweigh the advantages with a global warming of 1.1C – which has nearly been reached already. Prof Tol is regarded by many campaigners as a climate “sceptic”.  He has previously highlighted the positive effects of CO2 in fertilising crops and forests.  His work is widely cited by climate contrarians.’


Note how he tries to portray Tol as in the ‘contrarian’ camp….he does this in order to suggest that Tol has ‘seen the light’ and come into the climate change fold…when in fact he has always been a believer.

Then we get to what Ridley says…


‘Matt Ridley, the influential Conservative science writer, said he believed the world would probably benefit from a temperature rise of up to 2C.

“I think we probably will see 1.5 degrees of warming. The point is most people think 2C is when it turns catastrophic. That’s not right. The literature is very clear; 2C is when we start to get harm. Up until then we get benefit,” he said.’


Harrabin doesn’t tell us that Ridley is quoting Tol…curiously however he then tells us that Ridley is quoting another scientist and goes on to rubbish Ridley…


‘On fertilisation Matt Ridley refers to unpublished work by Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University.

But he told BBC News Lord Ridley had accurately quoted his research on the impacts of current CO2 levels, but was unduly complacent about future warming.

“I am worried about how this work is being interpreted, by Lord Ridley.’


Ridley ‘interpreted’ that work like this…he also quoted another scientist to back him up, not mentioned by Harrabin…


‘As Dr Ranga Myneni of Boston University has documented, using three decades of satellite data, 31 per cent of the global vegetated area of the planet has become greener and just 3 per cent has become less green. This translates into a 14 per cent increase in productivity of ecosystems and has been observed in all vegetation types.

Dr Randall Donohue and colleagues of the CSIRO Land and Water department in Australia also analysed satellite data and found greening to be clearly attributable in part to the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect.’


Why does Harrabin not tell the reader that Ridley is quoting Tol?  Highly dishonest of Harrabin.

But what did Tol himself say originally?…


In 2009 he said this…

‘In short, even though total economic effects of 1–2°C warming may be positive, incremental impacts beyond that level are likely to be negative.’


Then in may this year, 2015, he said this….

‘Since 2009, however, more estimates of the economic impact of climate change have been published. These new results do affect the fitted trend, but not in the way suggested by Mr Ward. The new trend shows positive impacts for warming up to about two degrees global warming, just like the old trend did. The new trend, however, shows markedly less negative impacts for more profound warming than did the old trend. In other words, in the last five years, we have become less pessimistic about the impacts of climate change.’


Pretty clear…up to 2 degrees we still get benefits economically from climate change..the benefits reduce after 1.1 degrees but are still positive.




This is what Ridley said in 2013...the basis for Harrabin’s contempt…


‘There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. That was the conclusion of Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies of the effects of future climate trends.

To be precise, Prof Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper).

Now Prof Tol has a new paper, published as a chapter in a new book, called How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?, which is edited by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, and was reviewed by a group of leading economists. In this paper he casts his gaze backwards to the last century. He concludes that climate change did indeed raise human and planetary welfare during the 20th century.’


Just how certain is Tol about the negative aspects of climate change?….‘The uncertainty is rather large, however. Taking the confidence interval at face value, the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming…At 3.0ºC of warming, impacts are negative and deteriorating, and its uncertainty is widening. It is likely that the world will warm beyond 3.0ºC. Yet, beyond that point, there are few estimates only. Instead, there is extrapolation and speculation.’

Let’s just see that again….’the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming‘….no significantly negative effects until we get to 3.5 degrees?




Here is Tol recently defending his 2 degrees conclusion…


Mr Robert E.T. Ward BSc, Policy and Communications Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, recently published a piece about my work under the title “Flawed analysis of the impacts of climate change”. Mr Ward raises two main objections, first, to the conclusion that “the overall impacts of unmitigated climate change this century could be positive, even if global average temperature rises by more than 2°C above its pre-industrial level” and, second, to the conclusion that “the welfare change caused by climate change is equivalent to the welfare change caused by an income change of a few percent”.




In passing, might I add two thoughts:

1) All these projections of economic costs and benefits assume that we know just what effects on weather 2 degree of warming will have, right down to regional levels.

The simple fact is we don’t, and therefore everything that follows is no more than theoretical pap.

2) A quick look at the graph shows that we are pretty much at the top of the curve now. In other words, we are at a climate optimum.

I don’t think many would argue that, climatically speaking, we are better off now than in the 19thC. But don’t you find it slightly curious that it is all going to go downhill from here on in?

  1. A C Osborn permalink
    November 19, 2015 12:19 pm

    The MSM is Spinning like a to Top to get as much dis-information out that they can before the Paris Conference, which is already looking like yet another failure.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      November 19, 2015 12:19 pm

      I should have said
      “The MSM is Spinning like a kid’s Toy Top to get as much dis-information out that they can before the Paris Conference, which is already looking like yet another failure.

  2. Le Gin permalink
    November 19, 2015 12:48 pm

    Ah, Roger Horribly-Wrong again….

  3. Rick Bradford permalink
    November 19, 2015 12:50 pm

    WM Briggs made the important point that we should not let them get by with the phrase ‘climate change’.

    ‘Global warming’ is what we were promised, lots of it, and we need to hold them to that.

  4. MartinWW permalink
    November 19, 2015 1:13 pm

    In his Radio 4 programme, the despicable Harrabin introduced Matt Ridley, as “Conservative peer and coal mine owner …”

  5. NeilC permalink
    November 19, 2015 2:25 pm

    After the interview, close to the start of the programme, with the American woman sceptic, RH finnished with “are you a creationist?” I turned off. Asking non-related questions of this sort, in a programme about climate change just to degrade someone not of his RELIGION is broadcasting at its worst.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      November 19, 2015 4:11 pm

      she should have asked if he’s stopped beating his wife & kids.

      • Retired Dave permalink
        November 19, 2015 5:29 pm

        Always a cracker 1save.

  6. November 19, 2015 8:52 pm

    Harrabin is an English graduate and a disgrace to his profession. That’s why he works for the Biased Bullshit Corporation.

  7. November 20, 2015 9:53 am

    Well done Paul deconstructing Harra take many pages more work
    than it takes to Harra CONSTRUCT his dirty PR disinformation pieces,
    …Yes cos they are constructed ..saving untrue stuff like Ridley owns a coal mine seems a deliberate style.
    Yesterday when I complained to Feedback (pointless of course) I checked twitter and found thousands of people have retweeted the headline “BBC News : Society ‘to be hit by climate change’ woe ” *
    then almost no one tweeted about the actual prog
    then thousands retweeted another BBCGreenBlob CONSTRUCTED story
    “BBC News – Where are all the climate change songs?”
    * and now you point out says 2C is a 1.3% reduction in income.

  8. sonja Christiansen permalink
    November 24, 2015 2:58 pm

    ‘Harra’ – who once interviewed for a long time in Chicago , revealed that he knows nothing about science (he studied literature as far as I know) and is an ideologue who knows how to appeal to the ‘green’ masses. Why the BBC likes him, I do not understand, unless the rumour is true that its pension fund is heavily invested in renewables. When will it – the BBC – change side?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: