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Climate change lobby wants to kill free speech

April 25, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Matt Ridley writes in the Times:



The editor of this newspaper received a private letter last week from Lord Krebs and 12 other members of the House of Lords expressing unhappiness with two articles by its environment correspondent. Conceding that The Times’s reporting of the Paris climate conference had been balanced and comprehensive, it denounced the two articles about studies by mainstream academics in the scientific literature, which provided less than alarming assessments of climate change. 
Strangely, the letter was simultaneously leaked to The Guardian. The episode gives a rare glimpse into the world of “climate change communications”, a branch of heavily funded spin-doctoring that is keen to shut down debate about the science of climate change.

The letter was not entirely the work of the peers but, I understand, involved Richard Black, once a BBC environment correspondent and now director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, an organisation that spends more than £500,000 a year, largely trying to influence the media.

The ECIU is part of a self-described “climate change rapid response community”, which jumps on newspapers that publish anything sceptical about global warming. Another £330,000 was spent by Carbon Brief, led by another ex-journalist, Leo Hickman of The Guardian. (There’s a revolving door between environmental journalism and Big Green.) Then there’s the Climate Coalition, the Campaign against Climate Change, various publicly funded climate-communications groups inside universities, plus the green multinationals, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF, with their nine-figure budgets. And so on.

Against this Goliath, one little David stands alone: the Global Warming Policy Foundation, with its budget of about £300,000, all privately donated and none from the fossil fuel industry. (I am on its academic advisory council, but receive no pay and make no donations. I have income indirectly from unsubsidised coal, and have refused income from subsidised solar and wind power.)

The GWPF often draws attention to the many studies ignored by greens that suggest climate change is not so dangerous, and to the economic and environmental harm done by climate policies. Remember the consensus is that global warming is “likely” to be anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful (0.3-4.8C this century). And predictions of doom usually prove exaggerated: eugenic deterioration, dietary fat, population growth, sperm counts, pesticides and cancer, mad cow disease, the effect of acid rain on forests. […]

Climate policies are hitting mainly poor people while enriching mainly wealthy people. The lack of affordable electricity in poor countries is responsible for poverty and at least three million deaths a year from indoor smoke, yet western countries and international institutions largely refuse to support the cheapest source of electricity, fossil fuels. It is reasonable that journalists should occasionally report challenges to the evidence on which these policies are based.

Ironically, two days before the letter was leaked, Lord Krebs rightly denounced in parliament a ham-fisted new government rule on not using public money to lobby government, because it could effectively censor scientists from saying inconvenient things. Yet here he seems to be saying that The Times should censor inconvenient stories.

This episode is part of a systematic campaign. When I cover this topic I am vilified as on no other subject, and many journalists now steer clear of expressing any doubts. As long ago as 2005, the Royal Society wrote to editors “appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change”, by which they did not mean the cherry-picked data and inappropriate statistics just then being exposed in the “hockey-stick” and “hide the decline” fiascos.

In 2006 the BBC held a secret meeting, after which it decided to limit the airtime given to climate sceptics. It spent £140,000 on hiring six lawyers to avoid revealing that the 28 “best scientific experts” who attended actually included only a handful of scientists remotely connected with climate among mostly environmental lobbyists.

In 2013 Ed Davey, then secretary of state for energy and climate change, said “some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups”, by which he did not apparently mean The Guardian.

In 2014 the BBC upheld a complaint against itself for allowing Lord Lawson to discuss climate change at all, commenting bizarrely that his views “are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling”.

The Climategate emails leaked in 2009 revealed intimidation against academics and journal editors who voiced doubts about the forthcoming Armageddon. When Lennart Bengtsson, a distinguished climatologist, joined the GWPF’s scientific advisory board in 2014, the pressure was so “unbearable” that he withdrew, worried about his health and safety, “a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy”. Some distinguished scientists continue to brave the bullies, such as Judith Curry, Dick Lindzen, John Christy, Nic Lewis, Michael Kelly and David Legates, but others tell me they dare not put their heads above the parapet.

In 2013 The Los Angeles Times said it would “no longer publish letters from climate change deniers”, in which category it included sceptics. The following year Professor Roger Pielke Jr quit Nate Silver’s 538 website following a campaign against him. Professor Pielke had argued with impeccably detailed evidence that, although he was no sceptic, “the increased cost of natural disasters is not the result of climate change”.

This month, the attorneys-general of 16 US states issued subpoenas against a think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an attempt to silence its climate dissent. The Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle lambasted this decision, saying: “I support action on climate change . . . But that doesn’t mean I’m entitled to drive people who disagree with me from the public square.”

If peers demanded a newspaper stop covering studies that argue economic growth is going to fall short of the consensus, they would get short shrift. We can’t criticise Russia or Turkey for shutting down newspapers if we censor scientific doubters. Free speech matters.


We need to remember that Lord Krebs is a key member of the supposedly independent Committee on Climate Change, which was set up under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on tackling climate change. 

Such a role is surely not compatible with attempts to shut down public debate.

We should also remember that Richard Black’s ECIU relies totally on funding from left wing “philanthropic” foundations, such as the European Climate Foundation. (See here)




I can personally vouch how the likes of Richard Black attempt to shut down any debate in the media. Last year, following a critical newspaper article about the Met Office by Christopher Booker, two long and detailed complaints were submitted by Richard Black and Bob Ward, with implied threats to pursue with the new press complaints body.

The complaints were so poorly factually based that, with my help, the newspaper concerned was easily able to brush them away, and there was no further come back. It is easy to see, however, how a journalist/editor with less knowledge of the subject could be cowed, and simply give way to such spurious attacks.

The result would, of course, be to discourage any further such reporting.

  1. lapogus permalink
    April 25, 2016 3:05 pm

    Another great letter from Matt.

  2. Anthony Ratliffe permalink
    April 25, 2016 3:06 pm

    Congratulations on your continued determination to discuss and document the truth, as best we can know it at any given time. The problem lies with those who think that they already know “everything” there is to know about a difficult technical subject. I am reminded of the comments made by some very senior scientists in the late 19th century about the state of physical science, as they perceived it.


  3. Joe Public permalink
    April 25, 2016 3:53 pm


  4. April 25, 2016 4:00 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  5. April 25, 2016 4:16 pm

    Even the so-called learned journals have been corrupted by the self-righteous AGW lobby. I wrote a letter to the Institution of Chemical Engineers about a year ago that was critical of an article that they published about global warming being “proven science” and was told by the editor that their policy was that AGW is proven and they will not publish any contrary views: I subsequently resigned from the Institution after over 30 years.

    Very few people look at the reasons to doubt this “proven science” but fortunately in the UK and USA the masses are sceptical, despite massive brainwashing efforts by the politicians and their scientific poodles.

  6. Philip Walling permalink
    April 25, 2016 4:20 pm

    All this has been obvious for a long time.
    But what I would like explained is why are these people in the grip of this delusion?
    It’s like denying the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection in the Middle Ages.
    Or burning witches.
    What is going on?

    • CheshireRed permalink
      April 25, 2016 5:54 pm

      Money, power, ideology, influence, status, career. Perm any of those in any order you like.

    • Peter Shaw permalink
      April 25, 2016 6:47 pm

      Philip –

      1. An illusion of invulnerability.
      2. A collective rationalization.
      3. The belief in inherent morality.
      4. The capacity to hold stereotyped views of out-groups.
      5. Direct pressure on dissenters.
      6. The capacity to self-censorship.
      7. The illusion of unanimity.
      8. Self-appointed mind guards.

      Janis’s characterisation of Groupthink.

      You should form your own opinion.

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      April 26, 2016 9:31 am

      It is the vehemence of true believers who have not been convinced by evidence (very few of these people have any kind of scientific background at all, and have generally neither read nor understood the arguments) but who have simply accepted “authority.

      Often that is because it fits with their other beliefs, and reinforces them, or it allows them to indulge their own fantasies about controlling others or saving the world

      Thus they find any challenge to be deeply worrying because they cannot actually argue the points. People whose positions are based on evidence and logic are rarely scared of debate, even with those whose positions are probably bonkers.

      Only those who fear debate try to prevent debate.

  7. April 25, 2016 5:12 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  8. CheshireRed permalink
    April 25, 2016 5:57 pm

    Matt Ridley’s generosity of spirit and object fairness comes across in stark contrast to a vindictive and spiteful green blob. You’re the better person, Matt. Long may it continue.

  9. dangeroosdave permalink
    April 25, 2016 10:47 pm

    There will be pie in the sky bye and bye. Ordinarily, this would not be subject to violent disagreement. It is only when a small group decides to take insignificant amounts of money from a large uncaring group, in order to accumulate the large amounts of money to be sequestered by the small core group to invent the SKYPIE technology and get it working for the great benefit of all. Meanwhile, in this beginning phase it is necessary to buy large amounts of caviar, bizjets, golfing junkets, etc. to give the SKYPIE technology a good start. Don’t look behind the curtain yet, just listen to the music and go about your daily business. You can dance if you want. Keep sending money.

  10. April 26, 2016 8:53 am

    Proven AGW? Not if evidence means anything.

    ‘Since 2000 humans have put out 30% of their total CO2 but there is nothing to show for it.’

  11. dennisambler permalink
    April 26, 2016 11:51 am

    “We need to remember that Lord Krebs is a key member of the supposedly independent Committee on Climate Change”

    I think he is chairman of the Mitigation sub-committee. There is also considerable input from the Grantham Institute, via in particular Dr Sam Fankhauser, co-director of LSE Grantham. Brian Hoskins, chair of Imperial Grantham Institute, is also on the CCC.

    Check out the Grantham Advisory Board, some very interesting names:

    Fankhauser has a continuing association with Lord Stern, who is chairman of the LSE Grantham Institute and they were former colleagues at IdeaCarbon, where Stern is still listed as a member of their advisory board,

    Christiana Figueres was also a colleague prior to her taking up the UNFCCC job.
    “The Carbon Rating Agency (CRA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the IDEAglobal Group. It is the world’s only ratings agency focused on carbon and energy efficiency asset ratings. Its mission is to enable the creation of carbon as an asset class.

    The CRA’s products have been built using both financial and environmental market experts such as current UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and former UN Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai.”

    Back to Fankhauser, who has further vested interest in that he is the Chief Economist at GLOBE International, where until last year Lord Deben, chair of CCC, was the President.

    Fankhauser is now an associate director at Vivid Economics, another “carbon” consultancy,

    Lovely picture here of Deben and Davy:

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      April 26, 2016 3:57 pm

      Presumably the Carbon Rating Agency (CRA) has a Programme (P)? I can’t help feeling that Gummer got CJD all those years ago when he was feeding his daughter beefburgers.

  12. April 26, 2016 4:32 pm

    BBC Radio Julian tells the story of the transformation that’s known in Germany as the Energiewende.

    BBC web ,
    Wales’ biggest coal-fired power station is to downgrade its operations due to “challenging” market conditions.
    Aberthaw in the Vale of Glamorgan will from April 2017 only generate electricity when needed, such as in the winter months.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 27, 2016 8:36 pm

      The UK energy industry is tightly regulated by the government. Those who blame privatisation have no understanding of how there is no free market that would see serious competition. The rules set require wind and solar power to be used when available that affects the viability of coal generation. This news from Wales could be the prelude to it being closed down as others have. Come next winter there will be less generation capacity than peak demand should we get a cold still spell where wind produces zero. Interestingly there is a good chance of grid failures this summer due to the increase in wind and solar and the problem with load balancing on the grid as these unreliable intermittent sources fluctuate.

  13. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 2, 2016 8:10 am

    Lord Krebs and Lord Rees (Astronomer Royal) had a follow-up letter in the London Times explaining how they were against censorship but then complaining that the weight given to the views of the GWPF would ‘affect the credibility of The Times’ in presumably an attempt to influence editorial process. YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP. I have written to both suggesting that their overemphasis on the GWPF shows an ignorance of itsreally quite minor position in the pantheon and suggesting that they read WHATSUPWITHTHAT (quarter of a billion visitors), this site (for the devastating Complaint to the BBC on its bias),1000frolly for its Nobel prize winners, Steve McIntyre for the maths, petitionproject org for 31000 sceptical American scientists etc. Will I get an acknowledgment? Yeah, I’m sure.

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