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Michael Howard Loses The Plot

August 16, 2018
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By Paul Homewood

It appears that the Mail have given up any pretence of balance as far as climate change is concerned.

David Rose regularly published sceptical articles in the past, but I am led to understand that he has now been banned from this. Instead we are fed with a succession of infantile pieces from young Joe Pinkstone, and now today one from Michael Howard, former Tory Minister and apparently now turned climate scientist:


Parched fields in East Anglia, moorland fires in Derbyshire, scorched parks across the nation, depleted reservoirs in the West Country, drying lakes in the North.

This blistering summer, during which we sweltered for weeks on end, reminded many of the great heatwave of 1976.

But there is a significant difference: this year’s heat has not been limited to the United Kingdom.

In Sweden, forest fires blaze as far north as the Arctic Circle. Californian firefighters battle the biggest conflagration they have ever seen.

Japan has experienced its highest temperatures on record. So has Africa. Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, is entirely in drought.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that something unusual is disturbing our weather.

Although we should not rush to assume it is man-made climate change, common sense demands that we ask the question.

Are the dramatic events unfolding around the world being shaped by the greenhouse gases that we are adding to the atmosphere, and which stop heat escaping from the Earth into space, as scientists have repeatedly warned would happen? And if these events are a manifestation of climate change, what does that imply for our future?

It is amazing how a bit of hot weather can frazzle the minds of otherwise sane sensible people.

First, let’s look at the UK, to see if there is anything unusual about this summer so far:

 UK Mean temperature - June

UK Mean temperature - July

June was not as hot as 1976 or 1940, whilst July was also not a record month. The whole record shows how variable British summers are, even though average temperatures may be slightly higher than they used to be a century ago. There is no evidence at all that this summer’s heatwave will become the new norm.

But what about his claim that the heat is worldwide?

It is very easy to cherry pick a handful of weather events and claim that they are part of a global pattern. But even his examples fail to come up to scratch.

For instance, he talks about forest fires in Sweden. The idea that you don’t have wildfires in and around the Arctic is a schoolboy error. Once trees start burning, it does not matter how cold it is outside. The Arctic also tends to be very dry, which is also highly relevant.

For instance, the biggest wildfire in recent decades in the US was the Taylor Complex fire in Alaska in 2004, which destroyed 1.3m acres. The chart below shows that wildfires in Alaska are not getting worse.


The idea that you cannot have high temperatures in the Arctic is also a false one. The official all-time high temperature for Alaska was 100F set at Ft Yukon in 1915:


As for the wildfires in California, they have more to do with decades of fire suppression and failure to thin forests than climate.

July temperatures there last month were not unprecedented:


And rainfall in the last year, whilst below average, has not been unusually low:


As for heatwaves, temperatures in the US as a whole last month were far from unprecedented:


He cherry picks a record in Japan, which was based on a highly urbanised site, and one in Africa, which was at the time declared to be very dubious.

Struggling to finish off his list, he points to a drought in NSW. But as the BOM show, rainfall in the last 12 months has been at similarly low levels many times in the past:


And the current drought has nothing at all to do with “heat”:


Meanwhile, across Australia as a whole, rainfall has clearly been on an increasing trend over the years:


A handful of weather events does not prove that something unusual is disturbing our weather. You could go back to any year in history, and make similar claims.

Howard then goes on to bang the drum about renewables, spouting the usual rubbish we continually hear from Claire Perry. He even suggests we all ditch our petrol and diesel cars, and buy electric (even though they are utterly unsuitable for the vast majority of drivers). Interesting question – what happens to the second hand market when we all decide to sell our motors, and nobody wants to buy them? Is Mr Howard suggesting we merrily accept scrap value for them?

He also rings the praises for China and India, who he claims are serious about switching to renewable energy and reducing emissions.

Could these be the same two countries which have tripled and doubled their emissions since 2001?


BP Energy Review


Or the same two countries where wind and solar still only supply less than 3% of total energy?

It was inevitable that the likes of Michael Howard would crawl out of the woodwork, as soon as we had a hot summer.

But the real question is  – why is the Mail now so keen to give space to their bogus propaganda?

  1. cjw1954 permalink
    August 16, 2018 4:39 pm

    Presumably he’s auditioning for the Gummer/Yeo etc. gravy train.

    • August 16, 2018 4:53 pm

      What a perspicacious thought. Wish it had occurred to me !

  2. August 16, 2018 4:52 pm

    I always had Michael Howard down as a highly intelligent person.
    What could possibly explain this outpouring of utter & unscientific rubbish ?
    Can the heat of this wonderful Summer have affected his brain so badly ?
    Actually, his and very many others ?!

    • Colin Brooks permalink
      August 16, 2018 7:43 pm


      Howard was a politician I would have trusted until now.

  3. Richard Woollaston permalink
    August 16, 2018 4:54 pm

    Did someone not once say he had ‘something of the night’ about him?

    I hope, Paul, that you also sent the Editor of the Mail a copy of your post. Otherwise let us know and we all will!

    However perhaps this shift in position is also explained by the following piece from the Guardian on Paul Dacre’s replacement as Editor:

    “Geordie Greig is to be the new editor of the Daily Mail, putting a staunch remainer in charge of one of the most pro-Brexit newspapers in the country.

    The current Mail on Sunday boss will replace Paul Dacre, 69, who is stepping down in November.

    Lord Rothermere, who controls the two papers, said: “Geordie has been an outstanding editor of the Mail on Sunday, and I am delighted that he will continue the high-quality journalism that Paul has made a hallmark of the Daily Mail for more than 25 years.”

    A source with knowledge of the discussions told the Guardian that Greig’s appointment was part of a process of “detoxifying the Daily Mail” after Dacre’s editorship.”

    Presumably the article written by Michael Howard is part of the same process of ‘detoxification!’

    • August 16, 2018 5:17 pm

      I have not sent the Mail my piece, please feel free to!!

    • steve permalink
      August 16, 2018 5:29 pm

      Hmmmm, the Mail On Sunday may as well have been a different paper completely to the Daily Mail as far as Brexit policy was concerned. Sounds like the new editor has different views on the mythical climate change as well. Interesting to see how readership goes – I know of a few people that cancelled the MoS because of their Brexit stance.;

      • Dave Ward permalink
        August 16, 2018 5:38 pm

        “I know of a few people that cancelled the MoS because of their Brexit stance”

        I was one of them, and it now looks as if the Daily Mail delivery will also be cancelled in the near future…

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 17, 2018 2:04 pm

        Yes, the difference between the two ‘sister’ papers was quite startling in the run up to the referendum. However since then the Mail is full of ignorant ultra Brexit moron drivel as spouted by Bojo The Clown, Redwood, Lilley, Jacob Rees Moron etc. while the MoS has some coverage of the crisis that will be created by failing to have a Withdrawal Agreement and transition period. Perhaps with Greig in charge the ignorant ‘remoaner’ and ‘project fear’ comments that usually appear at the bottom of a piece, or in another piece by a UBM will disappear. We look forward to the sectorial papers to be published shortly by May & Co on the effects of a no deal Brexit. To be fair, our expectations of them accurately addressing the effects are very low.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      August 16, 2018 5:37 pm

      “Did someone not once say he had ‘something of the night’ about him?”

      That would be a certain Margaret Thatcher…

      • Ian permalink
        August 16, 2018 5:51 pm

        No, it was Doris Karlof.

      • Richard Woollaston permalink
        August 16, 2018 6:20 pm

        I think it might have been Ann Widdecombe?

      • Ian permalink
        August 16, 2018 6:40 pm

        AKA Doris Karlof, due to her appearance.

      • cajwbroomhill permalink
        August 16, 2018 8:36 pm

        Anne Widdicombe thus described Michael Howard: devastating!

    • dennisambler permalink
      August 17, 2018 12:12 pm

      ‘something of the night’ about him?

      Anne Widdecombe, who also voted against the Climate Change Act

  4. RogerJC permalink
    August 16, 2018 4:58 pm

    Howard makes a lot of Margaret Thatcher’s view on Climate Change, but what he does not say is that by the time she came to write her autobiography she had changed her view 180 degrees and wrote “By the end of my time as Prime Minister I was also becoming seriously concerned about the anti-capitalist arguments which the campaigners against global warming were deploying.” So she recognised it for the con that it is.

    • bobn permalink
      August 16, 2018 5:31 pm

      Correct, back in the 80’s Mrs T thought the climate should be studied. She wasnt in power when the first IPCC report with its bias and lies came out. I also was curious about climate in the 1990s and read all the biased leftwing propaganda from IPCC and their friends. Early on I was accepting it, but my natural scepticism made me dig for the evidence supporting the claims and read more deeply on History, geology, physics, and as I read I discovered the mainstream narrative was a pack of lies. It took years of study for me to realise I was being lied to (and I suspect many of you have made a similar journey). I believe Mrs T was on a similar journey of discovery until her stroke ended her public life.
      Its deeply dishonest of Howard to claim Maggie supported the greens position – she was open-minded and on the fence.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 17, 2018 2:09 pm

        Yes, followed the same path. It was the start of taxes that made me suspicious about the whole thing and to read a book called Meltdown. That referred to the author (I think) and hundreds of other scientists demanded their names be removed from the latest IPCC report because it was not an honest publication. This would be the one where Ben Santer changed sections that had been agreed to read that human CO2 emissions were causing warming. There was – and still isn’t – any supporting evidence. From that point the IPCC reports became the work of a handful of zealots without any achievements to their names.

    • Ian Magness permalink
      August 16, 2018 6:39 pm

      RogerJC – I completely agree.
      I confess I am bemused by the AGW-fans’ use of Margaret Thatcher to help their cause, especially when they go as far as to insinuate that she destroyed the miners, at least in part due to her worries about fossil fuels. Really? I was around then and interested in politics as well as science and I don’t even recall global warming being a Thatcher policy issue at all, just something she mused on, as she mused on many things. Breaking the miners’ strike was fundamentally about breaking union power in general, starting with the most troublesome lot – the miners. I’m not sure there was anything else to it at the time.
      If there is a Thatcher historian out there who can tell us exactly what action she took with regard to global warming at any stage in her reign, I would be most grateful to read it.

  5. Ian permalink
    August 16, 2018 5:39 pm

    Then there’s this:

    They don’t appear to have heard about China’s building programme.

    • John Palmer permalink
      August 16, 2018 6:40 pm

      They’re just following numerous examples in the States. You claim to be acting in the interests of ‘future generations’ by trying to lodge vexatious legal actions – it’s the new front now that they’re losing ground in several western countries where AGW (which must now be referred-to as ‘Climate Change’) has dropped to near the bottom in terms of public concern.

  6. August 16, 2018 5:42 pm

    The global satellite anomaly for July was 0.33 I believe, so hardly scorching everywhere.

    And a pretty simple metric to obtain.

    • August 16, 2018 5:46 pm

      Actually 0.32, up a bit from June’s 0.21 and way below the El Niño high.

  7. George Lawson permalink
    August 16, 2018 7:48 pm

    What is hard to understand is when global warming is discussed in terms of a percentage of a degree how anyone can argue that near record summer temperatures are supposed to be caused by global warming.

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 16, 2018 7:53 pm

    The UAH global temperature anomalies for June 2017/18 were both ~0.2C, for July 2017/18 both ~0.3C.

    Clearly alarmists are pointing at chance cherry-picked weather, not climate.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 16, 2018 7:56 pm

    A recent report said 90% of Japanese rural sites showed stable or cooling temperatures, they have an urbanization heatwave problem, not a CO2 one.

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 16, 2018 8:02 pm

    100 years of Australian drought and flood:

    I seem to recall Heller uses a newspaper cutting listing years in the 1800s – nearly always extreme flood or drought!

  11. Simon Allnutt permalink
    August 16, 2018 8:25 pm

    It is interesting the selective way that he quotes Margaret Thatcher. By the time she wrote her autobiography she had changed her mind on man made climate change. It is also interesting that this became a controlling issue at the time that the Communist empire failed, almost as if it were the replacement threat.

  12. August 16, 2018 9:19 pm

    I sent the following letter to the Mail

    Michael Howard was an excellent Home Secretary, but he was wrong to imply that Margaret Thatcher was always fully supportive of the global warming hypothesis (Mail 16 August)
    Although it is true that she originally accepted claims of man-made global warming, later she changed her mind completely, as can be seen from a section of her book, Statecraft, written in 2003. In a passage headed “Hot Air and Global Warming” she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views.

    She voiced fundamental doubts about the climate scare and questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive it, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of “costly and economically damaging” schemes to reduce CO2 emissions.

    She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.

    In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. The fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of “climate sceptics” has been almost entirely buried from view.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 16, 2018 9:27 pm

    Booker on Thatcher’s conversion from climate alarmism dupe to rational skeptic.

  14. mikewaite permalink
    August 16, 2018 10:02 pm

    Michael Howard loses the plot ?
    You could not be more wrong. This sudden enthusiasm for all things green is possibly just a
    smoke screen to cover his other commercial activities, which are anything but green if the comments in today’s post at Jonova are valid:

    Note comment 58, information compiled by “pat” from independent sources , one of which ironically is the Daily Mail
    1. He is chairman of a controversial plan to build 15000 houses in an area of rural Somerset, on a flood plain, with no existing rail links.
    2. Chair of Soma Oil and Gas, a Somali oil exploration company , owned mainly by a Russian billionaire and which attracted at one point the interest of the Serious Fraud office.
    3. Consultant to Canadian mining and African gas exploration companies.
    There is nothing disreputable in any of these activities of course, and many here would certainly support him, but it is the insouciance with which he can claim to be fighting climate change and supporting renewables whilst retaining profitable links to the fossil fuel industry that demonstrates his total contempt for the rest of the reading public.
    He has not lost the plot – he is rewriting it.

  15. Coeur de Lion permalink
    August 17, 2018 10:49 am

    My blistering metal wheelbarrow was full of blistering rainwater this morning.

  16. dennisambler permalink
    August 17, 2018 12:32 pm

    One of the Grand Old Men of Global Warming who was an influential voice on Margaret Thatcher’s early comments on AGW, is the career bureaucrat and non-scientist, Sir Crispin Tickell:

    That bastion of climate truth, Wikipedia says “Margaret Thatcher credits Tickell for persuading her to make a speech on global climate change to the Royal Society in September 1988” I have no reason to disbelieve them on this.

    He has operated behind the scenes for many years and was a close friend of the late Maurice Strong. He is still at it and is on the International Advisory Council of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Environmental Justice, with some very familiar faces such as Gore, Brundtland, Jeffrey Sachs (climate advisor to the Pope) and the ubiquitous Richard Branson.

  17. Europeanonion permalink
    August 17, 2018 1:05 pm

    I believe that M. Thatcher set-up the CRU but later came to regret it. Yet another example of the ambivalence of Conservative capitalism and the role of free markets. When the great British public sees obvious advantages in renewable’s they will migrate out of self-interest.

    Today we have taxes being used to favour renewable’s we have energy companies then raising their prices to customers and still the daily grid figures show that the only things keeping the lights on are gas and old nuclear.

    On top of all of this is the spraying around of ‘caps’ as a reaction against private firms endeavouring to make a market but, because of the intransigence of Government, having to buy fuels from abroad (and some pretty tasty regimes to boot). If the only regulation of the market is ‘capping’ it then the free market is not working and the Conservative government has no platform, what they are practising is but nationalisation by another means.

  18. Tony Budd permalink
    August 18, 2018 10:57 am

    Where and how are global CO2 levels in the atmosphere measured? Unless the stations are spread evenly over both the oceans and the land there is likely to be considerable bias, especially downwind of India or China for instance.

  19. tom0mason permalink
    August 18, 2018 4:42 pm

    Mr. Howard a quote from Oliver Cromwell springs to my mind —

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

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