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Booker On David King

November 24, 2021

By Paul Homewood


We’ve been talking about Sir David King again this week.

It is informative reviewing what Christopher Booker wrote about him in 2008:



One of the fond delusions of our age is that scientists are a breed apart from ordinary mortals, white-coated custodians of a mystery, with authority to pronounce on any scientific issue,,however far removed it may be from their own field of expertise. A shining example was the status given to Sir David King, who has just retired after seven years as the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. In 2000, when he was appointed just before the foot-and-mouth crisis, Professor King’s speciality was ‘surface chemistry’. Yet almost immediately top of his agenda was the need to fight an animal disease.

The man he called in to tackle the epidemic in March 2001 was Professor Roy Anderson, a computer modeller specialising in the epidemiology of human diseases but without any experience in veterinary matters. Shutting their ears to the pleas of the world’s leading veterinary experts on foot-and-mouth that the only effective way to stop the spread of the epidemic was vaccination, the two men flouted the law by launching their ‘pre-emptive cull’, the mass-slaughter of animals which never had any contact with the disease. As many as eight million healthy animals were unnecessarily destroyed, at a colossal social and financial cost which vaccination might have reduced to a fraction.

The next big issue to put King in the headlines was global warming, which in 2004 he described as ‘a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism’. He was quoted as claiming that global temperatures were higher than they had been for 60 million years, predicting that by the end of the 21st century, unless drastic measures were taken to curb global warming, Antarctica would be the only habitable continent left on earth.

Top of the politicians’ global warming agenda at that time, led by Blair and the EU, was the need to win ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by Russia, which would at last bring the treaty into force. In July 2004, King led a British team to a key international conference in Moscow, where their behaviour astonished those present. They demanded that scientists critical of Kyoto should not be allowed to speak. They frequently interrupted other speakers, or over-ran their own time at the rostrum. When the tropical disease expert Professor Paul Reiter cited evidence to contradict King’s claim from the rostrum that the melting of the ice on Kilimanjaro was not caused by global warming, King broke off in mid-sentence and left the hall.

At the end Andrei Illarionov, President Putino’s chief economic adviser, was withering about the EU team’s conduct. Their pressure on Russia to ratify Kyoto, he said, ‘was equivalent to a war on truth, science and human welfare’. Russian scientists could not accept the link between CO2 levels and global warming, or that present temperatures were higher than those during the Mediaeval and Roman Warmings, When, in a startling U-turn, Putin then agreed to ratify Kyoto, this did not reflect any change in Russia’s scientific position. As King himself now confirms, it was merely the result of a political deal, whereby the EU agreed to support Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation on favourable terms.

King then remained fairly quiet on the public stage until he recently used his status as retiring Chief Scientist to help the government by supporting various of its new policies, ranging from the need for a nuclear power programme to that for a mass-cull of TB-infected badgers to combat the epidemic raging through our cattle herds. And now, in conjunction with a popular journalist, Gabrielle Watson, he has published a mass-market paperback entitled The Hot Topic: How To Tackle Global Warming And Still Keep The Lights On (Bloomsbury, £9.99).

As might be expected from the polar bears on the cover, beneath a glowing tribute from Al Gore, the book yet again rehearses the familiar global warming orthodoxy, set out in a somewhat coy, Janet-and-John style which one suspects owes more to King’s co-author than himself. On those famous polar bears it naturally ignores the studies which show that their numbers have in most areas actually been increasing. An even bigger giveaway is a two-page temperature graph adapted from the notorious ‘hockey stick’. This is the now wholly discredited rewriting of history which became the warmists’ supreme icon because, Winston Smith-like, it suppressed the evidence that in the Middle Ages global temperatures were higher than they are today – showing temperatures running in a flattish line for 1,000 years before suddenly curving exponentially upwards.

It might seem odd that the text goes on to say ‘we haven’t seen warming like this for at least 1,000 years’, because this seems to concede that temperatures might have been as high as they are now a millennium ago – although what makes this even more startling is to recall how, a while back, King himself appeared to be claiming that the world is now hotter than it has been at any time for 60 million years.

In this respect, although it ticks off most of the familiar articles in the warmist litany, this book is careful to downplay some of the crazier excesses of Al Gore’s celebrated disaster movie, as when it concedes that global warming cannot be blamed for those vanishing snows of Kilimanjaro (obviously, after being caught out in Moscow, King must have done some homework). Again and again the book suckers in the reader with some extreme claim, but then cleverly throws in a qualification – as when, like Gore, it uses Hurricane Katrina as evidence of global warming, but then admits later that a part was played in that disaster by the collapsing levees (failing to mention, however, that hurricane activity was more extreme in the 1950s than since). Similarly it exploits the 35,000 deaths caused by the 2003 European heat wave, while later conceding that extreme cold causes more deaths than heat (though even here it cannot resist adding that this may not be of ‘much comfort for those affected by heat’).

As is usual with warmist propaganda, there is scarcely a paragraph where the clued-up reader will not notice some key piece of evidence being omitted, as when, like Gore, the authors refer to the increasing number of times the Thames Flood Barrier has had to be closed, while omitting to tell us that this is because both London and Britain’s east coast are sinking (and that in the droughts of recent years the barrier has had to be closed more often to keep river water in than to keep the sea out).

As also with Gore, however, unwittingly the most comical part of the authors’ argument comes when, having painted as lurid a picture as they dare of the looming apocalypse, they move on, as their subtitle suggests, to outline the steps we must take to avert catastrophe. Yet again we are plunged into thudding bathos, as we are solemnly told that, in order to cut our carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050, to ensure that global temperatures rise by no more than 2 degrees, we must learn not to leave our TVs on stand-by, switch to low-energy light bulbs, use trains rather than cars and build more wind turbines.

One obvious problem with global warming is that, if the threat it poses is really as serious as the politicians and ‘consensus’ scientists say it is – and if they are also right in their diagnosis of its cause – then mere tinkering about with light bulbs and windmills will not have the slightest effect in preventing it. We should all, including the Chinese who are building two coal-fired power stations a week, have to abandon pretty well everything modern industrial civilisation stands for.

The only possible source of comfort is that the much-vaunted ‘consensus’, carefully manufa ctured with the aid of skewed computer models and shameless political manipulation, is nothing like so securely based on hard evidence as the politicians and highly-politicised scientists like to believe. As a ‘surface chemist’, Professor King may be a genuine scientist. When he turns his attention to other matters, however, he becomes merely another politician, as the woolly ragbag of unsupported assertions trotted out in this book confirms. It might seem appropriate that, having begun his career as Chief Scientist supporting one immense blunder based on the unreal projections of computer modelling, the good professor should end it on another. Like many another scientist who strays out of his field of expertise, he ends up speaking with no more authority than a man sounding off in the pub.

  1. November 24, 2021 11:42 am

    He advised damsels to steer clear of boys with sports cars-not because of any dangers to life and limb of fast driving but to save thhe climate fom th extra CO2!

  2. Mike Jackson permalink
    November 24, 2021 11:49 am

    I remember that article and the jaw-dropping effect of King’s performance in Moscow.
    I was always a fan of Booker but there was one aspect of his criticism of King’s Foot and Mouth performance where he strayed slightly from the realities of the politics.
    The opposition to vaccination was based on the simple fact that it would have had a serious, possibly disastrous, effect on British beef exports since the EU made it very clear that any such procedure would have put an immediate block on the movement of cattle to the mainland.
    Their chosen alternative bears a frightening resemblance to this government’s response to Covid though fortunately they stopped short of actually culling those of us who “might” have been in contact with an infected person. Both events demonstrate the dangers of paying too much attention to the views of experts convinced of their own superiority and operating outside their field.
    Not forgetting the current mania for reliance on computer models rather than facts!

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      November 24, 2021 12:38 pm

      I wish it was someone talking rubbish down the pub. When it became unbearable we could of put him out the door.
      Mind you, as a result of what he’s done to Badgers, things might not of ended so well after that.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      November 24, 2021 1:00 pm

      Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.


      • Julian Flood permalink
        November 24, 2021 2:37 pm

        There’s a video on UUToob of Feynman’s talk on how to do science. First you guess. Then you calculate the consequences of that guess. Then you compare those to the data. If the guess doesn’t match the data then the guess is wrong.

        There are some very senior scientists who would do well to watch that video.


    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      November 24, 2021 4:14 pm

      With regards to Foot and Mouth vaccination, wasn’t the outbreak in the middle of the BSE global bab on British beef? So another ban wouldn’t have changed a great deal but for farmers having herds of pedigree animals built up over several generations would have been a major benefit.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        November 24, 2021 4:34 pm

        The two overlapped. The BSE scare started about 1989. The then Minister of Agriculture, one J Selwyn Gummer, now Lord Deben, was filmed stuffing a beefburger down his daughter’s throat to prove British beef was safe.
        The ban on the export of beef ran from 1996 to 2006 (IIRC) or later in the case of the French (who still have not paid the fine imposed by the ECJ for refusing to lift the ban!)
        I think the F&M ban was in reality meaningless but it made clear that the EU was opposed to vaccination of cattle in the event that the BSE ban was lifted. I don’t know what the current situation is.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      November 24, 2021 7:44 pm

      Once again the bizarre obsession with exports that politicians have. Very few of them understand trade in any way whatsoever. We cold have quite easily not exported the beef, sold it here relatively cheaper and eaten instead of imported pork say. Effect on the balance of trade (which doesn’t actually matter anyway) wold then have been zero.

  3. David Woodcock permalink
    November 24, 2021 2:03 pm

    It’s a shame that very few in the media today have the gumption to square up to our politicians on the issue of climate change. Here in the UK our clueless politicians all agreed that we should declare our country is in a ‘climate emergency’!
    Only none of them even bothered to look at the official meteorological data for themselves which clearly shows that our climate here in the UK has not changed at all over the past two decades. Themperatures are unchanged, rainfall rates are unaltered and sunshine levels have remained the same too. Sea level rates of change are completely unaltered from what has been recorded for hundreds of years.
    So where is the emergency?
    What is the real story behind this mad declaration?
    9/11 forced a great deal of soul searching and thinking in the west. I personally expect we will find out in decades to come that the political drive for change is about ending the west’s reliance on oil and gas reserves based in two of the most undependable regions of the world.
    Our Governments can’t openly say this whilst on the other hand continuing to promote free global trade as a way of spreading democratic freedom to each corner of the globe. It would be ridiculously hypocritical and damaging.
    Governments latched onto the very convenient theory of Mankind changing global climate systems with CO2 as a way to frighten people into freely making that huge consumer change all by themselves. Now they actually believe they are saving the world by swapping the internal combustion engine with an electric turbine.
    Personally, I am very sure that almost all species in the world, whether in the middle of the Pacific, the middle of the Antarctic, middle of the Sahara, the Serengeti or the centre of Canada or Russia will ever notice any chang whatsoever.

    • November 24, 2021 2:12 pm

      But at the cost of financial near-ruin, so crazily stupid, as usual.
      Maybe Donald Trump was in sensible mode About decarbonisation?

      • November 24, 2021 8:44 pm

        What an insulting patronising comment about the legitimate U.S. President.

      • November 24, 2021 8:51 pm

        Many apologies. I supported Pres. Trump but saw him attacked by many observers, both in UK and US.
        Maybe they were essentially wrong as they certainly were about his climate and IPCC Paris policy

      • Adam Gallon permalink
        November 25, 2021 7:51 am

        He hasn’t mentioned Biden.

  4. Don B permalink
    November 24, 2021 2:09 pm

    We miss Booker.

    • November 24, 2021 2:17 pm

      Who was as wise as King is a dope.

    • Sam Duncan permalink
      November 24, 2021 2:25 pm

      Just what I was about to say myself. I often wonder what he’d have to say about the current madness.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        November 24, 2021 4:39 pm

        His views on climate are recorded in his writings. All of them worth reading and all, as far as I know, available on Amazon.

  5. Brian Gosney permalink
    November 24, 2021 2:32 pm

    Beware of scientists posing as a scientist much more dangerous

  6. xmbea permalink
    November 24, 2021 4:14 pm

    King has behaved exactly the same way with his role in Independent Sage and their support for lockdowns and restrictions to cope with Covid. He is still unfortunately popping up from time to time on the BBC News and spouting the same nonsense be it about Covid or Global warming. I turn over the minute I hear his dulcet tones.

  7. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    November 24, 2021 4:49 pm

    The price of fuel seems to be increasing rather rapidly. Is this because they want us to ride (Chinese) lithium or would they have everyone working at home using and paying for their own electricity ?

  8. Cheshire Red permalink
    November 24, 2021 6:04 pm

    O/T I think they make this stuff up to see how much clickbait they get. There’s no other explanation!

  9. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 24, 2021 7:49 pm

    I really don’t know why we have a Chief Scientist? What are they supposed to do? It’s not as if we can have somebody who is an expert in everything, so what’s the point? And anybody who wants the job is going to be an officious, bureaucratic busybody who almost certainly has a political agenda.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      November 25, 2021 7:53 am

      It’s to legitimise government policy that touch upon science.

    • dennisambler permalink
      November 25, 2021 12:57 pm

      Chief Scientist – a Blair invention.

      • dearieme permalink
        November 25, 2021 1:25 pm

        Churchill had a chief scientific adviser during The War – Lindemann. Judging by the list in WKPD the post must have been formalised later – their list begins with Sir Solly Zuckerman, 1964–1971.

  10. Matt Dalby permalink
    November 24, 2021 9:25 pm

    If only politicians had stuck to King’s claim that we need to reduce carbon emissions by 60% before 2050, rather than endorsing net zero. He may’ve been wrong but at least it would be slightly less damaging to the country.

    • November 24, 2021 9:41 pm

      We surely need not further decarbonise at all, since our CO2 output, as a proportion of global, is negligible.

  11. dearieme permalink
    November 24, 2021 11:08 pm

    Booker’s book on scares is excellent.

    Do you know – hold on to some furniture while I tell you this – some scares are scams?

    • November 25, 2021 3:25 pm

      A brilliant book. My first one by dear Mr Booker, who is so hugely and so sadly missed especially at this time.

  12. dennisambler permalink
    November 25, 2021 1:01 pm

    Professor Roy Anderson was leader of the modelling team that also included Neil Ferguson.
    Private Eye, probably Booker, did a great investigative piece:

    Click to access not-the-foot-and-mouth.pdf

  13. Mart Woodroffe permalink
    November 25, 2021 1:03 pm

    I have here, in my hot little hand, Booker’s book ‘The Real Global Warming Disaster”, even more relevant now than in 2009 when first published. Available on Amazon, £9.64 Kindle Edition.
    Pages 113 thro’ 119 (hardback) cover the Moscow episode, including Andrei Illarionov’s peroration of King’s pathetic performance. Required reading.

  14. Ulric Lyons permalink
    November 27, 2021 2:46 am

    The 2003 heatwave had the same solar driver type as the heatwaves of 1934, 1949, 1976, and 2018:

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