The Times /UK
change lobby wants to kill free speech
Matt Ridley, April 25
A letter by peers about this newspaper’s coverage of global warming is part
of a systematic campaign to shut down debate
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
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 More/THE TIMES-Paywall at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/climate-change-lobby-wants-to-kill-free-speech-l975jdxp8
h/t: Paul Homewood with more details:
Paul Homewood sumerize:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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)
FOOTNOTE (Paul Homewood):
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.
h/t: Paul Homewood: