Friday, January 3, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Lies, Damn Lies And Tall Climate Tales

The BBC, Bob Ward & The Climate Catastrophists’ Attack On Dissent

In this newsletter:

1) Lies, Damn Lies And Tall Climate Tales
Global Warming Policy Forum, 2 January 2020
2) John Constable: The Future of Oil, Gas, and Coal: Stranded Assets or Safe Refuge?
GWPF Energy, 1 January 2020

3) Matt Ridley: The BBC, Bob Ward & The Climate Catastrophists’ Attack On Dissent
Reaction, 30 December 2019
4) NASA: Area Burned By Global Wildfires Dropped By 25% Since 2003
Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times 29 August 2019
5) Great Barrier Reef Coral Testing ‘Flawed, Needs Fix’, Says Peter Ridd
Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 2 January 2020
6) Peter Ridd's Coral Challenge
Jennifer Marohasy, 2 Januray 2020
7) Mike Kelly Cool, Agile Under BBC Climate Grilling
Richard Treadgold, Climate Conversation, 1 January 2020 

8) And Finally: Children's Song That Describes Grandmother As 'Environmental Pig' Pulled By German Broadcaster 
The Evening Standard, 31 December 2019

Full details:

1) Lies, Damn Lies And Tall Climate Tales
Global Warming Policy Forum, 2 January 2020

Where would we be without the environmental media conjuring up its ever-more blood-curdling tales of climate doom? 

How would we while away the hours without their conjuring up of bizarre (and entirely spurious) links between natural change and global warming? There would be nothing to laugh at any more!

With the new year upon us, we at the Global Warming Policy Forum thought it would be fun to celebrate the work of green authors from around the globe and their tireless efforts in their chosen fictional genre. We are therefore once again inviting you to take part in our special competition, with a chance to win some excellent prizes.

Simply tell us about what you think was the tallest green tale of 2019, and explain to us why it was so utterly preposterous.

Nominations together with rebuttals should be emailed to

Deadline: 11 January 2020.

Prize: Two GWPF books (Population Bombed and The Polar Bear Catastrophe that Never Happened) plus a bottle of whisky.

Good luck, and a happy new year to all our friends and readers!

The Forum team

2) John Constable: The Future of Oil, Gas, and Coal: Stranded Assets or Safe Refuge?
GWPF Energy, 1 January 2020

Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor

In a classic example of econo-political psy-ops, Mark Carney is using his final days in the Bank of England to intimidate institutional financial managers, in pension funds for example, by suggesting that investments in conventional energy are high risk adventures requiring special justification.


However, consideration of the state of the global energy supply over the last thirty years suggests that if anyone has some explaining to do it is Mr Carney himself. Climate policy failure followed by distressed correction seems more probable than other outcomes, and if any investments are likely to be stranded, it is those such as wind and solar that are in effect wagers on the success of current carbon reduction strategies.

The outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, already more climate activist than responsible guardian of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, seems intent on causing an investment market panic and a consequent stampede out of conventional energy and into renewables. Asked point-blank in a recent interview whether he supported “divestment” from fossil fuels  (BBC Today program 30.12.19), he tactfully evaded the question but nevertheless asserted that coal, oil and gas were insecure assets, and that any institutional decision-maker preferring to bet on oil, for example, is engaged in a high risk adventure and must therefore offer special justification for their position.

This pre-emptive strike means that Mr Carney’s own wager, on certain low-carbon technologies, escapes examination. That is the wrong way around. Fossil fuels are known quantities; their physical, thermodynamic, properties are manifestly favourable, and they have as a matter of historical record delivered human wishes for centuries, and still continue to do so at low cost in the present.

What we know about modern renewables, on the other hand, is, to say the least, much less certain. The burden of proof, then, must be on those who believe, as Mark Carney apparently does, not only that low carbon policies will persist for decades to come but also that modern renewables, wind and solar, are now competitive and pose a real threat to conventional sources of energy.

We can gain some insight into the likely strength of his position by charting once again data that this blog has shown on several occasions, global total primary energy supply, which is all that matters if we are concerned with emissions and a transition to low carbon energy:

Figure 1. Global Total Primary Energy (TPE) supply 1990 to 2017 (ktoe). Source: Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) : Chart by the author. 

For the sake of contrast, I have represented the fossil fuels in shades of grey, and the low carbon sources, nuclear, biofuels and waste, and hydro in colours, with the modern renewables on which the low carbon gamble is premised, in bright red. Nearly all the growth in global energy consumption over the period is accounted for by growth in fossil fuels. Renewable energy in total, including traditional biomass in the developing world, made up 13% of Total Primary Energy in 1990 and 14% in 2017. Yes, renewables have grown by 72% over that period, from a low base, but fossil fuels have grown by 59% from a substantial base, and consequently they continue to dominate world energy. There is no “energy transition”.

Perhaps most striking of all, the proportion of low carbon energy, that is nuclear and renewables together, stands today at 19% of global TPE just as it did in 1990, before intense coercive policies supporting renewables were introduced. We can conclude therefore that insofar as there has been any significant impact on global emissions, and this will have only been on the rate of increase, that effect will have come from within the fossil fuel sector itself, including gas-switching and improvements in the conversion efficiency of coal-fired power stations and prime movers such as internal combustion engines. Given the policy pressures applied to the world’s economies since the year 2000 that is an extraordinary failure.

On what grounds, therefore, does Mr Carney believe that institutional investors in fossil fuels, and I quote from his interview, “have to explain the judgement, justify that to the people whose money it ultimately is”? The IEA data clearly suggests that fossil fuel investments require no justification, as investments. On the contrary, the questions probing responsibility and realism should be directed at Mr Carney.

On what grounds does a person of his prominence take to the headlines to prophesy that fossil investments are at risk? He might well want that to happen, but there is nothing in the fundamental data to suggest that this a likely outcome. How can he bring himself to speak so confidently?

The answer appears to be that Mr Carney is less concerned with empirical data than with the virtual reality of Policy World, a group hallucination in which a “fact” can be conjured out of the air, first by nominating a target and then by reinforcing that target with legislation, or to use the term widely employed by journalists, by “enshrining” it in law. Thus, the ambitions of policy become pseudo-concrete legal realities that can be used to intimidate the public. What we want to happen becomes what is going to happen.

Full post

3) Matt Ridley: The BBC, Bob Ward & The Climate Catastrophists’ Attack On Dissent
Reaction, 30 December 2019

What readers of newspapers and listeners to the radio do not see is the sustained and deliberate pressure put on editors to toe the alarmist line on climate change. 


I was asked to appear on the Today programme on Saturday 28 December by the guest editor, Charles Moore, and made the case that the BBC’s coverage of climate change is unbalanced. Despite a lot of interruption by Nick Robinson I just about got across the point that the BBC uncritically relays any old rubbish about the environment so long as it is alarmist, even if it comes from an uninformed source like the leader of Extinction Rebellion or falls well outside the range of the scientific consensus that we are on course for a warming of 1-4 degrees this century. But the Corporation has strict rules about letting guests on who might say that the climate change threat is being exaggerated, even if their view and their facts fall within that consensus range.

The BBC now has a rule that if by some oversight a lukewarmer or sceptic does get on the air, he or she must be followed by a corrective interview from a scientist, setting the record straight. Sure enough I was followed by Sir David King, former government chief science advisor. (He’s a qualified chemist, while I am a qualified biologist.)

I sat there open-mouthed as he beautifully demonstrated my point with one exaggeration after another. He said that Europe’s dash for diesel had nothing to do with greens, when green pressure groups pushed actively for it. He said that we will see 1-2 metres of sea level rise this century, when the current rate of rise is 3.4 millimetres a year with no acceleration (or 0.3 metres per century). He said that all of Greenland’s ice cap might melt and could cause 5-6 metres of sea level rise, though at current rates of melting, Greenland’s ice cap will be 99% intact in 2100. He said that wild fires were being caused by trees dying out because of rising temperatures, rather than a failure to manage increasingly luxuriant vegetation in fire-risk areas leading to a build up of tinder. He said scientists are agreed that Calcutta will have to be moved, when the Ganges delta is actually expanding in area, not shrinking.

What readers of newspapers and listeners to the radio do not see is the sustained and deliberate pressure put on editors to toe the alarmist line on climate change. Take Bob Ward, who works at the London School of Economics, where his salary is paid by a billionaire, Jeremy Grantham. Ward is not employed to do research, but to “communicate” climate science. He chooses to interpret this as a duty to put pressure on the media to censor people like me. He complains to the Times almost every time I mention climate change, often getting his facts wrong, and kicked up a huge fuss when the Times, after publishing half a dozen of his letters declined to publish another one.

Recently he has taken to complaining to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Whenever Charles Moore, James Delingpole, David Rose, the late Christopher Booker, I or any other journalist writes an article arguing against exaggerated climate alarmism in one of the newspapers self-regulated by IPSO, he sends in a detailed and lengthy complaint. He never complains about the myriad alarmist mistakes that appear all the time like articles saying that “the science” tells us six billion people are going to die soon because of climate change.

IPSO was invented, remember, to give redress for people whose private lives were invaded by journalists, yet Ward is never complaining on his own behalf (though he probably will after this piece). To give one example, I wrote an article in the Times in 2017 about a scientist whistleblower in the United States who said his colleagues had deliberately distorted a data set to make climate change look more alarming.

Although all of this took place in America and had nothing to do with British scientists, let alone Ward himself, and although the scientist in question was happy with my article, Ward sent IPSO 11 separate lengthy complaints about supposed inaccuracies in my article. I responded with a very lengthy reply, which took two weeks to compile. IPSO asked him to respond to my response, which he did at great length. He raised several new issues that had not been in the original article. IPSO asked me to respond. I did so, at great length and effort. Ward responded a third time. (Remember: this is his day job.) This time, six months into the argument, I and the Times refused to reply and instead asked IPSO to rule on the matter. They did so and quickly found in my favour, dismissing all 11 of Mr Ward’s complaints. Every single one.

In 2019 he tried it again over an article of mine in the Telegraph about how giving up meat would make little difference to emissions, but this time IPSO rejected all of his complaints without even asking me for a response.

Let me give you a flavour of the sort of thing he says in a complaint. My article had said “A study in rural Kenya found that eating eggs made children grow five per cent faster.” Ward complained that “although the study did find that ‘a child who ate eggs once per day during the recall period grew 5% more in height than a child who ate no eggs’”, Ward thought the “claim was misleading because the study was not making a comparison with children on vegan diet”. But I had not claimed that it was.

This is a very clear example of somebody being purely vexatious, not even expecting to win the point, just to waste my time.
Indeed Ward’s aim seems to be never to win the point – that would be a bonus – but to tie us down in a time-consuming process of defending ourselves, in the hope that it deters us from offering similar articles to editors in the future, and deters editors from commissioning them. It works. He has frightened away some journalists and editors from the vital topic of climate change, leaving the catastrophists with a clear field to scare children to their hearts content.

Full post

4) NASA: Area Burned By Global Wildfires Dropped By 25% Since 2003
Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times 29 August 2019

Climate activists often warn that global warming is stoking forest fires, but it turns out the amount of land burned by wildfires worldwide has plummeted by 25% since 2003, according to NASA.

NASA’s Earth Observatory found that the number of total square kilometers burned globally each year has decreased steadily from 2003-19, based on data collected by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS) on satellites.

NASA Goddard Space Flight scientist Niels Andela attributed the decline to increased farming in areas of the Global South and the use of machines instead of prescribed burns to clear crops.

“As populations have increased in fire-prone regions of Africa, South America, and Central Asia, grasslands and savannas have become more developed and converted into farmland,” the NASA post said. “As a result, longstanding habits of burning grasslands (to clear shrubs and land for cattle or other reasons) have decreased.”
Even as the acreage consumed by wildfires declined, James Randerson, University of California Irvine earth sciences professor, said climate change has played a role by making wildfires more intense.

“There are really two separate trends,” Mr. Randerson said. “Even as the global burned area number has declined because of what is happening in savannas, we are seeing a significant increase in the intensity and reach of fires in the western United States because of climate change.”

NASA: Global Wildfires Drop By 25% Since 2003— GWPF (@thegwpfcom) August 28, 2019

Despite the increase in farming, the amount of forest area worldwide grew by 2.24 million square kilometers from 1982-2016, as a net loss in the tropics was “outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics,” according to a November study in Nature.

“Forests are making a comeback!” said Bates College visiting assistant economics professor Vincent Geloso in a Monday post on the American Institute for Economic Research. “More precisely, the tree cover of the planet is increasing.”

A reminder that while some forests in the world are being destroyed, there is a global recovery of the tree cover because of tree farming and increased agricultural productivity (i.e. peak farmland).

Full story

5) Great Barrier Reef Coral Testing ‘Flawed, Needs Fix’, Says Peter Ridd
Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 2 January 2020

Rebel marine scientist Peter Ridd has thrown down a challenge to reef scientists to test whether or not human actions have caused a collapse in the growth rate of coral­s on the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Ridd said despite published claims of a collapse in coral growth rates between 1990 and 2005 due to stress from human pollution, there was no data for the past 15 years. “We don’t know how the Great Barrier Reef has fared since 2005,” he said.

He has proposed a new program­ of drill core sampling to bring the record up to date and test whether assumptions about a collapse in growth rates because of warmer temperatures can be believed­. Like tree trunks, drill cores from old corals can reveal growth rings that show age and growth rates. Writing in The Australian on Thursday, Dr Ridd says a properly supervised program would be an “acid test of the trustworthiness of our major science institutions”.

Contrary to widely quoted figures, he believes­ the research will show there has been no slowdown in coral growth rates.

“If this measurement is done, and done properly, and it shows there has been a major reduction in coral growth rates, I will be the first to accept I was wrong and that there is a disaster happening on the reef,” Dr Ridd says.

The foundation of claims about a dramatic decline in reef growth is contained in a 2009 paper by Glenn De’ath from the Australian Institute of Marine Science that is still widely quoted.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook­ Report 2019 cites the De’ath report in claims that reef calcification declined by 14 per cent between 1990 and 2005.

“Increasing sea surface temp­eratures and ocean acidification have been implicated as the primary­ drivers contributing to this decline, with the trend expect­ed to continue,” the report said. It added that the condition of reef building had deteriorated since 2014, largely because of the effects of unprecedented declines in coral cover from bleaching and cyclones­.

The De’ath paper investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs. Skeletal rec­ords showed that throughout the Great Barrier Reef, calcifica­tion had declined by 14.2 per cent since 1990. “The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years,” it said.

The study “suggests that increasin­g temperature stress and a declining saturation state of seawater aragonite (a mineral) may be diminishing the ability of Great Barrier Reef corals to deposit­ calcium carbonate”.

Dr Ridd challenged the research­, claiming a change in methodology had resulted in the apparent drop in coral growth rates from 1990.

The authors accepted criti­cisms that there had been incorrect measurement of near-surface coral growth rings on most of the corals that were giving data from 1990 to 2005 and printed a correction to the paper. However, AIMS rejected criticisms by Dr Ridd that much smaller and young­er corals had been sampled for the 1990-2005 data compared with the mostly very large and old corals­ of the pre-1990 data.

Dr Ridd claims the problems he identified represent a “fundamental problem with a keystone piece of Great Barrier Reef science­”.

Full story

6) Peter Ridd's Coral Challenge
Jennifer Marohasy, 2 Januray 2020

Corals are animals, closely related to jelly fish, but they differ in having a limestone skeleton. This is hard-stuff, calcium carbonate, and it can persist in the environment and provide an indication of changes in sea level, and also the growth rates of corals, over thousands of years.

There are well established techniques for coring corals, and then measuring growth rates. But as Peter Ridd explains in the following article just published by The Australian, since 2005 there has been no systematic study* of coral growth rates at the Great Barrier Reef.

It is the case that lots of claims are made about declining calcification rates and also declining water quality. But the data is either missing or could actually tell quite a different story.

This is the first in a series of blog posts planned on what Peter is calling ‘The Coral Challenge’. Graham Lloyd has a companion piece, also in today’s The Australian.

Great Barrier Reef Truth May Be Inconvenient, But It Is Out There 
By Dr Peter Ridd

We have no data of Great Barrier Reef coral growth rates for the last 15 years. Has growth collapsed as the Australian Institute of Marine Science claims?

Is the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) being affected by climate change, the acidification of the ocean, and the pesticides, sediment and fertiliser from farms? One way to tell is to measure the coral growth rates. Our science institutions claim that coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005 due to stress from human pollution. Remarkably, despite having data of coral growth rates for the last few centuries, there is no data for the last 15 years. We don’t know how the GBR has fared since 2005.

Corals have yearly growth rings similar to tree rings. By drilling cores from large corals, scientists can measure the growth rates over the life of the coral. The yearly rings are roughly 10 millimetres thick so a coral that is many meters across can be hundreds of years old. In a landmark study, the Australian Institute of Maine Science (AIMS) took cores from over 300 corals on the GBR and concluded that for the last three hundred years, coral growth was stable, but in 1990 there was an unprecedented and dramatic collapse of 15%.

With Thomas Stieglitz and Eduardo da Silva, I reanalysed the AIMS data and, in our opinion, AIMS made two major mistakes. The first was incorrect measurement of the near surface coral growth rings on most of the corals that were giving data from 1990 to 2005. After years of argument AIMS have begrudgingly agreed that they made this mistake. The other problems is that they used much smaller and younger corals for the 1990-2005 data compared with the mostly very large and old corals of the pre 1990 data: they changed their methodology and this is what caused the apparent drop at 1990. When we corrected this problem, the fall in growth rate disappeared.

AIMS continue to dispute this second error and still claim there was a worrying reduction in growth rate between 1990 to 2005. This disputed work is quoted in influential government documents such as the 2019 reef outlook report. I am not cherry-picking a minor problem. It is a fundamental problem with a keystone piece of GBR science.

We thus have a situation that arguably the most important data that tells us about the health of the GBR is highly questionable from 1990 to 2005.

What is far worse is that we have no data whatever since 2005.

The science institutions have not only failed to investigate probable major errors in their work, they have also failed to update measurement of this fundamental parameter while claiming, in increasingly shrill tones, that the GBR is in peril.

But ironically, this failure provides a fantastic opportunity: The Coral Challenge.

For the last 15 years we don’t know what growth rates have been. It is easy to fill in the missing data, and check the previous data, by taking more cores from the reef. AIMS have effectively stated that coral growth is falling at 1% per year. According to the AIMS curve, growth should now be 30% lower than it was in 1990 – a disastrous fall.

I predict it has stayed the same. Either way, it would be nice to know what has actually happened – is the reef really in danger or not?

Peter Ridd is predicating that when the data is finally analysed it will show little change in growth rates, perhaps some improvement. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), in contrast, is predicting a significant fall in coral calcification rates.

Science is a method. The best test of competing theories, hypotheses and claims is with the data.

But a second and almost equally valuable outcome of measuring the missing data is that it will be an acid test of the trustworthiness of our major science institutions. AIMS have dug in their heels and denied they made a major methodological mistake. Let’s do the experiment and see if they are right, or untrustworthy. Same for me. If this measurement is done, and done properly, and it shows there has been a major reduction in coral growth rates, I will be the first to accept I was wrong and that there is a disaster happening on the reef.

The coral challenge is a measurement that will have to be done sooner or later. The longer it is neglected the worse it will look to the public. Farmers who are accused of killing the reef are especially interested.

We need to make sure these new measurements are done properly and without any questions about reliability. They must be supervised by a group of scientists that are acceptable to both sides of the agricultural debate on the reef to ensure methodology and execution is impeccable.

Full post

7) Mike Kelly Cool, Agile Under BBC Climate Grilling
Richard Treadgold, Climate Conversation, 1 January 2020

Once a year the BBC invites guest editors onto Radio 4 to assemble the Today programme. The latest batch includes Greta Thunberg, the child climate activist, and Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher biographer and former Telegraph editor.

Moore gave a spot on the programme to our friend Michael Kelly, Cambridge Professor of Engineering, Fellow of the Royal Society, Prince Philip Professor of Technology, former chief scientific advisor to the Department for Communities and Local Government, and member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Introducing Kelly’s segment [at 32:22], Charles Moore observes wryly:

"One of the subjects that’s very difficult to air on the BBC if you don’t share the prevailing view is climate change."

Interviewed by a frosty Nick Robinson, Professor Kelly, balanced and rapier fast, gives solid arguments against the alarmist view of a climate emergency. I made a transcript, so you can listen to the interview and download the transcript (pdf, 57 KB — includes helpful time stamps).

Cesspool of climate propaganda

Kelly begins with the science, saying that for the last 30 years the models have been heating twice as fast as observed temperatures. Robinson brushes aside this demonstrable fact, saying Kelly and the GWPF were focussed on public policy, as though policy might be unconnected with science, and suddenly plunges into the cesspool of climate propaganda (where else do they call honest sceptics climate deniers?):

"Why do you allow yourself to operate in a think tank with people
who are climate change deniers?"

But Kelly is unmoved, saying calmly, “they’re not deniers,” and moves smoothly to an anecdote about (Lord) Nigel Lawson being confronted by five Royal Society Fellows whom Paul Nurse (then President of the RS) had sent to “put him right” on climate change but who had no answer when Lord Lawson challenged them to say what THEY would do.

Kelly gets the discussion back on track:

"All I’m saying now is that the current renewables and the various other things we’re doing are not going to deliver the expectations of a zero carbon 2050." That means: eliminating our emissions won’t change the climate. Robinson ignores that, doggedly insisting the zero carbon policy is necessary and suggesting Kelly is “just hoping for the best.”

Kelly again relies on evidence, revealing global average family size recently has halved and is declining steeply.

Reduced to speaking over the top of his interviewee, Robinson concludes forcefully, “so the population will fall again and solve the problem.”

Readily agreeing, Kelly says that by 2100 the global population could be several hundred million less than the peak in 2060 or 2070.
Foxes running the henhouse

Robinson tries one last time to demolish Kelly’s scientific approach to climate alarm, first characterising Kelly’s approach as “hoping for the best” (overlooking the fact that Robinson himself introduced that expression), then referring to the coordinated clamour raised by activist scientists and policymakers about the so-called climate emergency.

Refusing to see that these scientists and politicians are foxes with the run of the henhouse, Robinson asks:

"Why would you act on the basis of your hope for the best?"

Kelly’s response is blunt:

"Well, I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t do something which I know in advance is futile."

While that sinks in, Kelly explains how the zero carbon policy is futile. The UK’s emissions reductions last year were undone 80 times over by the rest of the world and he recommends substantial research into new generations of nuclear energy. Finally, he emphasizes:

"I want to make sure that what we do is not futile."

Full post

8) And Finally: Children's Song That Describes Grandmother As 'Environmental Pig' Pulled By German Broadcaster 
The Evening Standard, 31 December 2019

A German public broadcaster has pulled a satirical song performed by a children's choir which describes a grandmother as an "old environmental pig".

A video of WDR's children's choir singing an altered version of the German classic "My grandma rides a motorbike in the chicken coop" prompted an intense backlash over claims it encouraged generational conflict over climate change.

Online critics took offence at a section of the doctored song where the grandmother drives to the doctor in an SUV with the singers declaring: "My grandma is an old environmental pig."

The clip was taken down from the channel's Facebook page on Friday evening and on Saturday WDR boss Tom Buhrow apologised personally "with no ifs and buts".

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state in Germany, where WDR is based, was among those who were not amused.

Armin Laschet wrote on Twitter: "The debate about the best climate protection is increasingly being escalated by some into a generational conflict."

He added that WDR's song "crossed the limits of style and respect for older people. Instrumentalising the young against the old is not acceptable".

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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