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Health "co-benefits"

This is a guest post by Matt Ridley:

Some years ago, presumably for having written books on genetics, I was elected a fellow of Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS). This was a great honour and I was even more pleased to be invited to speak at one of their annual dinners.

Then, towards the end of 2010, there dropped through my letter box a newsletter from the AMS which included an item on the academy having signed up to an “international statement” on the “health benefits of policies to tackle climate change” together with other medical science academies around the world. The newsletter said that the health “co-benefits” of tackling climate change “show that climate change mitigation strategies need not be socially and economically demanding”. Since everything I was reading at the time about rising food and fuel prices driven partly by climate change mitigation policies was pointing to the opposite conclusion – namely that malnutrition and hypothermia were being increased by such policies, outweighing any health advantages – I went online to read the statement, to find out what I had been signed up to as a fellow.

I found a four-page document, devoted to expounding the good health side-effects of fighting climate change by cutting emissions. For example:

Results for the cities of London and Delhi show that a combination of substantially increased active travel, such as cycling and walking, and lower-emission motor vehicles could lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of chronic diseases.

Most of the statements in the paper referred to a special issue of the Lancet, which had appeared just before the Copenhagen climate summit and which I knew had drawn a heavily critical and very persuasive reply from the independent scholar Indur Goklany. Goklany’s point was that while of course there are health benefits to climate change mitigation, there are health risks too and that any reasonable discussion must come to the conclusion that today and through the foreseeable future, many other health risks outrank global warming in terms of death and disease, and are also more easily addressed.

The IAMP statement not only ignored Goklany’s argument but failed even to acknowledge that risks might outweigh benefits. It had only a three-sentence mention of the issue of health risks that did not even address the issue of relative weight:

However, some climate change mitigation strategies have the potential to damage health. For example, if biofuels are grown on land which could support food crops they could reduce food availability and increase food prices.28 Therefore all climate change mitigation strategies should be subject to health impact assessment.

I did not think this was good enough, so I wrote to the president of the AMS, Sir John Bell, a former university friend and colleague, as follows:

I recently received through the post the Interacademy Medical Panel (IAMP) report on the health co-benefits of policies to tackle climate change. I gather this has already been signed on our behalf.

I have to say I found the document very disappointing and not up to the standards of a scientific academy like AMS.

What it lacks is balance. There is no attempt to cite evidence of the harm that may be done by rushed mitigation of fossil fuel emissions, even though these are extremely well known. There is no attempt to balance the catalogue of harmsthat can come from warming with the catalogue of harms that come from othercauses, whose mitigation might be prevented by efforts to prevent warming.

For example, the report says that `Rising temperatures may increase heat related deaths and heat stress, particularly in urban centres as a result of the urban heat island effect'. Yet there is ample evidence that cold-related deaths exceed heat-related deaths - by about five to one in most of Europe. Even the excess death toll from the 2003 European summer heatwave was dwarfed by the excess death toll from cold in most winters. Last year there were over 25,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales alone (see and the death toll is disproportionately high among the aged who face acute problems from fuel poverty caused in part by carbon mitigation policies such as wind power subsidies, which have increased energy prices. It follows that if the world warms by 2 degrees, and that warming is greater in the far north, in winter and at night - all of which are predicted by the GCM models - then the death toll from cold stress will undoubtedly fall. It is wrong of the report not to mention these points.

As for the health cost of carbon mitigation policies, we have a perfect example of this in recent years in the effect of biofuel policies on the price and availability of food. There is now no doubt that biofuel policies, motivated substantially by concern about climate change, have caused real increases in hunger in 2008 and again this year (not to mention destruction of rain forest). You can debate how important this is relative to the threat posed by climate change, but to ignore these arguments is negligent.

Consider the case of an African family at risk from hunger, dirty water, indoor air pollution (caused by cooking over wood or charcoal fires), and malaria. These four factors are among the greatest causes of ill health in the world, killing respectively about seven, three, three and two people per minute, far more than can be attributed to global warming. What this family needs is fertilizer, clean water, kerosene and bed-nets, not policies to slow a rise in global temperatures. Indeed, you can argue that getting kerosene cooking fuel to such families is the best way to reduce deforestation and hence carbon dioxide emissions.

Keeping climate at 1990 levels, assuming it could be done, would leave more than 98 per cent of human mortality causes untouched, and would consume resources that could be far more effectively spent on combating ill health now. You will be aware that malaria has been eradicated from large parts of the world not by cooling the world down but by combating it directly. You will be aware that death rates from natural disasters are down by 98% since the 1920s not because of policies to change the climate but because of improvements in transport, medicine, communication and technology.

I append some comments on the report from Indur Goklany, a highly respected scholar who has contributed to these debates in the peer-reviewed literature. His analysis confirms my suspicions that the paper is unbalanced and misleading.

I received a courteous but non-committal reply from Sir John saying that he would pass on my comments to his colleague Dr Robert Souhami and that he welcomed by engagement with the issue.

That was in January. I knew that the AMS was in the process of moving offices so I did not expect a quick reply, but by April I had still heard nothing from Dr Souhami so I decided to write directly to him myself as follows:

In January I wrote to Sir John Bell to express my disagreement with the unscientific nature of many of the things that had appeared in the IAMP statement on the health co-benefits of climate change to which the AMS had signed up. I explained my reasons and attached a paper from Indur Goklany who has made a special study of this issue and published papers in the peer-reviewed literature. Essentially the IAMP statement made many poorly supported statements about health co-benefits, but failed even to recognize that there may also be health co-drawbacks of climate change policy or that resources might be better expended dealing with other larger and more easily-addressed health risks.

Sir John said that he would pass on my letter and Goklany's paper to you and that he hoped AMS could benefit from my `engagement on this issue'. Did you receive my letter and do you have a response to it? If not I can re-send it.

I now draw your attention to a newly published paper by Goklany in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons ( that addresses the issue in stark terms and demonstrates that measures taken to combat climate change are almost certainly causing more deaths than climate change itself. I feel strongly that this issue should be properly discussed because I believe the AMS has signed up unthinkingly to a statement of policy that breaks the Hippocratic oath to do no harm.

Souhami replied as follows:

I did indeed receive a copy of your message addressed to John Bell and he replied to you.
I think however that there is probably an important misunderstanding. There is no doubt that climate change has the potential to do serious harm to human health as may the switch to alternative energy sources without understanding the consequences (the subject of the reference you provide from Indur Goklany).However the AMS and IAMP statements do not concern that. They are based on the evidence, carefully described in the Lancet papers, that population based steps taken to mitigate climate change have the potential to bring concomitant health benefits to individuals. That is a different matter. Indeed such steps would be likely to bring health benefits whether climate change was occurring or not.

The steps described in the AMS and IAMP statements do not concern the very important questions of producing energy from other sources and the consequences for health. They concern societal matters such as reducing private car use, diminishing the use of wood burning stoves for cooking in cramped conditions (for example in India), reducing particulate air pollution, reducing consumption of animal fats. The data are based on the likely consequences for health of policies introduced to change behaviours and harmful environments that will help to mitigate climate change.

When you read the original data you will see that such steps are likely to have different effects on health depending on the economic status of the countries concerned.

I hope that this clarifies the matter. The Lancet references are given in the statements.

I replied as follows:

Thank you for your reply. There is no misunderstanding on my part. Goklany's latest paper is on the health co-costs, rather than co-benefits, of climate mitigation policies, for sure, but it is the net cost or benefit that counts. His conclusion is that the cost outweighs the benefit. A death caused by malnutrition caused by biofuel subsidy is a negative health co-benefit of climate mitigation policy. To adapt your words, population based steps taken to mitigate climate change have the potential to bring concomitant health costs to individuals.

Besides, Goklany's comments on the IAMP report, which I included with my letter to John Bell, did indeed directly address the question of positive co-benefits and argued that they are better captured by normal air pollution policy than by climate mitigation. Here is what he wrote:

"(1) These co-benefits can be obtained much more cheaply via traditional air pollution controls than via mitigation.  In fact, that is what we have been doing all along, which is why air quality is so much better in the US, UK and other developed countries even as their GHG emissions continue to grow. (2) Mitigation would reduce economic growth, which, in turn, would have adverse health consequences, particularly for developing countries. So the costs of mitigation should be properly accounted for. (3) It is possible to meet not only environmental and health goals but advance human well-being much more broadly by advancing adaptive capacity via economic development (than via mitigation).''

You use the example of wood burning stoves in India that causes indoor air pollution and hence ill health. One of the Lancet papers says this: "New stove technologies have the potential to bring emission of products of incomplete combustion from biomass stoves down nearly to those of clean fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas."

In other words, a policy that tackled indoor air pollution by the most effective means available, regardless of climate-change mitigation policy, would encourage `clean' LPG - as indeed is happening in Nigeria, for example
( rather than trying to improve biomass stoves. This is precisely the kind of potentially counterproductive consequence that Goklany and I are unhappy about the IAMP failing even to address in its report.
Would you be kind enough to agree to publishing a version of this exchange, or a letter from me, in a form that can be circulated to fellows?

Souhami chose to present no counter-argument to this at all, and did not answer my question:

Rather than be drawn into this correspondence further, I think it is time that you made your points directly to the scientists responsible for the data on which the AMS and IAMP reports are based and who were involved in the wording. So, assuming you agree, I shall ask those who are more expert than I to take up these issues with you.

I replied as follows:

I appreciate the offer to forward the correspondence to the individuals who wrote the report, but the matter concerns not just the individuals but the institution as well. Since the report has already been issued in the name of the AMS, there is no chance to influence its content, and I wish to appraise fellows of the fact that there are other views on the matter supported by evidence. So I still would like to know your answer to my question at the end of my previous email, namely will you agree to circulating my concerns to the fellows of the AMS in some form? This could be by means of a letter by me included with normal mailings.

That was the last I heard from him. I was told by an AMS official that I should now address my concerns to her and not to the busy Dr Souhami. (So much for ‘welcoming my engagement’). She put my request before the council of the AMS and then gave me the following reply:

I can report that Council discussed your correspondence regarding the Academy and IAMP statements on climate change and health at its meeting yesterday. Council welcomed your engagement in this aspect of the Academy’s work. Council considered the points raised by you and Indur Goklany. They felt that the purpose of the IAMP statement was to show that some mitigation strategies would bring health co-benefits, but that the statement also adequately addressed the issue of potential negative health impacts of mitigation strategies such as the planting of biofuel crops (noting the first full paragraph in column 2 on page 2). Council members rehearsed the process by which the statement had been prepared on behalf of the Academy, noting the expertise and international standing of the Fellows involved and the high quality of papers on which the statements were based. In conclusion, the Academy’s Council remains committed to this statement, and maintained our general policy not to circulate the views of individual Fellows to the entire Fellowship.

I replied:

I am sorry that the council declined to take this matter further. I disagree that the purpose of the statement was to show that "some" mitigation strategies would bring health co-benefits, since the document makes clear throughout that it considers these health co-benefits to be net positive. The statement was issued to coincide with climate talks. I disagree that the statement adequately addressed the negative health impacts of mitigation strategies in the paragraph mentioned since the discussion there consisted of one sentence about one the cost of one policy, and was cursory and dismissive. I disagree that the papers on which the statement was based were "high quality" given the strength of the argument published by Indur Goklany in the Lancet in response to those papers. I do not see what the international standing of the fellows has to do with the strength of the argument.

Let me restate the position clearly. Carefully researched work by Goklany has established a powerful case that climate mitigation policies are already producing large net health co-costs for society, and especially the poor. This argument was not properly considered, let alone rebutted, in the statement and nor has it been in any of the responses I have had from members of the AMS council since. If they have arguments as to why Goklany's calculations are wrong, I feel sure they would have shared them with me. I conclude that far from "welcoming my engagement with the issue" the council would much rather I had not raised it at all and has no interest in engaging in a reasoned, open and fair discussion.

This shocks me and diminishes the AMS in my eyes considerably. I have brought evidence that policies supported by the AMS may be doing net harm, in contravention of the Hippocratic oath, yet the premier medical academy does not even wish to engage with the argument. Shame.

I presume you have no objection to my publishing our exchanges.

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Reader Comments (50)

Are there any academic institutions that haven't been corrupted at the top level by climate change?

Do the people at the head of these institutions have no morals?

What is the cause of this corruption? Is it money? Is it honours? Is it due to patronage?

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As soon as I read, "That was in January", I had a strong hunch what lay ahead and how your post would end :-(

The pattern is so familiar, at this point, that even as appalling as the "responses" you've received are, they do not surprise me. And that is a very alarming and sad state of affairs.

But it might be an interesting exercise to ask them to provide the names of the "Fellows involved and [the authors of] the high quality of papers on which the statements were based."

I'd be willing to bet that at least some have been covered by Donna in the last year or so!

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Philip Bratby,

Charles Mackay may have an answer to all three of your questions;

"Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered, comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder's welcome."

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

The " independent scholar Indur Goklany " ??? Thats a new one on me. Indur Goklany ( a former employee of the US Department of the Interior) is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and is also affiliated with the Exxon Funded thinktank the International Policy Network. And he is a Fellow at the conservative think tank, the Political Economy Research Center. That's hardly independent.

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Well done Matt for attempting to bring balance and rationality to the high heid yins in the AMS. There are gullible fools everywhere.

Please do not feed the troll.

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus


Whilst any association of whatever sort can have a bearing on a person's independence, Indur Goklany's is surely of the minimal kind. The Advisory Council of the GWPF is comprised of very rational, thoughtful, and inquiring people. They have not shown blind bias as described above, but a clear belief in scientific accuracy.

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterferdinand

Matt Ridley,
As well as publishing here, I suggest that you forward your papers to well positioned objective reporters in the popular media.
This matter deserves being broadcast as widely as possible.
To get the facts accross, it is necessary to tell it and tell it and tell it again.

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

"Please do not feed the troll."
Aug 29, 2011 at 9:12 AM | lapogus

Hengist's point is both good and pertinent. I can see why you'd be trying to encourage people to shut down that line of discussion. It demonstrates very well what fragile ground most of you are on, most of the time.

Ties in very well with the bizarre Philip Bratby's libels about corruption in science. He seems quite happy to accuse most of the academic World of being corrupt, but when one actually looks at it, it's the tiny number of scientists who echo the beliefs espoused here, who seem far more compromised and flawed.

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

It is good to have the trolls come and throw mud around occasionally. It led me to look at the Indur Goklany paper again. I don't expect they have ever read it - it would be too unpalatable for them, with too many home truths. Hence they have to blame the messenger whilst ignoring the message (whilst not finding anything wrong with the message). It is rather immoral of them to support condemning millions of people in third world countries (and increasingly here) to a life of food shortage, fuel poverty and ill health (IMHO).

I don't recall accusing most of the academic world of corruption. Perhaps she can tell me where I made this accusation.

Perhaps she can tell me if she is happy with policies that lead to food shortage, fuel poverty and ill health (to "save the planet").

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Who would you choose as an "independent scholar" on this subject?
Just askin'.

I find it sad that within minutes of a lengthy and comprehensive posting which gives a different slant on the subject of health and global warming, the usual suspects have done their daily speed-read (aka they probably haven't read the post at all) and cannot wait to denigrate those whose view is different from their own.
Perhaps they would care to answer the following questions (don't be stupid, boy; of course they wouldn't):
Do you agree that the GCM predictions are that temperature increases are likely to be mainly in the high latitudes and that the overall increase will be the result of higher minima rather than higher maxima?
Do you agree that deaths from excess cold considerably exceed those from excess heat?
Do you agree that government subsidy of "renewables", paid for through energy bills, are already causing increased fuel poverty with resulting increases in premature deaths?
Do you agree that the use of land for bio-fuel production has resulted in an increase in atmospheric CO2 due to increased forest clearance?
There are another dozen or more questions that I could ask but I would hate to over-tax your brains on a Monday morning?
If you can answer 'no' to any of these questions it would be useful if you could give reasons since you would be flying in the face of the scientific consensus — and that would never do, would it?

PS Zed, you still have some unfinished business over at your Discussion thread where we are all still waiting to find out what your science background is and Peter Walsh is still waiting for an apology for your last piece of pointless offensiveness.

Aug 29, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The sad reality is that the leadership of institutions such as the Royal Society and now the Academy of Medical Sciences have, in effect, abandoned their intellectual self-respect and integrity by allowing themselves to be swept along in the shameful tide of climate alarmism. At the very time when they could have made a huge contribution to society by standing firm, and questioning the hysteria, they merely added to it.

Aug 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Thanks, Matt, for posting here. Your eloquent efforts to stop influential elites propagating a corrupt and one-sided view of climate science are much appreciated. Well done!

Aug 29, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

I presume you have no objection to my publishing our exchanges.

Yeah, right. Very well done, Matt Ridley.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

As a registered charity, it is very important that they keep within the remit of their constitution and e.g. do not engage in political activism or other activities not sanctioned by their constition.

If they do so, they are acting Ultra Vires and you will not only be able to challenge what they are doing in the courts but the charity commission will take a very dim view.

Moreover, you may find there are provisions in the constitution where the board are acting contrary to the constitution of the organisation.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

There are competing noble causes here, and one of them is based on ignorance of the complexity of climate.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I presume these are the objectives of the AMS as laid out on the website. How do these fit in with "“health benefits of policies to tackle climate change ... that show that climate change mitigation strategies need not be socially and economically demanding"

To encourage the pursuit of internationally competitive medical science and the translation of that knowledge, and its associated technologies, from the laboratory bench to the delivery of healthcare. NO!

To influence the development and implementation of national policy in matters of medical science and healthcare. IS THE INTENTION TO CHANGE HEALTHCARE POLICY OR CLIMATE POLICY?

To engage with the public to build confidence in the practice of medical research and to address public concerns. NO!

To attract and develop the brightest individuals to careers in biomedical science. NO!

To contribute to developments and improvements in global health. IF YOU CAN PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE OTHERWISE AS YOU SUGGEST THEN NO!

Remember, the purpose of charity law is to ensure that if you give to one charity with stated objectives, the money doesn't end up being syphoned off to e.g. fund an entirely different set of objectives, so you will find that the law is very strict in this area.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Quite a revealing look under the hood at how these lofty announcements from important sounding societies arise. The lack of engagement and bureaucratic doubletalk used by the academies representatives here is quite astonishingly inane and unimpressive.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

More bad news from Oz Medical Science as well, I'm afraid -

If we don't start tackling climate change, Australians will be increasingly depressed, anxious or stressed and more prone to substance abuse, a new report says......Up to one in five people were likely to suffer emotional injury, stress and despair.

And if we don't start winning some test matches soon, my substance abuse may reach catastrophic levels.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB


The driver is located on the Epson support site here.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

OK, just noticed it is a company. Then go to companies house do a webcheck on the company (no. 3520281) get a copy of their articles & memorandum of association (£1) and then read them remembering that these are strictly interpreted by the courts (that is why they are so long) and e.g. if it doesn't give them powers to sign up to a campaign like this, then legally they have not signed up to a campaign like this.

Aug 29, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Sorry for posting in the wrong thread.

Dr. Ridley, I gather then that the statement was never put up for a vote or approval by the Fellowship?

Aug 29, 2011 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Indeed, the Charities Commision ought to have a good look at what this lot are up to...
What's the latest buzz-phrase..? 'Mission creep'....

Aug 29, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Matt - I don't think you will be asked to speak at one of their dinners again..........

Aug 29, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

On the subject of corrupted institutions:

I belonged to the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) for over 20 years. (Now called the IET). But was forced to leave when their publications became increasingly bellicose and biased on the climate change issue. (Perhaps this had something to do with the numerous Vestas adverts in their magazine).

It became unbearable in the run-up to Copenhagen when they devoted an entire magazine issue to climate alarmism. When long standing members like myself wrote letters of complaint about the one-sided propaganda pieces we were dismissed as "deniers in denial" by an editorial in the magazine.

Of all the institutions, the IET should be best placed to hold the government to account on their energy policy. But instead they act as cheerleaders for every daft, inefficient, uneconomic "renewable" subsidy.

I wish I could get my 20 x £80 membership subscription payments back and send them to the GWPF instead. The GWPF is doing a far better job than the IET of upholding sound engineering principles and protecting UK engineering jobs.

Aug 29, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli


You are 100% correct in stating that cold related deaths far exceed heat related deaths. I attempted to make this point with the EPA during the comments period on its endangerment analysis on greenhouse gas emissions; I cited the relevant statistics readily available at the CDC Website, but as you can imagine, the eyes at EPA were covered by green hands.

Aug 29, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrcrinum

GrantB cited,
"Up to one in five people were likely to suffer emotional injury, stress and despair."

I suggest five of five, world-wide, would enjoy affordable energy for heating, transportation, and food production.

Aug 29, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn R T

See an opinion about biofuels here.

Aug 29, 2011 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Oh the dilemma of 'Health Co-Benefits'

The obese are castigated for producing more CO2, and so 'contributing to Climate Change'

Yet the researchers of that study chose to ignore the fact that the obese have a shorter life expectancy, so have a smaller lifetime carbon footprint.

Aug 29, 2011 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public


You will probably find that the articles of association empower the directors to contribute to campaigns that further the aims of the company, without need for the members to pass a resolution. To overturn the board decision will probably require a special resolution - with 75% of the members expressing disagreement.

Aug 29, 2011 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I realize this does not appear to be directly "on topic," nevertheless I believe readers will comprehend the applicability. Whenever I encounter instances of rational individuals doing battle against the mindless inertia of bureaucratic institutions I am immediately reminded of Lord Keynes' observation respecting the advisability of countering prevailing orthodoxy emphasis supplied:

... human nature desires quick results, there is a particular zest in making money quickly, and remoter gains are discounted by the average man at a very high rate. The game of professional investment is intolerably boring and overexacting to anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll. Furthermore, an investor who proposes to ignore near-term market fluctuations needs greater resources for safety and must not operate on so large a scale, if at all, with borrowed money— a futher reason for the higher return from the pastime to a given stock of intelligence and resources. Finally it is the long-term investor, he who most promotes the public interest, who will in practice come in for most criticism, wherever investment funds are managed by committees or boards or banks. For it is in the essence of his behaviour that he should be eccentric, unconventional and rash in the eyes of average opinion. If he is successful, that will only confirm the general belief in his rashness; and if in the short run he is unsuccessful, which is very likely, he will not receive much mercy. Wordly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.

-John Maynard Keynes
Chapter 12, "The State of Long-Term Expectation"
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
Harbinger Edition
New York, New York 1964.

Aug 29, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

It would appear that the number of malnutrition cases in Tayside have doubled in the last five years:

Since the article was published electricity prices have increased another 19%. No wonder the DECC would not minute the recent meeting they had with the utility industry reps.

Aug 29, 2011 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus


If you are going to quote Sourcewatch at least acknowledge your source:

"Indur Goklany ( ... ) is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and is also affiliated with the Exxon Funded thinktank the International Policy Network."

"Dr Indur Goklany is also a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Dr Goklany is also affiliated with the Exxon Funded thinktank the International Policy Network."

Aug 29, 2011 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Hengist and ZBD

OH please change the record. Right wing think tanks, funded by Exxon etc etc.

Read what a climate scientist thinks about this:

Your paranoia does not stand up to scrutiny.

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Virtually every scientific society has its policy statement on 'climate change', even when their speciality has very little if any relevant connection. Some mechanism of persuasion, coercion or implied threat logically seems to drive this phenomenon. What or who is the puzzle. I tend to doubt direct governmental pressure, but the plethora of government funded quango-NGO's and policy foundations is another matter. Then there are the grant funding bodies, the big science publishing houses and the elite academic institution much involved in policy matters which needs no introduction. The BBC has also given extensive coverage to the work of the society.

Looking at the Academy of Medical Sciences website, it is clear that they are a registered charity and a registered company, taking pride in being 'Networked to leaders and key influencers in medical science in the UK and abroad.' Funding comes from far and wide, as detailed in their downloadable review brochure. One such, intriguingly listed under supporting goverment organisations, is called 'National Institute for Health Research and Sciencewise-ERC', who, in turn' highlight on their homepage 'Updated Case Studies are also available in areas including bioscience, climate change and nanotechnology.' and also Geoengineering studies, in partnership with NERC.

All in all, its a small academic world, and no-one escapes the climate connection.

At the end of the day, the climate policy statement is just another crude propaganda device to attempt to persuade the 'masses'. It actually has the unintended effect of raising the hackles of more of their own members than convincing anyone else.

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

too true Pharos...but the rank and file never seem to know what their governing bodies have said they believe in

Aug 29, 2011 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I took the trouble to look at both the IPN site and Sourcewatch.
As far as I can tell, the IPN, as it claims on its website, is in favour of "bringing down barriers to enterprise and trade". Certainly a considerable number of the publications and other papers it lists appear to bear that out. I really don't care who funds it and as long as CRU include among their list of funding agencies, BP, Shell, the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, Eastern Electricity, and National Power (though htis list might be a little out of date) I can't see a great problem with Exxon funding a free-market think tank and personally I am in favour of encouragiing free enterprise and initiative.
Where do you stand on free enterprise and initiative, Hengist?
CRU also list among their funders Greenpeace and WWF but presumably that's OK, though it would be nice if Hengist can explain why exactly.
Sourcewatch on the other hand looks like the latest in a long line of professional whingers and conspiracy theorists who certainly do not fancy the idea of free enterprise and don't appear to have very much time for initiative either. If all they can do is play "spot the oil company funding" then they ought to climb out of their own backsides and get a life.

Aug 29, 2011 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Hi Andrew..

Have you thought about keeping this the top post for a day or 2 ?


Aug 29, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I thought the term "independent scholar" here simply refers to the fact that the papers referred to here by Dr Goklany have no affiliation associated with them. Although the irony that Zed was upset about any linkage between Cox and the BBC on the previous thread and now tries to make entirely spurious links between Indur and any organisation that Zed doesn't like very much is not lost on me.

What matters more to me is the quality of work, and without fail every article I have ever read by Dr Goklany is always carefully researched, thoughtful and well written. That is more important to me than any affiliation.

Aug 29, 2011 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Phillip Bratby Aug 29, 2011 at 8:13 AM wrote

"Are there any academic institutions that haven't been corrupted at the top level by climate change?"

If these institutions do not come out strongly in favour of climate change, then they will be targeted groups like Greenpeace as deniers of the truth. There will also be adverse comments from Guardian columnists and the BBC will probably drop them as sources for quotes. Bad PR would affect funding for research grants as well. The truth does not come into it.

Aug 29, 2011 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

I'm sure our friend, the Ballsy Scots Stallion, would describe himself as a somewhat influential blogger, otherwise why would he do it? Maybe he should be reminded that an academic's reputation rests on the independent quality of his work. Defamation is, I believe, actionable, even in the UK?

As for the Troll of Truro, suggesting that defamation and libel are pertinent (with apologies to the Tentmaker):

The Troll of Truro writes,
and having writ moves on;
Not all of your piety and wit can cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.

Aug 29, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

While cynics would say: well they would think that wouldn't they? I've always thought that this statement from the AusIMM is very fair, particularly in recognising that its members have differing views. I get annoyed when other institutions presume to represent my views without having the courtesy to canvass those views beforehand.

Aug 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Matt - beautifully concise and pointed response to their polite brush off. Their language appears to be carefully chosen to make it easy for you to go away feeling like there is nothing to see here. You didn't fall for it and you called them on it, firmly. Well done.

Aug 30, 2011 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterben

Virtually every scientific society has its policy statement on 'climate change', even when their speciality has very little if any relevant connection. Some mechanism of persuasion, coercion or implied threat logically seems to drive this phenomenon. What or who is the puzzle. I tend to doubt direct governmental pressure, but the plethora of government funded quango-NGO's and policy foundations is another matter.....
Aug 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Pharos

Yes - and it's not only scientific bodies.

Every time I need to consult a government website for anything, even something as mundane as taxing the car or checking tax rates, I can guarantee that within the first few paragraphs of preamble there'll be a bizarrely inserted convoluted reference to "climate change".

My house happens to be a Listed Building and needs some work. Last night I checked out the definitive government policy guideline on planning for "Heritage Assets" (newspeak for "old buildings") - Planning Policy Statement 5:
Planning for the Historic Environment

Guess what the very first priority in this 18 page document is:-

Policy HE1: Heritage assets and climate change

HE1.1 Local planning authorities should identify opportunities to mitigate, and adapt to,
the effects of climate change when devising policies and making decisions relating
to heritage assets by seeking the reuse and, where appropriate, the modification of
heritage assets ........

For f**ck's sake - my house has been standing in the same bloody place since 1794 without needing to "adapt to the effects" of climate bloody change.

This pernicious garbage has now inserted its creeping tentacles into every aspect of public discourse.

Come to think of of it - it's a bit like dry rot.

Aug 30, 2011 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

The interesting thing to me is that anthropological associations are remarkably silent on climate change.

It's almost as though their academic background has furnished them with a different explanation for why there might be widespread belief in climate change. I wonder that might be?

Aug 30, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Thank you Matt Ridley for all your heroic efforts to throw light on this colossal scam.

I would be very interested to know the total amount of money swirling like Hurrican Irene around the Global Warming Sea of Molten Gold which is available to bribe the snarling ZedPitBullDed and his friends.

Aug 30, 2011 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMariwarcwm

Hats off to you Matt .................... but it is an up-hill battle for us all. Here is the view from my society

"GLOBAL CHALLENGES - with global change creating enormous challenges relating to energy, food and climate change, action is both necessary and urgent. The Royal Society of Chemistry is committed to meeting these challenges head on and has identified where the chemical sciences can provide technological and sustainable solutions.
The RSC is in the ideal position to enable solutions to the world's problems by working in partnership with governments, professional bodies, non-governmental organisations, academics and industry, across the world. We will help decision makers to generate policy which is based on the best available evidence, and we will support the science needed to tackle complex challenges."

Note the buzz words of "action necessary and urgent", "sustainable solutions", "partnership", "NGOs" and "best available evidence" - and of course supporting the science. I just wish our leaders could be more independent and really support science.

Aug 30, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

Iapogus - where is from? I can't find it in Alley's paper

Aug 30, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Interestingly, the statement that Matt Ridley speaks of isn't mentioned on their website, if their search engine is correct.

Check for yourselves:

However, the document in question appears to be a pdf file available at

Aug 30, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

The point is not the technical stuff, for "They concern societal matters". Looks like they are talking behavioral changes perceived by some to be beneficial. So why not go there directly? Why use the ruse of climatge change? If you cannot convince people to opt for bicycles rather than cars that does not excuse terrorising them into doing citing some future climatic catastrophe.

Eventually nature will provide the answer on the accuracy of the predictions, as it did with the population,starvation, new ice age hype of the 70s. If climate change is real it will provide its own impetus to adapt, no need for any "societal" manipulation. And if it is not real then it will collapse on its own. Manipulation for "societal" reasons can backfire, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Aug 30, 2011 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNik

As a young consultant statistician in a large hospital environment (3-4 hospitals) I became aware (30 years ago) of the ‘get to consultant at any cost as early as possible’ syndrome. This didn’t involve ‘bad’ practices but cutting corners at the expense of science and accuracy. The value of the second hash of a paper is less than the original and by the sixth there is little value especially if there is little additional material. Consultant was status and money and golf course. 6 papers from one study was seen as playing the numbers game well and titles were achieved in record time with said accompanying accoutrements.

Regulation in many fields has aided significantly but we still see that normal healthy processes are usurped in self interest, again searching for status and/or fame and/or fortune. Here within we discuss one out of control process resulting in naked Emperors parading with impunity.

Sep 2, 2011 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterCamp David

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