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Rapley at the Cabot

Chris Rapley's talk to the Cabot Institute is now available on video. This is one of those presentations put together for the uninitiated, and will be hard going for any but the strongest stomachs.



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Reader Comments (24)

The man is lacking in integrity when he compares, by obvious association, the GWPF with the dishonest, the tobacco lobby and Chamberlain's appeasement. He also gets the science fundamentally wrong when he compares the mail on Sunday's 16-year of no change graph with the temperature record of 150 years.

I feel he has crossed a very shabby line with this grubby lecture.

Mar 17, 2013 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBillP

Seems this is for unsuspecting Non-British audience, because the only thing fascinating is the accent.

Mar 17, 2013 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDEEBEE

Mar 17, 2013 at 3:49 PM | BillP

Have you got a time for those comments about tobacco and GWPF?

I started listening and found myself pretty bored with the start - he had all the promise of being one of the more lacklustre examples of self-regarding alarmism -so after 5 minutes I skipped around.

I was looking through the preview pictures and saw the picture of the Brain pop up about 41 minutes in I just had to see what he was saying here, I felt sure this would be the part where he would be explaining why he had no traction with the "public" and how its all some fault cognition. I won my bet with myself. Listening to him here confirmed my impression he is a waste of time well avoided - an example of the more egregious narcissist alarmist.


Whilst I've been telling you this disquieting story I have been generating in you: anxiety, fear, grief, guilt, anger. Probably a sense of helplessness and so on.

Such presumption - sorry Chris I gave up on you early and saw through your need to feel so effective. ;)

Rapley gives off the same emanation you get from huxters and sideshow preachers. What follows sounds like something scientologists might do. He starts to list what the audience member is supposedly saying to himself:

We provide arguments to justify why Chris is wrong . How many of you have been thinking: Hmmm. I don't know whether I accept that evidence or not. Because you don't want to because it is not very nice evidence

Anger: I don't like you making me unhappy, I wanted to listen to an enjoyable talk so the messenger is often blamed.

This strikes me as an obvious and cheap attempt to impress and shock the audience by displaying his mind reading ability.

This supposed proof of his cognitive ability however is more confession that he knows that his unctuous self-regard almost certainly provokes this reaction without anyone having to take anything he says seriously.

What a pompous oaf.

Mar 17, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

So what problem do you have with his accent ?
Quite nice to hear someone speaking English very clearly and well.
Or would you prefer him to say Annardigger for that icy bit at the bottom ?

Mar 17, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt

As a Swede and like the accent, I could follow. But he is wrong, he says you can measure warming through sea level change. But what I know of, sea level change haven't go up. So he is wrong. I'm just in it, 25 minutes!

Mar 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenrikM

Who's Chrus Rapley?

Mar 17, 2013 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Not surprised at the attempt to mindread the public. Rapley gave the introductory talk at a recent two day group therapy session at the Institute of Psychoanalysis for evidence-proof shrinks.
Having recently transcribed Vivienne Westwood and Lord Deben on the same subject, I find Rapley a joy to listen to. This is from 13’ in:

So one of the prime ways that humanity has had a measurable impact on the planet is by burning that fossil fuel to get energy from it, but unwittingly, the energy was just the transient byproduct, the real product was the carbon dioxide that we got when we burn the fuel - we do it all the time. And of course if you just take a kilogram of carbon and you burn it, it combines with oxygen from the air and you get 3.7 kilograms of gas which diffuses out into the atmosphere, so I mean if you all take a big breath, you’re breathing a lot more carbon dioxide now than your great grandparents were and probably your grandparents, and this diagram illustrates it. I’m not going to show you very many graphs, but this is a diagram that shows the time profile of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the last half million years.
I’m going to transcribe it for Alex Cull’s Mytranscriptbox. Anyone want to give a hand?

Mar 17, 2013 at 5:21 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Rapley’s biggest claim to fame is a climate change exhibition he put on when he was running the London Science Museum. It got a lot of publicity, here and at WUWT, because of a silly online believe/don’t believe survey which went badly wrong and was gamed by sceptics and warmists.
Less attention was paid to the origins of the exhibition. The museum was already preparing an exhibition on the subject for later, but Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband wanted something done “on his beat”, before the election so the exhibition was prepared in a few weeks by some Green PR outfit, to please the outgoing minister and future leader of the Labour Party. In a normal functioning democracy such political interference with a major cultural institution would have caused an outcry and calls for resignation.

Mar 17, 2013 at 5:40 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I propose Chris Rapley be extended an invitation for full membership in The Royal Society of Professional Worrywarts.

Mar 17, 2013 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Didn't know that Geoff - about Ed Miliband's influence on the timing of Rapley's Science Museum exhibition I mean. As you say, such interference should have caused an outcry. But the bigger backlash is on its way, for all who managed to lose their critical faculties in this field for so long.

Mar 17, 2013 at 5:52 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Chris Rapley was probably the least respected Director at BAS during the 20 years or so that I worked there. He seemed to sideline the science in pursuit of PR opportunities such as the terribly important "Artists and Writers" programs which used up valuable chunks of the budget, and people's time in shipping various precious luvvies to Rothera and beyond in search of inspiration. He was an early adopter of PR driven science, so no surprise that he ended up as a Global Warming shill.

Mar 17, 2013 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Speaking of dishonest people, this here is Shaun Marcott, of Marcott-Shakun dating service fame:

Interesting pose given that Easter is just around the corner. Just saying.

See how taxpayer dollars are used to fund the activities of Shaun and friends at the following blog:

Mar 17, 2013 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas

Hes a right bundle of laughs.

So did his Mrs actually get her Glasses from Specsavers in the end.

Happy St Patricks day everyone.Someone buy him a pint of Guinness to cheer him up.

Mar 17, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

On the one hand, it is reassuring to see no convincing arguments nor evidence - just the commonplace speciousness of, if I may paraphrase it, 'we see CO2 levels rising therefore they are driving the climate system, melting the ice and raising the seas, and of course anything else we care to mention - we have so much freedom to suppose one thing or another the system being so complex'. On the other hand, it is a source of dismay to see such a facile presentation devoid of deep thought or analysis - just the usual superficial stuff of his hero (so it would seem) Al Gore or his heroine (so it would seem) Franny Armstrong.

He talked confidently of scaring his audience, making them unsettled, anxious, angry and so on. As an aside, this is a very easy thing to do when speaking as if from a position of authority and inside knowledge. We are presumably naturally disposed to listen carefully to solemn warnings. I think that such winning of people's attention, of raising emotions in them, is part of the attraction of alarmism of any kind to some people. I do not know if that is the case with Rapley, but I would not be surprised if it is.

Well, what emotions did he raise in me? I'd say dismay for sure, and secondly a kind of weariness that such views as his can still not only be held, but actually promoted in what I presume was a reasonably prestigious public lecture.

Here are some more of my immediate reactions. His silliness over the Daily Mail etc towards the end was irritating, and while it is an easy play for cheap scorn in some circles - he did raise some laughter in his audience - it does not become someone in his position. His use of the '4 possible states' grid later on was astonishing - a bit like someone still presenting the MBH hockey stick as if it were something of substance and merit. The actions so far promoted to 'deal with climate change' have caused a great deal of completely avoidable suffering around the world already, and the extreme actions required to achieve dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions in a few decades would so damage world development that our ability to cope with the inevitable challenges of climate variation would be severely reduced on a global scale. They are not harmless interventions that we might be pleased about even if the colossal scare over CO2 proves unfounded - as it is proving to be so far. Just as might be expected of a trace gas approaching radiative saturation in air dominated by water in all its forms as far as radiation budgets are concerned.

Mar 17, 2013 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

This video is a repackage of all the arguments that haven't worked before. He even admitted it wasn't working on climate scientists. I'm going to make a list of 'things a warmist must mention'. Tick tobacco lobbying, tick fire insurance analogy, tick showing warming since 1850 and don't mention when CO2 became an issue...

Mar 17, 2013 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

A commercial company I worked for had an absolute rule for its salespeople: NEVER, EVER, run down the competition.

If asked "what about company xxx?" the standard reply was to be along the lines "They a very good company with some very good products. Now, as I was saying, we think our system provides an excellent fit to your requirements. One of the key questions is ongoing support. What kind of support will you be requiring? (etc etc)"

Running down the competition makes you look weak and is not appreciated by customers. I imagine it's the same with these sad salesmen for CAGW.

Mar 17, 2013 at 8:46 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

When these type of guys plot "sea level" they reveal themselves as frauds or at least dupes, since those curvy plots are adjusted, and not adjusted to fix errors and thus better obtain actual sea level but to add *fake* sea level increases based on hand-waving arguments which have no actual on-shore reality to them whatsoever. In 2011, the standard sea level study was updated by Church & White and evidently the reviewers finally insisted that they include a plot of the *actual* average of world tide gauges. It is plotted in yellow on top of a bunch of exponential looking curves which obscure the most important fact of the global warming debate: it's a god damn straight line going back 150 years!

Sea Level Eye Candy

Mar 17, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

@Jonas, the blog ( seems to have been taken down since you posted.

Very curious, but I still had a look via the wayback machine:

Mar 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterTimM

Well, I didn't have the stomach for it so only watched the very beginning. But the quote from Samuel Butler intrigued me, especially whenhe said that he had "improved" it. So I looked up Butler quotes. Most interesting and I recommend them. The change he had made was to substitute "means" for "income" where it is pretty clear Butler is simply talking about money. Dishonest? Perhaps. Another Butler quote I found was: "Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own troubles be sufficient for itself." What a pity these alarmists don't take this good advice.

Mar 18, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle


I find it odd they would delete the blog. They are behaving like they have something to hide. They should remember that their research grants are taxpayer funded, therefore all data/text/images related to their research should be made public.

Shaun’s blog posts from google cache, view it while it lasts:

Winding Down:

Back in Mactown:

McMurdo Station:

Stuffing It:

Preparing for Antarctica:

The thing is, from the blog posts, Shaun comes across as a thoughtful and intelligent guy. I fear that Shaun has become a tool for the hockey team; Mann is definitely involved intimately in this new ‘hide the decline’. I feel sorry for Shaun because this episode may destroy his once promising career in climate research–hopefully he will learn from this episode and do more honest research in future. Hint: run far away as you can from the hockey team and take a statistics class from Steve.

Unfortunately, if you make a deal with the devil, you have to accept the consequences.

Mar 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom K.

Dissembling, distraction, appeals to authority, and shallow ad homs. Have I left anything out for a good check list of Mr. Rapley's talk?

Mar 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

He had nice graphics.

Mar 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Ruff'n

After a number of years of suffering various INSET days, some excellent, some totally without merit, while teaching in a few UK comprehensives, I see Chris Rapley presenting an accurate portrayal of a retired and out-of-touch former senior functionary who redefined the term 'Jobsworth' to climb the ladder of personal ambition. His presentation is excruitiatingly boring, mis-directed and all too frequently both dishonest and utterly incorrect.

Mar 18, 2013 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

He reminded me more of the kind of slick management consultant with a well-polished sales presentation into which new bits of whatever might seem impressive or persuasive get inserted every month or so. They can be very quick indeed at spotting and adopting things which help. I remember once pointing out something very new to one of this type one morning, and in the afternoon see it seamlessly folded-in to a presentation by him as if it were a piece of knowledge he had held for years and about which he talked with ready authority. I was very impressed! I suspect Rapley of being a bit jackdaw like in that respect. For instance, his 'living beyond our means' catchphrase and the pop-psychology parts were possibly acquired and inserted almost without engaging his brain. He would be a slippery customer to debate with thanks to such quick-wittedness if I am right in these semi-idle speculations.

Mar 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

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