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« Boulton on scientific practice and malpractice | Main | Something strange in the atmosphere »

An olive branch

Well this looks like good news - Paul Nurse has offered to arrange a meeting between GWPF and some (so far unidentified) climate scientists, and Nigel Lawson has accepted.

On behalf of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lord Lawson has accepted an offer by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, who has offered to arrange a meeting between the GWPF and climate scientists.

In a recent letter to Lord Lawson, the GWPF chairman, Sir Paul suggested that the Foundation needed more mainstream and expert climate science advice and offered that the Royal Society “would be happy to put the GWPF in touch with people who can offer the Foundation informed scientific advice.”

In his response, Lord Lawson writes that he is “happy to accept your offer to arrange a meeting and look forward to hearing from you about this.”

“I hope this marks the start of a more productive dialogue with the Royal Society,” said Dr Benny Peiser, the Director of the GWPF.

Letter By Sir Paul Nurse to Lord Lawson

Letter By Lord Lawson to Sir Paul Nurse

see also: Lord Lawson’s initial letter to Sir Paul Nurse

The offer and acceptance of talks is welcome. I hope this marks the end of the public war of words and the beginning of something a bit more interesting. I'm slightly concerned, however, that Nurse is going to remain on the outside of that dialogue. I really think he should attend any talks in person - I think his understanding of what sceptics are arguing is a bit of a caricature.

Nevertheless, there is much cause for optimism here.

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Reader Comments (181)

Errrm, read Nurse's letter. Where does it offer to arrange a meeting?

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

It looks like an effort of subversion/re-education to a cynic such as myself. It does not say the eminent climate scientists will be in listening mode. But is does say, between the lines, that they are becoming desperate...

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

They should also invite Pallab Ghosh along from the BBC.

His article covering Sir John Beddington's valedictory dribble refers to "so-called 'climate sceptics' " at the same time as linking to a BBC article on the revised (i.e. lowered) forecast from the Met Office, the same one that was quietly posted on Christmas Eve.

Perhaps the so-called "science correspondent" at the BBC thought the Met Office were now so-called "climate sceptics"?

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Nurse may be getting very twitchy because the present cold weather, exactly what is predicted for this part of the entry to a sunspot minimum, a 179 year cycle, is dramatic evidence to the layman that the apocalyptic predictions of Thermageddon may not, after all, be true.

So, the RS which recruited as fellow last year the discredited Club of Rome Erlich, a Eugenicist, appears to be trying, or being seen to try, to build bridges.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

The offer from the RS reeks of cynicism and bad faith. Perhaps the RS will bring in Peter Gleick to consult on how to make the effort really count.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

I don't see an olive branch at all. All I see is that Nurse calls the people at GPWF a bunch of stupid morons that need some extra scholing how (C)AGW really works.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

There's no cause for optimism here. Read the letter. Or am I misreading it. Nurse is offering to educate Lawson not an equal, open debate.

Nurse's letter is derogatory, in my opinion.+

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

The Nurse letter is just patronising nonsense, the sort of thing we have come to expect from him. Lawson's reply is just tweaking Nurse's nose. Nothing to see here, move along please.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

I think he thinks the "Scientists" can educate or brow beat GWPF in to submission, but exposing Climate Scientists to adverse views can be very dangerous. I hope they record any meetings, otherwise they will deny all knowledge later.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

Just another nurse abusing a senior citizen.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

What strangely timbered horse nibbles olive.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Notwithstanding Nurse's patronising tones, it does offer to put Lawson in touch with people, which Lord Lawson has interpreted as a meeting. Rather neatly, I think. Let us see what develops.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Them pesky varmints iz layin 'n ambush - you betcha, 'kaynt trust'em ... <fx>sound of noisy expectoration + ding!

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I am with rhoda (among others).
The idea of a meeting between the GWPF and anyone who might be open to reasoned argument is always to be welcomed. What Nurse is saying — pretty close to in so many words — is "I'm really getting sick of you ****holes rabbitting on about stuff you know sod all about so I'm about to send in some real experts to sort you out."
I don't see anything to suggest that he is trying to do anything other than what he has been doing ever since his stitch-up of Delingpole — shut down debate and try to make sure that the plebs don't get to hear anything that might cause them to question the True Faith.
Which some of them have been doing a but too much of lately.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

My reading of Nurse's letter is that it is totally condescending and arrogant and that his attitude is much like that of the Chinese government when criticised - we are right and everyone else must toe our line.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

The beauty of Lawson's reply lies in the need for Nurse(of the Hospice caring for CAGW) to respond to his three objections in order to arrange further in good faith. Who's challenging whom, here?

Might be fun; gentlemen of the turf, lay low.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM | kim

Some lovely word association football there!

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

“would be happy to put the GWPF in touch with people who can offer the Foundation informed scientific advice.”

Sorry Andrew, but that statement from Nurse seems pretty clear to me.

From Nurses point of view the GWPF either:

1. Realises the error of their ways and get educated by the "mainstream scientists" and get accepted into the collective, I mean consensus, or

2. Fail to see the error of their was despite the bes efforts of Nurse et al and can be publically cast into the Denier bin.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

>Lord Lawson writes that he is “happy to accept your offer to arrange a meeting and look forward to hearing from you about this.”

I detect a tongue firmly placed in the cheek. Nurse has no intention of debating a subject that he thinks is long since settled - he sings from the same hymn sheet as Beddington, who dug himself into an even deeper hole only this morning.

Please excuse the mixture of metaphors, but I quite like the image of them both singing at the bottom of a mineshaft, preferably surrounded by coal, while the lights wink out above them...

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


My money's on Lawson.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Beware of the Trojans bearing gifts!

Sir Paul Nurse has a strong faith (certainly not scientific) in CAGW and he is not going to give that up. Likewise the Royal Society lead (some may argue misused) by Lord May, Lord Rees and now Sir Paul nurse, has preached the CAGW religion for 20 years without any real scientific argument.

I am doubtful that the Royal Society or Sir Paul will not be changing anytime soon!

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

JJ is correct. I'm reminded of email 2639.txt where PJ writes of JJ

I did send one of the requests to Myles as it was from one of his fellow profs in Physics at Oxford! Myles knows him well and he has never talked about climate with Myles - or expressed any views. Myles can't understand why he's getting his climate education from Climate Audit and not from colleagues in his own dept!

Nurse's offer "to put you in touch with people who can offer the Foundation informed scientific advice" is a sneering insult. Lawson has (probably quite intentionally) misinterpreted it to wind Nurse up. Maybe Andrew is aware of this and playing along with Lawson's game - but that's not his usual style.

There are no olive branches anywhere in this exchange. In fact the opposite - it's an escalation of the climate wars.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

It's a trap.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

I see this as patronising rather than encouraging;

"Royal Society “would be happy to put the GWPF in touch with people who can offer the Foundation informed scientific advice.”

Surely the RS is suggesting that the GWPF needs better guidance? A bit like when the EU tells us that we dont understand something and need more education.


Mar 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Beyond me, but maybe Sir Paul Nurse should read this on WUWT
My "gut feeling" tells me this is closer to reality than what comes out of the mouth of the likes of Betts, Nurse and Beddington to mention but a few.
"Nurse's offer "to put you in touch with people who can offer the Foundation informed scientific advice" is a sneering insult.

There are no olive branches anywhere in this exchange. In fact the opposite - it's an escalation of the climate wars." I agree with that comment, but lord Lawson had to accept and "put it to them".

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

What Jonathan Jones said.

The verbal sparring is entertaining to watch, if not particularly enlightening.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Two things strike me. One is that there is nothing Paul Nurse's chosen climate experts could tell the GWPF that the GWPF has not heard before. What are they going to say? Repeat what Beddington has said this morning? The GWPF have nothing to loose, but the RS has.

Pallab Ghosh's report on BBC website is just what we have come to expect from the BBC - the word of authority is right and should not be challenged. His article does not now include the phrase 'so-called sceptics' but has climate sceptics in parenthesis meaning that climate sceptics are not really climate sceptics/

His report says "climate sceptics" criticised the Met Office recently - and he links to a piece by David Shukman. But Shukman's piece does not quote or name any climate sceptic!!! So who are these "climate sceptics"

Benny Peiser was on BBC Five Live this morning. Why have his comments not been included in Ghosh's piece?

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterXO

I must express some surprise Andrew, that you have bothered to put this exchange on the blog. Is it a slow news day?

Nurse has no intention of creating a dialogue and simply intends to cause mischief about how GWPF is funded.

No meaningful meeting will take place any time soon.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

I agree with others here that it sounds like a deeply patronizing offer to "set sceptics straight".

It reminds me of an unfortunate throw-away remark in Prof Richard Wiseman's recent book "Rip It Up". In a section about people with mistaken beliefs not being persuaded by facts he suggests that people like climate change "deniers" wouldn't have their minds changed even if they went to a lecture by a climate scientist. (He doesn't mean Richard Lindzen I think it's fair to assume).
There is the patronising assumption that a sceptic hasn't reached their position by reason themselves and that they are ignorant of the arguments of climate "scientists".
Even if a sceptic went to such a lecture and heard an argument or "fact" they hadn't heard before they will have been exposed to such misinformation that they would want to investigate it thoroughly rather than blindly accepting it - you know, like scientists are supposed to do!

A shame that Wiseman, who has done good work elsewhere has fallen for the "received wisdom" of the supposed consensus and casually slurred real sceptics most of whom, I am sure, know a damn sight more about climate change than he does.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

I'm sort of amused by Paul Nurse insulting the gentleman, and then proposing someone else in his place for the engagement. Epic behaviour, there.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Frankly I found Nurse's letter condescending in the extreme. Obviously his idea of accepted climate scientist are the modellers whose projections have caused the CAGW story to gain political support.. He probably considers the likes of Spencer, Linzden and Christy as snake oil salesmen. Assuming he has bothered to read their work.

Any meeting between Nurse's group and those from the GWPF must include the truly professional scientific sceptics. And the discussions must be reported honestly by the MSM.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I don't agree with Jonathan Jones assessment that that Lawson is "just tweaking Nurse's nose", rather as kim says

The beauty of Lawson's reply lies in the need for Nurse(of the Hospice caring for CAGW) to respond to his three objections in order to arrange further in good faith. Who's challenging whom, here?

I think Lawson is still allowing any good faith to emerge but is not rolling over for the sophistry by rejoinding firmly

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I'm afraid Nurse's letter is unambiguously patronising. He is not offering a meeting, simply re-education.

His mind is closed. He repeats the same ad homs and arguments to authority mixed with dodgy statistics we've heard before.

Lawson's response is good though. Call his bluff. Call for a debate. You know the Warmists are terrified of debate – All that putting forward evidence is unscientific, you know!

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Lawson is a much meaner and sharper beast than the slight (in many senses) Nursey. Sounds more like a potential duel to me.I know who I'll be putting my money on - and it's not Nursey and his cohorts.

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieP

I agree that the letter from Nurse is patronising in the extreme.

I do hope Lawson will insist on taking some of his own experts with him to educate Nurse..

Mar 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

The letter from Paul Nurse is simply patronising... 'let me introduce you to some scientists who will educate you', as if his view is gospel! He then creates a strawman by accusing Lawson, as a politician, of not being qualified to talk about policy.Nigel has clearly stated that his book was on the economics of the political response to this nonsense (I can't really bear to utter the phrase "cl.. ch...").

This whole issue does rest on the science, and the bogus science of the greenhouse effect. Until this is properly debunked and thrown out as the pseudo-science it is, no progress will be made.

As for Sir John Beddington's piece in BBC Breakfast this morning, I have never heard such twaddle! How can he come on and say that all the weather we're having is down to man's ~3% of atmospheric CO2!! He needs challenging directly to produce the repeatedly tested observational evidence that demonstrates a causal link between man's extra little it of CO2 vs. nature's vast majority and any warming, let alone any dangerous warming.

If there's any advice to Lord Lawson, it would be to ensure that any public statement made by the RS following such a meeting must be fully agreed by the GWPF, as I suspect Nurse/RS will use this to try and make out the GWPF is an insignificant splinter group that should be ignored.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I doubt if Nurse can come up with a better list than the GWPF academic advisory council. Phil Jones teaching excel to Freeman Dyson perhaps.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Beware Geeks bearing gifts.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I would agree with other comments here that Nurse, playing this Machivelian game, is seriously out of his depth with his chosen opponent.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

My own impression is that Nurse had the letter written by Bob Ward in the usual whining (and totally unbecoming of a President of the RS) style. There is a divine irony in those two family names travelling together, you know.

Bob being Bob, he gave a huge and unwitting hand out for Lawson to grab by subverting the original patronising tone into an invitation that wasn't supposed to be there really.

I do not have any advice to give to Lawson as it should be obvious to all that such a meeting can't and won't take place, as everybody knows the Ward Nurse enterprise would crash against a troupe of six-year-olds, let alone Peiser and Whitehouse.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:09 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

They both sound like Bilbo Baggins "on his dignity", two "gentlemen" sniping at each other with an exagerated politeness that is intended as an insult. Nigel Lawson is ahead on points so far.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRich

I would agree with other comments here that Nurse, playing this Machivelian game, is seriously out of his depth with his chosen opponent.
Mar 25, 2013 at 2:07 PM Geckko

As Geckko implies, Nurse is in dire need of water wings. He has not realised what he is up against.

If anything good comes of it all, it will be because of Nurse looking really stupid in public, not because of any meeting of minds.

Who will Nurse put forward to advise the GWPF? Slingo? Jones? Allen?

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'm with Geckko and Martin A. The Nurse letter is disgusting. The Lawson letters are masterpieces. With a bit of luck, this could be used to real advantage. Go GWPF go!

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrianSJ

It's a poor effort at a fit up, just as he fitted up Delingpole in that BBC documentary.
However, Lord Lawson and GWPF is a different prospect. There cannot be clever "editing" in the same way this time and indeed very tricky questions can be asked (if not answered).
Sir Paul is trying to put Lord Lawson in his place though, so he will play any card he can to achieve that.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurfew

Patronizing or with a hidden agenda or not, one should accept. The worst is that Nurse talks nonsense and then says you can't discuss reason with unreasonable people. But it could be part of a "step-down" plan to reduce the hysteria: "Lawson has raised some interesting points that bear more discussion."

The warmists need to save face. There is too much public in the politics to expect otherwise.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

I am disappointed but not surprised to see this RS President join the obsession over who might make charitable donations to the GWPF. Having been the treasurer of a registered charity I am acutely aware of the duty of confidentiality and regard it as disgraceful for the leader of one charity to be urging the leader of another to breach this duty. The Information Tribunal has ruled firmly on this matter.

It is probably unconnected, but on Friday a “freelance reporter” rang our door bell, and asked to see me. He was invited in and offered a cup of tea before I met him and learnt his name. Whether smart or not after learning that he was Brendan Montague I let him drink his tea and ask questions. I have little to hide other than certain encryption key, which he asked for but did not get.

It seemed that Montague had come to our Northampton home speculatively all the way from London. He is obsessed with making his fame and fortune by finding out who FOIA is and who is funding the GWPF. He returned to the latter several times. He has lost twice at the Information Tribunal in efforts to find the GWPF donors and one might have thought he had learn something about the Data Protection Act.

I described to him the tongue lashing that Mehdi Hassan got at the Oxford Union from Myles Allen, Mark Lynas and David Rose for pressing Dick Lindzen on his funding. I suggested to Montague that he was not advancing his cause.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

This should be great. I just pray that Lawson insists on it being public, or at least recorded.
I bet Nurse has already got his list of 28 experts lined up. He says “no extremists from either side”, so “Six Degree” Lynas won’t be there, or anyone from that outfit who gave him a prize for best science writer.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

To Dr. Nurse

2001-2009 was less warmer than 1991-2000, than 1991-2000 was compared to 1981-1990.

Mar 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Registered Commentershub

I would be very surprised if the letter from Nurse was not followed very quickly by a correction. He will clarify that he had no intention of ‘debating’ with Nigel Lawson. He was simply offering to point him in the direction of far more intelligent beings who would then correct Nigel's errant thinking.

There is no way a debate will be allowed. They've spent the last fifteen years making sure one doesn't happen. They are not about to change their tactics now.

Mar 25, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Get their experts, get GWPF experts. Put them in a room and film it. Edit up two versions if you like, then show it. That's what ought to happen. But it won't.

I'm willing to bet that the warmists will not permit any sort of debate with sceptics or allow public questioning of theory or policy.

Mar 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

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