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« Crop yields and dumb farmers | Main | Letter to the Times »

Myles, Nigel and Bjorn

Channel Four news tonight looked at global warming in the context of the cold and long winter we are still enduring. Myles Allen, Nigel Arnell and Bjorn Lomborg were interviewed.

The video can be seen here.

It was interesting to listen to Nigel Arnell, who specialises in climate impacts, talking almost solely about policy responses. This was to some extent dictated by the questions he was asked, but if journalists don't understand the extent of a meteorologist's expertise then it does go a long way to explaining the pickle we are in. The scientist as policy advocate is not an animal that we should be encouraging.

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Reader Comments (75)

I've just posted this on Unthreaded:

C4 News:

This evening's item would have been inconceivable only a few months ago. Tom Clarke, usually the warmist of alarmists, was amazingly balanced in his introduction and commentary. Myles Allen and the Reading professor were boringly unconvincing and Lomborg had the huge advantage of looking interesting and keeping to simple and memorable soundbites.

I'm with John Shade: Inch by inch, row by row.

Apr 10, 2013 at 9:45 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

We're committed to spending £22 billion each and every year until the end of the century to reduce temperatures by 1/200th of 1 degree Celsius. I wonder how many viewers are hearing that for the first time on mainstream TV and asking themselves WTF?

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterClimateDaily

We bought in a foreigner to run the Bank Of England. Why can't we buy Bjorn Lomborg to run our Department of Energy?

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean O'Connor

Agree with Robin Guenier. This would not have been seen just a few months ago.

It was also interesting to see that Professor Arnell did not dispute Lomborg's figures on the huge cost for little benefit of current initiatives.

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

Prof Arnell sounded like he was reading a script from DECC.

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterANH

Ah, so, "Channel Four news tonight looked at global warming in the context of the cold and long winter we are still enduring."</i? You're dying to say it aren't you: global warming are you kidding; this winter has been blooming cold...

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Nigel Arnell is a hydrologist. He is completely out of his depth in this interview.

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Richard Tol

He sounds suitably qualified from his job profile.

Job Title:
Professor of Climate Change Science (Walker Institute)

Research Interests: Nigel Arnell's research focuses on the impacts of, and adaptation to, climate change. He has a particular interest in impacts at the global scale, at hydrological impacts at the catchment scale, and at the use of climate information in adaptation planning

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton brought the topic up- so perhaps you will explain the relevance to us?

Apr 10, 2013 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"the context of the cold and long winter we are still enduring"

I think if they thought they could get away with lying about this, they would. Global Warming <> Cold Winter is something even the dumbed down populace understands. I take no comfort that this changes anything.


Apr 10, 2013 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

I thought Myles Allen was rowing back mightily....almost as if some uncertainty was creeping in.
Bjorn Lombourg made the killer point: Europe - including the UK - is out on its own, crippling itself economically and, even if it hits its objectives the effect will be utterly negligible.

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

I put it on utube,

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Why are the Alarmists still proposing wind to power the National Grid when doing this will create more CO2 than just using gas?

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:17 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Lomborg had the word skeptic to describe him but he is a fully paid up member of the church of mythical carbon. His saving grace is that he can see how stupid mitigation policies are. He did not actually spell out the fact that all we have done in this country is to export our emissions to China but he was getting there.

The very fact that the holy writ is being questioned on MSM is a positive development. As we all know this struggle is not going to be won overnight.

Pity they could not have found a real skeptic to join the party as well.

Arnell light weight. Myles Allen not as cocky as one might have expected. The blond was the pick of the bunch and I don't mean Lomborg

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

@Robert Christopher

that would be a good question to pose to Bitty and Entropic Man - I wonder how the kiddy science playbook tells them to respond.

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Funny how when a winter is easy as in not much snow and no real cold temperatures they never say how we had to "endure" that particular winter.
Warmer winters are much prefered by everyone.

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris F

I have to agree with others Nigel Arnell of Reading University looked very shifty and unconvincing, but then so did Myles Allen.

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnB

Like Tamsin, I've been to the pub, and like her I'll still hazard a comment:

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make the rascals go
All it takes is to check, don'tcha know
For their claims are so unsound.

And inch by inch, and row by row
We shall see the questions grow
And we’ll make the answers show
‘Til the junk comes tumblin’ down

And makin’ spikes and pickin' trees
Much is made of tricks like these
Feel the need to check for sleaze
'Cause ‘the cause’ is underhand

They keep tryin’ to cause us pain
Trap us in their dogma’s chain
Control our body and our brain
Using dictates from the grand

We shall be both straight and long
Show them all where they went wrong
Seeking truth to make us strong
Because we love and care.

With climate dupes watchin' angrily
From their spots in academe
In my conscience I'm as free
As an honest man out there

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make the rascals go
All it takes is to check, don'tcha know
For their claims are so unsound.

The original song is by Dave Mallett and here he is singing it:
Full lyrics:

Improvements welcomed. It is a bit rough at present. Thanks Robin, for your encouragement!

Apr 11, 2013 at 12:05 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Why are the Alarmists still proposing wind to power the National Grid when doing this will create more CO2 than just using gas?

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:17 PM | Robert Christopher

Before we dig further into what may be intended as a rhetorical question, I presume you have figures to show us to substantiate your statement.

Apr 11, 2013 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man

"I presume you have figures to show us to substantiate your statement."

May I respectful suggest that you do your own work?

You go find the actual design details and subsequent data that contradicts Robert Christopher's statement.

Bring it back, there are a few on board that will welcome your research. Especially those that have been involved in wind turbine design.

Apr 11, 2013 at 1:13 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Both of these commenters have accepted the theory that anthropogenic CO2 emissions control global atmospheric CO2 content. This relationship has been falsified by Professor Murry Salby (see here & who shows well analyzed data showing that total atmospheric CO2 is almost completely dependent on temperature and soil moisture and is substantially independent of human emissions. I think his work falsifies the central assumptions in the general climate models and should be the end of this global warming scare.

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Albert

Anyone else get really put of by John Snows bright green tie and socks at the very end

Apr 11, 2013 at 4:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Yet another media Druid dance in ever declining circles, with all studiously avoiding the obvious statement about the unconvincing relationships (temporally and dose) of CO2 and temp. with the usual engagment in the anticipated confirmation-biased AGW discourse. Tiresome.

Apr 11, 2013 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

Entropic man:

Have you any official (Government) figures to show that windmills reduce CO2 emissions? I have been asking the question of Government for years, and have never yet had an answer. You can go to UKERC (the Government-funded centre of excellence of all things to do with energy) and you won't find the answer. You can go to DECC and you won't find the answer. You can write to your MP asking him to contact the Minister to tell you where are the figures, but you won't get an answer. So Entropic man, man up and tell us where are the official figures for how much CO2 emissions are reduced by windmills.

Apr 11, 2013 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Given that the science is settled and has been so for years, why are universtites such as Reading training hundreds of new "climatologists" every year? And why are students willing to mortgage their future paying to learn form 2nd-rate climatologists like Arnell? How does somebody as poor ar Arnell get to be a professor and head the Walker Institute? "Climate science" really does attract poor quality students. Let's hope that good students are still doing proper science and engineering to get us out of the mess, as we head into the next little ice age or worse.

Apr 11, 2013 at 6:57 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I will make it one of my future tasks to establish how climate science students can gain redress for being taught incorrect physics....

Apr 11, 2013 at 7:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

A few weeks ago, Rhoda started a Discussion thread called "Is this what winning is like?" I think last night's C4 News item was a good (and surprising) example of the answer: this is what it's like.

Precisely what what the participants said is unimportant. That no one disputed the CAGW hypothesis is unimportant. What matters is (a) the demeanour of those interviewed and (b) the overall message the average viewer (who is not a climate junkie like most of us here) took away. The answer to (a) is that, unlike Lomborg, Allen and Arnell looked like beaten men defending a lost cause. The answer to (b) is that, after years of scary certainty, the science is beginning to look shaky and - most important - in any case, the actions we are taking to solve the "problem" are damaging and pointless.

As I said yesterday, such a message would have been inconceivable only a few months ago - especially on C4 News..

Apr 11, 2013 at 7:22 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier


At Reading University, "Meteorology students will extend their skills in physics and mathematics". But just like UEA, Reading University doesn't have a physics department. So no doubt the students will be taught all about the mystical power of back radiation to transfer heat from cold to hot and all about the ability of CO2 to trap heat. You will have a hard task trying to re-educate climate scientists with correct physics.

Apr 11, 2013 at 7:31 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Interesting to see that the buttoned up guy in the studio with shirt and tie and wooden delivery was the uber-alarmist Arnell.

While the more 'realistic' Lomborg was framed by the iconic view of Budapest by night, wore much more laidback clothes and was a great deal more animated.

Is it possible that a degree of scepticism is becoming 'trendy' at last?

Apr 11, 2013 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Richard Muller did a great job of explaining the futility of trying to tackle the supposed Co2 problem even with the cooperation of China and India.

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterjustintempler

M'learned friends Rhoda and Robin G are both on the nail as usual.

This is indeed what winning feels like.

A gradual step-by-step softlee-softlee catchee monkey withdrawal of the bad guys and bad ideas from the fray. Imperceptible by the hour or the day but viewed by the month or the year or the decade a slow capture of the territory.

We aren't going to see some almighty spectacular bust up. All the alarmist crap is not going to end with a bang but a whimper(*).

I hope some dedicated soul is keeping a day-by-day diary of these will make a great narrative in years to come.

* I looked up the attribution for this quote. It's from TS Eliot's 'The Hollow Men'.

How appropriate. 'Hollow Men' indeed.

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Whether, he bends his knee at the altar of MM global warming or not - Lomborg stole the show with this jaw dropping figure. That, we're committed to spending £22 billion each and every year until the end of the century to reduce temperatures by 1/200th of 1 degree Celsius.

Arnell of Reading Scientology sect - let it go and did not dispute the figures.

Game, set and match to Lomborg.

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Lomborg points out that we are spending £20 billion p.a. for 100 years to change the expected temperature by 1/200th of a degree in a century. And that this is a colossal waste of money.

Arnell just replies 'you cannot look at this in isolation'. Why not? If its a dumb deal (polite way of saying f....g crazy bonkers way to spend our money) it's still a dumb deal whether other folks are stupid enough to do something similar or not. Can anyone explain Arnell's remark?

Overall he reminded me of this excellent scene from Beyond the Fringe.

Futile gestures indeed

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

'Why are the Alarmists still proposing wind to power the National Grid when doing this will create more CO2 than just using gas?

Apr 10, 2013 at 11:17 PM | Robert Christopher

Before we dig further into what may be intended as a rhetorical question, I presume you have figures to show us to substantiate your statement.

Apr 11, 2013 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man'

All of the above is a distraction from the real issue regarding windmills, they are just not reliable enough. Before any discussion on wind power all sides should monitor this site for a couple of weeks:

An informed debate can then ensue during which the pro-wind side can explain where we get our energy from when wind output plummets to almost nothing, as it regularly does. At the moment, our cripplingly expensive windmills are producing 1.59GW. This is less than 25% of capacity and 3.6% of UK demand. No wonder these things didn't blight the landscape in pre-subsidy days.

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Latimer Alder:

I would go further than that. Towards the end, Lomborg argued that: 'We have failed because we have focussed on buying inefficient technology today'.

To which the throughly rattled Arnell replied: 'Oh, I agree with that, absolutely. We are not going to solve the problems with today's technology applied tomorrow . . . So what we have got now is not going to solve the problem'.

Which begs the bleedingly obvious question of why he and his ilk are insisting on imposing 'today's technology' (for which read wind turbines) at such hideous expense if they are, as he admits himself, 'not going to solve the problem'?

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Agouts: I agree entirely. Arnell came over as a complete idiot, with no answers to simple questions. He was very incomfortable and did great harm to their cause.

Apr 11, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@steve Jones

Referring to windmills you say;

'No wonder these things didn't blight the landscape in pre-subsidy days'

They did.

Up until about 1825 they were the only way to get any 'natural power' bar animals and water mills.

Then along came Messrs Boulton and Watt (*) who improved the steam engine to such a point that it became first a viable alternative and then a complete replacement for windmills throughout Britain and then the rest of the world.

I find it very telling that, though the Netherlands were first drained using the picture postcard windmills that we are familiar with, they switched as fast as they possibly could to steam. And the reasons they did so - controllability, reliability, dispatchability, predictability - are just the same today. Just calling them 'wind turbines' doesn't change the basic technological disadvantages one bit.

*How delightful that both relatively uncommon names are still in use in today's climate controversies....even if attached to different people.

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I hope the MSM pick up the two main comments made by Lomborg (which were not contested). The cost to us of reducing global temperature by just .005 degrees by 2100 and by only .05 degrees by 2100 at a cost of 200 Billion for the whole of Europe. DT, Telegraph, and Express note; it would make a great headline ! Just what are we destroying our economy for ?

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

That should be 200 Billion PER YEAR !

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Ross Lea

Yes, I like that way of putting things: "A twentieth of a degree by 2100 for 200 billion a year". Or, more or less: "20 trillion to reduce the temperature by one twentieth of a degree".

But don't give Milliband simple ideas: he'll come along and say we should reduce temperatures by a degree.

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

You are quite correct! Through habit, I use the term windmill vice wind turbine as the latter implies industrial efficiency. As you state, given a level playing field, nobody in their right mind would choose wind power when reliability is key.

Apr 11, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Robert Christopher

I would be very interested in any data you have to back your statement:

"Why are the Alarmists still proposing wind to power the National Grid when doing this will create more CO2 than just using gas?"

I have a student working on this problem at the moment, but he has been having difficulty finding reliable prior work on the subject.


Apr 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddieo

I have no hope to teach EMMY and others like him. Those who are interested and have forgotten previous postings of the links, can find corroborations of the statement that windmill fuel savings are minimal for low power contributions, turning to negative savings for high contributions. The papers come from a small, independent group of Dutch physicists and engineers studying wind energy and the effects on the power grid. Their papers are reviewed by a group of international experts from the electricity generating area.

There are two approaches, one a straight summing-up of energy costs:
and there is a statistical approach using Dutch energy statistics

There are no actual measurements available anywhere, unfortunately, but the two approaches are mutually supportive. They have been strongly attacked in the Netherlands, but unsuccessfully up to now.

Apr 11, 2013 at 10:27 AM | Registered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

Something that stuck in my mind although I can't remember who or when it was posted was that when steam came along, ship owners didn't say no thanks, I'll stick to sail power with clippers and schooners etc. they went headlong into steam for reasons that are obvious.

Apr 11, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Clarke - "Unprecedented"

Wainwright - "Well I've been here since '88 and it's the worst snow I've seen"

Clarke should have been born earlier, Wainwright should have moved sooner. In 1962.

Apr 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterFilbert Cobb

No mention of latent heat as part of the surface cooling mechanism. It is most important in heat transfer after convection and works hand in glove with convection. It is why rainforests are cooler than deserts.

Apr 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Arnell did a pretty lousy job of trying to defend the indefensible, skewered every which way by Lomborg.

He sure won't accept the next invitation to debate climate matters.

Apr 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

By contrast, ITV News last night sent their environment correspondent, Lawrence McGinty, to the North Pole to investigate whether there was any link between a 'warmer Arctic' (bear with me) and our recent cold weather (due to the shift in the jetstream)...
Well - as a news item, it was gut-wrenchingly terrible. McGinty tried to show that the Arctic sea ice was melting faster than previously (it isn't - except last September, when it promptly reversed) - and his whole piece to camera was hedged around with 'may' and 'could' and 'might' - and included a skype interview with Julia Slingo, who - quel surpris - warned that there 'could' be a connection - but of course more research was required...
None of this made reference to the fact that we've been this way before (1963; 1947; etc) - and included showing the drilling of an ice core right at the North Pole - with the dire inference that the ice was ONLY five inches thick (no comparison with previous samples, of course)..
As the telly was out of range I couldn't put my foot through it...

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

EM - here are some more links on wind energy prayer wheels which you may find illuminating:

energy - wind - renewables - Ireland:

Dutch study which factors in the CO2 in the windmill construction:

Denmark -

costs: GWPF -
the report about the cost of renewables that has been concerning RenewableUK, DECC and the greens, namely "Powerful Targets" can be downloaded at: hhtp://

Other reports are the US Bentek analysis and the recent German report summarised here:

Have to say I am still astonished that this was on C4 news last night. Does Jon Snow read the Economist ? I had an email exchange with the then News Editor back in 2009 - which made no impression whatsoever - but it may be worth another go now.

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

As an addendum to my previous, again the telly was at risk as I was listening to the fullsome and appropriate tributes to Margaret Thatcher. Imagine my horror when, in amongst Ed Millipede's carefully considered speech, he dropped in the little gem that Margaret Thatcher was the 'first to identify climate change' (to loud murmurings of 'hear, hear' from the numpties on both sides of the House. Oh, dear - we still have a lot of work to do...!
No mention, of course, that a few years' later she allegedly reversed her view...

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

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