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« Settled science at the BBC | Main | Bacon - is there anything it can't do? »
Friday
May302014

The Bengtsson affair and the GWPF

This posting is by David Henderson, the chairman of the Academic Advisory Council at GWPF, and is crossposted from the GWPF website

Prologue: a resignation under duress

On 24 April 2014 I sent an email to an eminent meteorologist, Professor Lennart Bengtsson,[1] inviting him to become a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and three days later I was happy to receive a letter of acceptance; I duly added Bengtsson’s name to our list of Council members, and his acceptance was announced on the GWPF website.

On 1 May the Dutch journalist Marcel Crok published on his blog an interview with Bengtsson. He began by posing the question: Why did you join the GWPF Academic Council? Bengtsson’s response was as follows:

I know some of the scientists in GWPF and they have made fine contributions to science. I also respect individuals that speak their mind as they consider scientific truth (to that extent we can determine it) more important than to be politically correct. I believe it is important to express different views in an area that is potentially so important and complex and still insufficiently known as climate change.

Crok’s final question was:

Are you satisfied with the role that the GWPF has played so far? What could or should they do differently in order to play a more successful and/or constructive role in the discussions about climate and energy?

To which Bengtsson responded:

My impression is that this is a very respectable and honest organisation but I will be happy to reply to your question more in depth when I have got experience of it.

Much to the regret of me and my GWPF colleagues, Bengtsson decided, only two weeks later, to withdraw his acceptance of my invitation. In the letter of resignation that he sent to me, he referred to ‘enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life’; and in a letter to colleagues, announcing his decision, he likewise alluded to ‘massive objections from colleagues around the world’.

Though only a few of these ‘massive objections’ have come my way, they presumably have a common theme. The critics typically hold that the GWPF is not a reputable organisation; that the favourable impressions of it which Bengtsson had formed, as voiced in his interview with Crok, were badly mistaken; and that for any professional person to accept to have links with it would be evidence, at best of serious misjudgement, and at worst of a lack of integrity. Hence the Bengtsson affair, and the resulting publicity, have focused attention on the role and work of the Foundation.

As one who has been closely associated with the GWPF from the outset, as chairman of the Council that Bengtsson was invited to join, I offer here a brief personal perspective on the issues thus raised, chiefly with a view to providing information. In doing so, I point to what I see as misconceptions by various commentators, both friendly and hostile. I focus first and chiefly on the work of the Council, but afterwards touch on the work and role of the Foundation as a whole.

The Academic Advisory Council and GWPF reports

When Nigel Lawson established the GWPF, in November 2009, he set up the Council as a review body for the Foundation’s activities. As he described the new creation at the time:

It is a group of eminent academics and quasi-academics from a number of disciplines and with a range of views, scattered around the world, who can be called on to advise the Director (and whose advice we welcome even if it has not been sought!), to peer review the GWPF reports we are planning to publish, and to contribute to our website as and when they are able to do so.

As things have worked out, it is the peer review function that has been dominant, though some Council members have taken part in other ways. All the major GWPF publications that are given the label of reports are sent for review to all Council members. Up to now, 15 such reports have been published.

The review process has functioned effectively. In response to an assertion that our reports, unlike journal articles, were not peer reviewed, I posted the following correction, two years or so ago, on Andrew Montford’s Bishop Hill blog:

One of your commentators [on the blog] has posed the question: ‘If short journal articles are peer reviewed, why not longer GWPF pieces?’

There is a misunderstanding here. The ‘longer GWPF pieces’ have taken the form of reports: up to now, nine of these have been published, with Peter Lilley’s as the latest[2]. All of them have been peer reviewed by members of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council, of which I am chairman. The members of the Council are publicly listed. I have personally reviewed all nine reports, and commented in writing on all but one.

The GWPF procedure differs from that of a journal, in ways that in my opinion are  advantageous.

1. More potential reviewers are involved. Although no Council member is under any obligation to comment in any specific case, the number of substantive comments has typically exceeded what would normally become available through journal-style peer review. Moreover, the comments have to be prompt.

2. The process is not anonymous. The identity of the author is known to the potential reviewers, who make their comments in a personal capacity and may correspond directly with the author. It is up to the author to decide whom he thanks in the eventual published version: the list may go beyond Council members.

3. In every case, authors have made revisions to their draft texts, sometimes substantial, in response to comments from Council members.

Final responsibility for publication rests with the Chairman of the Trustees, Lord Lawson, and the GWPF Director, Dr Benny Peiser. In every case, publication is accompanied with the following formal statement:

‘Views represented in the publications of the Global Warming Policy Foundation are those of the authors, not those of the GWPF, its Trustees, its Academic Advisory Council members, or its Directors.’

In the post-Bengtsson exchanges, Professor Roger Pielke Jr. has taken the position (on Crok’s blog) that ‘If GWPF wants to contribute to the science discussion, then its members should write papers for the conventional scientific literature’. I do not accept this argument, given that:

  • the readership is not the same: our reports are prepared with the general educated reader in mind, not just the specialists for whom the journals rightly cater
  • because of this wide readership, draft reports are subject to informed criticism from  Council members in disciplines other than that of the author
  • I believe that in general our peer review procedures are more thorough than those in the ‘conventional literature’
  • once a draft goes out for review (there is often a vetting process beforehand), our publication process is more expeditious than is typical for journals
  • we can publish studies which exceed the limits that most journals understandably impose: the last two GWPF reports, both on scientific subjects, extended respectively to 65 pages (in its longer version) and 39 pages;[3] Lilley’s report on Stern weighs in at 94 pages
  • there is ample evidence of bias in ‘conventional’ journals against acceptance of papers that are seen as failing to reflect, or going against, generally received opinion on climate change issues; as the Bengtsson affair confirms, heretics are not well viewed in the ‘climate science community’.

Of course, GWPF associates are free to write for the ‘conventional’ journals, as many of them do. The opportunity that we provide is of a different kind.

Contrary to a (friendly) presumption made on a recent blog, we did not approach Bengtsson with a view to getting ‘scientific advice on [our] pronouncements’. His views would have been solicited as a matter of course only on draft studies; and all such studies would have been submitted by the authors on their own account not that of the Foundation.

GWPF published papers have by no means been confined to the reports: in addition to briefing papers and notes, a new category labelled essays has just been inaugurated.[4] In pretty well every case, there is a review process of some kind, in which particular Council members may become involved; but it is only for the draft reports that all the members, in every case, are sent a text for comment. As Lawson notes in the above quotation, their participation in other GWPF activities is welcomed; but these are very busy men (sadly, there are no women members) for whom, in most cases at any rate, such involvement cannot be a routine or frequent event.

As from September 2014, the present GWPF will be split into two separate parts. The Global Warming Policy Foundation will continue to exist as a registered educational charity; and it is the Foundation that will continue to publish the reports and other documents which form a large part of the educational mission. In this connection, the review role of Council members will be unchanged. Alongside the Foundation will be a newly-created Global Warming Policy Forum, which will be able to engage in campaigning and other activities which may fall outside the scope of charity law; and here the Council will have no part.

The names of all Council members are in the public domain. They receive no remuneration. Most of them, like me, have been in place from the outset. During these years we have had only one resignation, and that was due to ill health. It is unlikely that these distinguished persons would have remained in place, and continued to respond to requests for their time, if it were the case that (to quote one of Bengtsson’s scientific critics):

Joining this group would be interpreted by the media, the general public and colleagues not, as you apparently intended, as a rational contribution to an important discussion, but as an endorsement by a highly esteemed climate scientist of the political goals of GWPF (including the non-scientific methods apparently applied by GWPF).[5]

Further, it is inconceivable that all or indeed any of our members would have stayed on board if it could be shown, or even remotely plausibly alleged, that (to quote another of Bengtsson’s scientific correspondents) ‘name calling, innuendo, political games, character defamation and caricature … the latter are the methods of the GWPF’.[6] The reality is that no such departures from recognised professional standards are to be found, or would have been tolerated, in any GWPF publication.  Assertions of the kind just quoted reveal a total lack of concern with the truth.

Contrary to what is sometimes presumed, the GWPF is not a ‘right-wing think-tank’, nor is it ‘a political lobby’. Its trustees include prominent members of all three main British political parties, as well as persons who have no political allegiance. Neither the trustees nor the Council members would have allowed their names to be linked to an organisation whose aims and focus were political but which pretended otherwise.

I need to emphasise the point already made, that views expressed in our publications are those of the authors concerned and not of the Foundation. Typical of the misconceptions that can arise in this context is a recent remark (on Andrew Montford’s blog) by a GWPF sympathiser, who wrote that ‘Nigel Lawson and GWPF hold the same view as IPCC AR5’ on the relation between global warming and extreme events. The GWPF as such holds no view on that subject, nor on a range of other specific issues whether of climate science or of ‘climate change’ policies. On many such issues, not surprisingly, those who broadly sympathise with the Foundation, including Council members, might be unable to arrive at agreed statements of opinion.[7] Hence there is no extended and well articulated institutional party line, no GWPF equivalent of the Church of England’s once-famous Thirty-Nine Articles of belief.

However, this diversity of opinions goes with a broadly shared perception. It is common ground among sympathisers that the treatment of climate change issues, by governments and officially-constituted bodies across the world, has been and continues to be at fault, with consequences that are a matter of concern. (Many would use stronger language). Further, though without claiming to speak for all, I think that most would sign up to the statement in a recent paper of mine that:

In an area where so much is at stake, and so much remains uncertain or even unknown, policies should be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than presumptive as they are now; and their evolution should be linked to a process of inquiry and review which is more thorough, balanced, open and objective than has so far been the case.[8]

Common ground

The Bengtsson affair provides a good illustration of how these two elements, diversity and commonalty, are found together and can be reconciled. The origin of my letter of invitation to Professor Bengtsson was an article of his in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 15 April. If he had sent this piece to me as the suggested draft of a joint article I would have proposed substantial changes, and we might well have found it impossible to agree on a text that we could both sign. Closer acquaintance would doubtless reveal other matters on which our views are far from identical. However, I and GWPF colleagues were impressed by a number of observations in the article, including:

… the extent and speed of [global] warming are still uncertain, because we cannot yet separate well enough the greenhouse effect from other climate influences.

It would be wrong to conclude from the report of the IPCC and similar reports that the science is settled.

…the rapid transition to renewable energy has led to a considerable increase in energy prices in many countries…

These statements give expression to two of the concerns that prompted the creation of the GWPF: first, that current and prospective official measures to curb emissions are costly; and second, that the scientific arguments and beliefs that underlie such measures should not be viewed as finally established.

In his subsequent interview with Marcel Crok, Bengtsson made further points that were indicative of common ground:

I believe it is important to express different views in an area that is potentially so important and complex and still insufficiently known as climate change.

I do not believe that the IPCC machinery is what is best for science in the long term.[9]

In a more recent statement, he has further said that:

What is perhaps most worrying is the increased tendency of pseudo-science in climate research. This is revealed through the bias in publication records towards only reporting results that support one climate hypothesis, while refraining from publishing results that deviate.[10]

It was specifically to give more effective expression to ‘different views’, in an area ‘so important and complex and still insufficiently known’ and so permeated by over-presumption, bias and pressures to conform, that Nigel Lawson decided to launch the GWPF. The Bengtsson affair is further and disturbing evidence of a situation which his new venture was designed to rectify.


[1] Bengtsson was Head of Research at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Hamburg

[2] Lilley’s report, the ninth in the series, was entitled What Is Wrong With Stern?: The failings of the Stern Review of the economics of climate change.

[3] The reports in question are: Marcel Crok and Nic Lewis, A Sensitive Matter: How the IPCC buried evidence showing good news about global warming (March 2014); and Willem de Lange and Robert Carter, Sea-Level Change: Living with uncertainty (May 2014).

[4] Essay No. 1 is by Nigel Lawson himself. It is entitled The Trouble with Climate Change, and is a slightly revised and fully referenced version of an article published in the May 2014 issue of the journal Standpoint .

[5] From an email sent to Bengtsson on 14 May 2014 by Professor Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

[6] From an email sent to a fellow-academic on 14 May 2014 by Professor Bjorn Stevens, a director at the Max Planck Institut and a professor at the University of Hamburg.

[7] Bengtsson himself has noted, in a recent interview (with Professor Hans von Storch, on the Klimatzwiebel blog)) that ‘There is no common view among the members of the GWPF and I might have a quite different view than from some of them’.

[8] The quotation is from a chapter that I contributed to a Festschrift commemorating the 70th birthday of Vaclav Klaus, then President of the Czech Republic. The volume is edited by Jiři Brodsky, and was published in 2012 by Fragment under the title Today’s World and Vaclav Klaus.

[9] Report No. 4 from the GWPF, by Ross McKitrick (a Council member), is entitled What is Wrong with the IPCC? Proposals for a radical reform. Both McKitrick and I, as also Gordon Hughes who is the author of two published GWPF reports, gave written evidence in 2010 to the InterAcademy Council committee which reviewed the work of the IPCC.

[10] The prevalence in this area of what can be viewed as ‘pseudo-science’ forms the main single theme of Rupert Darwall’s fine book, The Age of Global Warming: A History (Quartet Books, 2013).

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Reader Comments (30)

The Green Mafia does not like anyone threatening its CAGW protection racket. We have seen them so many times, attack anyone who does not regurgitate the CAGW hymn.

CAGW is an intolerant religion.

May 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

On the Swedish website Uppsalainitiativet Richard Betts posted a comment after Lennart Bengtsson's guest post:

( http://uppsalainitiativet.blogspot.se/2014/05/guest-post-by-lennart-bengtsson-my-view.html?m=1 )

Richard Betts 26 maj 2014 02:27

Last year, the president of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, wrote to Lord Lawson saying:

"It is important to have a range of opinions in the public debate about climate change and the GWPF that you chair could play a role in that debate, but the GWPF has lost its way. The Foundation needs to have more mainstream active and expert climate scientists giving it advice."

My question is, how is Sir Paul's recommendation to be addressed? Prof Bengtsson has been described as "coming out as a climate denier" for joining the GWPF's advisory board. Would this criticism be levelled at any mainstream climate scientist who chose to advise the GWPF? If so, how can Sir Paul's recommendation be taken up?

Like it or not, the GWPF is not going to go away, and they will continue to comment publicly on climate science. To me, their criticisms often seem either ill-informed or deliberately undermining of individuals or scientific institutions (particularly the Met Office), often focussing on criticism of seasonal and decadal forecasts despite these being (a) clearly described as experimental (b) of little relevance to global warming (they are to much more to do with internal climate variability than long-term external forcing). However, with nobody in the GWPF circle telling them what can and cannot be expected of these forecasts, it is hardly surprising that their criticisms will be poorly-informed. While clearly the GWPF is a political organisation and will continue to take a particular position, surely it would be harder for them to criticise from a position of ignorance if there were somebody who actually knows about this areas of science on their own advisory board.

If Sir Paul's letter to Lord Lawson is to be taken seriously, there should be space for somebody to give scientific advice to the GWPF in an objective manner. How can this be achieved?

May 30, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Magnificent posting by Henderson. I learnt a lot about the GWPF that I didn't know. It's instructive to compare the gravitas and detachment of the piece with much that is put out by alarmist organisations. Of course, it will fly right over the heads of the latter's supporters, who will read it with the preconception that the GWPF is up to no good, funded by Koch and Big Oil, and is just trying to give the mere appearance of propriety.

They say that history is written by the victors, but it's also true that the present is being written by those currently deemed righteous. All we can take comfort in is that those who have been deemed righteous in the past haven't always turned out to be the victors, and that history will eventually reveal the truth.

May 30, 2014 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

I think the GWPF would be strengthened if it published and responded to criticisms, such as those made by Richard Betts (see posts above). This would allow some sort of involvement of "consensus" scientists, without the "stigma" of association with the GWPF.

May 30, 2014 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

If Richard Betts has a problem with criticism by GWPF or anybody else of decadal forecasting and such, he should address the question of why such forecasts ever see the light of day if they are experimental. Publication implies some kind of endorsement of, if not accuracy, utility. It is the Met Office which published them, not the GWPF.

May 30, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

I think the Met Office and Royal Society would be strengthened if they published and responded to criticisms!

May 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

When one looks at the scientists/engineers on the GWPF Academic Adisory Council, it is difficult to understand how the GWPF can be accused by Nurse and Betts of not having enough scientific advice. I do not see any of the "mainstream climate scientists" who could hold a candle to the scientists/engineers on the Academic Adisory Council or could give "objective" advice. Can anybody suggest anybody who could give objective advice (Bengtsson excepted)?

May 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Unfortunately, if the GWPF were to have independent, objective advice, the anti-scientific Met Office and RS would be shown up for what they are. No professional accepts the IPCC 'consensus'.

May 30, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

Betts comment about Met Office forecasts is truly annoying.

The GWPF know very well that the seasonal forecasts from the Met Office are experimental but it is fair criticism to point out that so far they are also spectacularly wrong. Bad advise is worse than no advice at all! The lack of flood preparedness of most councils was based on the Met Office telling them to expect a dry winter and more droughts. If you don't appreciate criticism of your crap product then stop selling it until it is less 'experimental'.

As for their decadal forecasts - well they were not sold as having 'little relevance to global warming' at the time. Quite the opposite in fact. This is just the new revisionism from the UK alarmist establishment that the hiatus was to be expected when everyone knows it came as a surprise and disappointment to them: A climate dominated by manmade CO2 and with declining natural variation just shouldn't behave that way.

May 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Brilliant summary by Henderson but ouch:

Typical of the misconceptions that can arise in this context is a recent remark (on Andrew Montford’s blog) by a GWPF sympathiser, who wrote that ‘Nigel Lawson and GWPF hold the same view as IPCC AR5’ on the relation between global warming and extreme events. The GWPF as such holds no view on that subject, nor on a range of other specific issues whether of climate science or of ‘climate change’ policies.

I meant of course 'Nigel Lawson, founder of the GWPF, holds the same view as IPCC AR5' on extreme events, based for example on his recent talk in Bath. Grovelling apologies, sincerely yours, etc. :)

More seriously, very good to see the disagreement with Roger Pielke Jr. here. GWPF reports have become an incredibly valuable resource. One cannot imagine anything this good, and useful to policy makers and voters, coming out of peer review as defined by the current climate crew.

May 30, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

GWPF tries to be non political but frankly it’s impossible. Some, maybe all issues are considered inherently right or left. That individuals take different views on different subjects doesn’t conflict with their stated political leaning. People aren’t even the same political temperature every day, never mind throughout their lifetime. Why do we feel the need to justify that?

Industry and consumption are thought of as inherently rightwing leanings, despite our almost universal engagement with those things regardless of our politics. The environment is claimed by those with left leanings, forgetting that what threatens the environment most is the kind of financial equality espoused by the left. The wealthier we plebs become, the more we consume globally.

There is another paper out, claiming that extinctions are at an all time high and almost all the article comments are grumblings about population size. Overpopulation would be very much a political issue, but leftwing ideology offers no solutions. China’s one child policy wasn’t something the people chose for themselves but had it forced upon them. Doesn’t sound like something the left would be very proud of. Ironically it’s the industrial societies that are naturally declining in size. Once people have more to do with their time than reproduce and don’t have to worry about needing the next generation to support them in their old age, they use contraception to their own advantage, not as some altruistic way of preserving nature. The selfishness of personal advancement has the ability to curb population which is the ultimate way to care for the environment. Can you hear the eco nutters’ heads exploding with the paradox? Probably not, self preservation prevents them from comprehending the concept.

Unfortunately since blind green dogma has been made one side of the political coin, anything else, even a thoughtful balance, must be rightwing. GWPF cannot be apolitical, regardless of its makeup, simply because of where the centre has been drawn. Or maybe I’m biased ;-)

May 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

An excellent article, that admirably explains the GWPF's position in the climate debate. As to Sir Paul Nurse's comments: frankly, he is no more qualified to comment on work the GWPF than any other educated person. I found his contribution condescending, to say the least.

May 30, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Nurse is a disgrace to science, promoted for his political affiliations, not his ability. When I worked in Russia, the team had no Academicians because that was a mark of shame to Russian Scientists. It should be the same here for FRSs.

May 30, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

"...Like it or not, the GWPF Met Office is not going to go away (...) clearly the GWPF Met Office is a political organisation and will continue to take a particular position..."

May 30, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

A key point

"Nigel Lawson established the GWPF in November 2009"

Far too many MSM outlets still don't get it. The GWPF arrived late to the debate. If it disappeared tomorrow it would not make scepticism of cAGW go away. I can trace my own objections back to the 1970s.

The GWPF is neither responsible for creating, nor sustaining, the profound objections of many level headed educated individuals.

May 30, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Is the 'experimental' label to be applied to climate projections and if so, before or after they have failed?

May 30, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

TinyCO2
"Enlightened self-interest" is the phrase. The "left" (sorry for the shorthand because I agree with your analysis of current politics) and the so-called environmentalists hear the "self-interest" bit and somehow manage to block out the equally important "enlightened" bit.
I think this is in part at least because they cannot conceive of anyone who disagrees with them being in any way enlightened and therefore their self-interest is to be deprecated.(Cf flying round the world to "save the planet" and flying round the world to have a holiday with the family!)
To an extent we all consider that those who disagree with us on some fundamental point are unenlightened. It's just that the majority of us don't care over much. We are happy to enlighten them should the situation arise but equally happy to condone their "ignorance" because we don't see their self-interest as something to be disapproved of.
"Each to his own" is not a concept for the pseudo-intellectuals of the control-freak tendency.

May 30, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

ssat: +1

May 30, 2014 at 12:56 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

michael hart: +10
The influence of the GWPF on the global warming debate is greatly exaggerated, mainly by their critics who usually describe them as 'influential' and need a bogey man to attack and blame.

May 30, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This essay was immensely helpful to understanding the GWPF, for at least this American. My impression of the GWPF has strengthened, which confirms an initial feeling that the GWPF is much more trustworthy than the BBC and the Royal Society.

To Mr. Henderson: Your organization has proven to be invaluable to an objective analysis of the global warming debate. Please continue!

May 30, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterC3 Editor

Paul Matthews: -2.71828 :)

In other words, I don't entirely agree, the reality is complex and we can only manage an approximation! I think the GWPF has brought organisation as well as integrity to the chaos that was existing dissent and I think this is the primary reason it is so demonised. Its opponents are right to see it as a threat. They've felt the same, rightly, about Climate Audit in the past. Very different entities but something to emulate in both, for any of us.

May 30, 2014 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The most important point IMO is the nature of the reports, and perhaps also the new essays form. Longer and more thorough than journal papers. Accessible to those perhaps unfamiliar with the background literature. Aimed atbtheninformed general public. Therefore threatening to the high priesthood of warmism.
If GWPF, and blogs like this, Judith Curry's and others were not so threatening to the warmunists, they would not have reacted so viciously and so untruthfully. Their reaction teaches how to 'hit where it hurts'. And they are not very skillful pugilists, because the Streisand effect of the Bengtsson affair has called far more media attention to what has been going on (congressional hearings yesterday in the US) than Bengtssons contributions to GWPF ever would have.

May 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

The GWPF is threatening to the alarmist concensus precisely because it is respectable and respected. Blogs such as BH, WUWT, Climate Audit etc. have been easy to dismiss simply because they are "just blogs", but a very senior politician (and no mean economist remember) creating a foundation with serious credentials was something that could not simply be ignored and so it had to be pilloried.

We who read the blogs have just as skewed a vision of public opinion as the alarmists because we each view opinion through our own knowledge and experiences. For most of us, it is unfathomable how the public at large does not rise up a throw off the yoke of ridiculous energy policies based on an increasingly discredited theory with no supporting evidence. However, we are a privileged few who have had the opportunity to delve deeply enough into this to see that emperor has no clothes.

Nigel Lawson creating the GWPF made the mainstream press (and thus the public at large) realise that maybe it was not all settled science. The fact that this was done on the back of the excellent research and analysis contained in WUWT, BH, CA etc. takes absolutely no credit away from these.

Only a few weeks ago, Anthony Watts ran an item on whether a more formal organization was needed to lobby for change. There was a great deal of discussion about the value of such an organization and whether it should be started from WUWT. I think GWPF already exists for this purpose, at least in the UK, and that it will play an increasingly critical role in improving energy policy development.

May 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

ssat

There was a forecast last week that showed dry conditions at 7pm. The chart was updated to show rain some 5 minutes after the rain had started. Perhaps that is what they mean by 'hindcasting'...

May 30, 2014 at 5:14 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The problem the GWPF poses for the warmsters is that it publishes science and policy and it is not going away.

Serious climate scientists know that the models have failed. Not as scientific enterprises - first approximations are always useful in uderstanding the problems to be resolved;,rather as guides for policy. If the models can't get sensitivity or clouds right they are of no use in determining what, if anything, is to be done.

In so far as Lord Lawson and his Foundation point out the policy implications of the models failure, they give succour to the policy sceptics who, I fear, are unwilling to ignore the serious consequences of green energy policy.

This is the dagger at the heart of the warmsters political game. For the moment they have no choice but to try to dodge its point. But they have been disarmed by Mother Nature and betrayed by their unphysical models. Now all they can do is hurl insults and hope that, somehow, the skeptics will grant them quarter.

May 31, 2014 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJay Currie

What is clear in this is that it is Paul Nurse who is anti-science.

May 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I have this experience as well, despite billion heavy infrastructure they are not even good at forecasting the weather 24h in advance. This should only be an extrapolation exercise with satellite pictures etc, but no: -fail-

And then we must believe there theories about 100y in advance. Theories and simulations which have confidence bands as large as jennifer lopez's butt to safeguard their credibility somehow.

May 31, 2014 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

not that I obsessively follow jello: has she already made that inevitable spoilt female transition from "you cannot see my behind, you animals!" to "you MUST see my behind, whether you want or not" ??

May 31, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

(1) The Bengsston affair is a perfect example of the Bishop's observation to a Parliamentary Committee (something along the lines of): "Any academic who advocates a non-consensus position is going to get hammered". (Someone wade through the video and give us the correct words.)

(2) Sir Paul Nurse. Sir P talks the nonsense you would expect from someone who knows little to nothing about the majority of subjects he thinks his position in the SocRoy requires him to pontificate. But could he not diffuse this criticism by prefacing his remarks /declarations about such subjects by first confessing that he was not an expert and knows nothing of his subject, but that he had been advised by (people he regards as) expert friends? And did he not know that he would make no such confessions when he took the SocRoy job on? But that he was bribed by the (supposed) prestige of the job and now ignores the need to qualify his remarks in the suggested way in the interests of bestowing a false authority on his freedom to talk whatever nonsense is politically expedient to him at the time? And so that he is hardly the sort of person you would want to expose to an impressionable friend or relative.

Jun 1, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

I view the GWPF as a kind of alternative forum for climate viewpoints, and their reports, while not usually as technical as those published in peer-review journals, are cogent, well sourced and eminently readable. Booker's exhaustive take-down of the BBC's overtly biased reporting is representative of GWPF output:

http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/booker-bbc.pdf

Jun 1, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterjbirks

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