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« The state of independence | Main | A disgrace to the profession »

Le spin! Cartoon notes by Josh

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Last night some of us attended the Walker Institute Annual Lecture given by Sir David King and which was titled "The Paris Climate Summit - hopes and expectations". I must thank the Walker Institute for the opportunity to be there and for the excellent refreshments afterwards.

The lecture itself was something of a gruelling series of alarmist doom and gloom factoids followed by an upbeat assessment of what will actually happen at the Paris summit - and the answer is... well, you can read for yourself and, if you were there, please do add your own recollections.

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (45)

Is 'hot air balloon' a method of transport, or an economic model?

Jun 11, 2015 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I remember 2012 when the Kyoto commitment came to an end. I thought the alarmists would see what had happened and be really gloomy.

But they hadn't a clue - they even seemed to think that agreeing that sometime in the future to think about having a new commitment was some kind of victory. So, you wait one year - and think they'll twig, then another - then another.

The alarmists live on an entirely different planet to the rest of us. They can be strung along for literally years - even decades by promises about what "is" going to happen. They don't question these promises, don't know if they are delivered and they seem to think a mere promise is some great victory.

In contrast, sceptics look dumbfounded at the failure to do anything - the way renewable targets are rolling back, how coal fired power plants are increasing oil exports from the US increasing - and we wonder how on earth the alarmists can't see what's happening.

And it is that they live on an entirely different planet - planet "spin"!

Jun 11, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Grin. Love it.

We know we're in trouble when worms are the voice of reason.

Did you get the impression they know that Paris is their last chancce?

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I wasn't at the lecture, but I have downloaded the slides and audio from the Walker Institute website. Having looked at the slides and listened to (the last 40 minutes of) the audio, here are my impressions:

Re the lecture's title - "Hopes and Expectations" (for Paris) - he seemed to be saying that we shouldn’t expect much (that, at least, is almost certainly true). (BTW his idea that proposing the world aims for a common emission per capita by 2050 might be a way of progressing negotiations at Paris is surely far too late to have the slightest impact?) Therefore, forgetting it seems that it was recently billed as a 'make or break' event, we should (he thinks) focus now beyond Paris, concentrating in particular on technological development of and associated with renewables (e.g. grid storage) to get them fully competitive with fossil fuels. That, he seems to think, is how we (the West) would eventually get developing countries on side. To my mind, that's delusional: such an exercise would take forever, extending far beyond the deadline for serious emission reduction that alarmists keep telling us must be met if we're to avoid catastrophe. (But maybe, although he doesn't say so, King no longer believes the alarmists. Or maybe he does but - H/T Mike Haseler - sees such deadlines as infinitely extendable.) But, in any case, such a course would be an excellent way of keeping the bandwagon rolling - for many, many years. I believe it’s a bubble that has to be pricked if we’re to face up to what’s really happening in the world: i.e. that the rest of the world - led by China and India - will go their own way and no longer really care about the West's beliefs and actions.

It’s interesting that the lecture seems to suggest that the powers-that-be have given up on international negotiation (I thought the G7 outcome was another indication of this) and have concluded that, although we (the West) have to accept this, we should - rather than actually coming to terms with that reality - just carry on trying "to set an example". And that means lots of investment in “exciting” technological development and lots more subsidies. Depressing.

PS to Josh: brilliant. I don't know why I bother: you say it all.

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I read a transcript some years ago of one of King's "lectures" at an agricultural college - and it was v.hard going (grueling is close...)

I think if I was forced to endure one of his outpourings I'd have to be armed with a catapult and a tub of fermenting fruit & veg (i.e. I wouldn't last long)

He jets from place to place as the UK's "permanent Special Representative for Climate Change" to deliver monumentally self regarding doomster guff and trousers the exes and speakers fee.... He's out of the same stable as Peter Wadhams which is not a recommendation imho.

As far as I can see - he's long eschewed actual science and indulged an appetite for half baked doom prognostication, gong collection and sharp elbowed politicking.

Robin Guenier

we should - rather than actually coming to terms with that reality - just carry on trying "to set an example". And that means lots of investment in “exciting” technological development and lots more subsidies.
- and by inference keep DK as one of the arbiters of what's going to be funded from other peoples money etc... = yes -> depressing.

Kudos to Josh for sitting through it - I have a strong feeling I'd have walked out. I couldn't handle that much concentrated fantasy and dishonesty.

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:34 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Robin Guenier: "I believe it’s a bubble that has to be pricked if we’re to face up to what’s really happening in the world: i.e. that the rest of the world - led by China and India - will go their own way"

I'm beginning to wonder, whether what we have is far better than "pricking the bubble". Looking at the age of many delegates, environmentalism is something people do between getting to university and when reality dawns as they get a mortgage and kids.

They want to be "environmentalists" - and most don't really care about the cause so long as they "do their bit".

But the problem is that we've solved many of the environmental problems faced by the west - the clean air acts, cleaned our air, most rivers are largely free of pollution - and those that remain (city air?) are either much less significant or far too complex to tackle.

But, when they environmentalists end their obsession with CO2 - they will just jump on another meaningless bandwagon - and this whole scam will start again in another area with even more crazy waste of money.

So, if the environmentalists are happy just to plod along year after year after year after year to these climate conferences with no actual outcome --- if they are happy to do this --- why don't we just let them?

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

So, if the environmentalists are happy just to plod along year after year after year after year to these climate conferences with no actual outcome --- if they are happy to do this --- why don't we just let them?

If they do it with their own funding/money eh? The problem is that they've inveigled themselves into a position where they have access to other folks money and are using it to promote their own beliefs - aided and abetted by the likes of DK who surf the wave....

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Tiny, Sir David thinks that Paris is just the start of something very agreeable, probably involving a lot of trips around the world, something he mentioned more than once so he clearly enjoys the jet-setting lifestyle.

The 'agreement to agree' is something Mike Haseler blogged about yesterday - which I see you already read, and great comment btw.

So, no, they don't think this the last chance saloon - they think it's just another Gare d'Alarme on the High Speed Railway Gravy Train of Existential Doom.

Robin, it seems you didn't miss much! It was difficult to sit through, but at least the canapés were great ;-)

Jun 11, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Tomo: "The problem is that they've inveigled themselves into a position where they have access to other folks money and are using it to promote their own beliefs"

But we've largely halted any further non-science on climate. There's not a lot more damage they can do - whereas if or more like WHEN a new environmental scam starts going, they have the potential to cost society massively.

The longer we can keep them focussed on climate, the less chance there is of some other nutty scam getting off the ground.

Jun 11, 2015 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Josh, "..... canapes were great" should be the IPCC's epitaph. It summarises everything right with the science. Were they better than evah?

Troughing scientists know how to appeal to troughing journalists.

Paris has a reputation to maintain. Will you be going to report back on the unprecedented rise in canape quality?

In construction, site meetings with builders, always went better if chocolate biscuits were provided.

Jun 11, 2015 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


hmm... yea-ah - I see the logic of throwing them a (vegetarian) bone to gnaw on - but they'll bury it for later when fresh fish is delivered.

Public funding of activism via direct grants or charidee vehicles is long overdue for a rigorous pruning. Saving the Planet via forcibly extracted public subsidy should simply not be an option. It's ideology and politics NOT hard evidence that's driving all this and we're paying dearly to effectively have the "do nothing" option without evidence that any of the proffered "solutions" has had any effect at all....

David (Air Miles) King strikes me as a haughty version of Bez

Jun 11, 2015 at 5:35 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Hype and phantasmagoria?

Jun 11, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

Josh's remark about 'factoids' hardly does justice to how woeful King's presentation was.

He had only a weak case about the dangers of (C)AGW but somehow managed to weaken it further by his lack of rigour. His slides were old, poorly edited (surely he knows that cllimate is not the spelling of his main topic?), and not held together by any consistent narrative or theme. Just a disorganised set of talking points, some barely relevant.

As a piece of theatre (and a good presentation must appeal to both the heart and the head) it was about as exciting as a cup of cold tapioca.

The academic format of awed silence during the pitch followed by a few prepared (and often self-serving) questions afterwards has clearly not led to his spiel being 'bomb-proofed' by proper road testing. In the commercial world, the accepted format is to take questions as one goes along. And hostile questions are welcomed as it shows that the audience is engaged and gives an opportunity to reinforce one's case in reply. Surely somebody somewhere would have pointed out to him that a sealevel rise since 1870 of less than 1 foot per century had not been much of a problem to anyone, and was unlikely to be so in the future. Making it one of the centrepieces of the scare is foolish and demeaning.

Back in my days as a sales trainer, we had a variety of possible marks for such an exercise. The weakest grade was Unsatisfactory, Did Harm. In other words, having heard the pitch the client was less, not more, likely to buy the product or service in question. In my opinion. Sir David's exposition of the dangers of AGW was verging on UDH. I wasn't much convinced beforehand, but even less so afterwards. Which for a man of his seniority and position is quite a shocking state of affairs.

If he is indeed 'a man sent to lie abroad for his country', as ambassadors have been memorably described, then I am ashamed that he represents the UK.

Jun 11, 2015 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"..whereas if or more like WHEN a new environmental scam starts going, they have the potential to cost society massively.

The longer we can keep them focussed on climate, the less chance there is of some other nutty scam getting off the ground."

Jun 11, 2015 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

While they are attacking energy production and use, I can't actually think of a more damaging avenue for them to be galloping down, short of restricting food, water and oxygen.

Jun 11, 2015 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Latimer Alder, I don't think he cares about, or understands the science. He understands how money talks, and talks for money.

Jun 11, 2015 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It is way too late to stop them charging down a new and even worse road; they are already halfway to hell in a handcart called Sustainability, ably abetted by Agenda 21 ^.^

Jun 11, 2015 at 7:29 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I'm only on slide one, where he has the world's middle class expanding from one billion to five billion from the year 2000 to 2030, and on target to constitute 110% of the population by about 2060. This becomes even more mysterious when you see that “middle class” is defined as people who spend more than 10 $ per day.

Jun 11, 2015 at 8:34 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Latimer Alder - shouldn't that be 'sent abroad to lie for his country'?

I often go lie abroad for my country, hammocks are plentiful in nicer Hawaiian resorts.

Or would that be 'laying abroad for my country'?

Just being pedantic here...

Jun 11, 2015 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Going abroad to get laid for your country? Nice work if you can get it.

Jun 11, 2015 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

One of the last slides is most odd:

Michael Haar, Le Chant de la Terre, 1987:
‘The fragility of humans: the subject and object of will, the master and the victim of the project of universal domination.’
He means Michel Haar, and the full title of his work is “Le Chant de la terre - Heidegger et les assises de l'histoire de l'être” (The Song of the Earth – Heidegger and the Trial of the History of Being).
Now if I wanted to demonstrate the wider significance of a bunch of wildly speculative immensely boring and utterly baseless statistics by linking them to a meaningful quote from some profound thinker, I wouldn't choose a French expert on the philosophy of a Nazi sympathiser - at least not in Reading.

Jun 11, 2015 at 9:28 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

On further reflection. Sir David did say one very important thing. He asked rhetorically what all the 'climate diplomacy' had achieved since it began in 1992.

And answered his own question. 'If you look at it just as cutting CO2 emissions, not very much at all'. Then, Perhaps in the hope of diverting our attention from the profoundly unwelcome truth he had let slip, detailed all the other agreements and targets and objectives and talking shops there had been. Which are, of course, irrelevant if CO2 emissions are unchanged.

It grieves me to be rude about a once distinguished physical chemist (a subject once close to my heart), but I fear Sir David has become a bit of a charlatan. He - and his fading subject - were just going through the motions.

On a more positive note the canapes were pretty good. Not quite up to last year's superb grub at the BMA, but one shouldn't look a free buffet in the mouth.

And the company (Josh, Shotover, Barry W, Katabasis & Diane) was as excellent as you would expect.

Jun 11, 2015 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

All I can remember about Lord King is that he was shown the door by the Russians. He doesn't seem to have learned anything since then.

Jun 11, 2015 at 11:04 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

I'm middle class (well, I spend more than $10 a day) and I don't want an iPhone. Or an i-anything else.

Jun 11, 2015 at 11:11 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The Intergovernmental Panel on Canape Control should now be aware of what really matters in Paris.

The best canapes in the world will be assessed and judged, and recommendations made about how the highest possible quality of canapes can be guaranteed for future generations.

As yet unborn children in distant lands, will still die of starvation and treatable diseases, proud in the knowledge that the United Nations has directed, at huge expense, how the best canapes should be prepared and served.

Jun 12, 2015 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I like Tomo's remarks about funding. I've complained about the lack of funding for sceptics, but by far the worse problem is that massive public funding of alarmists.

However, I'm still convinced that this scam feeds off the naive wish of people to "help the environment". And unfortunately, those who want to "help the environment" are not very discriminating of what they get involved in. So there will always be the crowd of gullible people who the unscrupulous can tap into.

Jun 12, 2015 at 1:17 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Brilliant, Josh! As always, your 'toons are the next best thing to being there!

Meanwhile, back on the UNEP (i.e. IPCC "parent" and all-purpose unchartered doom and gloom "source" since '72) front ... in the last three years the number of privileged and participating ECOSOC "approved" NGO voices has increased by 972.

For the record, I've given up attempting to reconcile their 2014 numbers with those they published in 2011, which had yielded a "hockey stick" in which you can actually believe. As I had noted in that post, three years ago:

in 1946, four NGOs were granted “consultative status”. Between then and 2011, there were six years during which no NGOs were accredited: 1958, 1965, 1968, 1982, 1988 and 1992. Although it is within the realm of possibility that during each of these years a number of NGOs – who acquired their accreditation by virtue of their affiliation with other “UN agencies or bodies” – were added. The total of such NGOs, as of Nov. 2011, was 412.

Today's (admittedly unverified, as yet ... consistency in data presentation from one year to the next has never been a UN strength) big picture: A leap from 3108 (excluding the above-noted 412) at the end of 2011 to 4111 at the end of 2014.

P.S. Sorry, hit Submit too soon. It's also worth noting (as dung did above) that the "official" jargon has gradually been shifting from "carbon dioxide" to "carbon" - and that the carbon* counts (with or without "dioxide") are rapidly receding in favour of the infinitely more amorphous (and all-encompassing?!) "sustainab*" counts.

Post(s) on this coming as soon as I've mastered the mysteries of Win 8.1 (on a machine to which I have recently reluctantly resorted as a consequence of my rapidly deteriorating earlier Win machines)

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:45 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

not even an iclaudius?

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:34 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

"(surely he knows that cllimate is not the spelling of his main topic?)"

Ever so precise (as for accuracy, ummm...) with empirical estimates yet unable to see obvious detail-level mistakes. That about sums up the CO2-obsessed.

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

Sir David King is no Baron (aka Lord), and even the Grauniad admitted he apparently distorted the facts about ClimateGate and claims that a group of shadowy foreign agents or wealthy lobbyists had funded the attack on IPCC pseudoscience.

Jun 12, 2015 at 7:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

David King not enough for you? Well this sounds like fun:

Public lecture | International cooperation and climate change

(You can even get a CPD certificate!)

Jun 12, 2015 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

9:27 AM Robin Guenier

Jeremy Grantham's goons transparently on the make at the paid-for LSE ... the shame...

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Registered Commentertomo


Come to think of it, I do live on an i-land...

I really meant all things Apple, whose products were once memorably described as being either easy to use or impossible.

They also blotted their copybook in my eyes when they settled with the Beatles over the name Apple (remember the LP centre labels?) promising never to have anything to do with music! This seemed reasonable enough at the time, as they only made computers, but they forgot about it PDQ when it suited them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

We hit on IClaudius for my Motorola X phone, a lot smarter than it looks.

Spouse's macBook Air has been the source of much frustration as it repeatedly resists her efforts to do things in her perfectly rationale way, one that would prevail on almost every other modern OS.

Early solution was to run XP in a VritualBox VM. I can't bring myself to converting the whole thing to Classic Desktop Ubuntu Linux, which except for the old sparc10 is what i run everything else on.

Jun 12, 2015 at 1:39 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

King's heatwave graph (untitled and with uninformative axes) looked a bit odd to me when Ed Hawkins posted it on Twitter, so I asked Ed what it represented and he told me. I wrote a brief post about it on my own blog:

I've listened to King's commentary since and, although he states that the graph is an old one, at no point does he offer a caveat with respect to his alarmist projections of European heatwaves as 'normal' in 2050 using this same graph.

I think he also says 2003 was Europe's worse natural disaster. Who is he kidding?

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaime Jessop

“I think that the relationships of world weather are so complex that our only chance of explaining them is to accumulate the facts empirically" Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker

The Walker Institute's founder will not be happy.

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Best yet, Josh - and that's saying something! Donation on the way!

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Mean while, here in the world's greenest paradise

'Glasgow Airport has reported a rise in passenger numbers 13.3 per cent'

This is to cope with an equally large rise in the Scottish middle classes, 78% of whom are now Polish or Lithuanian. We call them i-mmigrants

Jun 13, 2015 at 6:20 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Nothing will happen in Paris, nothing is, has or will ever be done to reduce CO2 on a meaningful scale.

Europeans have become less competitive due to higher energy costs. That is the sum total of climate action.

Jun 13, 2015 at 6:26 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I thought it might be interesting to consider Sir David's belief that the Paris conference will succeed - but only as an "agreement to agree" (to hold more conferences, providing him, as Josh points out, with opportunities for yet more agreeable trips around the world) - in the light of some of his recent observations:

April 2014:

"Climate change is not ... the biggest challenge of our time, it's the biggest challenge of all time."

April 2015:

"This is the most important year in history since the United Nations was set up in 1945 in the wake of WWII.

"I don't think that we have another chance after this one. We are running out of time."


Sad really.

Jun 13, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

On the back of Nurse's flying shenanigans and Hunt's self confessed grandiose idiocy, it's hard to tolerate a Professor Sir who namesdrop on page 2. I really can't find any nobility in that. page 6 Demographics drives terrorism. Untrue.

Page 7: graph from 2011. Fail.

Page 9: risible temp graph. Fail.

Page 12: I'd use the same for a skeptical talk

Page 21: he's talking about the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. In 2012 they added in the concept of "ecological civilization" -something we all agree on if we never bother with the details.

Jun 13, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Page 24: focused research has always been pushed for by King, who once on TV tried to argue against funding basic science.

Page 25: watch the pin drop. He's advocating for reduced consumption and increased prices for non renewables. See Page 27, with data from 2013.

Page 30: cost target for storage is unbelievably high

Page 31 obviously designed by International Rescue. Didn't anyone in the audience laugh?

Page 32: why is he advocating a specific solution and what's this Varialift thingy doing onto the presentation?

Page 33: quote ironically could easily refer to King's folly

Jun 13, 2015 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered Commenteromnologos


Not to be churlish (love ya work!) but could we just have these notes thingies presented with a straight link to the full image please? Your (or the Bish's) image shower includes no scrollbars and is frankly more pain than it is worth. All modern browsers do a much better job.


[J: Not quite sure what you mean. It opens fine for me with scrollbars etc. What browser are you using?]

Jun 14, 2015 at 7:53 AM | Unregistered Commentermct

If I was an Anthropoligist, I would study the anti-CO2 tribe. If I could stop laughing!

Jun 15, 2015 at 3:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Using Firefox, and get not a scrollbar.

No biggie. I just hack the URL to get the image.

Jun 17, 2015 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered Commentermct

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