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25/04/16

Green Enemies Of Freedom

Climate Change Lobby Wants To Kill Free Speech




The editor of this newspaper received a private letter last week from Lord Krebs and 12 other members of the House of Lords expressing unhappiness with two articles by its environment correspondent. Conceding that The Times’s reporting of the Paris climate conference had been balanced and comprehensive, it denounced the two articles about studies by mainstream academics in the scientific literature, which provided less than alarming assessments of climate change. Strangely, the letter was simultaneously leaked to The Guardian. The episode gives a rare glimpse into the world of “climate change communications”, a branch of heavily funded spin-doctoring that is keen to shut down debate about the science of climate change. --Matt Ridley, The Times, 25 April 2016
 
 
 
Then there’s the Climate Coalition, the Campaign against Climate Change, various publicly funded climate-communications groups inside universities, plus the green multinationals, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF, with their nine-figure budgets. And so on. Against this Goliath, one little David stands alone: the Global Warming Policy Foundation, with its budget of about £300,000, all privately donated and none from the fossil fuel industry. --Matt Ridley, The Times, 25 April 2016
 
 
 

Some of the world's most eminent scientists have written to the editor of UK newspaper The Times to complain about its coverage of climate science. They suggest the newspaper may be unduly influenced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which, despite its name, denies humans are causing climate change (sic). Baron John Krebs, a highly decorated biologist is behind the push, writing that the newspaper has become a "laughing stock" for publishing poor quality science. --Sara Phillips, ABC News, 21 April 2016


 
 

1) Matt Ridley: Climate Change Lobby Wants To Kill Free Speech
The Times, 25 April 2016
 
2) George F. Will: Scientific Silencers Are Trying To Shut Down Climate Skepticism
The Washington Post, 22 April 2016
 
3) Gallup: Most Americans No Longer Wish To Be Seen As Greenies
Gallup, 22 April 2016
 
4) Denmark’s Liberal Government To Roll Back Renewable Energy Policy
Jyllands-Posten, 22 April 2016
 
5) Forget Paris: US, China & Developing Nations Oppose Curbs On CO2 Emissions For Shipping
Climate Home, 21 April 2016

 
 
 
Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 16 states’ attorneys general and those of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science. Progressivism is already enforced on campuses by restrictions on speech that might produce what progressives consider retrograde intellectual diversity. Now, from the so-called party of science, a.k.a. Democrats, comes a campaign to criminalize debate about science. --George F. Will, The Washington Post, 22 April 2016
 
 
As Americans observe Earth Day, Gallup finds 42% of Americans identifying themselves as environmentalists, down from an average of 76% in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1991, the same high percentage of Republicans and Democrats — 78% — considered themselves environmentalists. Today, 27% of Republicans think of themselves that way, compared with 56% of Democrats, a partisan gap of 29 percentage points. One reason for the decline is that the environment has become politicized as an issue, especially in terms of the debate over climate change and how to address it. --Gallup, 22 April 2016 
 
 
The cost of Denmark’s renewable energy policy has been too high, according to Denmark’s climate and energy minister Lars Christian Lilleholt (Left-Liberal Party). The minister made the statement in response to a report by the climate and energy ministry to parliament which shows that subsidies for offshore windfarms – which are paid by businesses and citizens via their electricity bills – have increased dramatically compared to what was originally expected. In an interview with the newspaper Berlingske, the minister said that one had to accept that the price of the green energy transition is too high and that energy bills have to be cut as a result. --Jyllands-Posten, 22 April 2016
 
 
The US sided with emerging economies on Thursday against proposals to set a greenhouse gas emissions target for shipping. In contrast to President Barack Obama’s urgent rhetoric on climate action, the US envoy favoured an incremental approach at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. There should be no discussion of an emissions goal until data from individual ships has been gathered and analysed, argued Jeffrey Lantz. China’s delegation agreed it would be “premature”. --Megan Darby, Climate Home, 21 April 2016
 
 
 
 

1) Matt Ridley: Climate Change Lobby Wants To Kill Free Speech
The Times, 25 April 2016
 
 
A letter by peers about The Times’ coverage of global warming is part of a systematic campaign to shut down debate
 




The editor of this newspaper received a private letter last week from Lord Krebs and 12 other members of the House of Lords expressing unhappiness with two articles by its environment correspondent. Conceding that The Times’s reporting of the Paris climate conference had been balanced and comprehensive, it denounced the two articles about studies by mainstream academics in the scientific literature, which provided less than alarming assessments of climate change.
 
Strangely, the letter was simultaneously leaked to The Guardian. The episode gives a rare glimpse into the world of “climate change communications”, a branch of heavily funded spin-doctoring that is keen to shut down debate about the science of climate change.
 
The letter was not entirely the work of the peers but, I understand, involved Richard Black, once a BBC environment correspondent and now director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, an organisation that spends more than £500,000 a year, largely trying to influence the media.
 
The ECIU is part of a self-described “climate change rapid response community”, which jumps on newspapers that publish anything sceptical about global warming. Another £330,000 was spent by Carbon Brief, led by another ex-journalist, Leo Hickman of The Guardian. (There’s a revolving door between environmental journalism and Big Green.) Then there’s the Climate Coalition, the Campaign against Climate Change, various publicly funded climate-communications groups inside universities, plus the green multinationals, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF, with their nine-figure budgets. And so on.
 
Against this Goliath, one little David stands alone: the Global Warming Policy Foundation, with its budget of about £300,000, all privately donated and none from the fossil fuel industry. (I am on its academic advisory council, but receive no pay and make no donations. I have income indirectly from unsubsidised coal, and have refused income from subsidised solar and wind power.)
 
The GWPF often draws attention to the many studies ignored by greens that suggest climate change is not so dangerous, and to the economic and environmental harm done by climate policies. Remember the consensus is that global warming is “likely” to be anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful (0.3-4.8C this century). And predictions of doom usually prove exaggerated: eugenic deterioration, dietary fat, population growth, sperm counts, pesticides and cancer, mad cow disease, the effect of acid rain on forests. [...]
 
Climate policies are hitting mainly poor people while enriching mainly wealthy people. The lack of affordable electricity in poor countries is responsible for poverty and at least three million deaths a year from indoor smoke, yet western countries and international institutions largely refuse to support the cheapest source of electricity, fossil fuels. It is reasonable that journalists should occasionally report challenges to the evidence on which these policies are based.
 
Ironically, two days before the letter was leaked, Lord Krebs rightly denounced in parliament a ham-fisted new government rule on not using public money to lobby government, because it could effectively censor scientists from saying inconvenient things. Yet here he seems to be saying that The Times should censor inconvenient stories.
 
This episode is part of a systematic campaign. When I cover this topic I am vilified as on no other subject, and many journalists now steer clear of expressing any doubts. As long ago as 2005, the Royal Society wrote to editors “appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change”, by which they did not mean the cherry-picked data and inappropriate statistics just then being exposed in the “hockey-stick” and “hide the decline” fiascos.
 
In 2006 the BBC held a secret meeting, after which it decided to limit the airtime given to climate sceptics. It spent £140,000 on hiring six lawyers to avoid revealing that the 28 “best scientific experts” who attended actually included only a handful of scientists remotely connected with climate among mostly environmental lobbyists.
 
In 2013 Ed Davey, then secretary of state for energy and climate change, said “some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups”, by which he did not apparently mean The Guardian.
In 2014 the BBC upheld a complaint against itself for allowing Lord Lawson to discuss climate change at all, commenting bizarrely that his views “are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling”.
 
The Climategate emails leaked in 2009 revealed intimidation against academics and journal editors who voiced doubts about the forthcoming Armageddon. When Lennart Bengtsson, a distinguished climatologist, joined the GWPF’s scientific advisory board in 2014, the pressure was so “unbearable” that he withdrew, worried about his health and safety, “a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy”. Some distinguished scientists continue to brave the bullies, such as Judith Curry, Dick Lindzen, John Christy, Nic Lewis, Michael Kelly and David Legates, but others tell me they dare not put their heads above the parapet.
 
In 2013 The Los Angeles Times said it would “no longer publish letters from climate change deniers”, in which category it included sceptics. The following year Professor Roger Pielke Jr quit Nate Silver’s 538 website following a campaign against him. Professor Pielke had argued with impeccably detailed evidence that, although he was no sceptic, “the increased cost of natural disasters is not the result of climate change”.
 
This month, the attorneys-general of 16 US states issued subpoenas against a think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an attempt to silence its climate dissent. The Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle lambasted this decision, saying: “I support action on climate change . . . But that doesn’t mean I’m entitled to drive people who disagree with me from the public square.”
 
If peers demanded a newspaper stop covering studies that argue economic growth is going to fall short of the consensus, they would get short shrift. We can’t criticise Russia or Turkey for shutting down newspapers if we censor scientific doubters. Free speech matters.
 
Full op-ed
 
 
 
 

2) George F. Will: Scientific Silencers Are Trying To Shut Down Climate Skepticism
The Washington Post, 22 April 2016
 
Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 16 states’ attorneys general and those of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science.


Four core tenets of progressivism are: First, history has a destination. Second, progressives uniquely discern it. (Barack Obama frequently declares things to be on or opposed to “the right side of history.”) Third, politics should be democratic but peripheral to governance, which is the responsibility of experts scientifically administering the regulatory state. Fourth, enlightened progressives should enforce limits on speech (witness IRS suppression of conservative advocacy groups) in order to prevent thinking unhelpful to history’s progressive unfolding.
 
Progressivism is already enforced on campuses by restrictions on speech that might produce what progressives consider retrograde intellectual diversity. Now, from the so-called party of science, a.k.a. Democrats, comes a campaign to criminalize debate about science.
 
“The debate is settled,” says Obama. “Climate change is a fact.” Indeed. The epithet “climate change deniers,” obviously coined to stigmatize skeptics as akin to Holocaust deniers, is designed to obscure something obvious: Of course the climate is changing; it never is not changing — neither before nor after the Medieval Warm Period (end of the 9th century to the 13th century) and the Little Ice Age (1640s to 1690s), neither of which was caused by fossil fuels.
 
Today, debatable questions include: To what extent is human activity contributing to climate change? Are climate change models, many of which have generated projections refuted by events, suddenly reliable enough to predict the trajectory of change? Is change necessarily ominous because today’s climate is necessarily optimum? Are the costs, in money expended and freedom curtailed, of combating climate change less than the cost of adapting to it?
 
But these questions may not forever be debatable. The initial target of Democratic “scientific” silencers is ExxonMobil, which they hope to demonstrate misled investors and the public about climate change. There is, however, no limiting principle to restrain unprincipled people from punishing research entities, advocacy groups and individuals.
 
But it is difficult to establish what constitutes culpable “misleading” about climate science, of which a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report says: “Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).” Did Al Gore “mislead” when he said seven years ago that computer modeling projected the Arctic to be ice-free during the summer in as few as five years?
 
Full post
 
 

3) Gallup: Most Americans No Longer Wish To Be Seen As Greenies
Gallup, 22 April 2016
 
PRINCETON, N.J. — As Americans observe Earth Day, Gallup finds 42% of Americans identifying themselves as environmentalists, down from an average of 76% in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
 

Trend: Americans' Self-Identification as "an Environmentalist"
 
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Environment poll, conducted March 2-6.
 
When last asked, in 2000, 47% of Americans identified as environmentalists, which in turn was down from 63% in 1995. In 1991 — one year after Earth Day became a global event celebrated each April 22 — a high of 78% of Americans described themselves that way.
 
One reason for the decline is that the environment has become politicized as an issue, especially in terms of the debate over climate change and how to address it.
 
In 1991, the same high percentage of Republicans and Democrats — 78% — considered themselves environmentalists. Today, 27% of Republicans think of themselves that way, compared with 56% of Democrats, a partisan gap of 29 percentage points.
 

Trend: Americans' Self-Identification as "an Environmentalist," by Political Party
 
Additionally, many fewer Democrats consider themselves environmentalists today (56%) than did so 25 years ago (78%). So there has been a broader decline in personal environmentalism at the same time that the environment has turned into more of a Democratic than Republican issue.
 
There does not appear to be a strong generational element to identifying as an environmentalist — 46% of 18- to 29-year-olds describe themselves that way, compared with between 39% and 43% of older age groups. There were only modest age differences in 1991 as well.
 
Another possibility for the decline is that the “environmentalist” term may just be less commonly used than it was 25 years ago and may not resonate with Americans as much as it did in the past.
 
To some degree, too, the term “environmentalism” may be associated with protestors who have taken more radical actions to protect the environment against perceived threats. The Gallup survey does not attempt to define the word “environmentalist” for respondents, so their likelihood of identifying themselves that way, now or in the past, depends on their own understanding of the label.
 
Also, many environmentally sensitive actions are now commonplace. As a result, it may take more significant action than recycling or conserving energy for one to consider oneself an environmentalist today, but that may not have been the case in the past.
 
Full post
 
 
 

4) Denmark’s Liberal Government To Roll Back Renewable Energy Policy
Jyllands-Posten, 22 April 2016
 
Denmark’s climate and energy minister warns that the country’s green energy transition has become too expensive and too unpopular.
 


Danish Climate and Energy Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt (Left Liberal Party) 
 
The cost of Denmark’s renewable energy policy has been too high, according to Denmark’s climate and energy minister Lars Christian Lilleholt [Left-Liberal Party].
 
The minister made the statement in response to a report by the climate and energy ministry to parliament which shows that subsidies for offshore windfarms – which are paid by businesses and citizens via their electricity bills – have increased dramatically compared to what was originally expected.
 
In an interview with the newspaper Berlingske, the minister said that one had to accept that the price of the green energy transition is too high and that energy bills have to be cut as a result.
 
One option would be to reassess support for offshore windfarms. Their cost has increased significantly and there is increasing local resistance against them. Cutting subsidies for offshore windfarms could save the public money.
 
Translation GWPF
 
Full story (in Danish)
 
 

5) Forget Paris: US, China & Developing Nations Oppose Curbs On CO2 Emissions For Shipping
Climate Home, 21 April 2016
 
Megan Darby
 
The US sided with emerging economies on Thursday against proposals to set a greenhouse gas emissions target for shipping.
 
In contrast to President Barack Obama’s urgent rhetoric on climate action, the US envoy favoured an incremental approach at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.
 
There should be no discussion of an emissions goal until data from individual ships has been gathered and analysed, argued Jeffrey Lantz. China’s delegation agreed it would be “premature”.
 
That stance was at odds with European countries and some island states calling for shipping to do its “fair share” of global efforts to hold warming below 2C, as agreed in Paris.
 
Even the usually conservative International Chamber of Shipping agreed that work on a long-term goal complemented rather than conflicted with data collection.

In an unusual intervention, IMO chief Kitack Lim told delegates: “I don’t think it is appropriate to kill our thinking about how we address the long term issues until we finalise the 3-step procedure.”
 
As a compromise, delegates at the International Maritime Organization in London agreed to a working group for “an in-depth discussion on how to further progress this item” in October.
 
Full story 

 
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