Published on:

An unfounded attack misses the mark

Here is my reply to an article on “Open democracy” criticising me.

I am surprised to read this lengthy attack on me and to find that no attempt was made to check the facts.

  1. It was Nuccitelli who was wrong. He chose one set of data, from Nasa, ignoring the other four sets, and used end-to-end measurement, not trend. It was Ward who was wrong on forests; as you say my remark was “correct” and in context there was nothing misleading about it. The increase in forest cover is happening in most countries with a GDP above $4000 per head, and arguably this is now a majority of the world. So Ward is out of date. As for whether my view is within the scientific consensus, I look forward to you criticizing any prediction of warming of more than 3 degrees as “outside the consensus” because it relies on the absurd assumptions of RCP 8.5, that we burn ten times as much coal in 2100 as today, that the sea fails to absorb CO2 as it does now and that sensitivity is very high. So you have found no “untruths” in my writings. It is unpleasant of you to insinuate otherwise.
  2. Bob Ward has had numerous letters published in the Times criticizing me, usually rudely and often wrongly. It is not a constitutional requirement in Magna Carta that every one of Mr Ward’s letters must be published. The letters editor may have tired of his rants for all I know. It appears that it is Mr Ward’s job description to get letters into newspapers attacking sceptics but not alarmists. It is not newspapers’ job to publish them.
  3. My peer review claim was correct. The GWPF has confirmed that the paper in question was subject to peer review very similar to that employed by journals. The Nature person was misinformed about this, perhaps by you.
  4. See above – the newspaper was right to correct an error about the paper not being peer reviewed. So there is no issue here.
  5. I am under no obligation to invade my own and others’ financial privacy over wayleaves for coal mining. I declare my interest. The blog you refer to has no basis for making the absurd estimate that it did.
  6. Once again, I do always declare my interest when it is relevant. The article you link to is about how to carry on international negotiations, not about energy and climate policy.
  7. I do declare my relationship with Owen Paterson frequently, though I am under no obligation to do so. I can comment on his work if I wish and he on mine: what difference does it make that we are friends and relatives?
  8. I have not written speeches for Owen Paterson – I helped redraft one speech after making suggested edits, leading to the mistaken charge that I wrote the whole thing. I would have been proud to do so: it was a very good speech on energy policy. If I commented on a speech of his and I had written it, then of course I would mention that. It’s absurd of you to insinuate otherwise on the basis of your own prejudice.
  9. The GWPF does not name its donors because they would be hounded by people like you. But none of them are or ever have been fossil fuel interests, as you know perfectly well, because GWPF says so frequently. I imagine it is funded by people who see evidence that climate policy is hurting the poor and rewarding the rich, and that it is justified by poor evidence and much exaggeration. I am extremely glad that it – almost alone – stands up for good science and good economics against the vast financial power of the green bullies that you support so slavishly.

I am genuinely surprised that you should have written this blog post without any attempt to check the facts.

By Matt Ridley | Tagged:  rational-optimist