Quotes of the Great

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know" BERTRAND RUSSELL

"Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature" JACOB BRONOWSKI

"The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he is one who asks the right questions" CLAUDE LEVI-STRAUSS

Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of it's domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary" ALBERT EINSTEIN

"Science is the disinterested search for the objective truth about the material world" RICHARD DAWKINS

"Four stages of acceptance:
i)this is worthless nonsense,
ii)this is an interesting but perverse point of view,
iii)this is true but quite unimportant,
i) I always said so." J.B.S. HALDANE

"A man ceases to be a beginner in any given science and becomes a master when he has learned that he is going to be a beginner all his life." ROBIN G. COLLINGWOOD

"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks." - WALLY BROECKER

"You are disturbing me, I am picking mushrooms" GREGORI PERELMAN

Benny Peiser hopes this is helpful

Re: seeking supporting evidence or clarification

Dear Mr McStone

Here is some more information for your blog readers. I hope this is helpful:

Only a quarter of Britons believe climate change is one of the most important environmental issues facing the UK today, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI and released to the Ecologist this week.

A poll for this week’s Climate Week found 45% of the younger generation think climate change is man-made but only 26% of people close to retiring age agree. And 56% of women are committed to changing their behaviour to be greener, compared to 44% of men.

The number of British people who are sceptical about climate change is rising, a poll for BBC News suggests. The Populus poll of 1,001 adults found 25% did not think global warming was happening, an increase of 10% since a similar poll was conducted in November. The percentage of respondents who said climate change was a reality had fallen from 83% in November to 75% this month. And only 26% of those asked believed climate change was happening and "now established as largely man-made".

With best regards

Dr Benny Peiser

Director, The Global Warming Policy Foundation

1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB

tel: 020 7930 6856


registered in England, no 6962749

registered with the Charity Commission, no 1131448

This e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

One for the GWPF's Inbox

From : Hengist McStone
To: Benny Peiser
17/04/2011 19:20
Subject: seeking supporting evidence or clarification

Dear Doctor Peiser,

Thank you for the copy of your script you sent me, which I have posted on my blog .

I don’t feel that any of the points I have put to you have been addressed, so please allow me to be a little more direct. The argument ‘that the public have made their minds up’ has been attributed to you . Do you think that is an accurate précis of your speech at the Royal Geographical Society? If so, please direct me to some evidence which supports the argument that the public have made their minds up.

My concern is that between Mr Montford’s account and your own a misrepresentation of the public’s view may have been made. I am simply seeking supporting evidence or clarification on that point.


Hengist McStone

Doctor Peiser shoots from the script

Benny Peiser responds below. He doesn't take issue with Andrew Montford's précis but the key question remains how is that statement "that the public have made their minds up "  supported? First thoughts: It strikes me as odd that for a man arguing that public concern is waning only offers a copy of his script to an enquiry from a member of the public asking to see support for the claim  "that the public have made their minds up. " If it's a fait accompli how was it accomplished ?

Dear Mr McStone

Thank you for your query. I have attached below my short contribution at the recent Spectator debate.

With best regards

Benny Peiser


The Global Warming Concern Is Over. Time for a Return to Sanity

Benny Peiser

The hype and obsession with global warming is well and truly over. How do we know? Because all the relevant indicators – polls, news coverage, government u-turns and a manifest lack of interest among policy makers – show a steep decline in public concern about climate change.

Public opinion is the crucial factor that determines whether policy makers advance or abandon contentious policies.

Surveys in the United Kingdom and other European nations reveal that the levels of concern about global warming have been falling steadily in recent years. Media coverage of climate change has dropped sharply. And, as I will show, some of the world's leading science institutions have begun to tone down the rhetoric and alarm about climate change.

The public's concern about global warming as a pressing problem is in marked decline not least because of the growing realisation that governments and the international community are ignoring the advice of climate campaigners.

Instead, most policy makers around the world refuse to accept any decisions that are likely to harm national interests and economic competitiveness.

They are assisted in this policy of benign neglect by a public that has largely become habituated to false alarms and is happy to ignore other claims of environmental catastrophe that are today widely disregarded or seen as scare tactics.

Part of the reason for the evident waning of public concern can be attributed to the issue-attention cycle, a concept developed by Anthony Downs in 1972.

According to the by now well established attention-cycle, certain environmental events can trigger public interest and concern. After a while, though, and even if the supposed problem remains unresolved, other issues replace the original concern because the huge costs to 'solve' the problem become apparent while boredom and fatigue set in.

That future impacts of global warming have been exaggerated by some climate scientists is now widely accepted. Even the government's chief scientific advisor, Professor Beddington, has criticised the failure to disclosure the manifest uncertainties in climate predictions about the rate and extent of climate change.

Let me quote Professor Beddington: "I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper scepticism. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can’t be changed."

I fully agree with Beddington. I also agree with Prof Beddington that uncertainty about aspects of climate science should not be used as an excuse for inaction.

However, what kind of political and economic action is most appropriate and most cost-effective cannot be decided on a whim of some scientists but only after careful economic, social and political considerations.

The Royal Society too has revised and toned down its position on climate change. Its new climate guide is certainly an improvement on their more alarmist 2007 pamphlet which caused an internal rebellion by more than 40 fellows of the Society and triggered a review and subsequent revisions.

The former publication gave the misleading impression that the 'science is settled' - the new guide accepts that important questions remain open and uncertainties unresolved. The Royal Society now also agrees with the GWPF that the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years.

In their old guide, the Royal Society demanded that governments should take "urgent steps" to cut CO2 emissions "as much and as fast as possible." This political activism has now been replaced by a more sober assessment of the scientific evidence and ongoing climate debates.

Last, but not least, the InterAcademy Council, an umbrella organisation of national science academies, was forced to review the IPCC after a number of scientific scandal had hit the UN-led climate body. The review revealed serious flaws and distortions in the IPCC's reports, its structure and its management.

Harold Shapiro, the IAC chairman, said the IPCC's review on the likely impacts of climate change “contains many statements that were assigned high confidence but for which there is little evidence.”

The Council also criticised the IPCC for over-emphasising the negative impacts of climate change, many of which were “not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or not expressed clearly.” The InterAcademy Council (IAC) has called for fundamental reforms of the IPCC. It recommends that, I quote, "review editors should ensure that genuine controversies are reflected in the report and be satisfied that due consideration was given to properly documented alternative views.”

It also recommends that, quote, "lead authors should explicitly document that a range of scientific viewpoints has been considered, and Coordinating Lead Authors and Review Editors should satisfy themselves that due consideration was given to properly documented alternative views.”

From these and other recommendations is it clear that the IPCC and many of its lead authors have been narrow-minded and have not take into account any other views than the 'mainstream' and that lead authors ignored views that did not tally with their own.

Let me conclude:

The scale and long-term effects of climate change will remain uncertain for decades to come.

Moreover, climate change will be generally gradual. This gradualism means that most people have become used to living with moderate warming, not least because the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt during the last decade.

In all likelihood, we will not know for the next 20 or 30 years who is right or wrong on the scale and impact of global warming. The stalemate in international climate negotiations is likely to become cemented for years to come.

As long as global temperatures remain more or less stable, as long as climate policies and green taxes are a growing political liability and as long as the deadlock between the West and the rest of the world lingers, we should not expect much progress in the heated climate debates.

Unless a significant warming trend re-emerges in the next 10 years, it will be near impossible to revive climate change as a major public concern. I believe we should use this time to restore reason and sanity to a debate that has become far too emotional and doom-laden and all too often depressingly intolerant.

Email to Benny Peiser

Subject: Fact or opinion or fiction at the Spectator Debate

Dear Dr. Peiser,

I am writing to ask how you support a statement you are said to have made at the recent Spectator Debate at the Royal Geographical Society. I rely on Andrew Montford’s account , who writes:

“Benny Peiser's talk was the one that intrigued me. He essentially argued that the science is irrelevant - that the public have made their minds up and that they vote out any party that pushes the green line too far. He also noted that they have moved on to other issues, such as the economy.”

I don’t mean to argue with your opinion, but I do ask commentators to distinguish between their own opinion and what is an accepted fact. I suggest that the statement “the public have made their minds up” whilst appearing as fact by way of completeness is unsupportable and is ergo opinion . There has been no referendum in this country, nor anywhere in the world (to my knowledge) to support such a statement. In order for the the public have made their minds up a proposition needs to have been put to them and the matter needs to have been considered. In a democracy there is always some formal way of assessing the public’s will, a plebiscite resulting in a counting of votes. No such formality has ever been attempted on this issue and the statement attributed to you appears to usurp the vox populus and bypass the democratic process.

I would be very grateful if you could affirm that your statement is not fact but your own opinion and offer anything else in support of this statement.

Salutations ,

Hengist McStone

Climate Debate - Start Here

Today's op-ed in the New York Times is making quite a splash. Entitled"The Truth, Still Inconvenient", Paul Krugman argues that a moral dimension is lacking in the so called 'debate' around global warming. His wise words really resonate with me, and I reproduce some of them, in the hope that this quotation ought to throw some light on the darkness . Professor Krugman over to you:

"For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage."

Did Benny Peiser make this bit up ?

This week a debate on global warming was held at The Royal Geographical Society. Sponsored by The Spectator magazine, it included  a couple of notable names from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Benny Peiser and Nigel Lawson.

Now I've been watching the climate scene for long enough to know that "debate" isn't really happening. Mudslinging , yes.  So I wasn't tempted to shell out thirty quid to watch something that was unlikely to really challenge my perceptions or inform me. Even though the line up also included the excellent Dr Simon Singh, whose book on codebreaking I am reading right now.

Instead I rely on Andrew Montford's account who writes: "Benny Peiser's talk was the one that intrigued me. He essentially argued that the science is irrelevant - that the public have made their minds up and that they vote out any party that pushes the green line too far." 

I wonder how Dr Peiser arrived at the line that 'the public have made their minds up'. No plebiscite has ever been called, nor any proposition put to the public. So how could any reasonable person reach this conclusion?  Dr Peiser, a sports psychologist with a background in anthropology is affiliated to the Global Warming Policy Foundation but he has not been elcted to speak for the public. And I am pretty sure I am right when I say that 'the public have made their minds up' is unsupportable.

Now I'm not quibbling that this is how things are working out,  but I suggest Dr Peiser is misrepresenting the public's view. I argue that the public have been largely misled, but the fact is there has been no plebiscite or referendum to support Dr Peiser's assertion. And I figure we really ought to get to the bottom of this. Perhaps it is more opinion dressed up as fact. Perhaps Montford's account was a little wide of the mark. Whatever , it looks like I shall have to email the great man himself.