Rupert Darwall: The Age of Global Warming

If you haven’t read Rupert Darwall’s book “The Age of Global Warming: A History” please do so. There’s an excellent summary in a speech given by Darwall at the GWPF book launch on 27th March 2013 at

http://www.thegwpf.org/rupert-darwall-age-global-warming/

There are also good reviews at

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/non_fictionreviews/10748667/The-game-is-up-for-climate-change-believers.html

in the Spectator

http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/8883981/the-greatest-scare-story/

and at BishopHill

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/8/5/book-review-the-age-of-global-warming.html

while there are interesting comments by Richard Drake and others at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/3/6/costs-exceed-benefits.html

The Telegraph review attracted over nine thousand comments, few, alas from people who had read the book, or even intended to. Christopher Booker in the Spectator points out that it’s only the second book to have tackled the subject of global warming as political history, the first being his own “The Real Global Warming Disaster”, which ended before the 2009 Copenhagen débacle.
The originality of the book lies in the fact that it is a book of political history, though it gives an adequate account of the science, and of the pseudo-science which informed the politics of environmentalism in books like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”. The politics, with its huge, changing cast of characters and endless, bafflingly titled conferences and policy papers, is treated chronologically, enabling those of us who weren’t around in the seventies and eighties, or (in my case) who weren’t paying attention, to begin to make sense of the evolution of this monstrous affair.
The input of particularly active behind-the-scenes operators like Maurice Strong and Barbara Ward is highlighted, and there are scores of fascinating character studies to lighten what is inevitably a sometimes tedious account of COP meetings in one darned exotic location after another. The effect is sometimes like reading a pile of holiday brochures on tropical paradise locations which contain nothing but the small print warnings about risks and the non-applicability of insurance in case of non-compliance.
Most people reading this article will probably learn little new about the science from Darwall’s book. He deals adequately with the Hockeystick affair and Climategate, though unfortunately out of chronological order (inevitably, since Climategate had its effect in 2009 on the Copenhagen conference, but concerned events surrounding the IPCC and the Hockeystick affair much earlier). He gives credit to McIntyre and McKitrick for their work on rebutting the worst excesses of climate pseudo-science, but hardly mentions the role of sceptics or sceptic blogs in general. The long discussion of the Hockeystick and the Caspar and Amann paper surely merits a footnote citing Montford’s “Hockeystick Illusion” and “Caspar and the Jesus Paper”, and it seems churlish not to mention the role of the likes of Anthony Watts, Jo Nova, and Donna Laframboise in revealing the weaknesses of the science and the machinations of the bureaucrats.
What I gained most from the book is a historical perspective of events which no-one can have except those inside the circle of activists and bureaucrats who were carrying the process along. Even the politicians who made the headline decisions were only sporadically involved, and their short attention spans and periods in power make them secondary characters most of the time.
One of the most important points in the book involves the smashing of the myth of American climate policy seesawing between the views of Big Oil Bush and the saintly Gore. Darwall demonstrates convincingly that American policy consistently aimed to protect American interests (who’d have thought it?) while staying broadly in line with the environmental objectives of the rest of the world. The tensions in the American camp were between different arms of government, but Republican-appointed negotiators consulted their Democrat predecessors and vice versa. European climate policy, on the other hand, involved consultations between 27 different Ministers of the Environment, each one of them representing the tiny Green lobby in their respective electorates. No wonder European climate policy has been a monument of collective insanity.
The main thrust of Darwall’s argument is that there was never the slightest chance of the developing world signing up to emissions reductions that would limit their economic growth, and this is as true now as it was in 1972. And yet the official French government webpage devoted to the Paris 2015 COP21 meeting announces that they are expected to do just that. Never was Einstein’s definition of madness more apposite. And it applies to the governments of the entire developed world.
The book is not perfect. David Rose, in a review in the Mail on Sunday quoted on the back page (which I couldn’t find on-line) calls it beautifully written. Darwall certainly has an excellent stock of ironic one-liners, but the proof reading is sloppy, and an awful lot of grammatical mistakes have slipped through. On the very first page is a quote from Popper (one of many) that seems to have been cut short, forcing the careful reader to stop and read it three times in puzzlement. This happens on page after page, and though it doesn’t affect the force of the argument, it spoiled the pleasure for this reader.

Though Darwall gives as thorough an account of the evolution of the global warming story as it’s possible to do in a single book, he doesn’t really provide a satisfactory causal explanation. This is no criticism of his work, since it will probably take a generation of social scientists and historians to do such a thing. The story starts, chronologically, with a couple of marginal scientists, continues via weird far right pre-war environmentalist groups, to pop science authors like Carson and Ehrlich who inspired a generation of green activist scientists and bureaucrats, who got the ears of the politicians. But How? And why now and here? And what happens next? There are still many unanswered questions, and Darwall’s book is a great point to start from for anyone interested in seeking answers.
` ` `
I found the Darwall book in Waterstone’s, a place I detest, but my visits to England are brief and I didn’t have the choice. I was searching the non-fiction floor looking for the sections entitled “Environment” or “Ecology”, and found only “Popular Science”, arranged bizarrely alphabetically by author (Dawkins, Gribbin, Singh…). Then, sandwiched between pop science and astronomy was a tiny section called “Weather” with books about clouds and stuff, and three oddities: Darwall, Emmott and Lynas.
Could this be a sign of the times? Is Environmentalism over? Are Waterstone’s marketing men the canaries in the coal mine who’ve discovered something the politicians and journalists haven’t yet twigged?

Posted in Lives of the Climate Bloggers, Sociology of Climate Change, Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

Chambers v the Guardian: Press Complaints Commission’s Decision

My complaint to to the Press Complaints Commission about an article by Dana Nuccitelli in the Guardian which accused Frontiers of giving in to bullying in retracting Lewandowsky’s “Recursive Fury” paper has been rejected. This is their decision. (emphasis mine).

Commission’s decision in the case of Chambers v The Guardian
The complainant was concerned about coverage of the withdrawal of a scientific paper. The article stated that the journal Frontiers had withdrawn the paper in question due to pressure from climate change contrarians. It had linked to a blog post discussing the matter, in which the complainant was named as someone who had contacted the journal to criticise the paper. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
Clause 1 (i) states that “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures”. The Commission noted the complainant’s position that Frontiers had not been “bullied” into withdrawing the paper, an assertion for which he considered the newspaper had no evidence and was contradicted by the journal’s retraction statement. The Commission noted that the article had included a statement from the journal which stated that it had received complaints about the paper, and that though it did not consider that it raised any academic or ethical issues, it had retracted it for legal reasons. The Commission acknowledged that the complainant objected to the use of the term “bully”, both in the article and in below-the-line comments, to refer to actions taken by critics of the paper. It made clear, however that, used in this context, the term “bully” represented the journalists’ interpretations of events. It was clear from the article that the grounds of reference for this interpretation were the letters sent to the journal. The complainant was not in a position to dispute the journal’s statement regarding the complaints it had received as a whole, beyond the complaint that he himself had submitted. Under the terms of Clause 1 (iii) the press is free to report comment and conjecture, “provided it is clearly distinguished from fact”. The author of the article was entitled to express the opinion that the actions of the complainant and others amounted to bullying. As such, there was no breach of Clause 1.
The Commission noted that the complainant had objected to the fact that the article had linked to a blog post which named him as one of those who had contacted the journal to request that the paper be retracted. He was concerned that this amounted to an inaccurate assertion that he was a bully. The Commission once more referred to its position that the term “bully” was an interpretation of the complainant’s actions. It noted that the complainant had not disputed that he had contacted Frontiers to criticise the paper, an action which was cited as one reason for its withdrawal. In the circumstances, the Commission did not establish that the link to the blog had engaged the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
Which is fair enough, frankly. It’s a free country, and Nuccitelli is at liberty to call me a bully on his blog, just as I am free to call Lewandowsky a liar and a charlatan and Nuccitelli his bumwiper-in-chief. Blogs being blogs, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will take the legal action which would establish who is right and who is wrong.
At the origin of this dispute was a peer-reviewed scientific paper by Lewandowsky, Cook and others which stated that McIntyre, Watts, JoNova and I were irrational beings suffering from feelings of persecution. Lewandowsky’s response to all criticism has been either to ignore it, or to state that the only proper response to a peer-reviewed paper is to write another peer-reviewed paper criticising it.
This is unlikely to happen, since the problem with the Lewandowsky-Cook paper is not that it contains some inaccuracies, but that it is a pile of nonsense from beginning to end, from the first citation of a paper by its peer reviewer Dr Swami (“a study of anti-semitism among ethnic Malays found that there was no significant anti-semitism among ethnic Malays”) to the final Summary Table Three that stated that four named bloggers and one pseudonymous blog commenter were paranoid idiots responsible for launching conspiracy theories which weren’t conspiracy theories. The paper was trash, not worth the aether it was published in, and the publishers “New Frontiers in Psychological Science” have been neatly revealed by Lewandowsky’s Vice-Bumwiper Graham Readfearn as promoters of a Ponzi scheme for ambitious academic charlatans in possession of an irresistible urge to publish and a capacity for mutual backscratching that would try the patience of a rhinoceros with anal pruritis.
Somewhere on the scale of seriousness between the scientific paper, whose veracity is guaranteed by the peer review system, and the blog, where any vile accusation can be made with equanimity, lies the newspaper of reference (and lies, and lies, and lies…). This may be the voice of authority, like the Times, the New York Times, or le Monde, or the voice of protest, like Libération, Repubblica, or the Guardian.
The Guardian is certainly the doyen of radical newspapers. It opposed England’s support for the slave states in the American Civil War; it opposed British entry into the Great War and Blair’s Iraqi adventure, and it has honourably opposed the use of torture by British and American governments post 9-11 (as has Professor Lewandowsky, praised be his name).
The Guardian has always taken a great interest in environmental questions, and hence in global warming. It gave quite a lot of space to the contrarian views of Bjorn Lomborg up until about 2009. Then it stopped. For global warming is not simply a scientific fact attested by the IPCC and every responsible scientific body on the planet, it’s also official Guardian editorial policy, according to their environmental editor.
Making predictions of future temperature official editorial policy is pretty odd, but the Guardian is a pretty odd paper. (So are the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Libération and Repubblica, but that’s another story). Editor Rusbridger was boasting a couple of years ago about having ten or eleven full-time environmental correspondents, each one with a couple of degrees. But Hickman, Vidal, Harrington, Monbiot and the others no longer comment on global warming. They leave it to their associate bloggers Nuccitelli and Abraham, who are no more qualified than you or I to comment on the subject. Abraham s an engineering lecturer who came to prominence with an 80 minute rambling anti-Monckton audio diatribe which was praised to the skies by Monbiot. Nuccitelli is Cook’s Jerk-of-all-Trades at SkepticalScience. The Guardian publishes his regular defences of Cook and Lewandowsky’s pseudo-scientific charlatanism, without ever revealing his links with the charlatans he’s defending. It’s their right. As the Press Complaints Commission points out, it’s only opinion.
“Comment is free, but facts are sacred” is the quote from Guardian editor C.P.Scott which adorns every blog article on their site. The key fact about global warming is that it hasn’t been happening for 17 years, but if you exercise your freedom to comment on this sacred fact at the Guardian, you’re liable to have your freedom to comment removed. Comment is free, but facts are scary.
The Guardian, by embracing Global Warming as a religious principle, has abandoned any pretensions it might have to being a centre for rational discussion. Of course I regret the suicide of Britain’s foremost radical journal, but there we are. It’s their choice. This year or next the Guardian (and the Independent) will probably cease to exist, and there will be no serious centre-left daily to criticise the totalitarian tendencies of governments of left or right in Britain, which is a pity.
The Press Complaints Commission dealt with my complaint in an exemplary fashion. They came back to me with intelligent demands, and I can’t fault their decision. Nuccitelli has every right to express his opinion of me and Steve McIntyre on the Guardian’s site, and the Guardian’s readers (or those who are allowed to comment) have every right to react accordingly.
The pity is that open-minded readers who value the Guardian’s courageous stand on such matters as Snowden and the US spying scandals are turned off reading their nasty little narrow minded rag because of their bonkers stand on global warming. Just as the Lewandowsky affair has turned me off reading peer-reviewed scientific papers. “Why should I believe anything these wankers say?” is my gut reaction to any claim made in a peer-reviewed article in social science. Or, as the original Latin has it: “Nullius in Verba.”

Posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Stephan Lewandowsky | 6 Comments

We’ll Always Have Paris, 2015

Next year’s meeting of the UNFCCC in Paris promises to put climate change back on the front pages. While serious people will be examining closely the policies of China, India, the USA, and other functioning economies, I’ll be keeping a close watch on what’s happening in France.
Election hysteria will be at fever pitch by December 2015, given that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be a mere 18 months away. The political microclimate will be in chaos, abuzz with the only question which counts in the coming French presidential election: who will be chosen to have the honour of coming second behind the ultra-right-wing Marine Le Pen? (Everyone accepts that Marine Le Pen will win the first round, with up to 30% of the vote. But with 70% of the electorate saying they would never vote for her, it’s who comes second, and therefore goes through to the second round, which counts).
On the right, it looks like being Nicolas Sarkozy again, unless one of his rivals has the courage to come out and say what everybody knows: that Sarkozy has six or seven teams of examining magistrates on his tail, for a variety of suspected crimes ranging from corrupting high court judges to taking multi-million euro bribes from Colonel Ghadaffi. He may be cleared of all suspicion, or he may find himself in a police cell on the eve of the election. No-one knows.
On the left, the possible candidates include the current left-of-centre President François Hollande, his right-of-left-of-centre Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and anybody else who thinks they could do better than the most unpopular French President in history.
Among the latter group will certainly be his minister of ecology, Segolène Royal, unsuccessful socialist candidate for the presidency in 2007, and mother of President Hollande’s four children.
The 2015 UNFCCC Paris conference will propel her into the political limelight (though France’s climate negotiations are apparently in the hands of ex-Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius). While serious people will be discussing carbon offsets and other climatey stuff, the French electors will be watching Segolène flash her eyelashes as she courts the 90% of French electors who think that nuclear is rubbish, renewables are marvellous, valiant peasants who block airport runways with their tractors are heroes, and anything would be better than another five years of Hollande.
I’m limbering up for this event by commenting on French Lefty Green blogs, which demands a certain intellectual effort, and the use of corners of my brain which haven’t been exercised since French O-level more than fifty years ago. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share with you a sample of the kind of exchange which passes for discussion of things climatic in France.
This dates from 2009. It’s an interview with Michel Rocard, who was socialist Prime Minister during François Mitterand’s second presidential term, and who was named by incoming right wing president Sarkozy to head a commission to advise on ways to tackle climate change. This is an extract from his radio interview on France Info, translated from the transcription 30th July 2009 at

http://www.skyfall.fr/?p=385

Michel Rocard: The principle is that the Earth is protected from excessive solar radiation by the greenhouse effect, that’s to say a kind of cloudy protection, I mean a gaseous protection, which in the atmosphere is relatively opaque to sunlight. And when we emit carbon dioxide or methane or nitrous oxide – a thingy which is found in agricultural fertilizers – we attack these gases, it reduces the protection of the greenhouse effect and the planet is slowly turning into a frying pan.
The result would be that the great-grandchildren of our great-grandchildren will no longer be able to live. Life will come to an end in seven or eight generations. It’s completely terrifying. So to do that, we must reduce what is emitted as carbon monoxide and began by addressing the major sources of that, which are the production of electricity and the manufacture of such things as cement, concrete, steel, aluminum or plastics that consume a lot of energy in their production. And to do that, we’ve invented quotas, it’s an invention that was made by the Kyoto Protocol, whose application in the European Union, twenty-seven countries, covers all electricity producers and manufacturers of materials, which are subject to emission ceilings. If they need to produce more, and thus emit more, they need to buy. It is a cost, so a kind of tax, they must buy quotas on the quota market.
Unfortunately this only applies to producers of energy and materials. For transportation, for agriculture, for heating our apartments, for our private motoring, there is nothing. And so in the case of Germany, these quotas are aimed at 60% of the production because it makes all its coal-fired electricity from the production of carbonic gases. It makes all it’s electricity from carbon. We make most of our electricity from nuclear, so we have less, but the quotas still only concern 40% of all our production of carbonic gas. And so we need something else.
So, the other thing is an idea of a deterrent tax. It is called the climate-energy contribution. Meaning that perhaps in the future, we will have to take care of other gases, methane and nitrous oxide, but later. We begin by carbon monoxide – carbon dioxide, sorry -, in order to get used to the change, and then to push for the bigger prize. After all it is two thirds of the total greenhouse gas emissions. This tax will mean higher prices for our energy consumption, hoping we will adjust the range so that it puts, so that it weighs as much on electricity from coal, gas, fuel, and it weighs as much on petrol as on heating oil for example. This tax should be implemented fairly soon. We could have tried to tax everything we sell in supermarkets, all the things that we buy there, based on the content of carbon dioxide in their manufacture. It was too complicated, it would have meant taking questionable decisions – never very certain, so we preferred to tax upstream, that is to say the energy consumption itself, and that is what the tax will hit.
Interviewer: It will hit everyone, everyone who uses…
Rocard: It must hit everyone, otherwise people won’t feel that it’s fair. We are facing a rather strange situation. Nobody denies the need to avoid roasting our great-grandchildren like whiting in a frying pan, that we need to go ahead with this. Everyone agrees on condition that the harshness of the tax – because it is nasty, it’s going to hurt – that the pain should be shared by everyone and there should be no exceptions or exemptions.
Interviewer: So you want it to be reimbursed to the poorest households.
Rocard: So, in fact, not only the poorest, in fact the poorest, the middle income households, but above all those who, because they live far away, because they are in rural areas…
Interviewer: …so have to use their car…
Rocard: They are forced to take their car, including those who work nights or unsocial hours where there is no subway or train to get there or bus..
Interviewer: It’s the case for us journalists who work mornings.
Rocard: Absolutely, we have to find, it’s complicated to do, the tax administration is working on it. We must find ways to exempt them. There are also complete trades, agriculture, fishing, taxi drivers, in which we must find ways to make the business economically feasible despite the tax. So, the tax must play a role in changing behaviour but it mustn’t murder people.
Interviewer: So in fact, if this tax …
Rocard: We’ve been working to find ways of not killing people.
Interviewer: It will bring in eight billion euros to the state. But if it doesn’t happen, the joke will be on you.
Rocard: It will be reimbursed largely by separating profoundly what is paid by households, that must be used to compensate the extra cost to households, from what is paid by companies which must be used offset what is paid by companies. Households must in no case have the impression that they’re contributing to the proper functioning of the economy and the functioning of businesses. That would be a disaster. So it’s hard to do and our recommendations to the tax administration that will organize it all in detail and above all organize the refunds are strict.
Interviewer: You have the full support of the Greens and Daniel Cohn Bendit, who came second in the European elections. I imagine you must be pleased about that.
Rocard: Yes, it is nice that they understand that we take these things seriously. Uh! the government is strong. I think we have had no objection to the principle of the tax. There will be plenty of fighting about the details, but we have had no objection to the principle of the tax from either the Socialist or the Communist Parties. Everyone knows that it can’t be avoided. So we must do it well.
Interviewer: Very quickly Michel Rocard, what are you going to do now that your report is in? What are your projects?
Rocard: I have a permanent mission which is that I’m French ambassador in charge of of the international negotiations concerning the Poles. And that’s very difficult because the Antarctic is more or less saved. It’s because I’m the father of the protocol which protects the environment in the Antarctic that they launched me into this affair.
In the Arctic, on the other hand, until five years ago no-one talked about it. It was something that only concerned poets, scientific researchers and explorers, that’s all. No-one went there. Since global warming we realise that we can go there and practise fishing and tourism, and that for two months of the summer big ships will be able to go round the North Pole via Siberia or Canada to go from Europe to Japan or China. That cuts 5000 kilometres off the journey. Everyone will be going there, and what’s more it’s full of petrol. Now, oil exploration represents an ecological threat.
Interviewer: We’ll have the chance…
Rocard: Putting all that in order is a long business and there’ll be some real battles…

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Four Plugs and a Funeral

I note that dozens of people continue to come here, although there’s nothing new to see. Apologies. There are several reasons for this.
One: I’ve been busy.
Two: I’m waiting for the result of my representation to the Press Complaints Commission about Nuccitelli’s two articles at Guardian Environment defending Lewandowsky and Cook against us “bullies”. It’s a minor skirmish in the climate wars, but one which concerns me directly. My correspondence with the PCC has been amicable and constructive, and I’m hoping to be able to provide a full report here later this month.
Three: I’m experiencing a certain lassitude, and I note that I’m not the only one. Getting Lewandowsky and Cook’s paper “Recursive Fury” retracted counts as a significant victory in this tiny corner of the climate sceptic internet. I can claim some of the glory for getting the paper retracted with the other – far more important – bloggers who were named in the paper – Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, and Joanne Nova. We all complained (and so did others, and if they want to out themselves here, please feel free). Our complaints were heard by the publishers, and Lewandowsky has retired, licking his wounds. (And I, a socialist defender of state institutions like the BBC, am forced to reflect on the relative efficacity of pressure on state and private institutions – but that’s a discussion for another time.)
After a certain modest success, I feel like giving up. I note that something similar happened at

http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/~newbery1/blog/

after Tony Newbery’s success in publicising the scandal of the BBC’s climate seminar involving 28 “scientific experts” who turned out to be 28 mates of the organiser of the seminar, none of them active scientific experts, as was revealed by Maurizio Morabito at his blog,

http://omnologos.com/read-this-about-twentyeightgate-28gate/

Both Tony and Maurizio seemed to lose interest in the subject soon after their successful revelations of the BBC’s lies. OK, the revelation that the BBC was ready to employ a posse of barristers to defend their lies would discourage the most fervent activist.
There’s a psychological effect at work here I think which would explain the failure of many revolutionary movements. It’s expressed well by Gertrude Stein, who was a revolutionary in her own way, in her writings and in her support for her artistic colleagues, when she said: “When you you get there, there’s no there there.”
That’s not an observation likely to encourage activism.
Until I start to blog again, I’d like to mention a couple of colleagues who haven’t been discouraged.
Alex Cull continues to publish transcripts of media material on climate subjects at

https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home

I’ve given him a few helping hands, and until recently I’d been disappointed that others haven’t done the same. Recently Fay Kelly Tuncay and tlitb1 (aka The Leopard in the Basement) have provided transcripts, indicating the beginning of a co-operative movement.
Alex also blogs at http://alexjc38.wordpress.com
on “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Go there.
A more recent blog is Paul Matthew’s at

http://ipccreport.wordpress.com/

aimed at countering the Ministry of Truth which has become the IPCC. The most recent article

http://ipccreport.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/robin-guenier-responds-to-jonathan-rowson/

recounts Robin Guenier’s reply to a paper by the RSA. OK, you know nothing about Robin Guenier or the RSA. Prepare to be surprised.
At HarmlessSky I learnt of the death of one of that blog’s most faithful commenters. Farewell Max, and thanks for many a perceptive comment. This is the nature of internet interactions. No doubt we’ll one day create an adequate response. In the meantime, those who have not known Max can get to know him via

http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/?p=723

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Guardian Correspondence (2)

This is the reply I received 29 April 2014 from the Guardian Readers’ Editor:

Dear Mr Chambers,

The role of the readers’ editor is, indeed, to investigate a complaint and come to a conclusion. When we have come to a conclusion with which a complainant disagrees she or he is free to use any alternative course of action that an individual feels open to her or him. I have now reviewed your complaint with colleagues. In my view, it is unfounded.  

First, I believe that the letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA, the magazine, which led to their decision to pull their link to the researcher’s article (http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/Recursive%20FOI%20complaints.pdf) and obtained in an anonymised form through an FOI request, provide clear evidence of both a bullying tone and threats of legal action.  For instance, one piece of correspondence dated 30 April 2013 from a complainant refers to a researcher whose name is redacted, suggesting (at page 12) the university must be ‘greatly relieved that this third rate academic has left UWA’ and that his research is ‘nonsense’.  The same letter complains about a previous response to the complainant from an ‘underling tame professor’.  Other letters/emails of complaint make threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’.  Further examples of correspondence accuse one of the researchers involve of ‘falsifying data’ and the ‘alleged data fraud’.

A complainant in the FOI correspondence also alleges defamation against the researchers.  An email dated 5 April 2013 repeatedly uses the word defamation.  The reply from Frontiers of the same date makes clear that they removed their link to the article complained of because of the allegation of defamation (see page 22 of the correspondence).  A previous email dated 5 April 2013, apparently from the same complainant, says (at page 29) ‘I should also remind that, if this proceeds to legal action, any court or tribunal would take a very poor view of you attempting to impose an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline….’

On 4th April, a complainant (presumably the same one) wrote (at page 30): ‘I have sought legal advice which confirmed…I could potentially have a defamation action against the authors and publishers of this paper’. The same email says: ‘Obviously, I understand that any legal action would have to be prosecuted under my real identity.’

Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: “I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.” I disagree. That is a bullying tone.

You and Steve McIntyre are not mentioned in the Guardian article. You are both featured in Redfern’s blog.  Redfearn links to both your own online publications regarding this matter: your point of view and your own statements are included in the Redfearn blog that mentions them.  Your comments, Mr Chambers, also appear with that article.  You have both already ‘replied’ or had your views reflected in the same places you are named.  There is no need for a further reply in the Guardian and I don’t propose to take any further action. You are, as I said at the beginning, free to take any other action that you feel is open to you. I am unable to help you any further.

best wishes

Chris Elliott

_______________________________________________

I replied today as follows:

Dear Mr Elliott,

Thank you for your reply of 29 April. I’ve been away on holiday, which is why I haven’t replied before. In the interest of bringing this long and tedious correspondence to a close, it might be useful to summarise it. My first letter of March 30th began:

 “I’m writing to complain about this article which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre”.

After a description of the defamatory nature of the article, I continued:

It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless.”

The replies by Ms Harper and yourself are entirely devoted to the question of whether the article is defamatory. They deal with this (quite ably I may say) by accusing the anonymous writers of letters of complaint of adopting “a bullying tone”. The letters of complaint referred to are a selection of those reproduced by Graham Redfearn from the FOI request which presumably he authored (my letter of complaint is not among them).

You further subsume under the heading of“adopting a bulling tone” what you describe as threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’”.

Does the Guardian really believe that bringing formal complaints to government-funded bodies constitutes bullying?

[It's slightly off-topic, but I'd like to point out that I'm a fervent defender of the Guardian's publicising ofthe actions of the British and American secret services. It's all about getting the facts out to the public. Facts are sacred, or scarce, or scary, or something.]

See paras 14ff of

http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/apocalypse-close-chapter-11-moonbat-on-the-couch/

You say:

Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: ‘I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.’ I disagree. That is a bullying tone.”

Call it a bullying tone if you like. I’d say it’s my polite way of saying that Lewandowsky is a total arsehole (No, not totally. I’ve praised him on my blog for his courageous stand against the torture condoned and possibly practised by the US and British governments. And if ever some future British or US government tries to limit his academic freedom in any way, I’ll be the first to defend him – though he may not thank me for that).

You and Ms Harper have failed to deal with the fact that the headline to the Nuccitelli article falsely accuses the journal “Frontiers in Psychological Science” of giving in to bullying.

Those who sent letters of complaint to “Frontiers” (me, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and others) deny the accusations of bullying. “Frontiers” deny having being bullied. Nuccitelli deals with this embarrassing situation by accusing the editors of “Frontiers” of lying. I have two simple questions for the Guardian:

1) Do you stand by the title of this article?

2) Do you stand by Nuccitelli’s statement that the editors of “Frontiers” are lying when they deny being bullied?

I await a prompt response to these two simple questions. Otherwise I shall be submitting a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

Yours

Geoff Chambers

 

Posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Stephan Lewandowsky | 8 Comments

Letter to the Guardian

To Chris Elliott, Readers’ Editor,

on March 30th 2014 I wrote to you to complain about this article:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

which accuses “contrarians” (i.e. climate sceptics) of bullying a scientific journal into retracting an article.

I pointed out that no bullying took place. We have the journal’s word for it. I further pointed out that the only evidence for bullying was a link to a blog article (by another Guardian contributor, as it happens) and the only evidence he gave for bullying was a link to my blog.

I pointed out that the link, and remarks about two other people, “Foxgoose” and Steve McIntyre, were potentially defamatory. But that was not the main point of my complaint, which was [that] the headline was clearly false, and that the author had provided no evidence to back up his claim, and anyway the supposed victim of the bullying, the editor of the journal, had denied it. There are other errors in the article and in the author’s comments below the line, but my complaint was focused on this one point: that the headline and the main gist of the article were false.

Three weeks later I received a reply from Barbara Harper in which she refers to links in the Readfearn blog article linked in the Nuccitelli article (she confuses an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, linked by Nuccitelli, with an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer, linked by Readfearn, but no matter). She ends her reply: “Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.”

There is nothing in her reply about the fact that the Guardian has published an article whose headline and contents are demonstrably false. The article accuses people unnamed (though clearly identifiable thanks to links) of bullying, while the supposed victim says that no bullying took place, a fact revealed in a comment on to the article.

I replied to Ms Harper, pointing out why her reply was unsatisfactory, and received the following reply the same day:

We’ve gone carefully through all the links, including the correspondence obtained under FOI, in the light of the issues you raised and as a result we do not feel that any further action is necessary.”

Neither of Ms Harper’s letters make the slightest mention of my principal concern: the fact that the Guardian has published an article which is demonstrably false.

I’ve highlighted a couple of phrases in her letters, which I interpret thus:

that Ms Harper (or possibly Mr Nuccitelli, or someone else) has looked at the articles by Lewandowsky and Oberauer or Cook, and discovered that McIntyre, Foxgoose and I were all frequent critical commenters on these articles, and that Ms Harper (or someone else) thinks that our frequent criticisms are sufficient to establish the fact that we are bullies.

If that is the reasoning behind Ms Harper’s replies (and it’s only my surmise, of course) it’s not enough to establish that we bullied the journal “Frontiers in Psychology”. I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone. Lewandowsky has written an article replying to anti-semitic and other racist attacks, but he has never replied to the accusation that he is a liar.

It’s your job, isn’t it, “to collect, consider, investigate, respond to, and where appropriate come to a conclusion about readers’ comments, concerns, and complaints in a prompt and timely manner, from a position of independence within the paper”?

I’ve been looking back through past articles on your site for similar situations, without success, but at:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/16/open-door-appending-notes-stories-errors

I found this:

When a serious allegation is made to the readers’ editor about a published article, it is often not possible to come to a quick decision as to whether the complaint has merit or not.”

Here, there is no problem about coming to a decision. Your article accused (via links) named people of bullying. They deny the bullying. The journal which is the supposed victim of bullying denies being bullied. Therefore there was no bullying, and the article is false.

Will you please reply to this complaint?

Yours, Geoff Chambers

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Foxgoose, McIntyre & Me v. Nuccitelli (and the Cook that spoils the broth)

[See Update 23 April 2014 at the end] 

Here’s a correspondence I’ve been having with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian:

From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 30 March 2014:

Dear Readers’ Editor,

 I’m writing to complain about this article,

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre.

The headline: “Contrarians bully journal into retracting a climate psychology paper” is contradicted by the journal itself, as is explained by commenter TLITB1 in the second to last comment on the thread (26 March 2014 11:22am) where the journal editor is quoted as saying:

This decision had nothing to do with caving in to pressure and was driven by our own analysis of various factors and advice received”.

Author Dana Nuccitelli provides no evidence within the article itself of “contrarians bullying the journal” or that the journal “finally caved to these threats”. Instead, in the sentence:

Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits (Graham Readfearn has some details)”

there is a link to an article by Readfearn at DeSmogBlog.

The evidence for “bullying” and “contrarians threatening libel lawsuits” provided in the Readfearn article comes in the final section, under the subheading: “Gagging orders hide libel threats”, the second paragraph of which reads:

One blogger, Geoff Chambers, wrote to Frontiers asking that the paper be withdrawn because it was defamatory towards him”.

and which links to an article on my blog

http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lews-talk-costs-libels/

which reproduces my letter of complaint to the journal. In the letter I point out that the paper (now retracted) is defamatory, and I end:

I therefore respectfully suggest that the wisest course might be to withdraw this paper.”

The third and fourth paragraphs refer to a complaint made by a blog commenter called “Foxgoose” who points out that a quote had been falsely attributed to him, and that this was potentially defamatory. But this error (one of many in the paper) was rectified before publication, so can have had no part in the journal’s decision to retract the paper.

The fifth paragraph refers to two complaints made by Steve McIntyre. They are couched in legal terminology and also use the word “defamatory”, but make no mention of legal action.

It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless. Since the only evidence for bullying and threats of libel lawsuits is a link to the Readfearn article, and since that article links directly to my letter of complaint, and mentions Steve McIntyre, (who has also published his letters of complaint at his blog ClimateAudit) it is clear that the accusations in Nuccitelli’s article are aimed at me and McIntyre.

It seems fairly pointless to publish a correction on an article on which comments are closed and which is now ancient history, in internet terms. In the case of a previous article at Guardian Environment by Bob Ward which made remarks about climate blogger Andrew Montford which Montford considered defamatory, the solution found was to give Montford a right of reply in an article at Guardian Environment. I suggest that this would be a suitable solution in this case.

I shall be forwarding this letter to Steve McIntyre, but will not otherwise publicise it.

Hoping to hear from you soon

Geoff Chambers

__________________________________

Guardian Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers 22/04/14 21:09

Thank you for your email, and I’m sorry it has taken some time to reply to your request for a right of reply.

As you say neither you or Steve McIntyre are mentioned in the Guardian article.

You are, however mentioned in the blog by Graham Readfearn, to which the Guardian article links.

The Readfearn blog in turn links to

a) An article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)

b) Your own blog

c) Posts made by Steve McIntyre

c) The letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA and obtained through an FOI request.

The Readfearn blog links to both yours and Steve McIntyre’s online publications regarding this matter. Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper

Follow us on Twitter: @GdnReadersEd

_____________________________________

From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 22 April 2014

Dear Ms Harper,

Thank you for your reply, three weeks late, which is no reply at all.

I wrote to complain that Dana Nuccitelli’s article accusing unnamed people of threatening and bullying the publishers of Lewandowsky’s paper “Recursive Fury” was factually incorrect, since the editors of the journal have categorically denied having received any threats. The only evidence Nuccitelli provides for his baseless accusation is a link to an article by Graham Readfearn (also a Guardian journalist) which provides as “evidence” a false statement about Foxgoose, a quote from Steve McIntyre, and a link to my blog. Anyone looking for evidence of the accusation of bullying in the headline will be naturally led to believe that these three individuals are the bullies.

Instead of dealing with this clear example of an article which is false and defamatory, your letter merely points me to some links in the Readfearn article, one of them to my own blog, and one of them, you say, to “an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)”

But there is no link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook at Readfearn’s article (there is one to an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer). Neither I nor Readfearn mention Cook. So where did you get Cook’s name from?

There is a link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook in Nuccitelli’s article, and there are comments there by me. But what has that to do with the false statement in the Guardian article that the journal “Frontiers in Science” gave in to bullying, and the defamatory link that implies that Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and I were the bullies?

The fact that you bring Cook into the story in a wholly irrelevant way, and that neither I nor Readfearn, whom I cite, had mentioned him, suggests to me that your letter was written in large part by Dana Nuccitelli. Am I right?

What action will you be taking to rectify the false and defamatory claim of bullying in the article’s headline?

PS This has nothing to do with anything, but I learnt recently that I am related to C.P. Scott. When my great aunt Rebecca Scott mentioned long ago that her father had worked for the Guardian, I asked her if he was C.P. Scott, and she laughed and said no. When she died recently I found among her papers the long obituary of C.P. Scott which appeared in the Guardian on his death in 1932, and there I learned that he had two brothers who also worked on the Guardian.

Small world, isn’t it?

yours

Geoff Chambers

__________________________________________________________

PPS, which I didn’t mention to Barbara: C.P.Scott, the famous editor of the Guardian, coined the slogan which adorns the Guardian’s comments page: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. I claim to have invented the version made popular by Delingpole: “Kommentmachtfrei” – but since I did it in a long since deleted comment at the Guardian, there’s no way of proving it. __________________________________________________________

 

Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers: 23 April 2014

We’ve gone carefully through all the links, including the correspondence obtained under FOI, in the light of the issues you raised and as a result we do not feel that any further action is necessary.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper

 

Geoff Chambers to Readers’ Editor: 23 April 2014

Dear Ms Harper 

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Does it mean that the Guardian supports Dana Nucitelli in his accusations of bullying against Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and me?

Yours

Geoff Chambers





 

 

 

Posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , , | 14 Comments