Yesterday he wrote an opinion piece for the Telegraph which is nonsense from one end to the other (archived here). Richard Tol, an academic economist (and a coordinating lead author of a chapter of IPCC WGII) who advises Nigel's foundation, tweeted about it and posed the challenge to "specify the bits that are confused and meaningless". Maybe Richard advised Nigel on what to write. One hopes not.
Here are some of the bits that are confused and meaningless. Nigel writes:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which published on Friday the first instalment of its latest report, is a deeply discredited organisation.Nope. The IPCC is not a discredited organisation, deeply or otherwise, despite the best efforts of Nigel and his cronies. The IPCC has the support of 195 nations around the world. That's almost 100% of the world.
Nigel continues to get it wrong, writing:
Presenting itself as the voice of science on this important issue, it is a politically motivated pressure group that brings the good name of science into disrepute.Wrong again, Nigel. The IPCC is apolitical, unlike your GWPF. It is not a pressure group. It's a small organisation that coordinates the preparation of reports about climate change. The 195 member organisations cover the full spectrum of politics but the organisation itself is not political.
Nigel still keeps going from wrong to wronger, writing:
Its previous report, in 2007, was so grotesquely flawed that the leading scientific body in the United States, the InterAcademy Council, decided that an investigation was warranted. The IAC duly reported in 2010, and concluded that there were “significant shortcomings in each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process”, and that “significant improvements” were needed. It also chastised the IPCC for claiming to have “high confidence in some statements for which there is little evidence”.There is no-one, apart from Nigel, who thinks the 2007 report was "flawed" let alone grotesquely flawed. In fact the IPCC was awarded a Nobel Prize for its contribution to the world. Nobel Prizes are not handed out for "grotesquely flawed" reports.
Nigel then proceeds to misquote the IAC, which did a review of the IPCC - at the request of the IPCC I should add. Nigel deliberately leaves out the crucial first part of a sentence in order to change its meaning. There is a vast difference in meaning between: significant shortcomings in each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process and
This chapter identifies and recommends ways to address the most significant shortcomings in each major step of IPCC’s assessment process, based on the Committee’s analysis of current IPCC practices, of the literature on assessments, and community input.The latter is about identifying which shortcomings are the most significant. It does not imply that there were significant shortcomings in the manner implied by Nigel.
Update: As Marco notes in the comments, Nigel Lawson is wrong on another count. The IAC is not the 'leading scientific body in the United States', it is an international organisation created by "all of the world's science academies...to mobilize the best scientists and engineers worldwide to provide high quality advice to international bodies - such as the United Nations and the World Bank - as well as to other institutions."
Its co-Chairs are from Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. You can see the IAC Board members here. Nigel Lawson also neglected to observe this recent statement from the IAC congratulating the IPCC:
By again bringing together so many experts from across the globe to synthesize current scientific understanding of climate change, the IPCC has demonstrated its on-going value to society. The InterAcademy Council (IAC) congratulates the IPCC on this accomplishment and expresses its gratitude to the hundreds of experts from developed and developing countries alike who volunteered their time and knowledge to this unique scientific endeavour. Their effort provides a scientific basis for decisions that policymakers around the world are making about how best to mitigate and adapt to climate change -- one of the most critical challenges facing humankind.
Nigel digs in deeper, invoking the "CO2 is plant food" denier meme. That is an indicator of the depth of his denial.
He then goes on to write:
... as long ago as 2009, the IPCC chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri – who is a railway engineer and economist by training, not a scientist, let alone a climate scientist – predicted that “when the IPCC’s fifth assessment comes out in 2013 or 2014, there will be a major revival of interest in action that has to be taken. People are going to say: 'My God, we are going to have to take action much faster than we had planned.’” This was well before the scientific investigation on which the latest report is allegedly based had even begun. So much for the scientific method.Two can play that game of "he's not qualified". Dr Pachauri has headed up an R&D institute for many decades and is eminently qualified to chair the IPCC. On the other hand, Nigel is just a politician, economist and treasurer of mixed success, who presumably (based on his "CO2 is plant food" throwaway) doesn't know the first thing about any physical or biological science. Funnily enough, further in his article, Nigel touts a book he says he's written on global warming. He's no scientist - what does he know about the subject? Nothing, nada, zilch!
When he claims that "this was well before the scientific investigation...had even begun" he's woefully wrong. Not only had scientific investigation already begun in 2009, but much of the research embodied in the current report was well underway and some of it had no doubt been completed.
Nigel's lack of knowledge about the earth system is further exemplified when he writes:
That is that global warming appears to have ceased: there has been no increase in officially recorded global mean temperature for the past 15 years.He's flat out wrong. The "officially recorded" global mean surface temperature hit a maximum in 2010 - that's not even three years ago, let alone fifteen years ago. Not only that but there has been an "officially recorded" increase in the heat in the oceans - down to two kilometres deep. So he's doubly wrong.
|Data Source: SkepticalScience Nuccitelli et al (2012)|
Now for Nigel's mumbo jumbo:
This is not science: it is mumbo-jumbo. Neither the 90 per cent nor the 95 per cent have any objective scientific basis: they are simply numbers plucked from the air for the benefit of credulous politicians and journalists.Nigel discounts the science because it doesn't suit his agenda. He doesn't want the world to take any action to mitigate global warming so he comes up with a lot of mumbo jumbo to try to justify his appalling stance. He wants the world to continue on a trajectory to six degrees of warming or worse. He can't wait for the seas to rise one, two or six metres. Well, he'll be dead and gone well before that happens. But the young people today will be alive to see some of it if people like Nigel get their way.
Inconsistently, Nigel writes:
What we should emphatically not do is what Dr Pachauri, Lord Stern and that gang are calling for and decarbonise the global economy by phasing out fossil fuels.
Before the industrial revolution mankind relied for its energy on beasts of burden and wind power. The industrial revolution, and the enormous increase in prosperity it brought with it, was possible only because the West abandoned wind power and embraced fossil fuels. We are now – unbelievably – being told that we must abandon relatively cheap and highly reliable fossil fuels, and move back to wind power, which is both unreliable and hugely costly.What he is arguing is change in the past meant prosperity but now we've got to remain stuck in the past. That's hugely inconsistent. He argues that in the past innovation brought good things but now the world has to stop innovating. What a Luddite! To continue to shift to clean energy is the only way the world has any hope of remaining prosperous. It's probably the only way that society will survive in the future. As for his equating modern wind turbines with old-fashioned windmills, who does he take us for?
Then Nigel goes for what is arguably the second last refuge of the scoundrel, pretending to care for developing countries. As if! All he cares about is maintaining what he sees as the status quo. He wants to sell dirty coal to poorer nations so they will make cheap toys for him and his mates, while they suffer all the ills that dirty energy brings. What he should be advocating is that developing nations bypass the pollution and filth that England and other nations suffered when they began burning coal, and invest in clean energy solutions. Not only will that limit the damage from global warming, it will limit the huge cost of pollution and adverse health effects that go with dirty energy.
Hopefully the world won't take any notice of villains like Nigel Lawson. He had his moment of glory many years ago. Now he's acting like a clown. If he's remembered in history books of the future, I hope it's for his current activities and not his past activities so that people will not repeat his sins.