It has been the lone, angry voice of Christopher Booker in his Sunday Telegraph column which for years has given courage to those of us who felt instinctively that the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh global-warmists were hysterical ideologues and that Al Gore was a dangerous fool. Remorselessly, Booker turned over scientific stones to uncover skulduggery, misrepresentation and sIovenliness, and put realistic figures on environmental initiatives that showed that in the cause of combating climate changes alleged to be man-made our politicians were on course to render us bankrupt as well as devoid of sources of energy other than the inefficient turbines that are ruining our landscape. Faced with true believers, we could utilise Booker-provided ammunition, and when shrilly denounced as deniers and Flat Earthers, we would think of the great man and stand firm. As he made clear again and again, the very fact that dissent was stamped on so brutally showed how rocky were the intellectual foundations on which this mad ideological edifice has been built.
He was not alone, of course. There are many heroes in this story, so gripping I read it in just two sessions and so shocking my metaphorical jaw was permanently dropped. There were, for instance, two Canadians understood how computers can distort statistics and took on Michael Mann and his hockey stick. It was young Dr Mann who in 1998, in Nature — an organ of warmist orthodoxy — answered the prayers of the alarmists within the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who needed, as one wrote in an email, ‘to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period’, an inconvenient historical fact that buttressed the arguments of those who believed that climate changes were cyclical. Mann’s computer model produced a graph which showed that average temperatures had declined through nine centuries and had shot up to an unprecedented level in the late twentieth century. Named the ‘hockey stick’ because it was a long line with a sharp curve at the end, this graph was rapturously welcomed by the man-made-climate-change establishment — who removed the Little Ice Age from history along with the Mediaeval Warm Period — and was used by the IPCC to spread fear of an imminent apocalypse caused by modern man and his carbon emissions.
When in 2003 Professor Ross McKitrick an economist, and Stephen McIntyre, a financial consultant and statistical analyst, got hold of Mann’s original data, they discovered the algorithm programmed into his computer model was so flawed that whatever data was fed into it emerged in the shape of a hockey stick. Corrected and applied to Mann’s data, it showed that the fifteenth century was hotter that the twentieth. Why, asked McKitrick later, did those at the top of the IPCC give such extraordinary prominence to ‘the hockey stick’ data as the canonical representation of .the earth’s climate history. Owing to a combination of mathematical error and a dysfunctional review process, they ended up promoting the exact wrong conclusion. How did they make such a blunder?’
Because they wanted to, of course. As they wanted to believe anything that enhanced the value of their emotional and intellectual investment and disbelieve anything that revealed their gullibility, which is why sacred environmental texts went unexamined and heretics were silenced, denied funding and squeezed out of public discourse. Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser, who had learned no humility from his disastrous role in the foot-and-mouth fiasco of 2001, went to an international seminar in Moscow in 2004 intent on persuading the sceptical Russian government to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol. Having failed despite help from the British government to have two-thirds of the participating scientists prevented from speaking on the grounds that they were ‘undesirable’, he and his team displayed their anger at any contradictions of IPCC dogma. (An example was a Swedish geology professor who dared to point out that while the IPCC insisted the Maldives were at risk from rising sea levels, the extensive field observations of his expert team showed them to have fallen in the 1970s and then remained stable.) When King repeated the IPCC claim that global warming was responsible for melting ice on the summit of Kilimanjaro, he was challenged by the entomologist, Professor Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who had resigned from the IPCC when it refused to take any account of his evidence that global warming had nothing to do with the spread of insect-borne diseases. Numerous studies, Reiter pointed out, showed melting had begun in the 1880s and was a result of deforestation. Unable to refute the point, King broke off in mid-sentence and led his delegation from the room.
The enraged chairman, Alexander Illarionov, Putin’s chief economic adviser, denounced the British attempts at censorship and told a press conference that the reputation of British science and the British government had ‘sustained heavy damage’. The ideological base of Kyoto, he said, ‘can be juxtaposed and compared, as Professor Reiter has done just now, with man-hating totalitarian ideology with which we had the bad fortune to deal during the twentieth century, such as National Socialism, Marxism, Eugenics, Lysenkoism and so on. All methods of distorting information existing in the world have been committed to prove the alleged validity of these theories. Misinformation, falsification, fabrication, mythology, propaganda.’
How right he was. As Booker shows, it was the psychological vacuum in the West left after Marxism crumbled that enabled environmentalism to popularise an ideology aimed at saving the planet from the greed and selfishness of humanity. Maurice Strong, an early recruit and a passionate proponent of world government who saw the UN as a means to challenge the selfish materialism of the rich Western countries — was chosen in 1972 by U Thant to organise and chair the first ‘UN Conference on the Human Environment’. This was the ancestor of the IPCC, an allegedly scientific body set up by the UN in 1988, which picked up on the issue of global warming and set out to change the conduct of the world.
Over two decades, almost unchallenged — with the enthusiastic support of leaders of the EU anxious for a cause to give it moral purpose — the IPCC’s pronouncements became Holy Writ in the self-hating West. So mesmerising was this secular religion that academics, journalists (the BBC was particularly slavish) and politicians (Czech President Vaclav Klaus apart) questioned nothing and backed policies that if implemented would cripple developed economies. As late as 2006, in An Inconvenient Truth — a film as well-made as it was ill-informed and emotionally incontinent — Al Gore terrified millions: ‘If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, flood, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.’ Gore made millions and won a Nobel Prize for this rubbish and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, ordered that the film be sent to every school to frighten further a generation of brainwashed children.
The UK was to the fore among self-harming warmist states, committing itself to spending untold billions in pursuit of unnecessary reductions in carbon emissions. When Barack Obama became president, the US became the UK’s main competitor in the race to see who could wreak most economic havoc on its people in the pursuit of environmental sanctity. By then, the work of increasingly confident dissidents was available on the internet through such blogs as McIntyre’s Climate Audit and meteorologist Anthony Watt’s Watts Up With That?, through painstaking work the bedrock of the IPCC’s conclusions was being steadily eroded and the weather was getting colder rather than hotter, yet the Western establishment went on chanting its familiar mantras and promising to throw trillions at a problem that does not exist.
‘Is the obsession with “climate change” turning out to be the most costly scientific blunder in history?’ asks Booker. It certainly looks that way, unless the speed at which the bogus science is unravelling, the refusal of the non-developed countries to be bullied into joining the warmist herd, and the true crisis that has hit the global economy causes a new generation in the West to begin asking tough questions. As usual, the average Joe has kept his wits when intellectuals and rulers have been losing theirs, so outside the ranks of the faithful, there are plenty of ordinary people who think it possible to adjust sensibly to the inevitable vagaries of the climate and responsibly to conserve the resources of the planet without consigning the world to poverty. Christopher Booker, who should be patron saint of bloody-minded investigative journalists, has done us a great service.
Continuum 2009, £16.99