Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Christopher Booker, who writes for the UK Telegraph, recently sent me a copy of his 2009 book, The Real Global Warming Disaster. I’m not even halfway through yet, but already there is some eyebrow-raising Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) history about which I was unaware.
For example, Booker’s account (on pages 114-119) of a press conference held in Moscow in July 2004, is so incredible it got me searching for more details.
The short version is this: The Kyoto Protocol needed to be ratified by 55 parties before it came into effect. In 2003 and 2004 Russia found itself under immense international pressure to ratify this document, but Russian scientists had concerns about the IPCC findings on which Kyoto was based, and Russian economists were wary of the adverse economic impacts.
The gentleman who spoke at the press conference, Andrei Illarionov, was an economic adviser to President Putin. He began by complaining that, nine months previously, Russia had asked the IPCC ten specific questions (they’re listed here) but was still awaiting satisfactory answers:
We were told that the reply would be given within several days. Nine months have passed since then but there has been no reply, even though we have repeated our inquiries on these and the growing number of other related questions.
Instead of getting replies to our questions, we kept on hearing that replies did not matter.
The head of the Russian Academy of Scientists had arranged a scholarly two-day gathering in Moscow so that a dialogue could take place. When Illarionov spoke to the press at the end of that gathering, his comments regarding the behaviour of the scientific delegation from the UK were nothing short of eye-popping.
Having already ratified Kyoto itself, the UK was among those countries keen on persuading Russia to do likewise. According to Illarionov, however, rather than conducting themselves in a manner that would encourage trust in their judgment, the Brits behaved liked boors.
In essence, the UK delegation tried to censor the proceedings. The head of the delegation, Sir David King (then Tony Blair’s top science adviser), insisted that two-thirds of the scheduled presenters should not be allowed to speak and proposed his own agenda, comprised of topics he considered more suitable. Warning that the entire British delegation would walk out if his demands weren’t met, King apparently insisted that his atrocious behaviour was supported by the highest levels of the British government.
When the Russians ignored his ultimatum, some members of the UK delegation apparently then behaved like bullies on four separate occasions – interrupting other speakers, talking for far longer than they were supposed to (thus preventing other people from having a turn at the podium), and leaving the room rather than answering questions posed to them.
The text of the press conference is here. It’s worth reading in its entirety. The important takeaway is that this is not how scientists behave.
If real scientists were in charge of the IPCC, would it really have declined to answer those ten questions?
Would real scientists attempt to censor two-thirds of the speakers at an event organized by another country’s national Academy?
These are not the hallmarks of honest-to-goodness science. A nation in which the Prime Minister’s chief scientific adviser conducts himself in this manner is a nation that has turned its back on real science, choosing instead to use the good name of science for crass political purposes.
Anthony Watts had a blog post yesterday titled Pray for Britain. After reading the text of this 2004 press conference, I’ll second that thought.
In recent days a Kindle version of The Real Global Warming Disaster has become available – which I’ve now purchased. (That process took 20 seconds, end-to-end.)
I’ve had my own Kindle for only six weeks, but am seriously sold on this format. For one thing, you can search within a book and find things fast. Not only can you highlight passages, but the Kindle collects all your highlighted passages together in a text file behind-the-scenes that can then be transferred over to your PC.
Kindle editions are usually priced around $9.99. In my view, that is too high. After all, when a text is delivered to my device in the blink of an eye there are no paper, printing, inventory, or shipping costs worth talking about. The price of books has always been dictated by these real-world costs. Once those costs disappear, the price should plummet.
Whether the traditional publishing industry will adopt sensible pricing before it’s reduced to a shadow of its former self remains to be seen. At the moment, it’s utterly ridiculous that I can purchase the paperback copy of Roger Pielke Jr.’s The Climate Fix for $11.55 (which will then need to be shipped to me via the post office), yet the publisher wants $12.99 for the Kindle edition.