Manufacturing Consensus



Roger Harrabin has spun a few comments by professor Richard Tol into a huge confection of pro-climate change pap to sugarcoat the usual bitter pill that Harrabin tries to ram down our throats on climate.

Harrabin starts with this rather dramatic headline…Society ‘to be hit by climate change’ 

What he is less inclined to emphasise is that what Tol is talking about are the economic effects of climate change and that they are relatively minor… Harrabin dodges Tol’s main conclusion that those effects will be far less serious than climate alarmists like to predict and that climate change is not the most pressing danger for the world…..’Statements that climate change is the biggest (environmental) problem of humankind are unfounded: We can readily think of bigger problems.’

Here is Tol’s latest conclusion which is not reflected at all by Harrabin’s sexed up headline…

‘Climate change will probably have a limited impact on the economy and human welfare in the 21st century.’

This is the ‘dramatic’ effect of climate change up to 2.5 degrees…

‘A global warming of 2.5ºC would make the average person feels as if she had lost 1.3% of her income. (1.3% is the average of the 11 estimates at 2.5ºC.)’

1.3% of your income?  You wouldn’t even notice….especially as by the time 2.5 degrees is reached your income will have increased by far more than 1.3%


In sum, breaking the 2ºC target is not a disaster. The most serious impacts are symptoms of poverty rather than climate change. Other impacts are unlikely to have a substantial effect on human welfare.

Interesting that Harrabin likes to use the word ‘Contrarian’ to describe climate sceptics…a word which suggests irrational, stubborn disbelief rather than a critique based upon genuine reason and science….Harrabin once again is trying to discredit and insult the sceptics.

Harrabin’s article, based upon his ‘Changing Climate’ programme is as dodgy, if not more so than that programme.

He sets up sceptic, Matt Ridley, up for a fall and places him in opposition to Tol… that is highly dishonest because Ridley bases his comments on the science of Tol…something Harrabin doesn’t mention in this article (but admits in this interview with Tol on a site run by Harrabin’s old mate and climate activist, Dr Joe Smith, from the propagandist CMEP which he and Harrabin used to manipulate the BBC’s climate programming via their infamous seminars……RH I think he references you in order to make that conclusion.)

Here is Harrabin’s spin…

‘Human societies will soon start to experience adverse effects from manmade climate change, a prominent economist has warned. Prof Richard Tol predicts the downsides of warming will outweigh the advantages with a global warming of 1.1C – which has nearly been reached already. Prof Tol is regarded by many campaigners as a climate “sceptic”.  He has previously highlighted the positive effects of CO2 in fertilising crops and forests.  His work is widely cited by climate contrarians.’

Note how he tries to portray Tol as in the ‘contrarian’ camp….he does this in order to suggest that Tol has ‘seen the light’ and come into the climate change fold…when in fact he has always been a believer.

Then we get to what Ridley says…

‘Matt Ridley, the influential Conservative science writer, said he believed the world would probably benefit from a temperature rise of up to 2C.

“I think we probably will see 1.5 degrees of warming. The point is most people think 2C is when it turns catastrophic. That’s not right. The literature is very clear; 2C is when we start to get harm. Up until then we get benefit,” he said.’

Harrabin doesn’t tell us that Ridley is quoting Tol…curiously however he then tells us that Ridley is quoting another scientist and goes on to rubbish Ridley…

‘On fertilisation Matt Ridley refers to unpublished work by Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University.

But he told BBC News Lord Ridley had accurately quoted his research on the impacts of current CO2 levels, but was unduly complacent about future warming.

“I am worried about how this work is being interpreted, by Lord Ridley.’


Ridley ‘interpreted’ that work like this…he also quoted another scientist to back him up, not mentioned by Harrabin…

‘As Dr Ranga Myneni of Boston University has documented, using three decades of satellite data, 31 per cent of the global vegetated area of the planet has become greener and just 3 per cent has become less green. This translates into a 14 per cent increase in productivity of ecosystems and has been observed in all vegetation types.

Dr Randall Donohue and colleagues of the CSIRO Land and Water department in Australia also analysed satellite data and found greening to be clearly attributable in part to the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect.’

Why does Harrabin not tell the reader that Ridley is quoting Tol?  Highly dishonest of Harrabin.

But what did Tol himself say originally?…

In 2009 he said this…

‘In short, even though total economic effects of 1–2°C warming may be positive, incremental impacts beyond that level are likely to be negative.’

Then in may this year, 2015, he said this….

‘Since 2009, however, more estimates of the economic impact of climate change have been published. These new results do affect the fitted trend, but not in the way suggested by Mr Ward. The new trend shows positive impacts for warming up to about two degrees global warming, just like the old trend did. The new trend, however, shows markedly less negative impacts for more profound warming than did the old trend. In other words, in the last five years, we have become less pessimistic about the impacts of climate change.’


Pretty clear…up to 2 degrees we still get benefits economically from climate change..the benefits reduce after 1.1 degrees but are still positive.



This is what Ridley said in 2013...the basis for Harrabin’s contempt…

‘There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. That was the conclusion of Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies of the effects of future climate trends.

To be precise, Prof Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper).

Now Prof Tol has a new paper, published as a chapter in a new book, called How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?, which is edited by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, and was reviewed by a group of leading economists. In this paper he casts his gaze backwards to the last century. He concludes that climate change did indeed raise human and planetary welfare during the 20th century.’


Just how certain is Tol about the negative aspects of climate change?….‘The uncertainty is rather large, however. Taking the confidence interval at face value, the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming…At 3.0ºC of warming, impacts are negative and deteriorating, and its uncertainty is widening. It is likely that the world will warm beyond 3.0ºC. Yet, beyond that point, there are few estimates only. Instead, there is extrapolation and speculation.’

Let’s just see that again….’the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming‘….no significantly negative effects until we get to 3.5 degrees?


Here is Tol recently defending his 2 degrees conclusion….

Mr Ward’s misplaced critique on Fankhauser and Stern

Mr Robert E.T. Ward BSc, Policy and Communications Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, recently published a piece about my work under the title “Flawed analysis of the impacts of climate change”. Mr Ward raises two main objections, first, to the conclusion that “the overall impacts of unmitigated climate change this century could be positive, even if global average temperature rises by more than 2°C above its pre-industrial level” and, second, to the conclusion that “the welfare change caused by climate change is equivalent to the welfare change caused by an income change of a few percent”.
And on that famous ‘consensus’…..
In their paper, Cook and colleagues argue that 97% of the relevant academic literature endorses that humans have contributed to observed climate change. This is unremarkable. It follows immediately from the 19th century research by Fourier, Tyndall and Arrhenius. In popular discourse, however, Cook’s finding is often misrepresented. The 97% refers to the number of papers, rather than the number of scientists. The alleged consensus is about any human role in climate change, rather than a dominant role, and it is about climate change rather than the dangers it might pose.
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25 Responses to Manufacturing Consensus

  1. Steve Jones says:

    Scientifically, Harrabin is wholly unqualified and illiterate. However, as a graduate in English he is admirably qualified to write fiction which he does on a daily basis.
    The man is a clown.


  2. Guest Who says:

    BBC part time re-editor Jo has the solution:

    Luckily an ever-expanding world population’s energy needs are going to be covered.

    Meanwhile, despite a bit of wind last night, seems the Midlands had a few power cuts.

    Teething problems.


    • johnnythefish says:

      So despite Mankind’s track record of scientific advancement and inventiveness we’ll STILL be stuck with failing wind and solar power in 2050?

      Did she miss that little episode a couple of weeks ago when there was a concurrent failure of a handful of coal-fired stations and, because wind was only providing 1% of the country’s energy needs, businesses had to reduce their demand on the grid?

      Or does she think with the BBC’s guaranteed £4bn a year her salary will be forever protected against the inevitable economic downslide our current energy policy is leading to?

      Where do the BBC get these people from – fast-tracked from some secret Friends of the Earth University of Anti-Science?


  3. Sluff says:

    Anyone notice (I bet you have) how the whole R4 Toady team are utterly incapable of comprehending scientific principles? They freeze at the subject. One of their default tactics is to make light of the given topic as if it’s all a bit geeky and therefore not to be taken seriously.

    On the energy story today (phasing out coal power stations) the presenters still cannot grasp that for almost every renewable bit of generation capacity you also need an equivalent level of fossil fuel or nuclear capacity. You know, for all those ‘unforeseeable’ situations such as when it’s dark, or there is no wind, or both.

    But of course in eco-loon bBBC that’s just a minor inconvenience to be brushed off. Wouldn’t it be great if bBBC showed real leadership by powering New Broadcasting House solely by having solar panels and wind turbines on the roof?


    • Grant says:

      The BBC don’t do science, full stop. It is too intellectually demanding for them.


      • Steve Jones says:

        BBC presenters wear their ignorance of science and maths with pride. Any vaguely serious item on these subjects is treated with barely concealed contempt and the ignoramus’ favourite fall-back position of ‘it’s all way over my head’. When it comes to climate change, suddenly, they are all experts and happy to belittle anyone who dares contradict the religion. What they don’t seem to realise is that by claiming absolute certainty about global warming they are merely confirming their ignorance to anyone with even the slightest scientific training.


        • Anne63 says:

          On many occasions over the years I’ve come across a certain type of educated, middle class person who regards science, and any understanding of it, as beneath them. A bit dirty and gimmicky. The sort of thing that childish Americans play with and grubby handed engineers do for a living. Truly educated people talk about books and plays (in fact books ad nauseam), articles in The Guardian, that sort of thing, but not science. It’s not just down to our education system either because private schools do well in science. It runs deeper.

          I think that our lamentable industrial performance is largely the result of this.

          (This is the second time in a week that I’ve mentioned class. That bothers me because I don’t like class warriors either.)


          • Steve Jones says:

            I recognise the type of person you describe. They hate science, more particularly the scientific method, for one simple reason: it exposes bullshit in a totally ruthless way. One person says X the other says Y. An experiment is conducted, data is gathered and, usually, one person has to concede as being demonstrably wrong. The arts educated thicko much prefers to deal in the abstract and ambiguous. Since the Enlightenment, mankind has progressed at a phenomenal rate thanks to the scientific method and science gained its enviable reputation. That is now being undermined, most notably by the climate science community of charlatans. They use scientific terminology in order to bask in the reflected glory of science whilst steadfastly refusing to follow the scientific method as they know they will be exposed. Hence their total refusal to debate in public.
            If I came up with a totally robust theory, confirmed by experiment and data, I wouldn’t hide anything.


            • Ian Rushlow says:

              Exactly right on the scientific method. Which is why Trotsky told his supporters “to ignore the truth!” . Or why Mao would denounce those he wished to purge as “empiricists” (i.e. those who based their views on experience rather than theory).


          • GCooper says:

            You are absolutely right and it isn’t a new observation (not meant as a slight – more as a confirmation). Back in the ’50s, the writer C.P. Snow identified it as ‘The Two Cultures’ and it caused a huge hissy-fit among the interleckshuals of the day. They didn’t like the implications. They still don’t.


            • Grant says:

              Of course, it is very noticeable that Beeboids and fellow luvvies and Lefties are happy to accept the benefits of science . What a bunch of worthless, hypocritical wankers.


        • johnnythefish says:

          Any vaguely serious item on these subjects is treated with barely concealed contempt and the ignoramus’ favourite fall-back position of ‘it’s all way over my head’.

          I have heard this tactic deployed so often you know damned well it’s the approved house mechanism for deflecting inconvenient scientific truths, as in ‘Well I’m not a scientist so I couldn’t possibly comment on that’ before moving very swiftly on.


    • johnnythefish says:

      Actually, Sluff, you’ve just alerted me to one benefit of power cuts – the prospect at some point of every BBC TV screen going blank and every BBC radio station going silent.


    • Guest Who says:

      You have to think that eventually, someone, somewhere in power may feel the BBC treating the Charter as a kind of joke to be ignored at whim is taking the piss.


    • johnnythefish says:

      Amazingly, when you look down the comments somebody pointed out that in fairness Montague did actually say that there’d be no electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

      I’m just peed off that I missed it because in all the scores of interviews I’ve heard with these environmentalists over many years on the BBC I’ve never once heard that challenge. Whether we’ll hear it again in a hurry, I doubt (more likely this will be their one example they’ll use ad nauseam as evidence of ‘balance’) and it’s a half-hearted challenge anyway unless it’s also pointed out that equivalent nuclear, coal or gas capacity will always be required to be on standby as back-up.


      • Sluff says:

        If i recall she may have said it but did not follow through and demand an answer but just let the usual eco warrior guest ramble on unchallenged


  4. Richard Pinder says:

    Most scientists are still brainwashed by the fraud. Matt Ridley, Richard Toll, Bob Ward and the Luke warmers are still brainwashed by the need to seem reasonable, by sticking to the Arrhenius method, because they probably still don’t know of an alternative. That’s why the Harrabin moron has been ordered by that ignorant activist Joe Smith not to talk to Piers Corbyn or any of those space weather scientists that have never been seen or heard on the BBC.

    Those of us in Astronomy, not just me and Piers Corbyn, have become free from the brainwashing by understanding how to Calibrate carbon dioxide warming on Venus, to prove that carbon dioxide warming on the Earth is evectivly zero. As I keep repeating, look at this scientific paper (Unified Theory of Climate, Ned Nikolov & Karl Zeller, 2011)

    So effectively. Apart from the “carbon dioxide fertilisation effect”
    Everyone on the BBC is talking bollocks.

    And as for the 97 percent, unlike the above paper, none of these papers proves anything, they all assume that man is responsible, the Unified Theory of Climate is the first paper to prove that man cannot be responsible.

    Others noticed more than me that the Arts, Humanities and Languages people where rather snobbish. I read that Japanese and Dutch students thought it rather odd that these British Arts morons regard themselves as superior to Engineers. And come to think of it, as someone brought up outside of a seaside town near the City of Hull. To think that these snobs overwhelmingly vote Labour did rather seem odd. I think its because there are more Arts and Humanities students in Universities than the Science, Maths and Engineering students because intelligent students are rarer, and are more in demand in the real world, while the Arts and Humanities types are less desirable, with exceptions such as the Royal Opera House and the BBC. So they tend to stay at University, and then dominate the administration and politics of these places.


    • Steve Jones says:


      You raise an excellent point that hadn’t occurred to me before. Looking back to my college days, none of the perpetual students (the unemployables) were from the STEM faculties. All is now clear.


      • Grant says:

        Richard, Far be it for me to be critical of a fellow zoologist like Ridley, but , in his case I do not understand why he had to prostitute science for money. Maybe his Trust Fund ran out and , of course, he fucked up big time on Northern Rock


  5. Jazznick says:

    Dr David Whitehouse of GWPF has an excellent piece here

    It mauls Harrabin to pieces.


    • Steve Jones says:

      Harrabin’s work and methods would be familiar to the propagandists in Stalin’s regime. The man is an eco-activist abusing his position at the BBC. Dr David Whitehouse used to report on science for the BBC, unfortunately, his was the wrong kind of science and he had to go. Real science proceeds with caution demanding confirmation at each stage before progressing further. Anything else is pure conjecture and highlighted as such. Harrabinian science is alchemy, astrology and all the other pseudo-scientific nonsense rolled into one.


  6. Steve Jones says:

    Perhaps sea level rise isn’t as bad as the scientifically illiterate would have us believe:
    Half a millimetre a year, 50 millimetres a century. In old money that is two inches…two inches! Run for the hills. Still, people like Gore knew that, hence their beach-front property purchases. Here is the biggest laugh,
    ‘Prof Shepherd said the measurements were in line with climate change predictions.’ Not the ones Harribo and his troupe of clowns like to publicise. Here is underling Matt McGrath’s horror story from May 2013:
    Laughable isn’t it. Notice the bad news is all from computer models and calculations. That real world data just won’t play ball and the BBC seems incapable of seeing this.
    Having had their noses rubbed in real world data, some way must be found to keep the fear levels up. Hence comments like this in the article:
    ‘Polar ice has a tremendous capacity to cause massive rises – with huge potential impacts on coastal cities and communities around the world.’ It certainly does.
    They are having to cherry pick comments extremely carefully in order to maintain the bad news flow. When the article says,
    ‘”We can now say for sure that Antarctica is losing ice and we can see how the rate of loss from Greenland is going up over the same period as well,” he added.’ They mean some bits of Antarctica as other bits are gaining ice and the net effect is an increase. What does NASA think, read here:
    Dear BBC, how about another article about that 97% consensus.


    • johnnythefish says:

      Just some approximation of reality from the BBC would make a very welcome change.

      They ARE The Ministry of Truth.


  7. John Anderson says:

    Harrabin was more fraudulent than ever – not just selectively quoting but actively misquoting.

    On a complex topic like climate change – spread over 3 programmes – we should be entitled to a logical progression of topics, of arguments. But Harrabin deliberately played it like a pinball machine, he kept the ball whizzing around so fast you could not easily see how misleading his arguments were.

    Harrabin and the BBC’s treatment of this whole issue is a public disgrace.

    He is neither a scientist nor an economist – but he pretends to present science and the economic effects of climate-oriented policies. The man is a total charlatan.