Catalanbrian: A rebuttal

With Lord Lawson at my Climate Conference in Brux in 2007

With Lord Lawson at my Climate Conference in Brux in 2007

I welcome comment on my blog, and negative comment makes for a lively debate.  I take some brickbats, but hell, that’s politics.  But just now and again, there’s a comment so egregious that I really feel a significant rebuttal is called for.  An anonymous contributor with the handle Catalanbrian made the routine accusations of ignorance, selective data and so on, but added the following:

“Your problem is that, like most politicians from minority parties with limited horizons, you only ever hear the sound of your own voice and of those that agree with you”.

This is so hopelessly far from the truth that I felt I had to set the record straight.  Necessarily, therefore, this piece will have the character of self-referential self-justification, so I apologise in advance.  (If you don’t fancy it, you can stop reading now!).

I’ve been in the European parliament since 1999, and I’ve sat for many years on the environment committee.  I am currently on the Industry & Energy Committee.  Far from “only hearing voices that agree with me”, I am, on the contrary, constantly surrounded by voices that disagree.  Check my speech last week, where I had to brush off several interruptions from pro-renewable MEPs.

I started taking an interest in climate and energy issues in 2007, and organised a conference in Brussels in April of that year, where we heard, amongst others, from Lord (Nigel) Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had recently published his book “An Appeal to Reason”, calling for a step-by-step approach to climate adaptation, as and when needed, rather than a massive up-front investment in mitigation, which might be ineffectual and was based on highly speculative science.     We also had Benny Peiser, then of Liverpool John Moores University, now with the Global Warming Policy Foundation. And we had Roger Bootle on the economics of climate policy.

I have cooperated over the years both with British MEPs from other parties, and with MEPs from many countries, on these issues.  I have regularly attended meetings of the European Energy Forum,  under the Chairmanship of Conservative MEP Giles Chichester,   where we have had presentations and debates with the IEA, and with numerous energy industry organisations and companies.  It has been a great learning experience.

I have had the privilege of working with distinguished scientists in the field like Fred Singer of the University of Virginia, and Bob Carter of the James Cook University in New Zealand.    I have attended climate conferences in the UK, in the USA and in the Far East, where I have had the privilege of meeting Richard Lindzen of MIT  , Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Institute , Paul Reiter, a tropical diseases expert from the Pasteur Institute in Paris , Hans Labohm, formerly of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, , and many others.  A number of these have been advisers and reviewers to the IPCC, although none agrees with the main thrust of its findings on man-made climate change.

I have also corresponded with economists active in this field, including Ruth Lea and David Henderson,  and recently I have met with Prof Alan Riley of London City University, and summarised his presentations on my blog.    I have naturally also been in touch with many journalists, not least Christopher Booker and James Delingpole, but also others on the opposite end of the spectrum — like Leo Hickman of the Guardian.

I have visited the University of East Anglia and discussed the Climategate scandal with scientists from their Climatic Research Unit (I shall shortly be reviewing A.W.Montford’s new book “Hiding the Decline”).  I have debated climate issues with climate scientists at Leicester University.  This last encounter was filmed by the BBC and broadcast on their Politics Show.  And I have visited Loughborough University to see their work on thin-film solar PV, and Rolls-Royce in Derby for a presentation on their developments in tidal turbines.

I knew former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, of course, as he was an MEP 1999/04.  I have had dealings with former Energy Minister Charles Hendry, and with current Energy Minister John Hayes (who is from my East Midlands Region), and indeed with the excellent Owen Paterson, Environment Minister.

I have attended two of the UN COP Climate Conferences, COP14 in Poznan in 2008, and COP 16 in Cancun in 2010.  (Not many “voices of those who agree with me” there, Catalanbrian!).  I decided not to go to Doha this year, since the UN COP process is clearly dead on its feet, and of little interest.

I have been in contact with many think tanks and lobby groups who take an interest in climate.  I wrote a book for the Bruges Group, “Cool Thinking on Climate Change”.  I’m in regular touch with the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and the Renewable Energy Foundation.  I’ve met with British Energy,   and I will be addressing the Conference of the Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC) next week.

I’ve visited coal mines in the East Midlands, the Sellafield nuclear facility, the Culham Nuclear Fusion Research Centre,   and the nuclear power plants and waste facility at Olkiluouto in Finland.

So, Catalanbrian, disagree with me if you will.  That’s your privilege in a free country — even when you’re wrong.  But don’t try to pretend that I haven’t engaged widely with the subject.

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20 Responses to Catalanbrian: A rebuttal

  1. Mike Spilligan says:

    I’m so glad that you made a special point of this, and even though you responded to catalanbrian when he made the comment it needed further elaboration. I would suggest that it’s he who has “limited horizons”. Right now I’m sitting in the East Midlands, trying to get my house reasonably warm on a chilly (but not cold) morning and windmills (I refuse to call them turbines, as they aren’t) are producing almost no energy at all. I could elaborate, Mr H., but it’s your blog and I don’t want to bore your normal readers.

  2. ancientpopeye says:

    Good for you Roger, slap ignoramuses down, because they have no wish to learn.

  3. One of the sadder things in this debate about climate change/global warming/Armageddon is the ad hominem attacks. I have friends in Australia who are warmist and, on the one occasion when I sent them material from a University questioning certain facts, their only response was to show that the Professor was being sponsored by the oil industry!
    We, the public, do not need slanging matches: what we need is fracking and reliable, cheap power and that eftsoons or right speedily.
    It is such a shame that it is taking so long – so keep at it!
    (PS The Dimblebody was at it on TV. Global warming, the seas rising, the sky rolling back to reveal, not Jesus, but catastrophe! Woe Woe Woe. Just like the BBC parody of the UKIP website on the fantastically witty and hilariously funny One Show yesterday or the Radio 4 profile programme on your leader, Mr Farage, who is, as we all know, a drunk, a heavy smoker (worse), divorced (natch) and a power freak. Worst of all: he went into the City instead of Oxford University. He is, you will be pleased to know, about to implode.)

  4. maureen gannon says:

    Roger there are disemblers on any blog , placed there to disrupt, they do not debate but make snidey remarks, UKIP is now a threat, not of winning an election but threatening the Conservative vote, so you will find the stronger UKIP become the more this will happen , they are best ignored,
    below for those who have not heard of this below is the definition of a disembler.

    1.To disguise or conceal behind a false appearance. See synonyms at disguise.
    2.To make a false show of; feign.

  5. John Russell says:

    Roger; don’t you think that your list of people you choose to rub shoulders with, rather makes Catalanbrian’s point for him? And perhaps you should also seek out people with more mainstream views?

  6. catalanbrian says:

    Firstly I apologise if I have offended you. In response I would comment that the majority of the people listed in your recent piece are those who hold the same views as you do. Yes there are one or two who don’t but it is clear that most of your contact is with those with whom you agree. For your information as far as I am concerned the situation is probably similar (it is of course far more agreeable to engage in discussion with those of a similar mind) but I do also listen to the arguments from your perspective (why otherwise would I bother reading your blog?). It is just that thus far you have not convinced me, quite simply because you and the anti renewables lobby just seem to attack the whole concept of renewable energy (and using doubtful statistics to support this view) whilst singing the praises of fossil fuel energy. The truth is that we do need to investigate alternative fossil fuels (shale gas for example) but not at the cost of everything else. I believe absolutely that we also need to further develop energy development systems that do not rely on the depletion of finite resources which I repeat, perhaps boringly, will run out one day. The intention of my comments is simple – to put an alternative view on that which is a very important subject – long term energy security. I would finally add that it would be very unfortunate if we were to run out of fossil fuel resources before we have developed the perfect energy source for the future (maybe fusion) just because we had used them up in lighting and heating our houses when there was an alternative energy source available.

    • rfhmep says:

      Thanks for your response. I think you will find I engage with hundreds who disagree, from Leo Hickman of the Guardian to the UEA/CRU to to about 650 in the European parliament and thousands at the UN Climate Conferences. And I am not against all renewables. I am strongly pro-hydro (despite the dreadful accidents that have taken place at hydro projects) — because unlike wind and solar, it is economic, reliable and controllable. And I believe that maybe in ten years time there may be competitive solar PV technologies. They just aren’t there now.

  7. neilfutureboy says:

    On the original thread I challenged “Cantalabrian” to provide some evidence that he was pushing alarmism without being a government funded hacktivist. It was apparent on that thread that we were being inundated by alarmists whjo were being personally offencive,; asserting alarmist claims without providinmg evidence; and failing to respond when, as routinely happens, the asserions were proven non-factual by seriouis commenters.

    Neither C nor any of the other alarmists attempted an answer. Over the years I have asked alarmists to identify a single scientist anywhere in the world who supports alarmism and isn’t paid by the state. While a few names have been given, including 2 who identified themselves, nobody who truly is independent has ever been found. A similar question about senior members of the pseudo-environmentalist movement has never produced anybody whose career path has not be as a government hack. I think the failure of ANY activist here to indentify as provabnly not a government PR hack makes it A STATISTICAL CERTAINTY THAT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF COMMENTERS ON HERE AND ON VARIOUS NEWSPAPERS & ELSEWHERE WHO CLAIM TO BE SINCERE ALARMISTS ARE BEING PAID FOR IT.

    • Duyfken says:

      neilfutureboy: As one who is an opponent of wind turbines and generally sceptical of the AGW camp, I still need to correct the impression you have of Catalanbrian. Without destroying his anonymity, I can say C is none of the things you imply of him; he is well-known to me and a good friend – he just holds political views at the other end of the spectrum from mine. He is certainly not paid for his contributions and is not conniving with others, political or otherwise, it’s just that he feels so strongly on the subject that he is prepared to lock horns with those who do not agree with his outlook. Yes, I think much of what he believes is not true but he certainly is not a dissembler or troll. I feel you might care to withdraw your accusation and innuendo.

      • maureen gannon says:

        I also assumed he was a disembler as he made personal insults, I have not agreed with Roger on every subject but have refrained from making it into a personality issue as this reduces the effectivness of the argument, however strongly one feels on a subject . Everyones opinion is valid, and it will be time that will tell on this one.

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Roger, I sent this to you via your email a few days ago to hear what you have to say about this article It is a long article but worth a read and I will be interested in hearing any opinion about it.

    • rfhmep says:

      Sorry for the delay. Back in Brux on Wednesday. R.

    • mrsircharles says:

      Well. You see, he hasn’t got a reply. But there is another brand new study which should ring the bells:

      First Study of Its Kind Detects 44 Hazardous Air Pollutants at Gas Drilling Sites

      “With gas wells in some states being drilled near schools and homes, scientists see a need for better chemical disclosure laws and follow-up research.

      For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits.

      But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn’t in progress.

      According to a peer-reviewed study in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, more than 50 NMHCs were found near gas wells in rural Colorado, including 35 that affect the brain and nervous system. Some were detected at levels high enough to potentially harm children who are exposed to them before birth.

      The authors say the source of the chemicals is likely a mix of the raw gas that is vented from the wells and emissions from industrial equipment used during the gas production process.

      The paper cites two other recent studies on NMHCs near gas drilling sites in Colorado. But the new study was conducted over a longer period of time and tested for more chemicals than those studies did.”

      • Jane Davies says:

        This is seriously worrying, these chemicals will end up in the water table and have serious consequences regarding drinking water for not only animals, therefore polluting the human food chain, but our drinking water that comes out of our taps.

  9. Bellevue says:

    What about the known damages that windmills cause? to wildlife, birds, bats and also to humans who live nearby?
    Why dont we hear anything about this?

  10. Bellevue says:

    Off topic, but I would really like to apologise to you Roger from when you answered questions on Autonomous Mind blog – and I was unjustifiably rude to you. I hope you have forgotten all about it!
    Just have to say that I read your blog every day, and you talk an awfull lot of sense. Good for you crossing the floor, and upholding your principles…..

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