Blackley and Broughton MP describes his reasons for disagreeing with Brian Cox, Jim Al-Khalili and Al Gore
What a shame to see two of television’s most popular science personalities, Professor Jim Al-Khalili and Manchester University professor Brian Cox, condemn the BBC Today programme last week for allowing Lord Nigel Lawson to criticise Al Gore’s new film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”, calling the decision ignorant and irresponsible.
There is a long and inglorious strand in the history of science where authorities attempt to close down debate. The most notorious example being the Inquisition's threat of torture to Galileo Galilei for daring to promote the idea that the earth orbited the sun following his observations of the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter.
Messrs Cox and Al-Khalili are on the wrong side of history by trying to gag Lawson.
Lord Lawson, although not a scientist himself, is the author of An Appeal to Reason: a Cool Look at Global Warming. This is an examination of the science and economics associated with global warming. It has been a best seller.
Gore and his supporter Fisher Stevens who appeared with Lawson on the Today programme are not scientists and were given twice the time to put their case.
Cox’s and Al-Khalili’s attempt to censor Lawson is not about scientific qualifications, it is that they are simply supporting what they believe to be the orthodox view and not looking at the evidence. It is ignorant and irresponsible to try and stifle debate.
The first important fact that Lawson exposed was that Al Gore has a vested interest in alternative energy. He is a very rich man (estimated wealth $300m) who has lobbied hard and succeeded in gaining grants for his green energy businesses. He has invested in solar panels; initially in SolarCity, which was folded into Tesla. He is also a senior partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers which specialises in investments in green-energy.
His films are clearly in support of his business interests
Inconveniently for Gore, as well as for Prince Charles and Gordon Brown, all who predicted thermal disaster by now, apocalypse has not arrived.
In fact, we have had a twenty-year pause in Global Warming, unpredicted by the models climate scientists have put into their super computers.
'...calling Lord Lawson a climate change denier is a simple attempt to de-legitimise criticism'
Gore tries to frighten people into believing in his theory of imminent climate catastrophe by showing films of violent storms and other extreme weather events. “Join the dots” he says, implying that before we melt we will be blown away by a succession of increasingly violent hurricanes.
The facts don’t support this.
Professor Michael Kelly of Cambridge University and Professor Roger Pielke Jnr of Colorado University have both had papers published in respectable journals showing that there were fewer extreme weather events and on average they were less intense in the second half of the 20th century than the first half. These papers must be known to Al Gore but he has chosen to keep the viewers of his films ignorant.
When The last Labour government wanted to circulate Gore’s previous film, An Inconvenient Truth to English schools it was challenged in court as being political and biased (Dimmock v Department of Education and Skills). The Judge found nine statements in the film to be a departure from the scientific mainstream or, as Dimmock’s counsel put it, ‘these were errors and inaccuracies”.
His latest documentary is less accurate not more.
Even Gore’s symbol of climate catastrophe, the polar bear, is doing well. Polar bear populations have increased after aerial hunting ceased in Alaska, quotas were introduced in Canada and trapping and hunting banned in Svalbard.
Science has not only had to stand up to external authority, it also has to be aware of the corrupting effect of vested interests.
The tobacco industry distorted scientific research for decades with apparently competent scientists turning out papers that showed smoking tobacco didn’t damage your health in order to stave off health regulations.
There is no evidence that money coming from government or charities is less corrupting of scientists than money coming from profit. It may be noble cause corruption; scientists believing they are saving the planet by producing results that they believe will push governments into decisions they approve of. To guard against this open debate is necessary, calling Lord Lawson a climate change denier is a simple attempt to de-legitimise criticism.
This is not an abstract debate. The policies that follow from believing in catastrophic climate change, beyond what evidence supports, has put up the price of gas and electricity, further impoverishing many of my poorest constituents. I believe that science should respect the facts and should be constantly tested and debated.
For these reasons I have become a member of the Global Warming Foundation, which Lord Lawson chairs. I have not done this to deny anything, certainly not that climate does change, but to ensure a thorough and proper scientific debate.
Graham Stringer is a regular columnist for Manchester Confidential. He is the Labour Member of Parliament for Blackley and Broughton with a majority of 28,258 after the 2017 election, up from 12,303 in 2010.
He was elected to Parliament in 1997 for the now abolished constituency of Manchester Blackley. Prior to this he was the Leader of Manchester City Council from 1984-1996. He is one of the few MPs to have scientific experience, as a professional analytical chemist. He is a member of The Science and Technology Committee at Westminster.