So much for the consensus on climate change

Posted on November 9, 2013

Is someone here in denial?

Each week MSPs receive a scattering of invitations to the various receptions, briefings and open meetings which take place at Holyrood. The level of interest varies of course, but this one caught my eye recently:

Dear MSPs,

Murdo Fraser MSP would like to invite you to the following event.

Professor Murry Salby Climate Change: What We Know and What We Don’t
Thursday the 7th of November 3:30-4:30 pm
Committee Room 4, Scottish Parliament

Professor Murry Salby is currently a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado and formerly held positions at Princeton University and the University of Paris.
Professor Murry Salby will give a short talk on the role of human activity and climate change, followed by an account of his personal story and his treatment after challenging the current consensus. This will be followed by a question and answer session.

Funnily enough, the only other time I can remember attending a meeting at Holyrood solely to find out what the ‘other side’ are up to, Murdo Fraser was the host. On that occasion the nasty and homophobic group The Christian Institute were being given a platform on the subject of family law (!) and this time, it’s a climate denier with a chequered history trying to persuade us that Scotland should dump our whole climate change policy.

Why is it that the same people are so often wrong about the environment and about queer equality? Maybe UKIP have the answer…

The presentation from Prof Salby contained nothing to surprise me. He seems very pleased with his apparently unique and unprecedented observation that short term changes and long term trends aren’t the same, and manages to ignore about 150 years worth of basic physics in order to conclude that global warming causes CO2 increase, rather than the other way round.

I stayed for the Q&A just long enough to correct his false claim that his talk was being hosted by “the Climate Committee” (in fact it was hosted by Murdo as an individual MSP, and attended by a handful of people from an odd little climate denial pressure group called the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum; no committee of parliament was involved) and then to solicit a slightly weary from frown from the Professor when I asked for references to his published work in peer-reviewed journals. No prizes for guessing how that inquiry turned out!

It would be easy to brush this off as a meaningless event. Certainly I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in endless exchanges with people who simply repeat the same debunked rubbish, while indignantly claiming that anyone who challenges their integrity is stifling important debate. Though of course I am grateful to those who have done the work so that we don’t have to.

But the serious aspect is the continual flirting with climate denial that we see from the Tories at present. Murdo Fraser, Jackson Carlaw, and their colleagues all voted – repeatedly – for Scotland’s climate change legislation and the targets it contains. I don’t expect them to suddenly fall in love with wind turbines, or out of it with nukes, or to trade in their Chelsea tractors for bikes. But the least we have a right to expect is a little consistency. If they have decided to ditch their respect for climate science, let them come out and say so publicly. If not, if they continue to acknowledge the need for urgent and radical emission cuts to preserve the environmental conditions conducive to human civilisation, then they like all other political parties should challenge the junk-science obsessives and the vested interests of the denial industry, instead of indulging them.

If, as I suspect, they intend to continue to ride both horses then they must expect that the voters will be told what a shallow and cynical game they’re playing.

1 Comment

  1. Spot on

    Comment by David Mackenzie — November 9, 2013 @ 12:08 pm