The Daily Mail has published a rubbish piece by Michael Howard, former leader of Britain’s Conservative party, attacking Donald Trump, claiming that man-made global warming is real and that Margaret Thatcher was a true believer.
The piece is headlined “30 years ago, Mrs Thatcher warned of man-made global warming. I fear this blazing summer is proving her right.”
It’s drivel – worthy, if one could be bothered, of a complaint on grounds of accuracy to the press regulator IPSO.
I’ll detail its faults in a moment. The fact that so rigorous and robust a newspaper should publish such dross is worrying indeed.
Though some loathe its mix of prurience and sanctimony, the Mail is one of the last truly great British newspapers. Its journalists do real journalism. It is tightly edited. It is a bastion of conservative values and it speaks for Middle England, as it showed when – against its proprietor’s wishes – it stood up for Brexit. Also, for years it has stood out as one of the few media strongholds of climate scepticism. Often it has published pieces by Christopher Booker – and in its Sunday edition by David Rose – and also by me on occasion exposing the flaws in the climate consensus.
You could argue that this was hardly a difficult position to take, there being so much low hanging fruit to be plucked on this particular issue. But in a climate where the government apparatus and the scientific establishment and, of course, the BBC are all relentlessly pushing the climate alarmist line it takes editorial courage to be the newspaper that stands out from the crowd and dares to point out that the Emperor is in fact naked.
If the Mail is now going to duck its responsibilities, that leaves only the Sunday Telegraph (not the embarrassingly pro-wind Daily) and the Sun in Britain’s mainstream media prepared to tell the truth about the great climate con.
So this piece by Michael Howard – Lord Howard of Lympne, as he now is. Here are a few reasons why it should never have been published.
Margaret Thatcher, in whose government I served, is unique among prime ministers in having had a science degree and having worked as a scientist before entering politics.
She was better qualified than any other politician to understand climate science and to foresee the likely course of climate change if left unchecked.
Thirty years ago next month, she gave a speech to scientists of the Royal Society. There was a danger, she said, that ‘we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself’.
This is just the kind of deviousness and obfuscation one would expect from a lawyer like Howard. As he must well know – he is not stupid – Margaret Thatcher’s early position on climate change had little to do with her scientific background. Rather it was that she had fallen under the influence of a fervent alarmist Sir Crispin Tickell who persuaded her that global warming was a serious issue.
Later, having examined the evidence more closely, Mrs Thatcher recanted – as she made clear in her book Statecraft, in a section summarised here by Christopher Booker.
Pouring scorn on the “doomsters”, she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of “costly and economically damaging” schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.
Howard goes on to confuse weather with climate by insisting – against the actual scientific evidence – that all this heat and sunshine we’ve been experiencing must be some dread augury of climate doom.
As Homewood shows, the facts simply don’t support Howard’s claims that this summer’s heat is evidence of climate change.
First, let’s look at the UK, to see if there is anything unusual about this summer so far:
June was not as hot as 1976 or 1940, whilst July was also not a record month. The whole record shows how variable British summers are, even though average temperatures may be slightly higher than they used to be a century ago. There is no evidence at all that this summer’s heatwave will become the new norm.
Howard’s screed reads so badly, I wonder whether it was not perhaps written for him by Bob Ward, the failed palaeopiezometrist paid large sums of money by an American hedge fund millionaire called Jeremy Grantham to churn out climate propaganda and harass sceptics with vexatious and inaccurate press complaints.
Howard doesn’t miss the opportunity to have a dig at Donald Trump too:
Anyone who has been to a Chinese city knows the terrible atmospheric problems they endure. But people there are not prepared to put up with it any more. China’s government recognises this and is implementing changes.
In India, politicians accept they must reduce carbon emissions. Both countries have huge plans for renewable energy and electric cars.
The big question is whether change can happen fast enough to avoid damaging consequences for future generations.
The obdurate refusal of U.S. President Donald Trump to do likewise is a matter of regret, but in individual American states, much encouraging progress is being made. Businesses are adapting, even if the lead is not coming from the federal government. It is not co-ordinated, but it is cause for optimism.
This is outrageous for a number of reasons. It’s too bad even for Bob Ward: more worthy of an unpaid intern at Greenpeace. Here we have – purportedly, at any rate – a former leader of the Conservative party attacking a conservative U.S. president for his pro-business, pro-market, pro-consumer, pro-science policies while praising the authoritarian government of China, one of the world’s biggest polluters and by far the biggest producer of industrial CO2 for all the propaganda it has produced telling everyone how good its green intentions are.
Maybe Howard is trying to promote himself as a green crusader in order to distract from his involvement in a lucrative, environmentally dubious building project which threatens to despoil rural Somerset.
Maybe he is angling for a job on the green gravy train in the manner of that fellow embarrassment Lord Deben.
Maybe he is deluded enough to imagine that Theresa May and the green squishes within her government are going to remain the dominant faction for more than about ten seconds.
Never mind this political has-been, though. The far bigger scandal here is that the Mail published it. I know from having written for them in the past – though I’m probably now killing my chances of doing so again – how thoroughly, painstakingly rigorous they are whenever they publish a piece about climate change or the environment. Yes, it’s because they know that if they put a foot even slightly wrong then there’s a massive, well-funded green lobby ready to scream like Bodysnatchers and demand redress. But it’s also because they believe in factual accuracy. It’s what makes – or made, at least – the Mail such a first-rate newspaper: all those subs and fact checkers and section editors, checking and double-checking that every article is up to scratch.
This Howard drivel falls far, far short of these exacting standards. It is absolutely riddled with inaccuracies and its deeply dishonest premise has been calculated to deceive the readers.
The subliminal message is “Your heroine Margaret Thatcher believed in climate change. So should you!”
I wonder how the Mail‘s overwhelmingly sceptical readers feel about having their intelligence insulted in this way.
Actually, I don’t need to wonder. The evidence is there in the comments: they’re not buying it and I don’t blame them.