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Sir John Houghton is a liar

Sir John Houghton, an ex-boss of the IPCC, and the hockey stick graph, visually demonstrating that the flawed hockey stick graph has never played any important role for the IPCC statements. However, we will look at something else here. Picture via AP and BBC

The Independent and New Zealand Herald published a whole article about one quote. It was called

Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist
It has complained that Benny Peiser said that Sir John Houghton has said:
"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen."
sometime in 1994. They have to feel pretty desperate to dedicate one whole article to one of hundreds of quotes listed by Peiser (99% of which are letter-by-letter accurate). The Guardian has written about it, too - although not a whole article is dedicated to this issue.

Today, everyone seems to agree that it is immoral to lie about disasters. So Sir John Houghton vehemently denies that he has ever said anything like this. In fact, he claims that he has always warned against exaggerations. The Independent writes:
In fact, his view on the matter of generating scare stories to publicise climate change is quite the opposite. "There are those who will say 'unless we announce disasters, no one will listen', but I'm not one of them," Sir John told The Independent.

"It's not the sort of thing I would ever say. It's quite the opposite of what I think and it pains me to see this quote being used repeatedly in this way. I would never say we should hype up the risk of climate disasters in order to get noticed," he said.
This proclamation has been parroted by dozens of left-wing blogs such as Deltoid, Island of Doubt, Climate Emergency News, She Wonk, Neil's Second Decade, Sott.net, Exile on Moan Street, Mark Pack, The Legend of Pine Ridge, and many others. Oh, he's so honest, isn't he? All of these blogs fabricate incredible conspiracy theories "explaining" which skeptics have actually created the story and associated it with the "innocent" Sir John Houghton.

Unfortunately for Mr Houghton, John Adams was able to prove that what Houghton says - and what all the blogs above say - are just lies. (See also Bishop Hill and Philip Stott.) While the exact wording used by Benny Peiser can't be easily found, and it may be genuinely inaccurate, one can find equivalent quotes. They're more than just "statements of the same sort": they really say the same thing.

On September 10th, 1995, The Sunday Telegraph ran an interview with John Houghton:
Me and my God (scanned)
A quote that is exactly equivalent to Benny Peiser's quote appears in this interview, too:
"If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we'll have to have a disaster."
Well, it's not quite identical: it says that they should "have" a disaster which means that they may be forced not only to "announce" it but maybe also to "create" it, as Michael Crichton's State of Fear has discussed in some detail ;-), or to pray to God that God creates it for us to improve our future environmental policies. ;-)

He also says that God Himself may use the disasters - and many similar things - so his opinions about all these matters are very juicy.

Whether you're religious or not, the quote above may be seen to be irrational and dishonest: is the future environmental policies are going to be sensible and good, they will actually address events and phenomena that may happen, and not those that won't happen.

The causal relationship goes in the opposite direction than Houghton indicates: the environmental concerns and actual events that may happen influence policymaking. And good policies are good depending on how accurately they reflect and deal with what is actually happening in the real world. If policies are meant to fight against non-existent phenomena and non-existent disasters, they're as bad policies as policies that fail to deal with important real phenomena.

Saying that the events that happen in the real world influence how good our policies are is just upside down. The quality of our policies may only be calculated given a known real behavior of the world around us because it is really a quality of our understanding and sensitive approach to the actual real issues. The quality can't be presented as a function of the laws of physics because the quality of the policies is about us, not about Nature.

At any rate, I urge Sir John Houghton, the Independent, and all those blogs to apologize to Benny Peiser whose quote was inaccurate in its wording but certainly not in the content. It is very manifest that the exaggerations and fake catastrophic alarms about disasters were always the intent, not just a mistaken side-effect, of the alarmists including Stephen Schneider and Sir John Houghton. And Sir John Houghton himself has wanted to build the AGW movement as a religious sect at least for 15 years. Just four months ago, we could have said that he was successful.

And that's the memo.

Bonus: New Czech solar/wind plants frozen

As expected, the main Czech electricity utilities, ČEZ and E.ON, have agreed with the grid company, ČEPS, that it is dangerous to increase the number of "renewable" sources and they have immediately halted their approval for new solar and wind plants that are parasiting on the grid and the taxpayers' money.

The solar electricity made in Czechia has increased by a factor of 10 within one year. It shouldn't be shocking given the astronomical subsidies for the "renewable" crooks i.e. investors.

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snail feedback (3) :

reader Phil Clarke said...

Strange that the 'announce disasters' quote, which Sir John never actually said or wrote, gets 136,000 hits in Google. While a phrase that Sir John DID say, and which is apparently semantically equivalent is totally forgotten.

Why would that be, I wonder?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Well, the reason is simple: 99% of what Mr Houghton has ever said is irrelevant crap.

The reason why this Gentleman is important is not the actual content but the fact that he has held high positions in the scientific politics. That means that people look what important positions he's been taking, and this quote he morally said was among the most important ones - and Benny Peiser has used a slightly modified version of the known one, which has shocked not 136,000 people but millions of people, so they are informing others about it.

People have been talking about it because it's shocking. It's almost exactly true, too.

Houghton is surely not the first person whose one quote becomes far more well-known than virtually any other sentence he has ever said - that's what quotes usually do: they're being overcopied - and he's also not the first one whose quote has spread in a different form than the original one (assuming that he never said the original one - and I am agnostic about this point).

The quote from the Telegraph says the same thing, it is equally outrageous, and it would have spread in the same way. It won't spread now because it is the same thing that the people have already reported, so they won't report it twice.

reader philip grove said...
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