Doomed Planet

Sir David King, the UK’s extreme weathervane


Sir David King was Professor of physical chemistry at Liverpool University and later at Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991, Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002 and was knighted in 2003.


King also was the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser from 2000 until 2007 and has given numerous talks about the need for world governments to take action against catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). In 2008 King became the Director of Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE):

“Founded by a benefaction from the Martin Smith Foundation, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment will conduct multidisciplinary research on private solutions to environmental problems…”

We are told, “Martin Smith, himself an Oxford graduate, approached the University 18 months ago with the idea of a school focusing on private sector solutions to environmental problems.”

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood, said:

“Oxford University is enormously grateful for the generous benefaction from the Martin Smith Foundation that has ensured this exciting project can be made a reality. Martin Smith and his wife, Elise, have devoted great energy and enthusiasm to this initiative to combat global climate change.” (author’s emphasis)

So there we have it. Directed by Sir David King, here is an organization established to control the climate of a planet.

We are further told that the SSEE strives to work with business groups and politicians, helping them make decisions about securing a low-carbon (dioxide) future – presumably to save the planet. Sir David King dramatically and with no corroborative evidence told The Guardian:

“The impact of humanity on the planet is in danger of sacrificing the very ecosystems that provide the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Failure to make changes will provide a planet which can no longer sustain our civilisation.”

The SSEE appears to subscribe to the following beliefs:

1. Carbon dioxide is a significant “greenhouse gas”. (It isn’t!)

2. Carbon dioxide drives global temperature. (It never has, still doesn’t and never will.)

King doesn’t appear to know that the Earth experienced a glacial maximum when carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are today.

King believes that the Earth is warming dangerously because of rising carbon dioxide levels from human emissions. It isn’t! There has been no global warming for at least 16 years.

Professor Judith Curry, a former US National Research Council Climate Research Committee member and the author of more than 190 peer-reviewed papers, commented:

“A note to defenders of the idea that the planet has been warming for the past 16 years. Raise the level of your game ….. Use this as an opportunity to communicate honestly with the public about what we know and what we don’t know about climate change. Take a lesson from other scientists who acknowledge the pause.”

King doesn’t appear to know that current levels of carbon dioxide are amongst the lowest they have been throughout geologic time. Princeton’s Professor Will Happer, an atmospheric physicist, testified before the US Congress that the Earth is in a “CO2 famine now” and that “the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind.”

King doesn’t appear to know that, even if warming resumed, flora and fauna flourish during warm periods and tend to struggle during colder times.

Despite the fact that CAGW has not happened as the IPCC’s computer models predicted (and is unlikely to happen), the SSEE’s website points out that the threat of CAGW offers good business opportunities:

“Opportunities for businesses and governments lie in addressing these challenges.”

In 2004 King published a paper in Science promoting typical warming-world exaggerations, in the process making the ritual affirmation required of all members in good standing with the climate cult, “Climate change is real!”

Perhaps King was never made aware that the Earth’s climate has always changed and always will. Perhaps he was never told that one would have to be totally ignorant of the climate/paleoclimate literature to make such a fatuous public statement. King continued, insisting that “the causal link to increased greenhouse emissions is now well established.”

King doesn’t appear to know there is no empirical evidence to justify his statement, but he just had to continue with the hyperbole. “In my view, climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today—more serious even than the threat of terrorism,” he said.

The hysteria continued:

“Only the forcing from increasing greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations could explain the general upward trend in temperature over the past 150 years.”

This statement ignores the facts that there is currently no upward trend in temperature and there are a number of factors which could have contributed to the gentle and not unusual warming of the late 20th century. Perhaps we can assist Sir David by pointing him to some easily accessible literature:

Perhaps King hasn’t been told that global temperatures attained during the current interglacial are lower than maxima attained during the previous three interglacials: In 2008, Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King collaborated to produce their alarmist book: The Hot Topic. How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights on.

king and fat albertOn the January 13, 2008, The Sunday Times wrote: “With the clarity that [Al] Gore rightly commends, they do a fine job … [The Hot Topic] is a material gain for the axis of good.”

Apparently Al Gore (left, with his English friend) commended Walker’s book, as did Tim Flannery (of course), and the authors assure readers that they “have no personal axes to grind.” Reviewer Tony Gilland cautioned that readers would not be offered any balanced viewpoints in Walker and King’s book. Rather they can expect many references to “climate fear”, “bleak outlooks”, “catastrophe”, “grave dangers to our civilization” and the threat of the Greenland Ice Sheet melting.

King continues to promote the silly notion that we can somehow regulate atmospheric carbon dioxide and control the Earth’s climate by reducing the extremely low levels of carbon dioxide produced by human activity. Was he aware of, or did he choose to ignore, the 97% input of carbon dioxide from natural processes such as ocean venting, decomposition of organic matter and volcanism. Sir David might get a shock if he finds out how much carbon dioxide and methane is produced by termites.

Sir David opined:

“It is already too late to stop any further warming from occurring. However, if we could stabilize the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration at some realistically achievable and relatively low level, there is still a good chance of mitigating the worst effects of climate change.”

He continued to expose his ignorance in this area:

“Given all this evidence, it’s ridiculous to say that human-induced climate change isn’t happening, absurd to say we don’t understand why, and any suggestion that we have nothing to worry about is like making a very bad bet.”

What is ridiculous is King’s assertions that we know and fully understand all the processes involved in climate change and that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are essentially responsible for global temperature change. If King continues to promote such a simplistic storyline he is in danger of being regarded as the Enid Blyton of climate science.

When the movie The Day After Tomorrow hit the screens, King told the BBC:

“While my colleagues and I have just spent half an hour presenting you with the scientific understanding of climate change, the movie gets the basic message across in a few sentences of dialogue. It’s a beautiful piece of script-writing.”

King warned, again with no evidence, about the prospect of flooding, coastal erosion and heat-related deaths whilst doffing his cap to the now discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On May 2nd, 2004, in a remarkable piece of unsubstantiated alarmism, King told The Independent on Sunday that Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming were to remain unchecked. Such alarmist statements made by King leads one to suspect that he knows little about the climate/paleoclimate literature. His stated belief that the Earth is entering the “first hot period” for 60 million years removes all doubt.

For most of geologic time, average global temperatures have been up to 10c degrees higher than current temperatures and the planet has cooled steadily since the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 65 million years ago. Cooling however has been neither continuous nor uniform.

Greenland ice core records show that current average global temperature is certainly not the highest over the last 15,000 years. Furthermore, we are currently experiencing a mild interglacial phase of an ice age and a return to cooling is a distinct possibility.

The Independent quoted King’s over-the-top comment about melting ice on Greenland and dangerous sea level rise:

“If all the ice on Greenland were to melt, sea level would rise by seven metres. Is that likely to happen? Well I was saying six years ago unlikely [but] I’m afraid that that’s having to be revised… 80 percent of our human population lives within less than a one metre rise of sea level so imagine the destabilisation of our geopolitical system with a sea level rise of the order of one or two metres. And that is on the cards I’m afraid.”

Yet again, King displays his ignorance. There is absolutely no evidence that the Greenland ice cap is in danger of melting, leading to a one- or two-metre rise in sea level. King should also take note that sea level has remained relatively unchanged over the last 40 years.

The winds of change could now be blowing toward Sir David who might have recently discovered that a distinct majority of scientists now reject the notion of CAGW. Perhaps he is also becoming aware of the questionable process of the discredited IPCC. Here is a sample:

1.The IPCC’s 1988 Statement of Intent and statements from IPCC members made clear that there was never any serious intention to consider factors other than human activity as a principal driver of climate change;

2. IPCC contributing scientists have observed how politicized the organization has become with the IPCC using global warming as a political “cause” rather than the basis for balanced scientific inquiry;

3. IPCC members have admitted that the IPCC is more about ideology and wealth distribution rather than a dispassionate analysis of climate science;

4. The IPCC’s non-scientists Chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri has publicly declared his bias about climate change, Western lifestyles and his desire to transform the world’s economy by demonizing carbon dioxide;

5.The IPCC’s claim that human activity is contributing significantly to global warming and that this claim is supported by up to 4,000 scientists is demonstrably false;

6. The IPCC gives the impression that a large number of scientists contribute to the writing of IPCC reports when only a “select few” actually do;

7. The IPCC gives the impression that its reports are prepared by the world’s best scientists yet many contributors are graduate students and environmental activists;

8. The IPCC’s selection of literature is biased towards those scientists and papers which support the mantra of anthropogenic global warming;

9. The IPCC claims to use only peer-reviewed published literature when it clearly does no such thing;

10. The IPCC has not only incorporated “grey literature” in its reports but has also allowed NGO operatives, such as Greenpeace personnel, to make significant contributions;

11. The IPCC attempts to include the names of experts on their reports even if those experts disagree with the IPCC summary statements;

12. When IPCC scientists resigned over perceived malfeasance the IPCC simply ignored this;

13. The IPCC ignored data which show that carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas and has never driven global temperature;

14. Computer models were developed to give a predetermined outcome yet they all failed to predict the current 16 year temperature stasis whilst carbon dioxide levels continue to increase;

15. The IPCC predicted that Arctic summer ice would disappear by 2013. It hasn’t;

16. Because the predicted warming failed to materialise, the IPCC changed its terminology from “global warming” to “climate change” to “extreme weather”;

17. There has been no increase in severe weather since the IPCC’s inception in 1988;

18. The IPCC does not allow any criticism of the anthropogenic global warming meme to progress through to the final IPCC Summaries for Policymakers;

19. Some statements in the technical reports were deleted or changed if they did not conform with the requirements of UN officials and bureaucrats;

20. Comments from IPCC expert reviewers were often ignored if they did not conform with the more alarmist requirements of UN officials and bureaucrats;

21. IPCC Summaries for Policymakers, made available to the media and politicians, were essentially written by UN officials and bureaucrats;

22. IPCC associates have brought pressure to bear on journal editors who have published papers critical of the anthropogenic global warming meme;

23. IPCC scientists have attempted to change well established climate history including the existence of the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and Little Ice Age;

24. The IPCC Chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri claimed that the InterAcademy Council, established to investigate the IPCC, found the IPCC’s work to be solid and robust. In fact the IAC concluded that there were significant shortcomings in each major step of the IPCC’s assessment process.

Surely King must also know that the Michael Mann hockey stick graph purporting to represent recent dramatic global warming has been rejected by the broader scientific community and, once widely championed by the IPCC, Mann’s graph has now been quietly dropped.

King must also know about failed IPCC computer predictions, that oceans are not warming and that the planet has not warmed as alarmists, like himself, have loudly proclaimed whilst carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.

Of more interest, he must also know that his personal credibility is now on the line.

In what initially looked to be a seismic shift, King appeared to turn away from alarmism, conceding in The Times, that there had been:

“Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change.”

Those “exaggerated and inaccurate claims” wouldn’t have come from Sir David, would they? Not that you would know from what he is saying these days:

“Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist…”

Surely Sir David would never distort climate science to support an agenda!

King actually added, not in reference to himself, of course!

“I worry a lot that NGOs [non-governmental organisations] are very much in the habit of doing exactly that...The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens.

And there was this:

“There is a suspicion, and I have that suspicion myself, that a large number of people who label themselves are actually keen to take us back to the 18th or even the 17th century. [Their argument is] Let’s get away from all the technological gizmos and developments of the 20th century…”

And

“I am very annoyed with some of my colleagues for not following the scientific process.”

And:

“I have been irritated by some of my colleagues who have overstated the science.”

Surely Sir David would never overstate the science!

Some clearly think he most certainly has and will continue to do so. In 2008 a letter to Robin Butler, Master of University College, Oxford, from Rupert Wyndham outlined why he refused to make further donations to the college. It appears that Wyndham was not at all happy about a certain appointment.

Apparently it was all about the fact that Sir David King had been appointed Director of the SSEE at the University of Oxford.

Wyndham explained:

“Four years ago Dr. Andrei Ilarionov, then chief economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, decided to cross-check the advice coming to him from the Russian Academy of Sciences on the subject of global warming. Its members had opined that it would not be significant and would pose no threat. To this end, and here I quote from an impeccable source, ‘he looked around for the sappiest, laziest, most acquiescent, most true-believing government in the world, and settled upon the UK..’ The then Foreign Secretary was invited to a meeting avec entourage, including the then Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King. Unbeknown to them, six of the world’s most eminent sceptical scientists had also been invited.”

The group of scientists included Professor Nils Axel-Morner, foremost expert on sea level and IPCC contributing scientist. Morner had made clear that:

“If you go around the globe, you find no sea level rise anywhere.”

Also present was Professor Paul Reiter, foremost expert on insect-borne disease and IPCC contributing scientist. Reiter’s comments about the IPCC science and process were blunt:

“I know of no major scientist with any long record in this field who agrees with the pronouncements of the alarmists at the IPCC.”

And

“…all of us who work in the field are repeatedly stunned by the IPCC pronouncements. We protest, but are rarely quoted, and if so, usually as a codicil to the scary stuff.”

Wyndham continued:

“Sir David King, not realizing he had been ambushed, launched into his usual exaggerated, alarmist presentation (he actually knows remarkably little about the science of climate, and makes an ass of himself every time he opens his mouth on the subject). The six sceptics heard him politely until one of them, who told me the story, could contain himself no longer. When Sir David said that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of “global warming”, my informant pointed out that, in the 30 years since satellite monitoring of the summit had begun, temperature had at no instant risen above –1.6°C, and had averaged –7°C (Molg et al., 2003); that the region around the mountain had cooled throughout the period (Cullen, 2006); that the recession of the glacier had begun in the 1880s, long before any anthropogenic influence (Robinson, Robinson & Soon, 2007); and that the reason for the long-established recession of the Furtwangler glacier at the summit was ablation caused by the desiccation of the atmosphere owing to the regional cooling. It had nothing to do with global warming.”

Wyndham described King’s response:

“Sir David King, embarrassed at having been caught out, said he had never been so insulted in all his life. He flounced out of the meeting, followed by the rest of the British delegation. To Dr. Ilarionov, two conclusions were evident: first, that the supporters of the “consensus” position had based their argument on known scientific falsehoods and were accordingly unable to argue against the well- informed sceptics.”

In his letter to Robin Butler, Wyndham concluded:

“Do I, on the other hand, really feel in good conscience that financial support should be given to an institution, which not only promotes the self-preening of a vain man, but actually goes further by installing him in a sinecure calculated to allow him to further his malignant proselytising endeavours.”

It appears that Sir David King has since wet his finger, held it aloft and found the wind to be blowing the way of the climate-change rationalists. He sometimes modifies his message accordingly. For instance, when challenged about his previous statement about climate change being a bigger threat than terrorism, King simply said that he provided that particular “sound bite” to put climate change back on the public agenda. He wanted to get the media interested again and to get many more people in positions of authority to raise their voices.

In 2010, Dr Indur Goklany noted how King had actually criticized some IPCC scientists:

“Emails from scientists at the University of East Anglia suggest that certain members of the IPCC felt that the consensus was so precious that some external challenges had to be kept outside the discussion. That is clearly not acceptable.”

King has even appeared to be critical of the IPCC Chairman:

“Moreover, this leads to the danger that people will go beyond the science that is truly reliable, and pick up almost anything that seems to support the argument [such as] saying that all ice would vanish from the Himalayas within the next 30 years … When I heard Dr Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, declare this at Copenhagen last December I could hardly believe my ears. This issue is far too important for scientists to risk crossing the line into advocacy.”

Of course Sir David would never cross the line into advocacy, not ever!

But, just when it appears that King might have seen the light, he reverts to offering excuses for climate alarmism and the IPCC’s abuse of science and process, blaming the fossil fuel industry:

“However, it’s not all the IPCC’s fault. Climate scientists have been forced into this corner by a disastrous combination of cynical lobbying and a misguided desire for certainty. The American lobby system, driven by political and economic vested interests in fossil fuels, seeks to use any challenge to undermine the entire body of science.”

Vested interests? No mention by Sir David of the SSEE’s existence being linked to the promotion of climate alarmism; pressure from environmental groups to de-industrialize the world; governments seeking an excuse for further revenue raising; governments of island nations looking for compensation for imaginary sea level rise; individual scientists and institutions which stand to gain billions of dollars in research funding by perpetuating the myth of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, those making money by allowing wind turbines to be built on their land or those in the wind and solar industries, manufacturing inefficient devices incapable of producing base-load power.

King also failed to mention the tirades of abuse directed toward those skeptics who have argued for the integrity of science whilst exposing the many examples of IPCC malfeasance. Perhaps King can be excused since he lacks the expertise (or the will) that would have enabled him to see how the IPCC has systematically abused the scientific process.

If Sir David is still inclined to offer succour to the IPCC, he would be well advised to read investigative journalist Donna Laframboise’s meticulously referenced books: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert and Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize.

He would quickly learn that the IPCC is a political/ideological organization that cannot be trusted to report in an even-handed way about climate science and should be closed down. He would also see why the Chairman of the IPCC should be instantly dismissed.

Why doesn’t King know that the IPCC was established to prove pre-ordained conclusions about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming whilst ignoring the substantial body of contrary evidence?

Perhaps he does.

Why isn’t King concerned that billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on policy decisions around the world based on the IPCC’s highly questionable work. As Ben Pile observes:

“Politicians take the advice of this spoilt and conceited institution at face-value, deflecting criticism of their own policies by hiding behind its scientific expertise.”

In an interview with Pan Pantziarka of London Book Review Donna Laframboise said:

“I’ve given up expecting the IPCC to demonstrate any sort of professionalism or accountability. I think the internal culture there is so rotten, the situation is quite hopeless.”

And:

“I expect a lot of journalists to reject the main message of my book (that the IPCC is neither credible nor trustworthy) because to do anything else would be to admit that they – personally and professionally – were suckered.”

It’s not only journalists who appear to have been suckered. So have many politicians and scientists.

Is King now aware of how the IPCC actually operates? Does he know which way to turn? It is abundantly clear that he painted himself into the CAGW corner some time ago and he still feels obliged to excuse scientific malfeasance and promote alarmism when it suits him. In 2012 he said:

“The scientific community felt very battered by the University of East Anglia climate revelations but they continue to beaver away showing predictions for the next 20 years are even worse than predicted and we are faced with a human existential crisis.”

It appears that the latest IPCC AR5 report will cut back on the alarmism saying that the temperature rise we can expect as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is lower than the IPCC thought in 2007.

Yet we have King confidently saying:

“Predictions for the next 20 years are even worse than predicted.”

No surprise here then. Just because the IPCC’s process and findings have been found wanting, we should forgive them and heed any future dire warnings they, and King, will inevitably make in future. After all, if the alarmism stops, then so might the funding. King once said, “Any suggestion that we have nothing to worry about is like making a very bad bet.”

Yet he is careful to make an each-way wager himself. On the one hand King pretends to be critical of alarmist scientists. On the other hand he continues to cheer on the IPCC and its acolytes from the sidelines. As Upton Sinclair put it:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

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