Who is the conspiracy theorist here?
Yesterday the Telegraph published an article by renowned climate sceptic Christopher Booker, entitled ’10 reasons why we shouldn’t worry about “man-made” global warming’.
Note the quotation marks, which are used liberally throughout the piece, including Booker’s description of the UN summit currently underway in Paris as “one of the most important international conferences in history”. (Is it not?)
According to Booker, the “consensus” view on global warming – that sea levels are rising and polar ice melting thanks to human CO2 emissions – is wrong.
He writes that the scientific evidence showing rising temperatures points to nothing more than a repeat of the ‘Medieval Warm Period’, and dismisses evidence that small island nations are at risk from rising sea levels, citing a single study as proof that the consensus is false.
(A complaint to the Press Complaints Commission in 2009 following Booker’s claim that sea levels around the island of Tuvalu had dropped, held that sea level data used by the IPCC had been unfairly altered and that there were no sea level experts contributing to their Fourth Assessment Report. The complaint was upheld).
But Booker’s favourite topic is Arctic ice. In this article he contends that the amount of Arctic ice is actually increasing. This isn’t the first time Booker has made this claim; in 2008 he wrote an article called ‘So it appears that Arctic ice isn’t vanishing after all’, which included a handy graph which he claimed proved that sea ice had expanded in recent years.
As George Monbiot pointed out at the time, ‘the ice had indeed expanded between September and January. In other words, Booker appeared incapable of distinguishing between summer and winter.’
In short, seasonal patterns should not be confused with an overall decline in Arctic ice levels.
“Ever since 2007, when Arctic summer ice hit a record low, we have been warned that summer ice in the Arctic ocean is melting so fast that that it will soon be “ice free”. But repeatedly the date when this would come about has been moved forward. In fact, since 2007 satellite measurements have shown the ice recovering, until in 2013 less of it melted than at any time for nine years.”
During 2007, Arctic summer sea ice did reach a record low extent, which Carbon Brief admitted was ‘an anomalous event that resulted from specific weather conditions‘ (climate activists are really not the zealots Booker makes them out to be.) But the ‘recovery’ Booker speaks of is a myth: Carbon Brief says that ‘ice extents for years subsequent to 2007, whilst continuing to follow the overall trend of sea ice loss, have not reached the 2007 low, although 2011 came very close.’
The National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) says that
“Arctic sea ice extent for October 2015 averaged 7.72 million square kilometers (2.98 million square miles), the sixth lowest October in the satellite record.”
The NSDIC finds that monthly October ice extent for 1979 to 2015 shows a decline of 6.9 per decade.
Booker likes to make out that anyone who believes scientific evidence for global warming is hysterical and prophesying immediate and dramatic change. But it is Booker who is the conspiracy theorist. He has in the past claimed that:
- White asbestos is ‘relatively harmless (Booker’s informant on asbestos is an ‘expert’ John Bridle whose every claimed qualification has been proven false – the ‘expert’ has even been prosecuted for his lies
- Speed cameras increase the risk of accidents (a claim which he supports by misquoting a House of Commons Committee)
- There is no proof that BSE causes CSJ in humans (there is).
The Telegraph has been publishing Booker’s dangerous misinformation for years. But giving so much space to climate denial at this particular moment strikes me as a new low.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.