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James Delingpole Has Kittens

Poor, dear James Delingpole has been passing kitten-sized anxieties and angry thoughts again; fear and accusations all completely unfounded :-

A number of indignant inaccuracies and strident claims I will pass over, but here are a few I think I shall contest. Just to show that I do bother to read his work (even if I smirk about it most of the time).

“Let’s just pause for a moment to consider what’s at stake here. According to the IPCC’s projections – not even predictions, mark you, just projections based on deeply unreliable, garbage-in-garbage-out computer models…”

No, James, pet. The climate computer models are rather a good fit, actually. I doubt you’ve fully delved into any of the intricacies of the software that brought you the projections of the Third or Fourth Assessment Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Until you do, I really don’t think you should dare pass comment.

And why do you rail at computers in the Science of Climate Change, but accept without question computing in every other area of your life ? Do you trust the ATM will give you freshly ironed readies ? Do you trust that your telephone calls will be patched correctly ? Do you trust the weather satellites that will tell you if your end-of-week will be a barbecue weekend or not ? Er…actually, scrub that. Weather is difficult to compute. How about : do you trust computers to accurately store your work, render your family photographs (of kittens, for example) ?

“… – the world is on course for a period of catastrophic, unprecedented, man-made global warming which can only be prevented by drastically cutting carbon emissions and destroying the global economy.”

Destroy the global economy ? Not really. If, as a race, including all the big spenders and big industrialists, we choose to spend money in ways that enhance ecology, and de-carbonise energy and fuel, then it won’t destroy the global economy. In fact, it will rebirth it.

“… This will cost us all at least $45 trillion and prolong the recession indefinitely…”

You are, I trow, quoting the International Energy Agency (IEA) projection (What ? another “projection” ? And you believe this one ?) that the world, its corporations, governments and peoples need to invest $26 trillion between now and 2030 on new energy systems, fields and infrastructure; raised to $45 trillion if we want to make all those new investments green energy investments.

Lots of money needs to be spent on new energy because there’s been chronic under-investment recently, and a large number of oil and gas fields are depleting, and exploration is plummeting. I don’t want to go on and on. I’m just repeating the conclusions of excellent studies. A lot of this is in the IPCC reports, which you don’t appear to have read, but I would seriously (or jovially) recommend that you do.

“…And an official Dutch investigation now finds that this is all fair and proper and right, even though none of these “projections” is remotely grounded in empirical observation,…”

Not grounded in empirical observation ? You’re wrong there. Have you actually read any of the evidence presented in the fourth IPCC report ? It is freely and uncompromisingly available online, and even if you just deign to read the Technical Summaries, I’m sure you’d learn heaps.

The Data is out there. Really. In the IPCC reports.

“…though the link between the trace gas CO2 and catastrophic global warming remains no more than theoretical,…”

Wrong again, my little kitten ! If the Greenhouse Gases weren’t in the Atmosphere then the temperature of the Earth would be on average a knee-knocking 33 or 34 degrees Celsius colder than it is now. Bit of an icy, barren thought, non ?

And what if the mounting Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere due to burning Fossil Fuels and taking down trees is going to pile on an extra 6 degrees, on average ? Hell on Earth ? The difference between the Ice Ages and now was a temperature change of a similar amount…you do the logic…

“…and though the Climategate emails revealed that those scientists most close to the heart of the IPCC process are at best unreliable and incompetent, at worst corrupt, fraudulent and more interested in political activism than in honest science.”

That’s just conjecture, personal attack, professional attack, and random, scattergun, popgun, unthinking, unfeeling, baseless nonsense, James, and you do know it.

By the way, for readers interested in reading further, the ultimate proof that James has (had) kittens comes from his own paw :-

I wrest my case.

2 replies on “James Delingpole Has Kittens”

Hi Jo,

You might want to rest your case rather than wrest it. That apart, would you like to expand on why the computer models are a “good fit”? My understanding is that scientists make their best effort at modelling the chaotic weather/climate systems based on a mass of variables and assumptions about the impact of CO2, other greenhouse gases and their feedback effects. They then run the models lots of times to obtain a raft of results which project different temperature increases ranging from fractions of a degree to about six degrees. That’s a range running from virtually no impact, through mildly beneficial climate change to something pretty drastic. Given that spread, I suppose it would be almost impossible not to get a “good fit”. But please state how the models are, in your opinion, a good fit.

These same models failed to predict the stabilising of temperatures at the start of the 21st century i.e., they were still projecting a strong warming trend when the temperature had, according to who you believe, either been rising very slowly or not rising at all.

I’m not necessarily blaming the scientists here. I’m sure they are doing their level best but it is impossible to model something with so many complex variables, especially when the outputs are so heavily dependent on input and assumptions. I bet it would be quite possible for non-warming scientists to use the same models and make a few entirely justifiable tweaks to show that we’re heading for an ice age. That’s the nature of these models. To suggest that their reliability can be compared to atm brains is petty lame.

By comparison with attempting to predict the climate, figuring out how much it would cost to halt or slow down climate change is a much simpler calculation. But it is wrong to state that spending $45 trillion (or whatever figure you have in mind) in the way you would like would “rebirth” the economy. There is a finite amount of cash and credit in the global economy and spending $45 trillion on your pet projects, by definition, removes expenditure from other areas. Not all expenditure is equal and choices have to be made. You obviously think that spending cash on the likes of wind farms makes sense. There are plenty who would disagree with you – starting with most of sub-Saharan Africa.

And James’s assertion that the projections are not based on empirical observation is entirely accurate. He’s speaking about the computer projections. If you claim to have empirical evidence to show they are accurate, let’s see it (and not just a linked reference to an IPCC report).


“I wrest my case” was intended as a joke. My own, personal, unique sense of humour, it seems.

Various techniques are used to validate the General Circulation Models (or Global Climate Models), including hindcasting (would we have got what we actually got, if we’d projected it from an earlier point in time ?)

For example, the last time I was in an educational get-together about modelling, we read part of this :-

“Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model”
Doug M. Smith, Stephen Cusack, Andrew W. Colman, Chris K. Folland, Glen R. Harris, James M. Murphy

“Abstract : Previous climate model projections of climate change accounted for external forcing from natural and anthropogenic sources but did not attempt to predict internally generated natural variability. We present a new modeling system that predicts both internal variability and externally forced changes and hence forecasts surface temperature with substantially improved skill throughout a decade, both globally and in many regions. Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years. However, climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.”

Science Volume 317, 10 August 2007. Available by request from doug.smith at

You will note they correctly project that 2008 would be an “offset” year.

There are other model checking exercises that have been done to validate the projections that went into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (I know you don’t like it, but it’s the best collection of the Science there is).

I don’t think you got the central point about the IEA projection on how much money is needed to reinvigorate the energy system. Even if the world sticks with Fossil Fuels and Nuclear, around $26 trillion will need to be invested by 2030, just to keep us all in juice and gas. Those of us that already have juice and gas that is, and a certain proportion of those that don’t currently. To supply the rest of the world with low-tech electricity who don’t curently have it would cost around $15 billion a year – an order of magnitude less – and certainly not prevented by the investment required in the industrialised world.

The amount of cash in the global economy is not fixed – it rises and falls according to (a) how much is printed and (b) how much is in reserves and (c) how much production is attached to its value.

We have to re-direct funds from polluting industries and dirty energy to efficient manufacture and clean, Low Carbon energy. There is adequate value in the economies to do this. A sum of $45 trillion by 2030 is not that large compared to the sum total of value in the economies.

It may be that the world is forced to use clean, green energy in future, as Fossil Fuels may well peak in supply, and new discoveries get more complex and risky to bring to production (Gulf of Mexico, anyone ?)

Climate models are very much based on empirical observation – all the variables that are used in the models are based on real live data from a range of sciences, so James Delingpole is incorrect. Plus, making a few “tweaks” to these variables would produce inaccurate results that don’t accord to the evidence and data.

Global Warming is a fact of basic physics, resulting from increased Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere, regardless of the accuracy of models of Climate Change. Global Warming is having and will continue to have a number of automatic Climate Change effects, about which there is no question. The uncertainties that exist are of the kind that differentiate outcomes that range between “bad” and “very bad”, rather than a spectrum between “nothing” and “very bad”.

I’m disappointed to find that a number of your statements are conjectural and relativistic, making you sound reasonable, but without a hint of reasonable knowledge about Climate Change Science.

You don’t want to trust the work of the IPCC, which references all the best work on Climate Change. What else could anyone offer you in that case ? If you won’t go to the source, you won’t find the water.

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