Black Propaganda

Of the 28 experts interviewed in the BBC programme Climate Change .. the Facts,” there was just one journalist, Richard Black, ex-BBC environmental correspondent and director and founder of the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit.

He appears nine times in “..The Facts.” Black’s contributions add nothing to the argument, but essentially provide link material. He introduces Hansen, without mentioning that his predictions of Manhattan under water proved false, and Lawson, without mentioning that his assertion that the IPCC predicted positive benefits from warming was true.

For example, following the statement by professor Lazarus of Harvard University that …the fossil fuel industry undertook a quite concerted campaign to confuse the science and confuse the message,” Black replies: “This is industry-funded and industry-driven. Fossil fuel companies engaged PR consultants who used exactly the same tactics that have been used by the tobacco companies, and there’s ample documentation.”

This is false. Tobacco companies lied about the effects of tobacco. Oil companies didn’t lie about the effects of climate change. An executive in one oil company – Exxon – pointed out in an internal document that the science was uncertain (which is true.) On this base has been built a fantastic edifice of lies painting any questioning of the official doctrine as a conspiracy by the fossil fuel industry. Is Black’s statement truly a response to Professor Lazarus? Who knows? The entire programme relies on similar splicing of comments across the ocean, involving at least six scientists/experts in the USA, and at least eight scientists/experts in the UK, apparently interacting with each other in a seamless web of dialogue. Unless you believe that the BBC crisscrossed the Atlantic a dozen times on their frequent flier account, asking x “Do you agree with what y said?” then the whole format is misleading, suggesting a dialogue that never occurred.

But what does this matter? Black counts for little in the great scheme of things. Except that he has a book out. It’s called “DENIED – THE RISE AND FALL OF CLIMATE CONTRARIANISM”. You can read the introduction (which is the best bit) or buy it on Kindle for about four pounds or euros here.

It’s about climate scepticism, though Black prefers the term contrarianism, because real scientists are naturally sceptical you know (just like Exxon executives.)

I bought it, because it claimed to be about us, and how we are a dying breed, etc. I was going to write a proper review, but I’ve decided I can’t be bothered.

Not because the book is bad. As a defence of the consensus position, it’s probably as good as it gets. Black defends “the science,” and government policies on energy transition as ably as anyone I’ve seen. It would take a Paul Homewood or a Jaime Jessop to unpick his arguments – something I don’t feel qualified to do. You know the stuff – “new renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in fifty countries bla bla…” Not knowing the exchange rate of the Yuan and the Tanzanian shilling, and how much effort the UK Overseas Development Agency is putting into sticking a solar panel on the roof of every mud hut, I don’t feel qualified to counter that particular factoid. And anyway, why should I care about Richard Black’s reasoned arguments on energy transition? He lies about things I do know about, so why should I believe him about boring things I know nothing about?

Here he is, for example, on Climategate:

The argument that climate science cannot be trusted has cropped up regularly ever since oil company executives first realised its implications for their business models. That statement is not idle rhetoric, but based on one of our young century’s most important pieces of journalistic investigation, into the history of Exxon. But the claim flared up most spectacularly in 2009, as I described in Chapter One, in the episodes that became known as ‘ClimateGate’ and ‘Himalayagate’.

In the first, the central accusation could hardly have been more fundamental, – that leading scientists were engaged in a conspiracy to hide reality from the public. The identification of a slowdown in global warming was (at the time) scientifically correct. And the trove of emails hacked from the University of East Anglia (UEA), according to its contrarian distributors, showed that scientists knew the pause was real and were trying to hide it.

Additional claims were that the same set of scientists were manipulating the IPCC by shoe-horning their own scientific papers into its assessment reports; and that they were manipulating the process of peer review, in which scientific papers are critiqued by other top scientists in the field before publication. In the UK, three inquiries were set up into the affair. None of them found any evidence of deception.

This is the kind of statement that marks a journalist as a charlatan. Everyone knows what happened at those enquiries. Everyone, that is, except the public dependent on the mainstream media and the reporting of the likes of Black. He knows, and we know, and he knows that we know, but he doesn’t care. Because Contrarianism is Dead. So we don’t matter.

Because everyone who’s read the emails knows that “the pause” was the subject of just one famous email by Trenberth, and that the vast majority of the relevant emails were about attempts to stop McIntyre and McKitrick from trumping the hockey team’s efforts to defend their scientific fraud. The emails between Jones, Mann and the rest of the Hockey Team were not about global warming, or the lack of it. What they were interested in was Protection, like Mafia organisations anywhere. And what they were protecting was the hockey stick, which Black doesn’t discuss, because, as he says:

I am concentrating here on the last decade. Thus you will not find here a detailed dissection of the ‘hockey-stick controversy’ or the scientific validity of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

If Richard Black doesn’t know what was in the Climategate emails, he’s thick or lying. He’s not thick. Otherwise the EU wouldn’t be financing him, would they?

From the website of Richard Black’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit:

During 2018, we received £132,000 from the European Climate Foundation, £88,000 from theGrantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment,£116,000 from theOakFoundation, and £10,000 from the Climate Change Collaboration and, previously,the Tellus Mater Foundation.

[Tellus Mater? Sweet Gaia! Are you still there Jamie? Still sucking like a leech at the teat of creative green tax evasion, you clever little millionaire.]

But that’s not what the book is about either. Black is arguing that denialism (or contrarianism, as he calls it) is dead. And, though he concentrates his fire on the GWPF, Lord Lawson, and his book An Appeal to Reason,”he does have the decency to mention Judith Curry, Alan Watts, Spencer and Christy, and Paul Homewood, as well as Booker and Delingpole. Somewhere (I forget where) he even hopes that Delingpole and Booker will deign to review his book, which they didn’t do. (But I do. I’ll stoop at anything.) He knows perfectly well that there’s no fossil fuel money anywhere near Curry, Watts or Homewood. He know, and he doesn’t care.

As far as I can tell, the only reviews have been this one by John Gibbons in the Irish Times and this one at the e-nvironmentalist by John Lang, who works at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit and is therefore an employee of the author. Well, why not? It’s a job; someone’s got to do it. And there’s European Union money in it.

We at Cliscep, who don’t benefit from a third of a million pounds from government and charity funds, don’t get that opportunity. We run a blog, that certain readers contribute to, and (I note with pleasure) which certain other people who never contribute, nonetheless honour with a Like from time to time. Our hundreds, sometimes thousands, of readers, sometimes tell us what they think, and it’s nearly always interesting and informative.

Richard Black, backed by a third of a million pounds from taxpayers and charity, also runs a blog. I looked at his last ten posts. Total comments – zero. No-one is interested in what Richard Black has to say. Not even his deputy director Peter Chalky  his Business and Economics Analyst Matt Finch, his deputy director (Strategy) Sepi Gulzari-Munro  his Communications and Operations Manager John Lang, his Head of Analysis Jonathan Marshall, or his Head of Communications George Smeeton. I may be the first person to have read it, or his book on denialism, for all we know.

Maybe I should leave a comment at Amazon, or on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit blog. Just to prove that we exist. And so do our readers. Unlike Black’s.


  1. I read several well-written blogs regularly, which is to say, this one (and Watts); and on the Fear the Global Warming side of things just one blog somewhat regularly published by an astronomer.


  2. Geoff,

    It’s funny that you should mention the Hockey Stick. Yesterday, I was in a coffee shop that also serves as a second-hand bookshop. Unusually, there was a good selection of serious-looking climatology books on offer (it looked like a former meteorology student had decided to dispose of all of their now-redundant textbooks). Many of them looked to be excellent . But I have the following important check that I use to determine the reliability of the text concerned: I go straight to the section on the Hockey Stick, and if it doesn’t point out that the graph has, since initial publication, been exposed as a statistical hoax, then I know that the book has been poorly researched and I put it back. Using that selection technique, I came away empty-handed.

    The coffee was good though.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Black does for journalism what AOC here in the US does for modern kitchen appliances.


    No book (or newspaper article) would ever describe the hockeystick as a statistical hoax. A quick google by the publisher’s lawyers would reveal in a second that Mann is a climate litigationist. End of story. Truth established.


  5. Those that claim that oil companies used PR to sow confusion should consider the information that the oil companies received. An Amicus Brief submitted late January gives some insight into how they may have received the information. Authors are Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Dr. Geoffrey Supran, Dr. Robert Brulle, Dr. Justin Farrell, Dr. Benjamin Franta and Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, so you know that there are no contrarian biases here. 🙂
    Many Petroleum industry executives would have first encountered CO2 warming from a 1959 address by Prof Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb. The Amicus Brief states
    The Amicus Brief states

    In 1959, physicist Edward Teller delivered the first warning of the dangers of global warming to the petroleum industry, at a symposium held at Columbia University to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the industry. Teller described the need to find energy sources other than fossil fuels to mitigate these dangers, stating, “a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.

    It took until 1987 for CO2 levels to rise by 10%. The following year James Hansen gave his address to Congress. Antartica is still intact and New York is still above water. If a renowned scientist such as Teller could make such wild prophesies, why should anyone trust what activist scientists have to say?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Climate alarmists talk about the vested interests of oil businesses but do not mention those countries who rely on fossil fuel production for a major part of their national income.
    First the top 20 fossil fuels by value. It is very approximate but shows that the USA, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are well ahead of the field.

    But recast these values as a percentage of country GDP and a very different picture emerges.

    Whilst all sorts of accusations are flung against Western oil companies, climate activists are pretty much silent about the “vested” interests of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait etc. But protecting one’s country against politicized attacks that would harm their people’s prosperity is what most leaders would believe as their civic duty. Yet to reduce global emissions to zero in a few decades requires effectively destroying a number of national economies and with it reducing the political power of these countries.


  7. Geoff,

    “A quick google by the publisher’s lawyers would reveal in a second that Mann is a climate litigationist.”

    That’s a fair point. I was perhaps asking too much for anyone to stick their neck out and use the word ‘hoax’. Nevertheless, it would not be asking too much for the author to recognise the (shall we say) unconventional statistical practices employed in the creation of the Hockey Stick and observe that there is too much that is scientifically unsound about its creation for any credence to be placed in it. To be fair, supposed corroborations could be acknowledged, but only if one were to recognise that they were equally problematic. What I don’t want to see is an uncritical presentation, echoing the conclusions drawn by the IPCC. If a serious author wishes to retain credibility and avoid Mann’s litigious attentions, then they should just leave the Hockey Stick out of their text.


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