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ClimAss Weekend 1 Report

This account of the first meeting of the Climate Assembly last weekend is neither complete nor objective. It’s rather long, and I don’t expect it to interest everyone. I was intending to give a summary with a formal list of errors and examples of misleading or incomplete information. It was while transcribing that an idea came to me – no more than a hunch, if you like – which I’ll put in the form of a prediction, which will be falsified or confirmed in the following three weekends (Weekend 2 starts on February 7th.)

My prediction is that this is going to go badly wrong, and there’s nothing the organisers can do about it. My reasoning is that the obvious failings of the experts – the lack of preparedness, the false statements, the failure to answer questions, the poor rapport with the members of the Assembly – are not just due to incompetence or poor planning. They are systemic, inherent in the project since the beginning. My prediction is that the Climate Assembly will be the first large scale revelation of the whole climate change project for what it is: a power play, a parody of a mass movement, a hollow shell of a political process, a gabfest of airheads from academia and bright young ambitious things from the chattering classes. As I say, it’s just a hunch, but a hunch based on what I’ve read and heard, which I’ll try and justify.

I expected a slick PR job presented by cocky professionals, followed by a stage managed Q&A session with the usual banal or incoherent questions, filtered to eliminate anything off message. I was wrong on all counts. The presentations were abysmal, the experts pathetic, and the questions, though filtered and read out on stage (thus sparing us the usual embarrassing longueurs) were generally apposite and intelligent. It was the responses to the questions that led me to a kind of Damascene revelation. They really are worse than we thought. Hooray and thank Gaia.

The fact that the first weekend’s discussions were made available on Youtube hereincluding the Q&A sessions, subtitled, and with transcripts, made it possible to react swiftly to events, but also made an immediate reaction here less urgent. Everyone can hear and read for themselves what happened. Transcripts were up by Tuesday, all except for the first Q&A session, in which, as Barry Woods noted on Twitter, Professor Haigh had uttered a serious falsehood, in claiming that China had promised to phase out coal-fired power generation. For pointing this out he was banned from the ClimateAssembly account. (So were others, I believe. More information would be welcome.)

The transcript of this session was finally published four days late, with a sort of correction, which itself contains what might be termed“statements liable to misinterpretation”– not actual porkies, but British bangers – i.e. products containing at least 15% porcine material – for example:

It is difficult to find information on the precise plans for new Chinese coal-fired power plants, but the available evidence shows that their construction continues in China.”

It is not difficult to find evidence that China aims to continue economic growth at a rate of 7% or more before levelling off its use of fossil fuels in 2030. This implies at least doubling its use of coal, so it is not “difficult to find information” that Professor Haigh’s claim that “China has promised to phase out coal-fired power generation” was the opposite of the truth. The correction: “It is difficult to find information on the precise plans…” is itself a misdirection, or cover up, or failure to come clean, which two Expert Leads,“responsible for ensuring that the information provided to Climate Assembly UK assembly is balanced, accurate and comprehensive” laboured four days to concoct.

My first reaction to the presentations was simply that the experts were ill-chosen and ill-prepared, but as I transcribed their responses in the Q&A sessions, it seemed to me that disaster is inevitable, pre-ordained. It’s not difficult to point out statements that were misleading, incomplete, off-topic, badly expressed or just plain wrong, but that’s not the point. It’s not just that they can’t counter the arguments of sceptics. They can’t even express what they mean to themselves, and therefore they can’t interact rationally with the people they’re addressing, even those who agree with them.

The more they insisted that their expertise was of vital importance, because it touches every aspects of everything, from the way we lead our daily lives to the future of life on the planet, the more they tried to engage with the audience, the more we realise that there’s nothing there.

You can’t get there from here. You can’t get from the expert opinion of an atmospheric physicist that the world is warming – that there are fires, droughts, floods, melting glaciers or what not – to a threat to the survival of humanity, however hard you try. The public is aware of the existence of the different pieces of the puzzle; the experts were there to help them to put them together. When they try over the next few weekends, I predict that they will realise that the pieces don’t fit, not because they, the public are too thick, not because the experts are poor communicators, but because the pieces belong to four or five different puzzles.

Of the four speakers on the first morning, the most lucid and well-prepared was Professor Rebecca Willis, who spoke on “Why tackling climate change has proved difficult.” It was dull stuff, but properly structured and clearly expressed. Then came the Q&A session and her chance to respond to the very first question:

How much of a minority in the UK am I as someone who knows, understands and talks about climate change [as] a serious matter?”

[My comment: This is an excellent question. Coming from someone who evidently considers him- or herself an informed climate activist, it hints at a point I make here again and again. When the tiny minority of informed activists (or informed critics) are treated as indistinguishable from the vast majority who are of the same opinion, according to opinion polls, the debate is falsified. This climate Pharisee objects to being identified with Greta and the vast majority of her fans, just as you and I might object to being identified with Trump and his fans. This person wants the answer to a question that I too consider vital: How many people are really, truly, and in an informed fashion, persuaded of the impending climate catastrophe? Is it the forty million who are “concerned” about climate change according to the polls, or the forty thousand who might turn out to a climate march on a good day, or the three or four who comment at the average warmist blog?]

Here’s Professor Willis’s response:

OK, great question. If you look at public opinion research there’s quite high levels of concern about climate change depending on how you ask the question. About 70% of people are quite worried about it. A fraction of those are very worried about it. In terms of those taking action that’s a harder thing to measure. You would find that out of those 70-odd percent most people have thought about their actions in some way, so they might think about driving less or flying less or they might think about using more renewable energy by switching to a renewable energy tariff for example. There are a lot of things that individuals have done. Some individuals might choose to act by making their voices heard by talking to politicians or by writing or speaking about climate change. But it’s hard to get a sense of what sort of levels of action there are out there.

It’s not that Professor Willis doesn’t know the answer. She hasn’t understood the question. She hasn’t begun to try to understand the question. She doesn’t realise that she hasn’t begun to understand the question because she basically doesn’t care about the question, or any question, because in her world, such questions have no place. Suddenly she’s projected into a strange other world, that of normal human interaction, and she doesn’t understand what’s happening.

According to the Climate Assembly site, “her work focuses on energy and climate governance.” Whatever that garbage phrase means, it does not include understanding of people, their competence, their experience, and their feelings. Not even – especially not – the feelings of people who are anxious to agree with her and look to her for support. I try to imagine the reaction of the questioner, obviously an ardent supporter of climate action, and I can only imagine Professor Willis’s reply as being experienced as a slap in the face.

The Saturday morning session started with ten-minute presentations by Professor Jo Haigh of Imperial College on What Climate Change Is, and Professor Ed Hawkins on Impacts. Jo was expected to summarise the thousand pages of IPCC AR5 Working Group 1 in ten minutes, and Ed to do the same for WG2. They had the slides, but no written notes, so they blathered.

Professor Haigh gave a quick rundown of the greenhouse gas effect, then, three minutes in, she put up a graph attributed to Imperial College and the Grantham Institute (of which she is a deputy director) showing global temperature anomalies from 1850 to the present, and commented:

We’ve now got forty or fifty odd years of satellite data telling us what the temperature’s been doing over the world. But going back further than that of course there weren’t satellites. The instrumental period, thermometers could be used from about the 1850s, and they’ve been at various weather stations over the globe, and again, the data is collected and analysed, and that’s a very careful subject that needs to be done taking into account all sorts of factors about different thermometers and different places and whether the air is changed in terms of urbanisation and that sort of thing. So very carefully collected data over the world. Going back over longer periods over thousands of years we can tell especially what the temperature and humidity have done using indicators like in tree rings and in corals and in stalagmites and ocean sediments can tell us what the temperature and humidity has done over these very much longer periods.

My Comment:

1) The fifty years of satellite data are referred to but is not used on the graph. Why not?

2) “Very carefully collected data” is an odd description of temperatures taken in a bucket, as used for 70% of the earth’s surface for 60% of the period. Particularly as the data so “carefully collected” a century ago has been revised retrospectively so that the rise in temperature during the 20thcentury is now twice what we thought it was 20 years ago.

3) The reference to “tree rings, corals, stalagmites and ocean sediments” is presumably Professor Haigh’s coy way of referring to MBH1998 without actually mentioning the word “hockeystick.” And these proxy global temperatures “go back thousands of years”? Really?

4) And what about 3000 years of recorded human history? Does what people said count for nothing? Are people less reliable than stalagmites?]

Ten minutes in, Professor Haigh was running two minutes late, so she skipped the discussion of these factors (visible on the screen behind her)

Responses which can reduce the original warming (or cooling)

– changes in humidity, clouds and ice

– heat storage by oceans

– natural variations and “noise”

many of which, by coincidence, were also skated over in AR5 WG1

After having said that water vapour was the principal greenhouse gas, she added: “We can’t add to the water vapour in the atmosphere because as soon as – if we were to try and put more in, it would just rain out again, it’s sort of controlled.”

On the Mauna Loa CO2 measurements she said:This is a quite incredible picture, and it’s showing that since 1960 the composition has gone in these units from 320 to over 400 units” carefully avoiding mentioning what those units are: – parts per million.

A scientist giving a presentation in an event organised by a Parliamentary Committee is not under oath, as she would be if presenting directly to the Committee, but one expects certain standards of honesty, which involves not cherrypicking, and not omitting important facts. Of course, if you don’t have a script, but just make it up as you go along, you’re going to end up saying things like: “the quantity of water vapour in the atmosphere is sort of controlled,and who but a nit-picking denier would find fault?

Professor Hawkins had an easier time of it, since his subject was impacts, which are largely in the future and therefore speculative. He started and ended with Ed’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamstripe. It starts blue and it ends red. End of story. He continued with the Arctic ice over the past 40 years of satellite observations, though with nothing on the previous two centuries of observations by humans. (Again, why listen to people, boring seafarers with their tedious roaming the ocean in quest of whales or the North East or North West Passage? Why bother with history now we’ve got satellite photography?) Ed continues:

And this, of course, this melting in the Arctic and warming of the Arctic has consequences for those who live in the Arctic, people, and the wildlife who live there and are used to the climate of the past, and we’re pushing them outside the climate of the past and making them live in a new climate in which they may not be adapted to.

I’ve dealt with the subject of the Arctic inhabitants who we are “pushing outside the climate of the past” to “live in a new climate in which they may not be adapted to” here. 

(One of them was on French TV the other evening, complaining that, because of the melting ice, he now has to drive his snowmobile 35 kilometres to the supermarket to buy yoghurt. It wan’t like that in the time of Eric the Red. Eric’s Norseman cousins sailed down the Danube and no doubt brought back longboats full of homegrown Bulgarian yoghurt to their Greenland colony weekly.)

Where was I?

Then it was the bushfires (the reasons for the bushfires in Australia are many and they’re complex”) and heatwaves in the UK (“what we see is that the hot weather caused hot temperatures, but the temperatures were hotter than they would otherwise have been without climate change. We’ve added extra heat to those events”) and floods in the UK (“again, this event has many and varied complex reasons for occurring, but ultimately it comes down to how much rain fell from the sky.”)

And so on to sea levels: (The sea levels around the globe have already risen by about 25 centimetres or so, and they will continue to rise for centuries as the planet continues to warm.Yes, but since when? And by how much in the future? He didn’t say.)Thenafter briefly mentioning ocean acidification, coral die off, migration, and the spread of disease, Ed finished by showing his stripes again, which let it be said, are a transparent (or do I mean opaque?) attempt to disguise the nature of global warming. Haigh at least used a temperature graph, which, however doctored, clearly shows the rises and dips which are completely out of sync with CO2 concentrations. Ed’s stripy thingy is the statistical equivalent of an emoji. It shows how Ed feels about his job, about the intelligence of the general public, and possibly about life in general. Red bad, blue good.

After Professor Rebecca Willis, expert on energy and climate governance, whom I discussed above, came Chris Stark, CEO of the Committee on Climate Change, the first non-academic. He spent longer explaining what the Assembly was going to do than Professor Haigh had on explaining the climate of the past million years. A civil servant who has previously worked in Customs and Excise, the Treasury, and the Scottish Parliament, he gives the impression of having been born and raised in a power point presentation, the offspring of a rising emission and a pie chart.

As a sample, after describing the meaning of “net zero” at some length Stark says:

There is a bigger story here going on which you will hear about, about what’s sometimes called our carbon footprint. And we have a bigger carbon footprint than just those emissions that we produce here in the UK. So think about the things that we import in particular. Think about something like steel for example. So steel is a thing that is produced by an industrial process, and a lot of the steel that we use is imported from another place. And that industrial process has emissions associated with it, and what we import therefore means that we are responsible for something that happens outside of the UK. Now if you look at that question, that’s sometimes called consumption emissions because we’re consuming that product. There is a bigger number associated with that than the emissions we produce here. So it’s a bit.. but 50% or so bigger than the emissions we actually produce here, so we are responsible for something a bit more than just the emissions that we produce here in the UK, but the emissions produced in the UK are still the biggest part of our impact on the climate, so it’s the biggest, it’s the biggest thing that we are responsible for, those things that happen in the UK. I’m going to talk you through very quickly those production emissions overall….

This is not how you’re supposed to talk to adults. Chris Stark is running the official agency which is charged by parliament with telling governments for the next thirty years or so how many trillions they should spend on changing utterly our way of life. Until last weekend he was unknown to the general public. Since last weekend he is at least well-known to the 110 members of the Climate Assembly who are charged with finding solutions to the government’s impossible conundrum on our behalf, and to the 400 Youtube viewers of his presentation. Let’s hope his fame spreads.

More from Chris:

Question: Surface transport was 23% in your pie chart, so why has government spectacularly failed to invest in rail transport, especially in Northern England over the last thirty years?

Chris Stark: I can’t answer that question because it’s a political one really, but hidden in that question is a really good point, that there are alternatives to using cars in particular, and some of those things we can switch to without government support. Becky mentioned cycling for example, some of them we can’t. So the surface transport question is indeed linked to how much real provision there is and that is something I’m sure you’ll want to talk about when it comes to how we travel over the next few weekends.

[He can’t answer because it’s political. So the Citizen’s Assembly can’t be informed of anything that’s political, but is expected to make decisions that are – what? What he cando is accuse his colleague Professor Willis of saying in effect: if there aren’t enough trains in the North of England – get on your bike.]

Question: Public transport is more expensive and less convenient than private. How can we make it more affordable and convenient?

Chris Stark: Again, such an important question, because it points to the need for the government to make a decision on that. One thing the government could do is make public transport provision cheaper. But there are never any easy answers here, so the question is how would that be paid for? And I’m sure that’s something you’re going to want to talk about when we come to the transport discussion.

[Translation. “I don’t know. You tell me.]

Question: Is there an argument for letting climate change happen?

I won’t bother with Chris’s answer. Look it up if you like. The point is this: the parliamentary committees set up what seems to be a pretty fair system for letting a sample of the population spend eight days of their lives listen to government propaganda in a conference hall in Birmingham, and then express themselves; the questions posed on the first day were intelligent and to the point, and some demonstrated a certain scepticism; and the so-called experts revealed themselves as being utterly unprepared. Not only unprepared to meet counter-arguments, but unprepared to engage with people apparently well-disposed and eager to be informed.

Barry Woods, who has watched the videos, describes in a comment somewhere the expert participants as resembling startled rabbits caught in the headlights. It’s not the sceptic nature of the questions that fazes them; it’s the idea that there could be any questions at all about their policy. They have never had to confront alternative points of view, and so they come completely unprepared for the task of confronting other human beings who need to be persuaded, or at least treated as equals.

We sceptics are used to being treated as stubborn, errant children with learning difficulties and psychological problems. The general public is not. 110 members of the public are going to have to get used to it over the next three weekends. I hope they learn something from the experience.

30 thoughts on “ClimAss Weekend 1 Report

  1. Excellent summary.
    Thanks!!
    Humorous snark was a bonus..
    “…It’s not the sceptic nature of the questions that fazes them; it’s the idea that there could be any questions at all about their policy….”
    And thats the gist of it.. the Greens in Australia have the same problem.

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  2. Professor Rebecca Willis was useless as vice-chair of the Sustainable Development Commission back in Ed Milliband’s days. She has progressed through a succession of high-paying non-jobs and has contributed nothing to society (she is in good company with thousands of other useless members of the Greenblob bureaucracy).

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  3. I was blocked, then unblocked.. I think the ECIU (who are running the comms) or a lead I was tweeting, noticed that I was copying quote a few journalists, many of who that I know.. and if Richard Black was involved was aware enough that this looked bad, and that this random member of the public, might get some traction. .. and got me unblocked again.. I’m pretty convinced if I hadn’t sent dozens of clips of articles totally contradicting Haigh.. they would have left it as was… Willis lied about, no company coming forwards with nuclear… The UK government funding matching Rolly-Royses modular nuclear power program, seemed to have utterly escaped her.. and Hitachi’s progress for licensing similar technology in the States..

    I may try to live tweet @netzerouk and #climateassembly next weekend.. in the off chance that a few of the 110 climate members are using twitter… then if they are not being presented with all the information, or incorrect information, they may ask a question or two..

    i do like the audience so far..

    Leggatt: I speak for the youth about climate change

    Later at Q/A Per table questions, they choose this to ask her (in preference to many other questions)

    Audience.. What Percentage of the youth would agree with you, and who do you engage with

    Leggat. ah, eh, waffle. failed to answer completely

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  4. The whole idea was to get public support for particular policies, report back to government and then instigate those policies to get to net zero, was it not? But Ofgem seems to think that the policy now is to go ahead with an electric car roll-out (10 million vehicles on the road by 2030 apparently) and rip out perfectly usable, highly efficient and life-saving gas central systems to replace them with electric heat pumps or hydrogen systems (primed bombs) – to be powered by windmills around the coasts. When the wind’s not blowing, supposedly they’ll drain the batteries of stationary cars to top up the grid. They’ll be smart rapid charging points on smart motorways too. They are quite mad, but they are utterly determined to foist their madness upon the British public it would seem.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7959041/Energy-regulator-Ofgem-announces-plans-10m-electric-vehicles-road-10-years.html

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  5. Geoff
    I have had many different thoughts, which I’ll spend more time contemplating before commenting. But at the end of your post I have a disagreement. You suggest that the academic “experts” question “the idea that there could be any questions at all about their policy” and that “they have never had to confront alternative points of view”.
    I totally disagree, the academic environment is invariably a hotbed of competing ideas (commonly limited in scope it’s true) and a proportion of students can be as suspicious of whether they are being told the truth as anybody in government or industry as any I have met in the different areas that I have worked in. Unless they are overbearing and quash discussions (which they don’t appear to be at the sessions) these “experts” should be well versed in dealing with dissent and contrary views. What they may not be used to is the utter stupidity of having to condense extremely complex topics into a presentation lasting only minutes.

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  6. In his latest version of a James Bond batshit crazed villain, Soros is going to toss out yet another $billion to destroy the West. This $billion is to fight the twin evils of “nationalism and climate change” by starting a “Global University”. Imagine getting a PhD in communicating the kind of ignorance and lies being shoved out by the ClimAss “thought leaders”. Or the great intellects who resisted Brexit getting backed by an over funded faux “University”. I think it likely the only thing Soros U will actually deliver is indoctrination and propaganda. Just what the world needs (not).
    https://www.ceu.edu/article/2020-01-24/george-soross-open-society-university-network-power-transform-global-higher
    Austria saved Europe once. Now $oros is using Austria to destroy Europe, freedom and the world.

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  7. JAIME

    “..electric heat pumps or hydrogen systems (primed bombs) – to be powered by windmills around the coasts. When the wind’s not blowing, supposedly they’ll drain the batteries of stationary cars to top up the grid…”

    Pure Heath Robinson. Or Rowland Emmett (remember him anyone?)

    Ask a European what he thinks of when you mention Britain and they’re likely to say Monty Python or Mr Bean. Our energy policy may well turn out to be an example to the world – but not the way they mean.

    ALAN
    I take your word for it that the academic environment is invariably a hotbed of competing ideas. I’m not sure how much time the likes of Professor Willis spend in the hotbed, given their bedhopping elsewhere (see Phillip Bratby’s comment above.) She may engage in fertile controversy about energy governance, as no doubt Prof Haigh does on the subject of atmospheric physics. But in the green bubble there is no doubt perfect accord between experts on everything, from Chinese coal consumption to the aerodynamics of wind generation.

    Next week the Assembly is going to split into groups and discussing things close to their heart, like how they’re going to heat their homes and get to work. They’ll be asking these experts hundreds of questions on everything from heat pumps to how the grid works, and they won’t be getting answers.
    When they discover the experts can’t provide the answers (how could they?) their attitude to the project will change radically.

    BARRY WOODS’ suggestion of trying to contact members of theAssembly on Twitter seems to me excellent. They’re not like a jury, sworn to silence. This is open democracy at work. It could get interesting.

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  8. “It’s not the sceptic nature of the questions that fazes them; it’s the idea that there could be any questions at all about their policy. They have never had to confront alternative points of view, and so they come completely unprepared for the task of confronting other human beings who need to be persuaded, or at least treated as equals.”

    If anyone has any doubts about whether Rebecca Willis lives in a Green Bubble, you can look at the people she follows on twitter. Well, I didn’t check all 1446, but here are some names you may know – it’s like a who’s who of climate fanatics:

    Fiona Harvey, Cambridge Zero, Mat Hope, Green Economy, Extinction Rebellion UK , Steve Bloom (“in a blind panic about climate change”), Richard Black, George Smeeton, Catherine Mitchell, James Dyke, Jonathan Watts (Guardian), Mark Maslin, Peter Gleick, The Conversation, Climate Mobilization, Rupert Read, YouthStrike4Climate, Roz Pidcock, Sarah Myhre, David Wallace-Wells, AOC, Naomi Oreskes, Ken Rice, Greta Thunberg, Adam Corner, David Roberts, Eric holthaus, Stuart Capstick, Adam vaughan, Kate Marvel, Katherine Hayhoe, Lord Deben, Craig Bennett, Bob Ward, Jonathan Porrit, Roger harrabin, Leo Hickman, Mark Lynas, Tony Juniper, Caroline Lucas…

    And no climate sceptics at all. Perhaps the sanest person I noticed that she follows is Dieter Helm, apart from David Mackay, who doesn’t count as sadly he is no longer around.

    I haven’t checked who Chris Stark follows, but I expect it’s a similar list.

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  9. The shambles exhibited by the “experts”at the Climate Assembly is what happens when you live in a bubble, politicians fawn over you, the media unquestioningly publishes whatever press release you issue, and when you refuse to engage with sceptics, because it would just be SO wrong to give sceptics (sorry, deniers) the oxygen of publicity.

    Perhaps engaging with some normal people with questioning minds might do them some good.

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  10. The next ClimAss sessions should be used to point out and challenge the huge ethical failure relying on RCP8.5 has led to. Relying on RCP8.5 leads to harmful and expensive policy choices. RCP8.5 policy influence leads to nihilistic XR mobs, blighting open spaces with wind turbines, irrational magical thinking about “zero carbon”, psychologically damaged children, and more
    Academics appearing before ClimAss should be asked to answer for this.

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  11. wondered who this guy was (who are you?) –
    Chris Stark: Towards Net Zero – 19 March 2019
    https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/03/19/chris-stark-towards-net-zero/

    long comment from Chris – taster

    “Global temperatures – and the climate choice
    So here are the facts. We have successfully moved from the business as usual line of a few years ago. We were heading to 4C warming. That we are not on that path anymore is because policy has begun to work.
    But we are on track for 3C – still a destructive level of warming. And we are nowhere near – yet – the emissions trajectories for the 1.5C and 2.0C goals in the Paris Agreement.
    It’s tempting to fall into line with the current vogue and label this as our ‘climate crisis’. But it’s really a ‘climate choice’.
    A choice to act now – to invest in the new paradigm of carbon neutral economic growth. Or, a choice to wait and spend more – much more – in adapting to higher temperatures and the associated destructive climate impacts.
    It is an inescapable choice. Because there is no ‘do nothing’ option. This is the backdrop to our current work on ‘net zero’. So on now to some of the issues that have arisen from our work so far.”

    well “do nothing” might be one question you get from the Climate Assembly, think we know your answer!!

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  12. Chris Stark: Towards Net Zero – https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/03/19/chris-stark-towards-net-zero/
    19 March 2019 lobal temperatures – and the climate choice

    So here are the facts. We have successfully moved from the business as usual line of a few years ago. We were heading to 4C warming. That we are not on that path anymore is because policy has begun to work.
    But we are on track for 3C – still a destructive level of warming. And we are nowhere near – yet – the emissions trajectories for the 1.5C and 2.0C goals in the Paris Agreement.
    It’s tempting to fall into line with the current vogue and label this as our ‘climate crisis’. But it’s really a ‘climate choice’.
    A choice to act now – to invest in the new paradigm of carbon neutral economic growth. Or, a choice to wait and spend more – much more – in adapting to higher temperatures and the associated destructive climate impacts.
    It is an inescapable choice. Because there is no ‘do nothing’ option. This is the backdrop to our current work on ‘net zero’. So on now to some of the issues that have arisen from our work so far.

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  13. Some last words from the first weekend. There’s a lot more that could be said, but it can wait till after next weekend, when we will have some feedback from the Assembly members:

    After Fernanda Balata had delivered a plea for state intervention to foster “social, economic and environmental justice” – a reasonable demand, in my opinion, but the people have to elect a socialist government first (oops, that’s politics) – the debate organiser Sarah intervened:

    Sarah: Fernanda, thank you. Just to anticipate some questions that we’ll now get, would you mind just quickly explaining what you mean by the state?
    Fernanda Balata: Yes. So, the state is an organised form of governance, for yeah, government, parliament. I mean, we have a parliamentary democracy.

    I don’t blame Fernanda for being a bit at a loss for words. You’re invited to discuss some fairly complex ideas that you’ve devoted your academic career to developing, and the organiser asks you to explain to the thick deplorables before you the meaning of the word “state.”

    I imagine the guidance given to Sarah and Chris and everyone else interacting with the Climate Assembly members socarefully chosen to be representative of the population:

    “Look, they’re not Guardian readers. Half of them voted for Brexit remember, so don’t use any long words, or give any facts. Keep it general. Don’t use complicated abstract terms like “state.”

    And here’s a couple more doubtful claims the 36 experts might like to look at: here’s Paul Ekins, Economist UCL:

    I’m an economist and I’ve been asked to share five minutes with you on the technology and economics of the low carbon net-zero transition. The first thing to say is that the technology is available. That’s the good news. We don’t need to invent a whole lot of new, clever stuff. The technology is there.

    And Tony Juniper:

    I wanted to say something this afternoon about the parallel crisis that’s unfolding in relation to environmental change on which is sometimes obscured by the prominence of the climate change issue. And this relates to the degradation of the natural world, the damage to natural systems, degradation of the natural environment and mass extinction of animals and plants that’s now taking place on our earth at a speed not seen for literally tens of millions of years.

    And lastly, Kirsten Leggatt. Barry Woods has pointed out that she couldn’t say how many young people agree with her. (She’s only claiming to be the representative of young people, after all.) But that’s not all she said. She was asked how many young people agreed with her and who did she engage with, and she replied:

    Percentage of people that agree with me and who do I engage with? So I volunteer with the 2050 Climate Group in Scotland, the UK youth climate coalition in the UK – it’s a UK-wide organisation – and we are very, in Scotland, we are very closely linked with the Scottish government. We have lots of other funders as well. In terms of the UK youth, we are very, very closely linked with UNCC, which is the UN, and um in terms of the percentages that agree with me, I think there are very many people out there that will – I can’t give an actual percentage, sorry.

    Kirsty engages with the Scottish government, the UN, and lots of other funders as well. She represents her funders, and being young and naïve, she comes out and says so.
    Thank you Kirsty.

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  14. ClimAss UK is now promoting NASA lies:

    Go to the link and you find this.

    “In 2012, the Arctic sea ice cover reached the smallest point observed from space yet, and in the years since, scientists have watched it shrink further.”

    A blatant lie. Every year since 2012, summer sea-ice extent has been greater than the minimum reached in 2012.

    Like

  15. Huh. In fact that NASA article directly contradicts itself. “2012:Arctic Sea Ice Hits Smallest Extent in Satellite Era” followed by “in the years since, scientists have watched it shrink further.”

    A graph at another NASA site shows the recovery since 2012.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Geoff. As I intimated earlier I originally had several points that I wished to think more upon and discuss. But most have either been raised by others or I have resolved. However, the main one remains – the matter of the Q&A sessions. These are strange. Firstly, the questions are not put by the audience, so can be reworded and shaped to suit the purposes of the “management”. But more importantly, and unlike most Q&A sessions, there appear to be no responses from the audience to the “answers”.
    We can assume that, because members of the audience were self selecting that the majority are reasonably well informed. Most will have smart phones and can check up on any factoids that appear dubious to them. Thus I’m very surprised that blatant errors from the presenters went unchallenged or controversial replies were not further questioned. The participants come across in the transcripts as very docile, but I would wager they are not.

    Like

  17. Alan.. all the more reason to tweet at the #climateassemblyuk and @netzerouk on Saturday/Sunday.. I’m convinced I got them to correct Haigh, I wonder if they will tell the assembly members about her coal and China nonsense..

    Also if corrections and omissions are tweeted to that hashtag and @netzerouk. there is the possibility that a few assembly members are following on twitter. Some people did ask questions directly – may have been later on (or some might be to shy) but nobody it seemed was willing to respond from the floor to any of the answer (ie a discussion) . I know I would. At a Tory party forum, ( I only joined so I could heckle may – my MP) it was controlled in a very similar manner (everyone does this) they even wrapped up with no more questions.. Didn’t stop me shouting out one, and getting into an argument with Dan Hannan. If an audience member challenges an answer, or asks a further question.. what are they going to do. shush them, say no more time.. it would be embarrassing.

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  18. Barry. When I mentioned smartphones I was not thinking about their use as phones but as devices to obtain instant information. So participant hears that China will build no more coal power stations, this does not fit with previous knowledge, check with phone using google.
    My last years of teaching controversial topics were made much more stimulating by students interrupting with contrary data or opinions gained instantly by use of such phone-acquired information. At first this annoyed, but then I learned to cope and welcomed it. Made sure I was well prepared.

    Like

  19. ALAN (5 Feb 10.23am)
    Important points. I hope in next week’s sessions we’ll see if members get the chance to respond to the answers experts provide, and whether they remain docile. My hunch is that informed members (and there seem to be many) will get more frustrated about the quality of the information they’re getting, and start to react.

    This hunch is based partly on my experience conducting focus groups forty years ago. I once did some research for the department of Social Security which resembled this in structure. The job was to test comprehension of existing pamphlets about entitlement to benefits in order to improve take up.

    After the first few groups I reported back that comprehension levels were near zero, and given that twice zero is still zero, I couldn’t see the point of continuing the research in this format. I therefore sat down with scissors and paste and a load of Letraset signs (arrows and bubbles and stuff) and redesigned their civil service prose in the form of flow charts, and tested that.

    Years later in a post office I happened to see that they hadn’t simply used my research findings, but copied wholesale my handmade flowcharts on millions of leaflets. No royalties ever came my way, alas. By then I’d already moved to France and become an illustrator.

    The quality of the questions comes no doubt partly from the self selection within the small groups at each table. Anyone could propose a question and the table chose the best two. The format changes next weekend, with the assembly split into three groups of about 35 each to get more detailed information on energy use. Weekend three is devoted to discussion within these groups, and weekend four to information on and discussion of energy sources and negative emission technologies.

    Funny things can happen in groups as they get to know each other. (Think Lord of the Flies.) If the poor quality of the information and the general “talking down” gets on their nerves, they may react in surprising ways.

    Like

  20. BARRY
    Excellent idea to tweet in real time next weekend. Would anyone who doesn’t mind possibly being banned from their Twitter account like to link to this article on their climateassemblyuk account? Politely, of course, since Assembly members aren’t going to appreciate a troll attack.

    Like

  21. Geoff. Thank you for such an informed and interesting reply. (Wish I knew how the “like” system worked or whether it’s working for me). I do hope your analogy with Lord of the Flies does not come to pass, no matter how much I despise some of the “experts”.

    Like

  22. Prof Rebecca is supporting hunger striking teenagers, in their protest about a new West Cumbrian coal mine (local coal, for local steel, lots of jobs)

    Like

  23. my response. I wonder if it is simple enough for the kids to understand, even if Rebecca can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Prof. Rebecca is a great example of the banal evil of climate consensus leaders.
    The steel produced locally helps the UK economy and creates good jobs. And does nothing at all to the world’s CO2. Steel not produced in the UK will be produced elsewhere where extremists are not controlling policy. So even if one accepts that CO2 is in control of climate(which according to the data it doesn’t), the impact of climate extremists killing off UK jobs is only to kill off UK jobs, not to do anything at all about CO2 or climate.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I found it interesting that Rachel Wolf didn’t even mention the Climate Assembly in her piece today in Conservative Home entitled “Achieving net zero will require massive changes to our lives – when is anyone going to tell voters?”, in which she says “This is a staggering challenge. Much, much bigger than Brexit. And yet the public debate is, relatively, non-existent.” Presumably, ClimAss as a small molecule was disappeared in that ‘relatively’. Wolf co-authored the Tory manifesto for the December election which some people may even have read. I’ve extracted more on Paul’s thread.

    (This isn’t to say exposing the shambolic stupidity of the thing isn’t valuable. But, given limited time, I’ve been backing a hunch that reality will force the government’s hand in other ways. There again, who can be sure?)

    Like

  26. Prof Rebecca Willis told me (and the hunger striking teenager) all my claims were dealt with in a Green Alliance Report..

    my response (too cynical?)

    Like

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