Paterson refuses top Scientists’ briefings on Climate Change: where does he get his views from?

It was a massive shock – to no-one at all – that Owen Paterson has refused to take a briefing on climate change from the Chief Scientists of the Met Office, Department of Climate Change or even Defra. This amazing piece of information was gleaned via a Freedom of Information request by Friends of the Earth.

Yesterday FoE dumped a load of wellies abandoned at Glastonbury Festival, on the doorstep of Nobel House, Defra’s headquarters, in a symbolic gesture indicating that Paterson should be “given the boot”.

This refusal to be briefed happened specifically in the days preceding the publication of the IPCC 5th assessment “summary for policymakers” report last September.

On the 29th September Paterson spoke at a Tory Party Conference Fringe Event.

He said

“People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.

“I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees.

“Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.

“I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting,” he said.

Now it is possible that Paterson thought all this up himself, in the absence of briefings from Chief Scientists at DECC, DEFRA and the Met Office. However, there is another possibility. This piece of writing was published on the 17th September.

Warming of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius over the next 70 years (0.8 degrees have already occurred), most of which is predicted to happen in cold areas in winter and at night, would extend the range of farming further north, improve crop yields, slightly increase rainfall (especially in arid areas), enhance forest growth and cut winter deaths (which far exceed summer deaths in most places). Increased carbon dioxide levels also have caused and will continue to cause an increase in the growth rates of crops and the greening of the Earth—because plants grow faster and need less water when carbon dioxide concentrations are higher.

Spot the similarities:

  • Longer growing seasons
  • extend crop growing area further north
  • fewer winter deaths
  • winter deaths far exceed summer deaths

So, who could this author be – is it Paterson ghost-writing someone else’s blog?

No – it’s his brother in Law, Viscount Matt Ridley, described by Conservative Home with prescience as Paterson’s personal Think Tank. As Mark Wallace said in that article, having Ridley around to explain complicated things like Science

“gives him a handy route to overcome flawed analyses sometimes presented to him by civil servants.” 

That’s one way of putting it.

Another way is that Paterson turns to his clever brother-in-law for advice because they both deny human-driven climate change is real or a problem; and it’s easier to listen to someone you agree with, than have to listen to pesky Chief Scientists telling you stuff you don’t want to hear. I can picture Paterson sitting there with his fingers in his ears going “La La La can’t hear you”. Paterson’s views coincide exactly with Ridley on other matters, including GMOs and Fracking. Coincidence?

Let’s not forget Aristocrat and Eton/Oxbridge educated Ridley was chairman of  the Northern Rock board when it failed in such a spectacular fashion that it helped trigger the worst British economic recession in nearly a hundred years and led directly to the dismantling of the State that his brother in law and mates are presiding over.

Paid £315,000 a year for his Northern Rock chair post, he was lambasted for being asleep at the wheel while Northern Rock went on a massive borrowing spree just when global money markets collapsed. Curious why Northern Rock took on a scientist as their chair? His daddy, the 4th Viscount, was chair of Northern Rock from 1987 to 1992.




About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in climate change, Eton, Matt Ridley, neoliberalism, Owen Paterson and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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