Christopher Booker

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Please note, this page has been archived since 2011 and will not be updated. 

 

Christopher Booker is a regular columnist in the Sunday Telegraph, the first editor of Private Eye, a Spectator contributor and a prolific author who has published more than ten books. In 2010 he published " The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is The Obsession With `Climate Change Turning Out To Be The Most Costly Scientific Blunder In History?" with Dr Richard North - described by the Guardian as "the definitive sceptics' manual". Booker's publisher styles him as the " most conspicuous 'global warming sceptic' in the British press".

 

Booker has made a life's work of challenging the scientific consensus on a broad range of issues. In Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming - Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth, a book also co-authored with North, he asserts that scientific research shows that passive smoking has "little or no effect on health at all" (p.270) and that there is "not a scrap of firm scientific evidence" to justify statements that BSE can be transmitted to humans from cows (p.7). Despite the agreement of major agencies including the World Heath Organisation and the US Department for Health and Human Services that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans, Booker has also repeatedly claimed white asbestos "poses no measurable risk to health". He has been critical of journalists who have reported the scientific consensus on key public health issues, and claims in his book that the BBC is biased in their coverage of asbestos and BSE.

 

Booker was born in 1937 and was privately educated at the Dragon School, Oxford and Shrewsbury School, before studying History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was originally a member of the Conservative Party but later became a supporter of the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party. In 1994 he published The Mad Officials: How the Bureaucrats are Strangling Britain.

 

Booker has been criticized by a range of experts from different disciplines in the scientific community. The science journalist Philip Ball has described Booker's science writing as "bunk". Timothy Walker, Director General of the Health and Safety Executive, responded to Booker's reporting on asbestos by stating publicly that Booker's claims "are misinformed and do little to increase public understanding of a very important occupational health issue." Geoffrey Podger, chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, wrote an open letter agreeing that "risks to human health for white asbestos are substantially lower than for brown or blue asbestos" but noting that "[white asbestos] cannot be called safe by any sensible person." Booker has often relied on Professor John Bridle as a source of information, labelling him "Britain's practical asbestos expert". Bridle was convicted under the Trades Description Act in 2005 for falsely claiming to be a be qualified asbestos surveyor, and was investigated by the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. Robin McKie, the science and technology editor of the Observer, describes Booker's practice as " scientific cherry-picking."

Climate sceptic views

Booker is a prominent climate sceptic. He has attacked the BBC for sending out a "farrago of convenient untruths" on global warming and believes that the Met Office has been "hi-jacked," to "become one of the world's major propaganda engines for the belief in man-made global warming". In 2008, Booker dismissed scientific findings that sea ice had reached the lowest level in recorded history by pointing out that the ice expanded again between September and January. In response, George Monbiot asked how "The Sunday Telegraph continues to employ a man who cannot tell the difference between summer and winter."

 

In 2009 Booker presented a paper at an International Conference on Climate Change in New York, organised by the Heartland Institute, a thinktank promoting free market solutions.

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