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High altitude view of the Earth
IN FOCUS
7 December 2015 17:09

Scientists respond to Matt Ridley’s climate change claims

Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

07.12.2015 | 5:09pm
In FocusScientists respond to Matt Ridley’s climate change claims

Matt Ridley is a Conservative hereditary peer and journalist, who used to be best known for writing about genetics. He is probably better known now for being the chairman of Northern Rock bank at the time that it had to be bailed out by British taxpayers in 2007.

Ridley has also gained prominence for writing regularly about climate change, describing himself as a “lukewarmer“. His outlets include a weekly column in the Times, occasional columns in the Wall Street Journal, as well as a variety of magazine and broadcast appearances. In 2012, Rupert Murdoch, whose company owns the Times and Wall Street Journal, used his first-ever tweet to endorse a book written by Ridley.

Last week alone, his climate claims were published in the Sun (another Murdoch title), twice in the Times, the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, as well as in the Spectator, a right-wing UK weekly magazine. He was also interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs Today programme.

Ridley often uses his position in the Lords to discuss the topics of climate change and energy policy. He sits on the Lords’ science and technology committee and is an advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK-based climate sceptic lobby group.

In October, his earnings from the coal mining that takes place on his country estate in Northumberland made national headlines when anti-coal campaigners chained themselves to machinery in protest. Ridley has long had a statement on his website setting out his position on the income he receives from coal mining, but, to date, has refused to say how much he earns.

As part of a recent three-part documentary series called Changing Climate for BBC Radio 4, Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s environment analyst, interviewed Matt Ridley, among a number of other people. The Open University has published many of the interviews online, both as recordings and full transcripts.

The Harrabin-Ridley transcript is arguably the most in-depth interview with the peer in the public domain on the topics of climate change and energy. Ridley makes a wide range of claims throughout, touching on subjects from ocean acidification and climate sensitivity through to energy subsidies and the “benefits” of global warming.

Recognising Ridley’s media prominence and influence with regard to climate change, Carbon Brief recently sent a copy of the transcript to various scientists and energy policy experts and asked them to respond to his claims by annotating the document with their comments and observations.

The document below includes responses from the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Prof Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading
  • Prof Richard Betts, head of climate impacts in the Met Office Hadley Centre
  • Prof Piers Forster, professor of physical climate change at the University of Leeds
  • Prof Jean-Pierre Gattuso, research professor at the Université Pierre-et-Marie Curie’s Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche
  • Prof Sir Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute
  • Dr Chris Hope, reader in policy modelling at the University of Cambridge
  • Dr Sari Kovatz, director of the National Institute for Health Research’s Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health
  • Prof Ranga Myneni, professor at the Boston University’s department of earth and environment
  • Dr Gavin A Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • Prof Jim Watson, professor of energy policy at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit

(The document can be expanded to fullscreen by clicking on the symbol in the bottom right-hand corner.)

Main image: High altitude view of the Earth. © Marcel Clemens/Shutterstock.com.
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  • Scientists respond to Matt Ridley's climate change claims

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