Saturday, February 20, 2010


The weekly column is posted. At least he recognises a good story when he sees one - or two. Ironically, one of the contextualised Google ads on the page takes you here, to a site flogging carbon credits. My guess is that they won't pick up much business from Booker readers.

However, the site might come as a bit of a surprise to Jeremy Warner, assistant editor for The Daily Telegraph. He has just learnt about CDMs from this brilliant article. You can see why that paper is so far behind the curve – the system has only been in place since 1998, the year after Kyoto.

Meanwhile, Booker's second piece deals with a kerfuffle in The Independent. This has Sir John Houghton, former head of the UK Met Office – and erstwhile trustee of TERI-Europe – complaining of the use of a quote attributed to him, the apocryphal "Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen."

Houghton denies ever having said this – or anything like it, claiming that the exact quote was: "There are those who will say 'unless we announce disasters, no one will listen', but I'm not one of them."

Oddly, although the quote was attributed to his book, published in 1994, with it first appearing on the internet in 2006, it has taken until now for Houghton to complain – and that is after Booker used the truncated version in his book, The Real Global Warning Disaster.

The trouble is that, if Houghton did not utter the truncated version, it is so close to the sort of thing that he might of said that it conveys credibility. And, despite his denials, he did indeed say something very similar.

Thanks to that admirable expert on "risk", Professor John Adams, and Professor Philip Stott, who for years was almost the only voice critical of climate hysteria in the British press, we see this in an interview Houghton gave to The Sunday Telegraph in its "Me and My God" slot on 10 September 1995.

As a fervent evangelical Christian, Sir John claimed that global warming might well be one of those disasters sent by God to warn man to mend his ways ("God tries to coax and woo but he also uses disasters"). He went on: "If we are to have a good environmental policy in the future, we will have to have a disaster".

"Maybe," notes Booker, "these are not quite the words that have been so widely misquoted." They are close enough. Houghton might claim he opposes the idea of generating scare stories to publicise climate change, but the truth will out.