The Global Wonky Policy Foundation

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is actually a very appropriately-named organisation; because it is advocating policies that will ensure global warming is maximised. The GWPF was founded by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson (now formally known as Lord Lawson of Blaby) and social anthropologist Benny Peiser on 23 November 2009 (i.e. in the run-up to the UNFCCC COP15 summit in Copenhagen), declaring itself to be “…open-minded on the contested science of global warming [and] deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated…” (GWPF 2009). Therefore, as well as necessarily invoking conspiracy theory to dismiss most climate science as unreliable, this is also a very clear statement of what John Dryzek and others call Economic Rationalism. Nigel Lawson Nigel Lawson published his Appeal to Reason in hardback (2008) and in paperback (2009) with an additional Afterword (but otherwise unchanged). The book contains a wide range of sceptical arguments but, in the 2009 Afterword (responding to his many critics) Lawson, despite acknowledging his own scientific illiteracy, still felt that it was legitimate to claim the “three greatest lies” to be that (1) the science is certain and settled; (2) global warming is actually happening; and (3) carbon dioxide is a pollutant (Lawson 2009, page 107). Benny Peiser In his former biographical entry on the Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) website ( Dr Benny Peiser was described as a social anthropologist with his research interests having been focused “…on the effects of environmental change and catastrophic events on contemporary thought and societal evolution”. Arguably, however, Peiser has become notorious (amongst climate scientists at least) for challenging research findings published by Naomi Oreskes and then having to retract his criticisms when they were shown to be invalid (De-Smog Blog). Despite this, he has continued to maintain that fears over global warming amount to “hysteria” subject to waning public concern due to so-called “issue fatigue”; and public cynicism regarding the motives of politicians espousing contentious policies (Peiser 2011). Conclusions There is much more to say about both Lawson and Peiser but I think it best to defer that to two separate future posts. However, I would like to conclude this sorry story by referring to the GWPF’s ludicrous decision to ask Chartered Accountant and Bishop Hill blogger Andrew Montford to produce a critique of the Climategate enquiries. (See my Category Index (above-right) for more detailed criticism of Andrew Montford and his totally fallacious Hockey Stick Illusion book.) In the topsy-turvy sceptical world that people like Delingpole and Montford inhabit, it might not be that surprising that the GWPF would ask Montford to write a report into what they feel were 3 totally inadequate inquiries into the scientific research being undertaken by the UEA/CRU. However, unsurprisingly, Montford finds evidence of a state-sponsored conspiracy to provide excuse to tax people more heavily: “With the government embarking upon a radical decarbonisation programme, global warming is one of the most important questions facing the people of the UK today… While attempts to hide the truth from the public might have worked in the past, they simply wilt under this kind of scrutiny” (page 6). However, it would seem that, in reality, few people believed him. For example, Montford’s GWPF report was considered in a further review of the matter by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (The Reviews into the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit’s E-mails: First Report of Session 2010–11), which concluded (on 25 January 2011) that: “The disclosure of data from CRU has been traumatic and challenging for all involved. While we have some reservations about the reviews which UEA commissioned, the key point is that they have made a number of constructive recommendations. In our view it is time to make the changes and improvements recommended and with greater openness and transparency move on” (page 4). Anyone who doubts the legitimacy of these conclusions (upholding the original findings that found no reason to doubt the actual science) is, as conspiracy theorists always do, just widening the scope of the perceived cover-up to avoid dealing with reality. Furthermore, it would seem that this is still, even now, exactly what the GWPF is doing. ———————— UPDATE (30 November 2011) – Despite repeated emails from me and a letter from Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, the GWPF has still not modified its position. Quite the opposite in fact; they are still content to cite the same discredited contrarian sources of prejudiced misinformation.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Climategate, Economics, Environment, Hockey Stick Illusion, IPCC, James Delingpole, Scepticism, UNFCCC and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Global Wonky Policy Foundation

  1. pendantry says:

    Excellent post, Rick. Nigel Lawson’s ‘three greatest lies’ certainly show him up as the proverbial ‘moron’. And as for Benny Peiser’s diagnosis of ‘issue fatigue’ in the public, I for one am unsurprised that this is this case when there are disingenuous folk like these two actively working to promote it.


    • Rick_Altman says:

      Thanks [first name moderated for security reasons], 🙂 I forgot to make the link between Peiser and Hamilton (also a social anthropologist of sorts) and, of course, the recent research of Gavin and Marshall that I cited a week ago. As you (and others) may have worked out by now, many of my posts are bite-sized pieces of my MA dissertation, hopefully transformed into attention-grabbing critiques of the various organisations, economists, journalists and others involved in climate change denial. As I have said, above, I intend to publish my detailed findings on Lawson and Peiser next week; and I haven’t really even got started on the scientists and politicians… So lots more fun to come 🙂


  2. Pascvaks says:

    A thought or two that occured to me while standing in Left Field and watching the grass grow: People who believe in ideas and ‘things’, etc., tend to say and, sometimes, do that which fosters, reinforces, or broadcasts what they believe. Most meekly turn away from confrontation. A few tend to take issue with those who do not believe what they believe. The return on the time and effort they invest in “taking issue” with others is often hard to judge. Frequently, it’s a lot like howling at the moon. It feels good at the time. The “where” of it can be quite important however. It is usually more productive to duke it out with such people on their home turf, in the midst of their audience. But, sometimes, stating (or, after a fight elsewhere, restating) one’s own points clearly on one’s own turf can be productive, or satisfying, too.


    • pendantry says:

      Thought-provoking. Re: “The ‘where’ of it…”: I tend to view blog discussions such as this as being akin to a meeting in a pub, shooting the breeze over a pint. Others may pass, or not, and ‘overhear’ the discussion. Passers-by will have their own views (as do we all); they may ignore, absorb and reflect, or interject — the last, I think, is more likely on the ‘Net than it is in reality down t’pub. If the discussion should turn violent, then even if virtual bottles are broken and shoved into faces, no lasting harm is done. Re: “Howling at the moon”: agreed, this can be futile. It can, however, also be therapeutic. And in the stillness of the night, sound can carry quite a long way… the question is always: is anyone listening?


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