“We were very practical. We were into making things all the time. I made metrological instruments, a canoe, stuff like that… Jeremy was into looking after old cars.”
Piers Corbyn grew up with, and is known as, the brother of Jeremy Corbyn, but is himself an intriguing figure of no little controversy thanks to his skeptical position on global warming. Jeremy Corbyn’s political compass is a rusting relic from the 1970s, but are his elder brother’s meteorological instruments similarly dated? The reality of global warming is, of course, the opinion of the majority, and one that I myself subscribe to. But meeting the man in person allowed me to test the validity of my own opinions, for we should all be wary of the false haven of the consensus.
On Piers’ website he claims “it’s bad science, data fraud, and a brainwashed public” that has led to the belief that the world is getting hotter. Furthermore, “the IPCC is deliberately covering up data”. I asked him what his evidence was? “Well it’s on the website,” he said (incidentally, I challenge anyone to try and navigate WeatherAction.com – impenetrable sheets of black ice). Piers, warming up, told me: “The so-called claim that 97% of scientists believe in climate change is actually completely untrue. There is no such survey. All you have is people who have written papers and put ‘climate change’ into the summary and got it published.”
“The so-called claim that 97% of scientists believe in climate change is actually completely untrue.”
Who was driving this conspiracy? He didn’t like the word ‘conspiracy’ as he sees it as an attempt to “disparage”. He told me “it would be stupid for people who have common cause not to work together!” He then talked at length about how a “red-green alliance” had been formed. “The oil-companies go along with it because they can hold up oil-price, the Saudi Arabians play ball because of geopolitical reasons, big finance backs it because they can dismantle traditional industries, and politicians love it because it’s a movement that demands the payment of taxes…”
At this point two thoughts entered my mind. First, was this Piers or Jeremy that I was talking to? Second, who wasn’t involved in this conspiracy? And surely Piers is wrong – conspiracy is not an automatically disparaging term. Watergate was a conspiracy, but again real conspiracies tend to have very few people involved because otherwise leaks inevitably occur. Piers’ “red-green alliance” actually sounds more like a multi-coloured mess.
Here is an extracted transcript from our interview:
Piers: “Politicians propagate the fraud about temperatures…”
Myself: “If it’s fraud then why is not easy enough to take an oil company to court over this?”
Piers: “Well the oil companies aren’t lying, it’s the scientists who are lying.”
Myself: “Okay, so it’s the scientists who are lying…”
Piers: “Some of the scientists are lying.”
Myself: “Some of the scientists are lying. But usually when these things happen… if this is a huge cover up… the more people that are involved the more likely it is that this would have gotten out.”
Piers: “Well no – they’re mostly confused people that don’t know what they are covering up.”
Myself: “So you take the view that people are duping themselves?”
Piers: “Absolutely. Now look – the fact that the data is changed is not obvious. I was doing research with someone called Judy and we got a new data set from the UEA. I asked her: ‘What does it show?’ She said: ‘The data in the past has changed!’ What the hell! What they’ve done is they have chosen different weather stations so [that when] they have a conversation with the politicians: ‘Minister, it’s the best data – more reliable now.’ They just happened to choose all the stations that are showing warming and when those stations go wrong then they start fiddling data – as the UEA emails showed – they had to hide the decline. This is despicable – it’s anti-scientific.”
was this Piers or Jeremy that I was talking to?
Notice how Piers appears to bargain himself down here, placing his theory into a smaller and smaller box, and also notice that he contradicts himself – either they are duping themselves or they are engaged in a conscious conspiracy that can therefore be called “despicable”. Now, I do not pretend to have the credentials to challenge Piers on the merits or demerits of global warming. All I can do is put up my defense of the scientific community at large. After researching Climategate myself, Piers’ claims are not without their roots. CRU’s Phil Jones did type an email in which he discussed ‘hiding-the-decline’, but further investigation into the context of the email shows no real substantive crime. Sir Muir Russell’s report into the affair revealed that although there were issues of “openness”, allegations that the “rigour and honesty of the scientists was in doubt” were unfounded.
The problem is that this report might not be good enough for Piers. Presumably, he would argue that this report is just another strand of the spider-web, which would incidentally cast aspersions over the integrity of Muir Russell and, by extension, also renders suspect every governmental investigation. But even if we were to grant that ‘hide-the-decline’ did occur, can this one incident at one institute be claimed to represent global delusion or global conspiracy? If there was evidence that the media or politicians were engaged in suppressing debate about Climategate, then Piers’ case might not be so easily deracinated, but, and as I told him: “You’re not being shut out of debate – you’ve recently been invited onto the BBC.”
At this, Piers leaned forward. “The reason they invited me wasn’t to hear my views, it was to try and disparage my views and thereby denounce my brother, who they thought was about to lose that by-election in Oldham.”
Drop the mic.
You can read part two here.