Update Nov 20: Roger Helmer has blogged about the conference though I haven't seen any organiser answer the specific criticisms laid out below by various commentators.
Update Nov 18:Left Foot Forward has also now blogged about this conference picking up on some different points as has Sunny Hundal over at Liberal Conspiracy. Over at the Political Scrapbook
there is some background on conference speaker Fred Singer who has form
for fronting for vested interests - in his case the tobacco industry. A
glance at organiser Roger Helmer's blog find this post supporting the tobacco industry in the face of restrictions proposed by the World Health Organisation.
I got an invite from Roger Helmer MEP to attend a conference tomorrow (November 18) in Brussels called Have Humans Changed the Climate - facts and consequences.
Roger is a long-standing critic of anything which supports the idea that humans are responsible for catastrophic climate change. He has even used EU funding to put out a DVD promoting these views. I assume this conference was similarly EU-funded.
I was more interested in the last two speakers at tomorrow's conference: a couple of shills who will look at the media and climate change.
First up is Dr Benny Peiser from Liverpool John Moores University on Media Bias, Climate Alarmism and the Rise of the New Media.
Dr Peiser has bounced around a few topics, including near-Earth asteroids, but since climate change denial pays so wellkeeps his profile high has proved so stimulating he has written extensively on the issue. The fact he has no expertise in this area is no bar to his standing, obviously. Since he has no media expertise it seems he is doubly unqualified to give any presentation.
But that's just me.
(Incidentally, guess which School Benny is in at John Moores. Geology? Chemistry? Physics? Try, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences).
Then there is the charmless James Delingpole - a Telegraph columnist who thinks it is awfully dangerous to write sarcastic columns about the usual litany of right-wing bogeymen such as the socialist EU superstate (yawn).
Delingpole twittered as he was on his way to the conference: "Free champagne on train; free deluxe hotel room; basement swimming pool; free porn probably. Thank you, Eurotaxpayer."
Humourless lefty that I am I just can't shake the impression he's a pampered hypocrite rather than a cutting-edge commentator.
Strangely, on the speaker programme I was sent he's listed as Dr James Delingpole. Yet I can find no indication anywhere that he has earnt such a title and, if so, whether it was for sciences. It could not possibly be that the title was added to make him look more credible than he actually is?
At least he has one thing over Benny and that is works in the area he is talking about. But then Benny has got a doctorate, even if it was in social anthropology. Well, you pays your money - you takes your choice.
It was only the new authority's second full council meeting and nine councillors (a mixture of Conservative and Independents) had submitted a motion which essentially said that climate chaneg is a myth and signing the declaration was a waste of time. A copy of this and the officer's view on it can be found here.
The councillors who put their name to this were: Mr Doyle, Mr Mark Griffiths, Mr Hawker, Mr Knight, Mr Newbury, Mr Payne, Mrs Ridout and Mr Seed. It was proposed by Cllr Rod Eaton.
I addressed the council along with Gary Mantle from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Mark Fletcher from North Wiltshire Green Party and Stephen Eades from Friends of the Earth.
Ten councillors then spoke and it was interesting to see the varying quality of the contributions. Most impressive, I thought, was a councillor representing the Devizes Guardians who was fluent, unemotional and, crucially, brief. Others were barely coherent, too clever or tried to hit too many targets.
While a couple of councillors tried to swap scientific quotes, facts and figures the nature of the meeting meant anything too 'heavy' just got lost. Cllr Eaton just repeated huge swathes from climate denying books by Nigel Lawson and Ian Plimer which wasn't very effective. For those who've had to deal with sceptics before it was all too familiar.
It was instructive that the only figures quoted by cabinet member responsible for the environment were polling figures to show people in Wiltshire want action on climate change.
As it was the motion went down in flames 86-6 with 2 abstensions. So two of the original signatories backed off. Not only that but the council agreed to sign up the 10:10 pledge as well. We ended up in a better position than when we started.
I understand that privately the ruling Conservative group were seething at what they saw as an unecessary distraction. There was no chance this motion was going to get through but it made the council look defensive and the actions of a few painted the authority as a whole as being reactionary. To be fair, council leader Jane Scott made an good speech in which she backed the declaration and put tackling climate change as a priority for the authority.
More importantly it has given a massive boost to environmental groups in Wiltshire. On the morning people travelled from Colerne (well, that was me), Bradford on Avon, Melsksham, Calne and Salisbury to join the lobby. A Facebook page got 120 friends, a petition was signed by more than 200 people. Cllr Scott said her email inbox had never been so busy. Various pressure groups joined in as well as the green energy firm Good Energy. All this arranged in less than four days and covering a weekend. New contacts and new networks were formed.
I don't think the environmental movement in Wiltshire has quite flxed its muscles in this co-ordinated way for some time and it will be interesting to see how it wishes to flex them again.
Rather like this from George Monbiot - top ten climate change deniers as playing cards. Shame he missed off our own Roger Helmer MEP who used his EU funding to make a DVD decrying global warming theories.
So, following my post of a few days ago about the MEP Roger Helmer offering a free DVD which puts right what he says are misconceptions about climate change, I asked Mr Helmer how he funded this. Are MEPs allowed to spend their allowances on such things? The following is his (fair to say) prompt and open reply.
Not a bit of it. As a non-inscrit MEP, I have a
parliamentary "Information Fund" budget of around €40,000 a year which I can use
to inform the public about my work. A couple of years back, I produced 10,000
copies of a DVD on my day-to-day work in my region (I still have some and can
send you a copy if you want).
I am now a member of the parliament's Temporary Committee
on Climate Change, so it is entirely proper that I should share my views on this
matter with the general public. This seems to me like a good way to do
I can also use this budget for leaflets, advertisements,
free pens and paper-weights, and for meetings and conferences on topics related
to my work.
"While the US Constitution is chiefly about the rights of the
individual, the EU Constitution is chiefly about the power of the
I also got a copy of said DVD in the post today. Nice picture of polar bears on the front. Let's see what it's got to say.......
update: and Mr Helmer said an addendum a few days later which I've just got round to adding below
Another point I
should have made. Some parliamentary allowances are made on a flat-rate basis
and allow the Member some discretion on the spending. In the case of
Information Funding, on the other hand, individual invoices are submitted for
reimbursement along with samples of any material produced, and the parliamentary
administration goes through each application with a fine-tooth comb to ensure
conformity with parliamentary rules. So you need have no worries on that
Richard Roger Helmer MEP has not troubled my universe before but I'm intrigued by a posting of his on the ConservativeHome website.
In it Mr Helmer advances the view that climate change is nothing to fear as it's all part of long term cycle and therefore nothing to do with human intervention.
So far, so normal for the sceptics. There may not be many of them but they make a lot of noise and that's what happens in a democracy.
At the end Mr Helmer says: "Roger Helmer has just published a DVD entitled "Straight Talking on Climate Change".... The DVD is available free of charge from his UK office"
And all I wondered was who produced this? I mean, that's some effort and expense to go on this issue. He's obviously serious about this as his blog talks about him chairing and hosting (theirs a difference?) a Counter Consensual Cimate Conference in Brussels last month. (Gotta love that alliteration).
It's just an idle thought but I wondered where the money for this came from? And how many of the 4.1 million East Midlands residents he represents support his view?
Mr Helmer's CV on his blog says that he got a BA in maths (and an MA as well it looks like, but it is unclear from the wording) and has worked in "marketing and general management" for all sorts of different firms. In other words it seems he's got little expertise in the science pertaining to climate change but is pretty confident he knows better than people who spend their life studying this stuff and have to prove their theories to their peers rather than spout off randomly.
Mr Helmer is honoury chairman of the Freedom Association which has a long history of championing freedom provided that freedom is for businesses to do as they wish, for trade unions to be legislated into oblivion and for people who hold left wing views to be smeared and traduced.
Update: corrected my sloppy error in the intro thanks to Mr Helmer's reply which is in the comments section but thought I should highlight for sake of balance
He wrote: "I'd like to know who this Richard Helmer is [I deserved that. ed]. The DVD was paid for from my parliamentary allowances. And I don't "Know better" than the scientists. But I have listened to scientists from both sides of the debate, and have uded [sic] that the alarmist hypothesis is mistaken."
Gotta credit the MEP for his swift response. Still not sure about paying for such stuff out of your allowances (just seems odd) and have asked for an explanation.