Matt Ridley, in The Globe and Mail, 31 Dec 1993.

Global warming, too, has shot its bolt, now that the scientific consensus has settled down on about a degree of temperature increase over a century-that is, little more than has taken place in the past century.

Actually, the scientific consensus at the time, as summarised by the IPCC was for an increase about three times that.  We can compare how the IPCC and Ridley’s projection fared over the next two decades:


(Graph modified from Skeptical Science)

Given how wrong his prediction was so far, Ridley reconsidered his beliefs.  Ha ha, just kidding.  Ridley still believes exactly the same thing. And being spectacularly wrong doesn’t stop a pundit from being published. Here is Ridley in the Wall Street Journal and reprinted in The Australian.

Given what we know now, there is almost no way that the feared large temperature rise is going to happen. Mr. Lewis comments: “Taking the IPCC scenario that assumes a doubling of CO2, plus the equivalent of another 30% rise from other greenhouse gases by 2100, we are likely to experience a further rise of no more than 1°C.”

It’s clear that Ridley’s approach to this issue is profoundly unscientific.  He ignores twenty years of warming and all the other evidence that has accumulated during that period.  The only evidence that counts for Ridley is that which supports his belief that warming will be trivial.

His approach also leads him to misrepresent scientific research.  For example, he cites as supportive of his belief, a paper by Michael Schlesinger, who responds that Ridley

is just plain wrong about future warming. Our research shows that global warming will exceed 2C, defined as dangerous climate change, by the middle of this century.

Ridley also confuses water vapour with clouds and is unable or unwilling to make a correction.

Update: Ridley responds.


  1. #1 Wow
    January 17, 2013

    They’ve only got table banging left, bill.

  2. #2 Vince Whirlwind
    January 17, 2013

    Latimer thinks he’s a clever little slime ball.

    I thought we weren’t to read Ridley’s stuff because ‘he isn’t a scientist’

    That’s not a truthful representation of any discussion I’ve seen going on here.

    But then it seemed that the difference came down to quoting references.

    The question of references was introduced here by yourself, by way of a false assertion in which you were quickly proven wrong.

    Or is there some other reason he is ‘persona non grata ‘ round here?

    Yes, a very simple reason: he is wrong. He writes egregious nonsense.

    Notice I just did this without the reams of wordiness?
    You obviously enjoy the sound of your own voice – I have no doubt you write these posts out loud – but I for one get no pleasure in being exposed to your nasty little swamp of self-delusion and logical fallacy.

  3. #3 Lotharsson
    January 18, 2013

    Meanwhile, is anyone else finding it grimly amusing that chameleon is arguing that some data presentations are NOT equally valid as others, even when the OP took Ridley’s “it is not valid to compensate for short term cooling due to volcanic eruptions” claim seriously when doing so as explained on the very next post?

    And while we’re on the subject of valid vs invalid data presentation and specific claims to that effect, I and others speculated about the lack of a “kink” in the green curve and whether it is unfair to Ridley. Of course, this is easy enough to answer.

    I printed out the graph and using a rule measured the rise in the blue “IPCC FAR Projections curve” from 1993 to 2010 which matches the time extent of the green curve. On my page this was 39.5 +/- 0.5mm.

    I did the same for the green “Ridley projection” curve over the same 17 year period. The rise was 12.5 +/- 0.5mm.

    That means that the slope green Ridley projection curve, even sans “kink”, is 1/3 of the slope of the straight line (within the margin of error) between the IPCC FAR projection values for 1993 and 2010. In other words the slope is consistent with what Ridley claimed as compared to the IPCC FAR projections. If the green curve had a “kink” it would have to start off at a lower gradient, and then get steeper after the kink – but it would still end up at the same point in 2010.

  4. #4 Latimer Alder
    January 18, 2013

    @vince whirlwind

    You are of course entitled to your opinion about me. But there are two points I can answer for certain

    1. I do not think of myself as ‘a clever little slime ball’.
    2. I do not ‘write my posts out loud’ The dog would object.

    On a point of order:

    The question of references was introduced by correpsondent ‘chek’, not me.

    ‘Monbiot defers to scientists actually working in the field and reports with references, whereas Ridley doesn’t’

    Personally I think that argument is a complete crock – but just followed it where it led.

    And thanks for clarifying your view of Ridley. But I note that you didn’t provide any references to back it up.
    2. Thanks for clarifying the blog position that Ridley is ‘persona non grata’ because he writes

  5. #5 Latimer Alder
    January 18, 2013

    @vince whirlwind

    Please ignore the very last phrase, beginning ‘2.’ in my last post. Editing problems before coffee this morning.

  6. #6 Latimer Alder
    January 18, 2013

    @vince whirlwind

    On the question of Ridley ‘being a scientist’

    Ian Forrester: (above)

    ‘It is doubtful whether he can be called a scientist since he has never been an active participant in actually doing science’


    ‘I wasn’t aware there had ever been any accusation of being a scientist levelled at Ridley.’

    So my remark:

    ‘I thought we weren’t to read Ridley’s stuff because ‘he isn’t a scientist’

    seems to have been borne out by the facts.

  7. #7 bill
    January 18, 2013

    Personally I think that argument is a complete crock – but just followed it where it led.

    And thanks for clarifying your view of Ridley. But I note that you didn’t provide any references to back it up.

    Since we’re keen on DYOR around here, I’m sure you’ll go over some of Monbiot’s posts and demonstrate why the idea that he defers to and references qualified scientists is a ‘complete crock’.

    You see, I note you didn’t provide references to back that assertion up.

    As to the rest, I could not be bothered determining the extent to which your heroic incomprehension is organic or merely strategic.

  8. #8 Vince Whirlwind
    January 18, 2013

    Check made a factual statement about the referencing that any competent author, including Monbiot, undertakes.
    You made a non-factual statement in return, mistakenly projecting the denialist habit of non-referencing onto Monbiot.

    And nobody said you couldn’t read Ridley, you made that up as part of your shambolic attempt at a strawman.

    The fact is, he isn’t a scientist. This is hardly a controversial statement, so it isn’t entirely clear what it is you wish to discuss in relation to it.

    Additionally, as Ridley has written no end of demonstrably egregious nonsense, why are you even defending him?

    He was wrong. Just as you are.

  9. #9 Lotharsson
    January 18, 2013

    I thought we weren’t to read Ridley’s stuff because ‘he isn’t a scientist’ seems to have been borne out by the facts.

    Asserting it does not make it so.

    Both quotes that you provided about the question of whether Ridley is a scientist [in the appropriate field] do not support your claim that “I thought we weren’t to read Ridley’s stuff because ‘he isn’t a scientist’”. That was never the reason, and still isn’t no matter how many times you assert it.

    Both quotes were harking back to guthrie, who wrote (my emphasis):

    …the first problem is simply that Ripley, not being a scientist or expert on the matter, is not making a well founded statement.

    Here we have the key point that you’ve determinedly missed. Ridley’s statements on these matters are not well-founded.

    The concept of him being a scientist is introduced to explore the potential counter-argument that one might be tempted to make: “but he’s got a science PhD…so maybe his views still have merit”. In other words, if he were a suitably accomplished scientist in the field then one might consider it a non-negligible possibility that his contrarian views have more merit than the contrarian views espoused by the unskilled and unaccomplished in the field, because presumably he knows what he’s talking about.

    Observing that he’s not a suitably accomplished scientist merely pre-emptively dispatches this counter-argument. Ian observes that he has a science Ph.D. – but not in a climate science field, so the Ph.D. can’t be used as evidence of relevant credentials. The second quote merely piles on by noting that no-one appears to have even argued that he has engaged in a research science career in any field, let alone climate science.

    Dispatching this counter-argument is not necessary to the primary argument: that his work is not well founded. And it is NOT an argument that “one should not read Ridley because he’s not a scientist”, no matter how many times you misinterpret it that way.

    And your whole Monbiot and references diversion was a strawman based on the same misrepresentation and a similar logical fallacy, a misrepresentation and fallacy you are apparently still defending. (Your 4th form debaters probably wouldn’t be proud.) Monbiot’s work is reasonably well-founded – and THAT is the key distinction between his and Ridley’s. The Monbiot references help demonstrate that his work is well-founded, but are not necessary to do so. Even if his work were not referenced, that would not make it ill-founded. His work is well-founded because it generally fairly represents the scientific findings.

  10. #10 HarryW
    January 24, 2013

    While we’re at it, and useing chameleon as but one example among many..what is it with the misinformers and their caps lock buttons?


    Puzzled in Space…..

  11. #11 Lionel A
    January 24, 2013

    While we’re at it, and useing chameleon as but one example among many..what is it with the misinformers and their caps lock buttons?

    Hey! Cut ’em some slack, they have only recently discovered out to handle the Space Bar and Return key together. After all the Return key don’t have Return on it any more. I doubt that they even know about the Alt key, especially how it can be used in combination with the numeric keypad (that is the little one to the right for those uninitiated) to access an extended character set. Whassat? I hear coming across the wires.

  12. #12 Lionel A
    January 24, 2013

    Is Ridley a mop?

    Well dana has just wiped the floor with him (too) Lessons From Past Predictions: Ridley vs. IPCC and Hansen.

    If it was not for the release of locked up carbon I would burn those copies of his books I have all two of them, Genome and Crick. I’ll put them into the ‘not to be trusted’ section instead.

  13. #13 Wow
    January 24, 2013

    Which links back to here, and, in my opinion, fallaciously, says that drawing from 1993 Ridley’s predicted rise is “unfair” which as I and some others have said, is ENTIRELY what Ridley *said*.

    Jovianly pronouncing it unfair to take the stupid son of a bitch at his damn word IS unfair. To Tim.

  14. #14 Lotharsson
    January 25, 2013

    If Ridley is going to claim a linear rise over an entire century, which apparently he is still doing and which clearly does not match reasonable expectations from 1993 when the prediction was made, then starting from the actual 1993 average temperature isn’t too bad a compensating assumption. It does, however, give denialists a little bone to pick. They’re quite happy to harp on any small issue you leave open whilst simultaneously ignoring a much larger error they are making – and even after the error has being plainly pointed out to them.

    If Ridley objects to starting from 1993’s average temperature (despite the inconsistency with his own pooh-poohing the compensation for short-term volcanic cooling) then the comparison with a non-linear rise is the most apt. And he got it far more wrong than practically all the IPCC predictions. (No wonder he cowardly ran away here…one wonder if Latimer learnt that from Ridley or vice versa? 😉

  15. #15 Bernard J.
    January 26, 2013

    Wow at #13 above.

    To be “fair” on Dana 😉 he concludes by saying that maybe Tim was “not too harsh in his judgment of Ridley after all”. I suspect that the initial comment on the SkS post might be at least somewhat a teaser to lure the reader into a curious exploration of the argument.

    It’s a snookering of Ridley, because if he or his supporters try the “see, SkS disagrees with Lambert” gambit they then are left with the conclusion that actually, once the matter is picked apart, Ridley is still wrong and Lambert was pretty much bang on the money.

    Of course I am perhaps being kind in my view that it’s an eel trap for the Ridley camp – and there’s always the issue that anyone who only reads the first part of the post won’t get to the point that no matter how Ridley is sliced and diced, he’s still wrong.

    That’s one of the problems with not using straight-forward language, and sooner or later we’re all guilty of that – myself especially!

  16. #16 Bernard J.
    January 26, 2013

    Supplemetary to my previous comment what I’m waiting for is for Ridley to manifest back here saying that SkS disagrees with Tim.

    Strangely (or not…) Ridley has been quiet on that front to date…

  17. #17 Lionel A
    February 10, 2013

    Bernard J WRT Ridley,

    I rather think that Matt has been otherwise occupied of late grilling the incoming Bank-of-England governor Mark Carney on justification for Craney’s remuneration package.

    I think this is Matt Ridley chairing the Commons Select Committee in front of which Carney was appearing (sorry that it had to be a Telegraph link).

    If I am correct then this tells us what sort of banking oversight to expect given Ridley’s position when Northern Rock imploded. Another case of a fox with a track record being put in a position to police the other foxes and never mind the poor chickens, the proles.

  18. […] his blog “The Australian’s War on Science”, Tim Lambert kept a record responding to one fabrication […]

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.