There recently arrived on the desk of the editor of The Times an extraordinary three-page letter, signed by 13 members of the House of Lords. They informed him in no uncertain terms that, if he wished to save his paper’s reputation, he must stop printing articles which don’t accord with the official orthodoxy on climate change. Headed by Lord Krebs, its signatories read like a check-list of our “climate establishment”.
Four are members of the supposedly “independent” Committee on Climate Change, including its chairman Lord Deben (aka John Gummer). Others included Lord (Nicholas) Stein and Lord Oxburgh, chair of the inquiry set up by East Anglia University which cleared its Climatic Research Unit of any impression of scientific wrongdoing given by the Climategate emails. Although these signatories are all fully committed “climate alarmists”, none is in any way a climate scientist, and several have declared financial interests in “renewables” and “low-carbon” energy.
The gist of their letter, written in consultation with Richard Black, the former BBC environmental reporter who now runs an ultra-green propaganda unit, was to express outrage that The Times had published two articles which appeared to question the official orthodoxy on global warming. One was of such “low quality” that “on the social media it has been a laughing stock”. If the editor continued to publish such stuff, his paper would no longer be trusted it on anything, “even your sports reports”.
What made this even more bizarre was that the offending article had merely reported on a very measured, technical paper written for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by an eminent professor of statistics, an expert on computer models, questioning the reliability of the models officially used to predict future global temperatures, which have so consistently been proved wrong.
The response from the signatories of the letter was a perfect case-study in what Irving Janis, the former Yale professor of psychology, analysed as “groupthink”. Those, caught up in a bubble, he showed, first succumb to a collective mindset which is in some way at odds with reality. They then elevate this into an illusory orthodoxy which cannot be challenged. Finally, because their groupthink is based on such shaky ground, they intolerantly lash out at anyone who dares question it.
Nothing was more revealing in this letter than its signatories’ claim that in no way did they wish to interfere with the freedom of speech – when everything else in the letter showed that this was precisely their intention.