Sir David King's Queenie Fit: Shutting Down Dissent

Sir David King's Queenie Fit: Shutting Down Dissent

Murray Op-ed in National Review Online
July 23, 2004

The scene was a scientific workshop set up to discuss the science of global warming.  It took place in a non-Western country and was convened by the country's <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Academy of Sciences.  Delegates came from all over the world. Yet the delegation from one major Western power behaved in a most undiplomatic fashion. The way the science was being presented was inconvenient to their political agenda, so they tried to get the scientists they disagreed with silenced. The organizers refused, so the delegation went to its government to exert political pressure. The organizers still refused, so the delegation disrupted the conference. When it became apparent they weren't going to get their way, they walked out.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The chairman of the conference told the press that the leader of the disruptive delegation "had brought several scientists along with him and he insisted that the program should include among the speakers only those scientists and no other. So, he came over, selected scientists at his discretion, scientists who were to be given the floor in his opinion and scientists who were to be denied an opportunity to speak." A top official of the host government commented, "For some participants the main goal was the search for the truth, understanding of real processes. Other people had the task of disrupting the seminar, so that other people who were seeking the truth could not do so."

Yet another example of arrogant America disrupting the world's attempts to solve the climate change program? No. The delegation in question was that of the United Kingdom, and the conference was that held last week in Moscow, hosted by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The British delegation was led by Sir David King, chief scientific adviser to Her Majesty's government. Sir David has gone on record as saying that, "Global warming is worse than terrorism." As far as Sir David and Tony Blair's government is concerned, there should be no need for any further scientific debate on global warming. They have taken the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and cheerfully conflated it with the debatable argument that it will be catastrophic for mankind unless we suppress energy use now.

The religious fervor with which Tony Blair's government is acting on this belief has many Britons unnerved. Dr. David Bellamy, one of the titans of the British environmental movement, wrote in the Daily Mail that he considers global warming alarmism "poppycock." Analysts predict a 40 percent rise in electricity prices as a result of the government's energy suppression policies. British manufacturers foresee having to put thousands out of work as they lose out in competitiveness to overseas suppliers. The Times's economics editor has written that the environmentalists pushing these policies "are like the medieval monks who favored self-flagellation as the road to virtue. For a Government to enshrine such thinking in policy is truly perverse."

In equally medieval fashion, adherents of the environmentalist religion have launched an inquisition against scientific views that they consider heretical. Hence, Sir David's outrageous behavior at the Moscow conference. On learning of the program arranged by the Russian Academy, he proposed a different program that would censor the voices of scientists who do not believe global warming is a worse threat to the world than terrorism. Such delegates included Paul Reiter of the Paris-based Pasteur Institute, who presented the predominant view of the world's malaria experts that global warming is not a major factor in the increasing incidence of vector-borne diseases.

Sir David even got British foreign secretary Jack Straw to intervene on his behalf. It did no good. The Russian Academy, used to seeing dissent crushed for political means, refused to kowtow to Sir David's demands. So, in the words of Russian economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, "Other attempts were made to disrupt the seminar. At least four times during the course of the seminar ugly scenes were staged that prevented the seminar from proceeding normally. As a result we lost at least four hours of working time in order to try to solve these problems." The disruption was serious enough that at the press conference one questioner asked why the security guards did not handle the situation.

Sir David apparently walked out with his delegation in mid-answer to one question. Commenting on this display, Illarionov said, "It is not for us to give an assessment to what happened, but in our opinion the reputation of British science, the reputation of the British government, and the reputation of the title 'Sir' has sustained heavy damage."

If Americans had behaved this way, the world would be full of stories charging America with arrogance, boorishness, and disdain for the spirit of free inquiry. Yet Sir David King continues on his way, the Torquemada of the global-warming inquisition.