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Daniel Johnson: Nigel, your book, An ­Appeal to Reason, has set off a very important and timely debate about the basis — both economic and scientific — for the consensus that has emerged on global warming. Were you surprised by the response to your book?

Nigel Lawson: The first thing that surprised me was the extreme difficulty in getting the book published. I had probably the number one agent in this country, and I’d published a number of books before, but he had the greatest difficulty finding a publisher at all. In fact he couldn’t find a British publisher and eventually had to go to an American publisher who has a subsidiary in London.

So that was the first surprise. After that, yes, I was pleasantly surprised by how much interest it has created, how well it is selling, how many people are reading it, and the huge number of supportive letters from all sorts of people — including very many scientists.

DJ: Oliver, are you surprised that Nigel’s book seems to have touched a nerve? Do you think that the debate on this subject in this country had become too one-sided, with the whole sceptical side of the argument being more or less excluded?

Oliver Letwin: Well, I think Nigel’s book — because it’s a good read, it’s well written, and because it’s very calm — is bound to be taken more seriously than if it were a diatribe. As we’ll discover as we proceed with the conversation, I don’t agree with many of the propositions in the book, but it’s good that there’s a book here which is serious and well considered; one that we can discuss and debate.

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July 8th, 2008
3:07 PM
Can I ask you to explain I find Lord Lawson’s comments on climate science dangerous. Yes. Read a scientist’s paper on climate change and you're given evidence alongside results and interpretations. Read Lord Lawson's book and you're left with fudged figures and a very slanted opinion on the subject. Ah! but this isn’t unique to Lord Lawson’s argument i hear you say. I agree the Environmental movement is as much to blame. As Alex Cull suggested, we need more people to read up on the climate science themselves, or the scientists and policymakers to become more effective in interpreting results for those of us without PhD’s in atmospheric science. The majority who don’t delve deeper into the science, the impressions they gain from the media and outspoken individuals like Lord Lawson is often inaccurate and damaging. Nothing to do with the ‘Proles’. I suggest you pick a fight with New Labour if you want to get excited about class and the hiding information.

July 7th, 2008
11:07 PM
Well Alastair, Nigel's comments look quite constructive to me. He is saying that we should deal with the increase in temperature rather than destroy our economy. Can I ask you to explain I find Lord Lawson’s comments on climate science dangerous, particularly for the layman who is left confused by the conflicting messages surrounding climate change. I find it chilling to read that you think certain comments can be too dangerous for the proles. Keep us in the dark eh?

Alex Cull
July 5th, 2008
11:07 PM
Responding to Alastair, re Lord Lawson's comments about climate change being "dangerous" as they could confuse the layman, I think nothing could be further from the truth. The "science" of global warming is highly questionable, based on flawed computer models which are becoming ever more remote from reality. In his book, Nigel Lawson focusses on economics, rather than on the science, and makes a case, in my opinion convincing, that even if the IPCC's worst case scenarios come to pass, the proposed crash in CO2 emissions is by far the most expensive and deleterious option, for the world generally and for the UK in particular. Rather than staying out of the debate for fear of being "confused", I recommend readers to educate themselves and learn all they can about the science and the economics of "climate change"; they might discover that the science (and many other things besides) is not quite as "settled" as they have been led to believe.

July 4th, 2008
8:07 PM
The most likely suspects involved in global warming is the ever increasing reliance on oil, gas and coal; and we are in the midst of an economic kick in the face by their rapid increase in price, as the newer, larger economies industrialise. The discussion fails to address the most effective, climate friendly energy production - which Britain has scandalously neglected for the past many years - NUCLEAR ENERGY. France has a good example of its use on a large scale. Electricity is cheaply and easily distributed, and drives most train transport. Many small cars already run on Batteries, and these are rapidly evolving. Furthermore, instead of turning the vanishing petrol stations into blocks of flats!, they could well be replaced by Battery Swop Stations at appropriate intervals. Much industrial plant could be run on electricity Many houses were built in the 60’s to run on electricity, with night storage - and now more sophisticated storage of off-peak production could renew that trend. The politicians are afraid to tackle this because of the ignorant public wrath stirred over many years by ‘environmentalism-ists’ with arguments about the disposal of waste; while true environmentalists are turning to the much more frightening climate change problem. It took years for the politicians to have courage to act bravely about the death penalty, and also smoking in public. It is now time they seized the nuclear nettle.

July 4th, 2008
1:07 PM
I'm sorry, but answering a question on energy security with; ‘….even with the imported gas from Russia or wherever, all you need to do is have adequate gas storage. The Russians need the money so badly that they are going to have to sell the gas.' The construction of gas storage tanks is a far more farcical suggestion than anything to come out of the renewables camp. Nigel’s response throughout the article, gives the impression of an ageing politician un prepared to look to the future of energy production. I recognise the importance of constructive criticism of the science and policy’s attributed to climate change. However, I find Lord Lawson’s comments on climate science dangerous, particularly for the layman who is left confused by the conflicting messages surrounding climate change. The science should remain open to change and assessment, that is not the question. But, claims as to its validity and certainty should be left to the scientists engaging in the research, not economists looking to rubbish a topic they know very little about

Richard Calhoun
July 3rd, 2008
8:07 PM
An interesting dialogue and hopefully Letwin will learn from this. Yes, it is important to reduce waste of resources, which can be achieved by education and price. However to blame all the waste on emissions when it could equally be the World climate changing for reasons beyond our control is foolish, and it is being increasingly challenged by credible figures like Nigel Lawson and the Science community.

Bishop Hill
July 2nd, 2008
10:07 AM
If there are politicians reading this, your help in getting the Hadley Centre and the Met Office to release data and code is required. To have this veil of secrecy in such an important public policy area is a disgrace.

June 28th, 2008
6:06 PM
I haven't read this book yet, though I shall, but I'm impressed by Mr Lawson's side of the argument here much more than by Mr Letwin's; backhanded compliments notwithstanding. ''’s very calm — is bound to be taken more seriously than if it were a diatribe.'' Excuse me, but the diatribe tendency in this debate has always been on the side of the doomsayers, with those of a less apocalyptic view derided as little better than malicious, with a whiff of the mental institution about them. So it's good to know that a man with a solid reputation has seen fit to redress the balance. I notice from my local paper this week that John Maples MP has done a u-turn after reading it, much to the outrage of the green bien-pensants. Look out Oliver Letwin. Just because Gordon Brown's Labour party looks like it's going down like the Titanic, doesn't mean your lot will fare any better if you persist in spinning cloud cuckoo as serious policy, especially if it means yet more taxes.

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