H/t to Eli Rabett, such a quick little bunny:
“Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientists” — in the Independent.
Here’s an excerpt:
For climate sceptics it was a key piece of evidence showing that the scientists behindglobal warming could not be trusted. A quotation by one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists was supposed to demonstrate the depths to which he and his ilk would stoop to create scare stories exaggerating the threat of global warming.
Sir John Houghton, who played a critical role in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPPC), was roundly condemned after it emerged that he was an apparent advocate of scary propaganda to frighten the public into believing the dangers of global warming.
“Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen,” Sir John was supposed to have said in 1994.
The quotation has since become the iconic smoking gun of the climate sceptic community. The words are the very first to appear in the “manual” of climate denialism written by the journalist and arch-sceptic Christopher Booker. They get more than a 100,000 hits on Google, and are wheeled out almost every time a climate sceptic has a point to make, the last occasion being in a Sunday newspaper article last weekend written by the social anthropologist and climate sceptic Benny Peiser.
The trouble is, Sir John Houghton has never said what he is quoted as saying. The words do not appear in his own book on global warming, first published in 1994, despite statements to the contrary. In fact, he denies emphatically that he ever said it at any time, either verbally or in writing.
Very interesting but not very funny…
Here’s Media Watch’s coverage:
Everyone who is anyone in the sceptic firmament has used the quotation. It’s even been quoted in a submission to the British House of Lords.
Yet, amazingly, last week The Independent reported that Sir John Houghton…
…denies emphatically that he ever said it at any time, either verbally or in writing… “I would never say we should hype up the risk of climate disasters in order to get noticed,” he said.
— The Independent, 10th February, 2010
So where did the quote come from?
The Independent and Media Watch have both done computer searches to find the earliest use of the words. And we both came up with the same result: November 2006, in this column in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph…
If this turns out to be what it appears — the skeptic game of telephone — it will be amusing to see all the backtracking and “but but but”s of the skeptic crowd who parrot this quote as proof of AGW alarmism.
I’ll post their apologies for misquoting him all this time.