Sir John Houghton, who played a critical role in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 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 million 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.
In fact, his view on the matter of generating scare stories to publicise climate change is quite the opposite. "There are those who will say 'unless we announce disasters, no one will listen', but I'm not one of them," Sir John told The Independent. (1)
I'm sure this remarkable story will receive just as much coverage as the recent stories about errors in AR4 did, and opprobrium will be heaped upon the discredited 'sceptic' goons who have used this false quotation, and all true doubters will abjure them utterly.
I am sure everyone truly interested in the science of climate change, and promoting truth rather than propoganda will henceforth regard all those reproducing the quote as discredited in all ways and never rely on them again for any information whatsoever.
After all, if one petty error in an obscure part of AR4 can invalidate the efforts of the IPCC, then surely sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander applies, and pretty much the whole 'sceptic' movement has now disappeared up its own credulous arse.
Gosh, not one of these people had bothered to check the veracity of the quote? I thought they were meant to be sceptics?
1 - "Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist," by Steve Connor. Published in The Independent, 10th of February, 2010. (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/fabricated-quote-used-to-discredit-climate-scientist-1894552.html)