Swedes, Petitions, Climate & Trump

The Washington Times, that august organ of the Unification Church, has a breathless headline: Hundreds of Scientists Urge Trump To Withdraw from UN Climate Treaty: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/23/hundreds-scientists-urge-trump-withdraw-un-climate/

Climate change contrarian Richard Lindzen has sent a petition to Donald Trump saying

We urge the United States government, and others, to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We support reasonable and cost-effective environmental protection. But carbon dioxide, the target of the UNFCCC is not a pollutant but a major benefit to agriculture and other life on Earth. Observations since the UNFCCC was written 25 years ago show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign — much less than initial model predictions.”

Interestingly (presumably because Lindzen accepts a lot of the basic science) it doesn’t claim zero warming but rather that the warming will be ‘benign’. And Lindzen has 300 scientists to back him up! Including this guy:

RØMCKE Nils Håkon Swedish emailer who wished to sign the petition

I’m not joking. That is the literal entry. Many of the entries have no particular qualification listed (although ‘Nils’ is the only one with ’emailer’ listed as a qualification gawd bless ‘im).

Twenty of the signatories are from Sweden and another 19 are from Norway. Which is odd, given that otherwise, the petition is mainly an anglophone thing. There six French signatories (I believe – there are some people whose nationality is unclear) and three from Germany. There don’t seem to be any Danes. This disproportionate number of Swedes and Norwegians seem to be centred on a group calling itself clumsily ‘CLEXIT’ – that is ‘climate legislation exit’. Perhaps the petition started life in Sweden/Norway or perhaps it found its way there and one passionate Swede made an extra effort. I only counted eight people with obvious UK ties – and one of those was the infamous Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

Australia manages to still maintain its own cadre of climate contrarians – 17 by my count, so still outnumbered by Swedes. One of whom is a senator for the far right, anti-immigrant party One Nation. Malcolm Roberts’s UN climate conspiracy theory was once described by rightwing commentator (and fellow climate contrarian) Andrew Bolt as ‘utterly stupid’.

Having said that, the bulk of the signatories are probably Americans. I count 200 who are either clearly from the US or at leats not obviously from somewhere else. Not that there is a problem with non-Americans petitioning the US President (e.g. I’m happy to suggest to him that he resigns) – it’s just that this petition neither does ‘US scientists’ well nor ‘World scientists well’ but is just what you might expect: the usual names and lots, and lots, and lots of padding. Even with Niles-the-Swedish-emailer, it struggles to get to 300.

Yet, be prepared for various people to cite this as evidence that scientists are rebelling or whatever against what we already know to be true: the Earth is warming, it’s because of us, and that’s bad news.



  1. Mark

    300 brave Spartan Scientists holding the pass against the overwhelming forces of Persia and/or Evidence? Which one is Gerard Butler?


  2. Cora

    The German signatories are probably AfD/Pegida types, because thanks to the law of the far right subscribing to all sorts of idiotic ideas at once, a lot of them are climate change deniers, because concerns about climate change raised their energy costs.


  3. Johan P

    I count no less than 25 Norwegians. (Well, 24, plus an Icelandic who is a retired professor of Economics in Norway.) That includes some that doesn’t mention Norway in their bio but Norwegian-sounding names coupled with google reveals them.

    A, shall we say, mixed bunch. The above-mentioned Economics professor are among the most noteworthy ones – he is to my knowledge reasonably respected in his field, but considering that his field have nothing to do with climate science that doesn’t help much in this case. He’s gotten a few opinions on climate change published in various papers, apparently mostly based on Lindzen, and been thoroughly debunked.

    Reading the bios, there seems to be a trend that most of the Norwegian signers with actual science background are old enough to have done their research before climate change was a popular topic. Many have a seemingly-relevant degree, but have worked with other things than research. Their background are also often at best tangentially related to climate research – e.g. there’s one Cato Brede who signs as having “29 papers and 2 patents in the field of analytical chemistry”, what the petition doesn’t say is that his papers are on things like “A rapid method for preparation of the cerebrospinal fluid proteome”.

    The core here seems to be the group “Klimarealistene” – climate realists – who have advertised the petition on their blog. Ironically, two commenters refuse to sign because the petition accepts that atmospheric CO2 have any climate influence at all, and a third says “yes! I am in!” but his name is not on the petition. (Maybe Lindzen dropped him because his credentials was even less impressive than those of Nils Håkon.)

    The lack of Danes is curious, especially considering the number of Swedes and Norwegians. Also, there seemed to be relatively many Dutch, although I didn’t count.

    PS: I noticed that the “Swedish emailer”, Nils Håkon Rømcke, spells his name with Norwegian vowels, not Swedish, and there’s a Norwegian with that name with Strong Opinions on climate in several comment fields. That’s 26, then.


    • Johan P

      Oh, and I also noticed a clever bit of rewriting history: Our “esteemed” Carl I. Hagen describes himself as

      “Leader Progress Party of Norway (Governmental party) 1978-2006”.

      What he doesn’t mention is that the Progress Party was never in government during his tenure as leader. He did a clever job of building the party with a brand of somewhat-respectable not-too-far-right populism, but in his time the party was still seen as a fringe group and respectable parties wanted as little as possible to do with them. It was not until 2013, after a bit of additional housecleaning, that they managed to be invited to a coalition.