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Wind-power critic and 'world's greatest climate sceptic' dies

Christopher Booker had campaigned vociferously against wind turbines for over a decade, describing them as 'one of the most dangerous political delusions of our time'

One of the wind power industry’s most vocal and vociferous critics, Christopher Booker, has died.

The 81-year-old Brit had been a high-flying journalist in his younger years, becoming the first editor of satirical magazine Private Eye in 1961, but in his later years he gained notoriety as an obsessive anti-wind-power campaigner and climate change denier who regularly insulted scientists in his weekly Sunday Telegraph column.

He often described climate change as a hoax — or “a ludicrously costly make-believe” — and that attempts to reduce carbon emissions were “one of the most expensive, destructive and foolish mistakes the human race has ever made” (as he wrote in his 2009 book, The Real Global Warming Disaster).

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Despite having no scientific qualifications and repeating “simplistic errors” in his interpretations of the scientific data — which were repeatedly pointed out to him — he stuck to his guns until his death on 3 July after a short illness.

In his most recent column on climate change, published in December, he wrote scathingly about the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

“As usual in the run-up to such UN gatherings, the climate industry has again gone into overdrive with all its familiar scare stories: vanishing Arctic ice, disappearing coral islands, “extreme weather events” and the rest — all of which, according to proper scientific data, are either not happening as claimed, or are largely explained by natural causes as part of the overall Modern Warming since the world emerged from its Little Ice Age 200 years ago.”

Booker regularly slammed wind power as "one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time” because the wind sometimes stops blowing. He frequently argued that gas-fired power plants would need to be built to back up every megawatt of installed wind capacity — rendering wind turbines pointless because you could simply run those gas plants at full capacity at a fraction of the cost.

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In 2012, he wrote about the UK’s plan to install 12.3GW of renewables by 2020 as “delusional”.

“There is no way we could hope to build more than a fraction of the 30,000 turbines required. As the windless days last week showed, we would have to build dozens of gas-fired power stations just to provide back-up for all the times when the wind is not blowing at the right speed,” he Booker wrote.

“But, as more and more informed observers have been pointing out, the ministers and officials of the Department of Energy and Climate Change [now the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy] and seem to live in a bubble of unreality, without any practical grasp of how electricity is made, impervious to rational argument and driven by an obsession that can only end in our computer-dependent economy grinding to a halt.”

According to RenewableUK, there are currently just over 21.5GW of operating wind power — just under 10,000 turbines onshore and offshore — in the UK today. In the first five months of this year, clean power (renewables, nuclear and storage) generated more electricity in the country than fossil fuels.

In a tribute to Booker, fellow climate change denying journalist James Delingpole described his friend as “the world’s greatest climate sceptic”, before comparing the belief in climate change to Nazism.

“[As] an historian, [Booker] recognised that across the ages madness has run in cycles, and that every stupid idea — from the Taiping rebellion to Nazism to Maoism — has its day during which the warnings of the sane are ignored,” Delingpole wrote on the far-right Breitbart website. “The great global warming scam is just another example of this phenomenon.”

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