Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens

Credentials

  • Politics and Philosophy, University of York. [1]

Background

Peter Hitchens is a British journalist and author. He currently writes a weekly column for the Mail on Sunday and frequently updates his blog, hosted by the Mail Online. He is the brother of the late Christopher Hitchens. [2], [3], [4], [5]

Hitchens has frequently rejected the scientific consensus that human activity is linked to global warming, stating that “there is no proof that this is so”. [6]

Hitchens has claimed that water vapour is “vastly more important as a greenhouse gas than CO2” – a common trope among climate science deniers, which has been debunked previously. [7], [8]

He regularly uses the term “warmists” to describe climate change activists and members involved in what he calls “ultra-leftist dogmas”. [9], [10]

He has called the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion “climate liars” and described its movement as “one of the nastiest and stupidest outbreaks of intolerant, irrational zealotry since mankind emerged from the Dark Ages”. Hitchens also takes issue with 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, tweeting that an answer she gave in an interview was “as slippery as any spin doctor”. [9], [11], [12]

Hitchens often argues that the UK’s efforts to reduce emissions are irrelevant when compared with China, who he has claimed builds “a new coal-fired power station every few weeks”. He has strongly opposed wind farms, described the UK’s environmental policies as an “obsessive, pseudo-scientific dogma” and suggested that “there are other causes” as to why islands are being submerged across the world, other than by climate change induced sea level rise. [13], [14]

Hitchens is known to have controversial and contentious views. He has called for further anti-immigration measures, giving ‘thanks” to the English Channel for keeping away “people in dinghies”, and has pushed for stronger drug policies, previously writing that “almost all” individuals who “kill someone with a blade” are marijuana users. His views on the LGBTQ community – including that “we are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing” – resulted in a university event he was slated to speak at in 2019 being postponed. [15], [16], [17], [18], [19]

Hitchens has also been vocal during the coronavirus pandemic, describing it as a “foolish” “Great Panic” in a Mail on Sunday article. He also claimed in a blog post that “Britain is infected… by a bad case of madness”, referring to what he saw as the government’s overreaction to the pandemic. [20], [21]

Stance on Climate Change

August 26, 2019

In a Mail Online blog post, Hitchens wrote: [22]

I have no serious doubt that the climate is getting warmer. In general, the summers are hotter, and the winters less sharp, than they were in my childhood and teens.” [22]

But I think we should be careful about drawing conclusions from particular events, storms, floods, hurricanes etc, unless a pattern is discernible over a pretty long time…” [22]

October 29, 2017 

For a Mail on Sunday column, Hitchens wrote: [23]

One of the articles of faith of the new despotism is that climate change is caused by human activity.

It has to be an article of faith because there is no objective testable proof that this is so, the normal requirement in science.

We are told instead that there is a ‘consensus’ or a ‘vast majority’ in favour of this belief.

But scientific questions are not decided by majorities. They are decided by hard experiments, repeatedly verified.

Precisely because it is a faith rather than a fact, a special intolerant fury is turned on any who publicly doubt it.” [23]

February 13, 2007

In a Mail Online blog post, Hitchens wrote:

I’m asked to give my views on global warming. Well, they are this: Like most of the people who comment on this, I am not a scientist, but it seems to me that those who are scientists disagree, and that predictions are being given the value of statements of fact. I don’t share the certainties of the majority that human agency is responsible for current levels of climate change.” [24]

Key Quotes

February 17, 2020

In an “Elegy for Didcot Power Station” in a Mail Online blog, Hitchens wrote: [25]

If we completely abolish all our fossil-fuel generation, it would likewise not matter in the slightest. We are electrical hedgehogs next to China’s electrical elephant.  China’s planned increase in coal power, alone, is three times the size of our whole electricity generation industry.

If you believe that global warming is man-made (and I am not even going to bother to discuss this contention on this occasion, for it is irrelevant to my argument, so please don’t try to tempt me), then Britain’s coal shutdown will make absolutely no difference at all to the outcome you fear.” [25]

October 20, 2019

Hitchens commented on a clip of Extinction Rebellion protestors at Canning Town being pulled from a train by morning commuters: [9]

My heart sang when I first watched the film of arrogant, self-righteous Warmists being pulled off the roof of a London Underground train.

I am weary of the way that the Climate Liars have browbeaten the whole Establishment into submission with their wild, fanciful panic about impending doom and their unhinged plans to plunge us into a new, literally dark age. Unlike many other commentators, I am not at all convinced that they have a point or deserve any sympathy.” [9]

April 27, 2019

In an article about 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Hitchens wrote: [26]

This has been embarrassing to watch. I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive. But for her worshippers I have nothing but scorn.” [26]

He went on to argue that Thunberg should have gone to China to speak, rather than come to the UK: [26]

Britain already has one of the maddest energy policies on earth, taxing the poor to subsidise windmills and solar farms that don’t work most of the time, blowing up viable coal-fired power stations so they can never again be used even if we run short of volts and watts, relying on French nuclear power, gas and even diesel to fill the gap, and hoping somehow to avoid electricity cuts.” [26]

Later, Hitchens posted a tweet where he shared the blog post and wrote that Thunberg was “as slippery as any spin doctor”. [12]

February 3, 2017

In response to a tweet directed at him, Hitchens wrote: [27]

Scientific questions are not resolved by majorities. And there is no proven link between human activity and global warming. Didn’t you know?” [27]

November 13, 2016

Hitchens wrote about policies based on “an unproven theory about global warming”: [28]

Green dogma is quite a bit dafter than the beliefs of the Mormons that fashionable people like to mock. That is why I call these fanatics ‘Warmons’.

But it has taken over the minds of our politicians and civil servants to such an extent that – on this issue – our official policy is as crazy as anything in North Korea.” [28]

July 27, 2016

Hitchens tweeted:

I don’t believe that human activity is responsible for global warming, because there is no proof that this is so.” [6]

April 2, 2014

In a Mail on Sunday blog post, Hitchens wrote about “climate zealots”: [14]

Their recent utterly unscientific claims that typhoons, hurricanes and wet winters are evidence of general climate change are even more inclined to make me think they are more interested in shouting people down, and stirring the mob, than they are in argument. They have a similar habit of suggesting that various islands are on the verge of being submerged thanks to climate change, when in fact there are other causes of their problems, such as a general tipping of the landmass or the constant erosion and shifting of islands in certain estuaries.” [14]

Hitchens also wrote about the term “climate change denier”: [14]

As for their use of the phrase ‘climate change denier’, that is just disreputable. The expression is doubly false. Nobody denies that the climate changes. It’s a proven fact that it has done many times. The question is whether it is changing as dramatically as the zealots predict, and whether this is caused by human activity. To be a ‘denier’ is a) to be a person who refuses to accept a proven fact, which nobody is doing and b) to be smeared by association with Holocaust deniers, who *do* deny a proven fact, and do so for disgraceful reasons.” [14]

October 13, 2012

Hitchens likened global warming to religion in a blog post where he wrote: [29]

… the fanatical false religion of man-made global warming is the faith that nobody dares to question”. [29]

December 2, 2009

In a Mail on Sunday column criticising Al Gore’s climate change documentary, Hitchens wrote: [30]

So it’s no use trying to dismiss me as some kind of petrolhead polluter who wants to cover the planet with runways and motorways, nor to allege I’m in the pay of Big Oil, when I say that I doubt the existence of man-made global warming. 

I just doubt it because I am not convinced it’s true.” [30]

Key Actions

April 24, 2021

Hitchens wrote an article for The Daily Mail which criticised the government’s strategy for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, stating that it was “the means by which we in the West will join the Third World, finally and irrevocably”. Arguing that Britain’s plans to decarbonise were rendered obsolete by China’s expansion of coal- fired power stations, Hitchens characterised the government’s policies as “sheer deluded vanity,” writing: “our efforts make as much difference as trying to empty the Atlantic with a teaspoon.” [41]

Elsewhere in the article, Hitchens criticised the government’s plans to replace gas boilers with “costly and less efficient” heat pumps, stating: “Ferocious insulation rules will make it harder and harder to sell older houses.”

March 19, 2020

Hitchens appeared on a podcast hosted by James Delingpole, a climate science denier and anti-wind farm activist who writes for the Spectator. [31]

Delingpole spoke of climate change and how “it dominates economic and social policy”. Hitchens responded: [31]

I am very much on the side of hard science. I’m not a scientist, I don’t claim to be a scientist, but I think I can recognise it when I see it… What hard science is, is about real experimentation… experiments which can be repeated, testable, falsifiable propositions.” [31]

An awful lot of stuff now passes for science which is politicised”. [31]

February 22, 2020

In an article criticising the police, Hitchens described protest group Extinction Rebellion as “self-righteous ninnies”. He went on to claim that if the group “were not as thick as they are nasty, they would have realised by now that they have already won”, referring to what he said was a “takeover of the police by ultra-Leftist dogmas”. [10]

February 17, 2020

Hitchens wrote an “elegy” in a Mail Online blog for Didcot A Power Station, a coal and gas-fired power station, after its main chimney was demolished on February 9th, 2020, an event which he described as “a metaphor for the folly of our national energy policy”. The post was originally written after the three cooling towers were demolished in 2019; Hitchens reposted the article with revisions. [25], [32], [33]

In the blog post, Hitchens described how he used to “admire” the sights of Ferrybridge and Drax power stations and when he first saw Didcot was “impressed by its size and force”. [25]

He went on to write that the closure of the power station was “an act of dogmatic self-harm” and on critiquing power cuts and wind power, Hitchens wrote: [25]

There is, as far as I know, nobody non-partisan in the power industry or the government, who is prepared to examine the facts without worrying about upsetting the state dogma of warmist fanaticism.” [25]

October 13, 2019

In a Mail on Sunday column, Hitchens described Extinction Rebellion “fanatics” as “one of the nastiest and stupidest outbreaks of intolerant, irrational zealotry since mankind emerged from the Dark Ages”. [11]

He went on to criticise the efficiency of wind power and claimed that the “dim acceptance of shouted propaganda” by the political and media class was a “futile, self-harming gesture”. [11]

On the same day, Hitchens agreed with a statement on Twitter suggesting water vapour was the most prevalent greenhouse gas and wrote: [7]

Correct. Water vapour is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Human activity has no influence on it, it is vastly more important as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Yet most climate fanatics, as they rail about ‘the science’, do not even know this basic fact.” [7]

However, according to global warming myth debunking site Skeptical Science, “increased CO2 makes more water vapor, a greenhouse gas which amplifies warming”. Furthermore: [8]

When skeptics use this argument, they are trying to imply that an increase in CO2 isn’t a major problem. If CO2 isn’t as powerful as water vapor, which there’s already a lot of, adding a little more CO2 couldn’t be that bad, right? What this argument misses is the fact that water vapor creates what scientists call a ‘positive feedback loop’ in the atmosphere — making any temperature changes larger than they would be otherwise.” [8]

So skeptics are right in saying that water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas. What they don’t mention is that the water vapor feedback loop actually makes temperature changes caused by CO2 even bigger.” [8]

April 20, 2019

Hitchens argued that “lefties” with “their nasty demonstrations about climate change” know that if the policies they call for are adopted “we will be reduced to severe poverty” and that “they yearn for the wrath to come and want to see non-believers suffer”. [34]

August 6, 2017

Hitchens claimed that due to the 2008 Climate Change Act, “we are steering straight into an iceberg” and wrote that Parliament might be forced to “rethink its mad warmist dogma, and follow a sane power policy”. [35]

November 8, 2015

In a Mail on Sunday article criticising the “obsessive, pseudo-scientific dogma” of wind energy, Hitchens claimed that “Warmism” was “destroying irreplaceable industries and jobs week by week”. [13]

He also drew comparisons to China which he claimed builds “a new coal-fired power station every few weeks” and argued that “if man-made CO2 really does cause global warming, then this policy of destroying Britain’s coal-fired power stations is not affecting that”. [13]

Hitchens then wrote: [13]

As I have pointed out here in the past, the world has seen this sort of madness before, when dogma has been allowed to veto common sense.

This is what happened to the Soviet Union, which destroyed its economy and its society by trying to create Utopia. As usual, the result was hell.” [13]

June 14, 2015

Hitchens tweeted that he had not seen a “testable objective demonstration of the connection between human activity and climate change”. [36]

February 28, 2015

Hitchens argued that polar bears “are doing extremely well” and that the “doom and gloom” about them should “stop”, referring to a report by Susan Crockford to back up his claims. [37]

Crockford consistently claims that her work shows polar bears are not being endangered by global warming and runs a website called “Polar Bear Science” – she has not been published in any peer-reviewed journals on polar bears.

Hitchens concluded the article by writing, “I also ought to point out one other thing. Polar bears can swim”. [37]

April 3, 2014

In a Mail Online blog, Hitchens wrote: [38]

As to whether anything ‘needs to be done’ about any changes in the climate, Lord Lawson is quite eloquent on this, and says that practical measures to deal with the effects are more rational than doomed attempts to prevent it from happening, which may be based on serious misreadings anyway. I’m inclined to agree with him.” [38]

Lord Nigel Lawson, a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, is the founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group.

December 6, 2010

In response to the suggestion by WWF that a photo capturing a polar bear cub riding on its mother’s back was caused by global warming, Hitchens described the assertion made by the “lobbying group” as “propaganda garbage”. [39]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Hitchens is the author of a number of books including;

Below, a selection of Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday articles;

Resources

  1. Nigel Farndale. “Peter Hitchens,” nigelfarndale.com, June 16, 2013. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LkZO2

  2. Peter Hitchens,” Goodreads. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/s8Mia

  3. Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday’s recent articles,” Mail on Sunday. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/UyHEy

  4. Peter Hitchens’s blog,” Mail on Sunday. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/1yBE3

  5. Simon Smart. “The Brothers Hitchens,” Be Thinking. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/M5PiY

  6. I don’t believe that human activity is responsible for global warming, because there is no proof that this is so,” Tweet by @ClarkeMicah on July 27, 2016. Retrieved from Twitter. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  7. Correct. Water vapour is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Human activity has no influence on it, it is vastly more important as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Yet most climate fanatics, as they rail about ‘the science’, do not even know this basic fa,” Tweet by @ClarkeMicah on October 13, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  8. Explaining how the water vapor greenhouse effect works,” Skeptical Science. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/lYhs5

  9. Peter Hitchens. “The battle of Canning Town proves barbarism is never as far away as you think,” Mail on Sunday, October 20, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ieQii

  10. Peter Hitchens. “How the ultra-left silent revolution took over Britain,” Mail on Sunday, February 22, 2020. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/H0Evh

  11. Peter Hitchens. “One day it will be impossible to criticise the fanatics of Extinction Rebellion. Until then, I’ll tell the truth about those irrational zealots,” Mail on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/MCvp2

  12. Questioned about the China anomaly. Greta Thunberg was as slippery as any spin doctor. By the way, why does everyone act as if her travelling long-distance by train was a brave sacrifice?It’s *much* nicer than flying. Alas, it’s usually much costlier too,” Tweet by @ClarkeMicah on April 28, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  13. Peter Hitchens. “Warmists armed with windmills are the REAL threat to Britain,” Mail on Sunday, November 8, 2015. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/6Shvc

  14. Peter Hitchens. “Beware of the Green Rapture. It May Not Happen,” Mail on Sunday, April 2, 2014. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/OeQ6l

  15. Peter Hitchens. “Why those few desperate people in dinghies really are a danger to Britain,” Mail on Sunday, January 6, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/fl3on

  16. Hitchens urges tough drugs policy,” BBC News, April 24, 2012. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/IRiL9

  17. Peter Hitchens. “The real cause of knife crime? It’s hidden in a fog of cannabis smoke,” Mail on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/zBPtx

  18. Peter Hitchens. “We show tolerance to ‘gays’ and get tyranny in return,” Mail on Sunday, February 2, 2009. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/psaXR

  19. Guest speaker event postponed,” University of Portsmouth Student’s Union, February 6, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/lSY3N

  20. Peter Hitchens. “There’s powerful evidence this Great Panic is foolish, yet our freedom is still broken and our economy crippled,” Mail on Sunday, March 28, 2020. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/caxp6

  21. Peter Hitchens. “Yes, coronavirus poses a risk – but our response to it is not intelligent or useful. Britain is infected… by a bad case of madness,” Mail on Sunday, March 14, 2020. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/K1zEY

  22. Peter Hitchens. “70….80….90…PHEW! WHAT A SCORCHER! What should we conclude from the recent hot weather?Mail on Sunday, August 26, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/R1tFt

  23. Peter Hitchens. “Finally the BBC says it is guilty… of not being left-wing enough!Mail on Sunday, October 29, 2017. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/O1Yq1

  24. Peter Hitchens. “Correspondence with contributors,” Mail on Sunday, February 13, 2007. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ujd0M

  25. Peter Hitchens. “An Elegy for Didcot Power Station – its destruction a metaphor for the folly of our national energy policy,” Mail on Sunday, February 17, 2020. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/0DJmh

  26. Peter Hitchens. “Yes, Miss Greta Thunberg, back when I was 16 I knew everything too,” Mail on Sunday, April 27, 2019. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LYWgn

  27. Scientific questions are not resolved by majorities. And there is no proven link between human activity and global warming. Didn’t you know?” Tweet by @ClarkeMicah on February 3, 2017. Retrieved from Twitter. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  28. Peter Hitchens. “Think Trump is bad? Wait until you see what comes next…Mail on Sunday, November 13, 2016. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/FfZQ8

  29. Peter Hitchens. “Savile’s secret is finally out. But what about all the other lies?Mail on Sunday, October 13, 2012. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/YanRf

  30. Peter Hitchens. “The inconvenient truths Mr Gore and his fanatical friends DIDN‘T tell you about climate change,” Mail on Sunday, December 2, 2009. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/RiXEn

  31. Delingpod: Peter Hitchens On The Climate Change Mysteria,” YouTube video uploaded by user The James Delingpole Channel on March 19, 2020. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  32. Chris Johnston. “Didcot A accident: company had never knocked down a power station before,” Guardian, February 25, 2016. Archived April 22, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ktIuH

  33. Didcot Power Station’s chimney to be demolished,” BBC News, January 3, 2020. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LaUZf

  34. Peter Hitchens. “It starts with screeching Lefties calling us Nazis… It ends in a police state,” Mail on Sunday, April 21, 2019. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/M5ZJU

  35. Peter Hitchens. “That infuriating speed bump? Your stupid driving put it there,” Mail on Sunday, August 6, 2017. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/nA88b

  36. But I have yet to see a testable objective demonstration of the connection between human activity and climate change,” Tweet by @ClarkeMicah on June 14, 2015. Retrieved from Twitter. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  37. Peter Hitchens. “Reasonable, peaceful, sober. That’s why they terrify me,” Mail on Sunday, February 28, 2015. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/pduOu

  38. Peter Hitchens. “A Deeply Disappointing Response,” Mail on Sunday, April 3, 2014. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/HGFWC

  39. Peter Hitchens. “The eternal Coalition: Perfect for politicians, lousy for the rest of us,” Mail on Sunday, December 6, 2010. Archived April 23, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/fmzna

  40. Peter Hitchens Writer,” Spectator. Archived June 16, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/oUb4l

  41. Peter Hitchens. “PETER HITCHENS: Boris’s green revolution will turn Britain into a Third World country,” The Daily Mail, April 24, 2021. Archived April 26, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/YslVy 

Other Resources

Image credit: Nigel Luckhurst (CC BYSA 4.0)

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