Coffee House

Why the Met Office has hung its chief scientist out to dry

18 February 2014

Last week the Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology issued an admirable joint report on the floods and their possible connection to climate change, concluding that it is not possible to make such a link. ‘As yet’, it said, ‘there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding’. In many ways this was not much of a surprise, since only the wild activist fringe among the climate science community have tended to try to make the link in the past.

Taking such a level-headed view, the Met Office report represented a valuable opportunity to bring some calm to an increasingly frenzied debate over the flooding. However, unfortunately for everyone, the good work was all undone by the Met Office’s own chief scientist, Professor Dame Julia Slingo. Newly ennobled in the New Year’s honours list, Slingo seems to have found the temptation to put a global warming spin on everything that crosses her desk too much, and she blurted out to journalists the extraordinary claim that ‘all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change’.

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Her position was undoubtedly a big problem for the Met Office, directly contradicting her own organisation’s report and the views of the scientific mainstream. It was therefore perhaps inevitable that these differences would be picked up in the media. Over the weekend, the Mail on Sunday reported a senior climatologist, Professor Mat Collins of Exeter University, as saying that:-

‘There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter. If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge.’

As the newspaper pointed out, there was an obvious discrepancy with what Slingo was telling the press.

On the grapevine I hear that climate scientists are privately furious with Slingo; their profession has had a rough ride in recent years and efforts to restore its battered reputation are not to be cheaply squandered. The signs are that climatologists have hung Slingo out to dry. Last night, Collins and the Met Office issued a much-anticipated response to the Mail on Sunday article. This made a great deal of global warming having increased the water content of the atmosphere, leading to increased rainfall, a surprising point given that as recently as 2012 Slingo had told Parliament that global warming was ‘loading the dice’ in favour of cold, dry winters. It also made a strong sales pitch about the potential of climate models to predict increases in storminess in future. But it was what it did not say that was most significant. For while it artfully implied that the Mail on Sunday had got things wrong, in fact it went on to show only that the original report was consistent with Collins’ mainstream views. Regarding Slingo’s outlandish claims about ‘all the evidence’ supporting a link between the floods and global warming, there was only an ominous silence.

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Show comments
  • ClimateLearner

    Nicely put. The Met Office would do well to hive off all the climate fanatics and have plenty clear blue water between them and the honest artisans of the weather side of things.

  • Eyesee

    You will find that, no matter how eminent the speaker, any utterance of ‘all the evidence….’ from a Global Warming zealot, will not be followed by any evidence at all. There will be no proof and no justification of what they have said. Because what they have said will have been a political statement without foundation in fact. It is interesting to hear a contemporary scientist saying ‘it is outside our understanding’ because the Royal Society have stated, unequivocally that we understand everything about the climate and how it works and no further investigation is warranted, or should be carried out. Now, if Slingo was a scientist first rather that a political zealot, then I would be happy to listen to her opinion against any amount of mainstream. Unlike the strange people who point out that the ‘consensus view’ as often parroted by the GW crew (although mainly political activists not scientists) is the reason to believe something, that that is how science advances and cite people such as Galileo! For goodness sake, he was on the side of science against the consensus! In those days as now, a scientific proof was fighting against a popular religion (though today it is Environmental religion not Catholicism). That Marxists are trying to use a belief system to achieve their goals is very clever and leads clever people to do stupid things. But as the general population gets more stupid, by deliberate Left wing policy to provide a nation of proles, so we become enrapt by the statements of the ‘clever’, no matter how obviously stupid. Every time a GW supporter goes public with a scientific explanation of their belief structure, it is torn to shreds (and easily so in the case of the output of Al Gore), so they don’t tend to do it. And the likes of the BBC talk about a debate on GW. Ever heard one? Ever heard one on the BBC!!? Plenty of pro-religion propaganda, but no debate, no information. Which tells you all you need to know. That and the fact they keep getting caught lying. Lying about previous warm periods, lying about temperature readings. But 20% or more of your energy bill is going straight to these people, to make sure they become much wealthier. As they are true Marxists.

  • bjedwards

    The Crackerjack candy company should call Slingo and tell her they want her degree back.

  • Adrian Kerton

    When Dame Julia called together a conference to discuss the unusual climate I ran some control charts just to see how unusual they were, not a lot it seems.

  • Peter Stroud

    It would seem that Dame Julia is a prime example of the Peter principle.

  • Ron Todd

    It is all the perfect excuse to impose more control and tax on the rest of us. The rich greenites Cameron Lord Smith Al Gores Prince Charles and the like never propose anything that will diminish there lifestyle, they can afford more expensive energy . They can fly round the world on private planes and have the junior under-gardener plant a tree for them and claim to be carbon neutral.

    China and India plan hundreds of coal power stations the Irish are burning the peat bogs Germans want to use more lignite the dirties fuel this side of mad cow carcasses so why is it always us that have to turn the lights out and sit in the dark and pay more?

  • CharlietheChump

    Slingo, pantomime Dame.

  • brossen99
  • David B

    I wonder what line EdM is now working to

  • FF42

    With your selective quotes you misrepresent both the Met Office report – download here – and Julia Slingo – here. They both state there is no definitive link between climate hange and recent unusual weather patterns in the British Isles. Dame Slingo says the evidence suggests a link while the Met Office report implies that a link is possible. The two statements aren’t incompatible.

    I wouldn’t say they were the “wild activist fringe among the climate science community”

    • Ruth Dixon

      This week, Natalie Bennett (Green Party leader) said on the Andrew Marr show “…But I think, if we go to the Met Office, with Dame Julia the Chief Scientist, who said last week “All of the evidence points to climate change exacerbating these floods”. Now, “all-of-the-evidence”-speak is I think what you call scientist-speak for “This is a fact”.”

      If Dame Julia didn’t want her words to be interpreted in that way, she should have been more careful with her phrasing.

    • Dodgy Geezer

      Dame Slingo says the evidence suggests a link

      which indicates that there IS evidence.

      …while the Met Office report implies that a link is possible for several reasons.

      Which indicates that there ISN’T evidence, just that it might be true

      The two claims aren’t incompatible…

      Yes, they are.

      I wouldn’t say they were the “wild activist fringe among the climate science community”

      On the evidence above, I would put the Slingo there….

      • FF42

        Which indicates that there ISN’T evidence, just that it might be true

        Not quite. It means the Met Office does not assess the probability of a link. It simply presents the evidence, leaving up to the reader or others to make up their own minds. Dame Julia Slingo assesses the same evidence, presumably, and draws the conclusion that there probably is a link, albeit not a definitive one. Others may draw a different conclusion, but the report does present a body of evidence.

    • Weaver

      Slingo’s wording is woolly and deliberately ambiguous as she plays to her audience. These are the answers of a Lawyer or Politician, not a scientist.

  • LiveFrmGolgafrincham

    Great accompanying picture – clever, given the topic, and also optimistic considering the woman’s circumstances. More climate change pic suggestions here:

  • Stuck-Record

    So, is Slingo actually lying to the public and Parliament, or does she genuinely not have a clue about what she’s talking about?

    Both are pretty scary propositions but, bearing in mind Chris Smith’s utter cluelessness about his own agency’s official policy of deliberate flooding, I don’t suppose we should be surprised at more incompetence or falsehood from highly paid idiots.

    • JezzaP

      She’s a top public servant. It is therefore highly unlikely that she has any clue about what she is talking about. Bonuses all round, mind you.

    • Makroon

      Mr Montford has unconsciously imitated the latest fudge of the global warming crowd, by conflating ‘global warming’, ‘AGW’, and ‘climate change’ (just as they previously deliberately conflated ‘denier’ with ‘sceptic’).
      By definition, the floods WERE caused by ‘climate change’, probably temporary..
      Any link to ‘global warming’ (or ‘global cooling’), is unproven and unlikely.
      Any link to ‘AGW’ is so utterly unprovable and unlikely that it enters the realms of apocalyptic fantasy.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and make sure you tell all that to your socialist mate Dave.

  • anyfool

    This woman is another reason quotas for any groups are wrong, the destruction of all agencies of the public sector continues apace.
    She should be sacked, in this case because she is a useless AGW cult driven creature, but a clear out of the politically driven appointments in the public sector is well overdue.
    The current crop of gutless politicians will do nothing until a real disaster happens, this press and politically confected crisis is in reality a minor event when considered against previous events.

  • London Calling

    Well lets have the debate then. Like immigration climate change has become a taboo subject until its in your face, which it now is. Maybe it will be difficult to prove categorically, however we best get prepared for future wetter winters and dredge those rivers out regularly…………….meanwhile the debate will go on for years and the weather will wait for no one…………….:)

    • flaxdoctor

      Future wetter winters? But their models forecast drier winters, didn’t they? Including this one:

      • London Calling

        Warmer winters ……less snow…..lots of rain in my view……………..:)

    • JezzaP

      wetter winters? Didn’t you read the article – we are going to get colder drier winters, er, hold on, we are going to get warmer wetter winters er hold on…

      • Ron Todd

        I remember all the claims that we would have to plant drought resistant gardens.

  • rtj1211

    I suspect she is being hung out to dry for going off message when a major internal effort has been undertaken to develop a coherent message.

    Sir Geoffrey Howe and cricket bats comes to mind……

  • johnswindon

    When explaining why The Environment Agency had not dredged the Somerset Levels Lord Smith said that their cost benefit analysis as required by the Treasury meant the they can only spend £400k on dredging. Do the same rules apply to the department of Energy and the Met office who are spending billions of other peoples money to counter so called climate change. We can see the costs but what are the benefits. If global warming exists the UK is a very small contributor in world terms and we have no control over the really big players so our actions are pointless and our money would be better spent ameliorating the effects of climate change and not trying to stop it. The only real way of reducing the effect of people on the environment is to reduce the number of people. Why don’t the warmist advocate that?

    • Terry Field

      Much of your commentary is quite correct.
      I am convinced of the seriousness of global warming, but the data indicating what needs to be done to avoid catastrophe requires insane reductions in output of energy – in effect the disaster is unavoidable if the science is correct.
      The UK is of no significance and should do what it can to try to cope with the horror to come. How much success it can have here is highly debatable.
      As for the global population – it has long been obvious that we are so grotesquely numerous that to survive in the short term we destroy all other forms of life to rape the world of its resources.
      400k stg on dredging – bl**dy pathetic – if the Dutch had such useless government as the UK has had to become accustomed, then it would have been flooded long ago and its poor population would be dead by drowning long ago.
      The UK is the worst-governed state in the so called – ‘first’ world.
      I should thing Bangladesh is run better than Britain!
      Never mind – soon it will be Billimand’s turn,and I will just die laughing!

      • Fergus Pickering

        We are worse governed than Italy, Greece, Romania? Come on. Put a sock in it.

        • Terry Field

          Greece and Romania are NT first world countries, wally.
          It is not under water.
          It is sunny , has great food, and has NO government to speak of – and it STILL has a better quality of life – and it is NOT under water.

          • Fergus Pickering

            You mean the rain is the government’s fault. And I suppose you have heard of the mafia.

            • Terry Field

              Oh please.
              We are supposed to benchmark against the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zeeland, Sweden, Holland, Denmark etc.- not semi-failed and partially agrarian states on the current margins of Europe.
              OBVIOUSLY the infrastructure of the UK is third rate – just visit overseas a bit and stop being a little Englander.
              You seem to suffer from a version of Stockholm syndrome.
              And yes, it is plain that there is gutless useless capitulation in the defence against flood, sea encroachment in the Eastern agriculturally productive counties etc;- particularly so when compared to the incomparably better ordered netherlands; and the absurd climate change denial in these columns is beyond belief.
              I vote right wing in my country of residence,.but am not a Neanderthal – climate change is quite plainly happening in the world..
              No doubt you will start to tell me how wonderful the NHS is soon, and witter on about the Bulldog breed and the Dunkirk spirit and such other delusional drivel.

              • Fergus Pickering

                The NHS, or rather St Thomas’s Hospital, saved MY life, was excellent in all respects and didn’t cost me a cent. I’ve no idea what other countries are like, but I wouldn’t care to be ill in the United States. Certainly the climate appears to be changing. Why I have no idea, but I doubt that building more windmills will stop flooding. You lot (the climate change and it’s all our fault) would do well to stop lying all the time. It has become a sort of religion with you, hasn’t it? White-coated priests and all that. And of course you are so self-important you can’t imagine something happening in the world that can’t be fixed. Personally I don’t think it can be fixed. I think we wil have to learn to put up with it. The Dutch spend 30% of their GNP on defences against the sea. Are you prepared for us to do the same and where would you make the cuts? Tax the rich a bit, I suppose I take it you are a lefty numpty. Well of course you are.

                • Terry Field

                  I’ve other fish to fry than keep replying to you but here is my last effort.
                  Firstly, the NHS is not ‘free’ – an idiotic idea.
                  Secondly the US system is vastly superior than the socialised UK system except for the uninsured now covered by Obama – and even US public hospitals have a better record than the NHS competition – but that is hardly a difficult standard to better.
                  I agree windmills are absurd – blame the mad ‘greens’ for that and the kraut influence in Europland.
                  I am not lying – I simply respect the science – and you do not. Simple.- Climate change is real, and you will be less and less able to reject its truth and the destruction it will bring to all of us – but I suspect now there is nothing we can do to stop it.
                  Human population growth mirrored the growth in energy consumption – mostly fossil fuels. One way or another, that condition will go into sharp reverse.
                  IF (note the IF) the climate warms by 4 degrees by 2100 – (I think it possible – you may not) then adaptation will be impossible – and mass death will be the only outcome.
                  It is no religion with me – at present I am of the view the science pints one way – if that changes, |I will change my view. As I suspect you may do also.
                  Re the Dutch – the point is that our condition in the UK requires defences if the most productive agricultural land is not to be lost to the sea – surely a derelict government structure as the UK is saddled with is the only one that would deny this dl**dy obvious truth.
                  No I am not a lefty – I loathe the socialist poison with a vengeance and think Brown should be forcibly confined for the damage he did to the British way of doing things. And as for Blair – a nightmare.
                  If you have read my other little rants you will see how I associate moral and structural decline with the aberration of left wing ‘thought’. It’s a washed-up idea whose time has passed. I do not get the impression you think very much. You certainly do not follow arguments too well.
                  As for taxing the rich – no, the world has change and the rich are effectively non-national – so the mass middle will have to bear the burden.
                  And the hugely increasing number of unemployed proles will have to get significantly less – then they will probably revolt, but that will not change anything – even if a populist rabble-rouser gets power and- he or she will simply accelerate the decline.
                  The rich generally behave worse than ever, as they avoid national responsibilities – but that is how it is. They used to do philanthropy when they were locally based, but that’s history.
                  I would not wipe my feet on most of them, but I am no socialist – I just prefer responsible people with decent moral drives. I hope you do as well.
                  GOOD BYE for now.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You simply need to drop this global warmingist stupidity. It’s nonsense, and most have caught on to it now. No shame in admitting you bought into a scam. It happens to us all eventually.

                • Terry Field

                  No – the data is on the side of warming – if that changes I will change my mind.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  It’s not though. The global warmingists published hockey stick curves galore, demonstrating that we’d be roasting alive by now, but they’ve all been exposed as lies. The models were lies. They have no data, and certainly none trustworthy.

                  This does happen, you know. Hysteria does grip people now and again, and this has been one of those times.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  In America people are left with enormous bills to pay. In Britain tha does not happen. You have had bad experiences with the NS. Mine have been good. Climate change is real. Quite possibly. We can do noting about it. Almost certainly true. So we will have to put tup with it. I am sorry I mistook you for a lefty. They’re under the beds and everywhere.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, the NHS just kills them before any bills are run up.

                  It’s a very efficient system, perfect for you socialists.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  The socialist NHS is a joke, far below any acceptable level. It kills…. unthinkingly and uncaringly kills… the very people who come to be treated. Only a socialist could sing praises to this failing socialist beast, and compare it favorably to better performing and lifesaving systems such as in the US, and many other countries. And the socialist Camerluvvies ringfence that failure, and you socialists celebrate that failure.

                  That’s why stupidities like global warmingism and the NHS catch on and are sustained, because socialists like you Camerluvvies support them.

                • Kitty MLB

                  No, I shall respond to your post dear Viceroy,
                  like it or not, you lemon chewing old goat, I cannot resist.
                  (Don’t worry, I get it , only chaps are allowed to torment you,
                  a bit slow with that one) apologise again for being rude ( 7th time) Just except it or not- who cares !
                  The NHS is a big sacred cow in urgent need of
                  reform, ( and I supported Andrew Lansley, completely) its also contains lots of little Labour voters, who work for it. It needs to be about patient care and not about those who work within it.
                  Some of them are dirty, they neglect elderly people( like you)
                  Nurses cannot always speak English and generally hospitals can be dangerous- we need to ask are we safe in their care.
                  Yet saying that We still have some very good hospitals,
                  one actually saved my finger last year after nearly chopping it off, excellent surgeon and hand therapist ( totally recovered
                  you will be pleased to here)
                  So therefore we should not make a point of always speaking them down, I have known people who have been very poorly
                  who have had excellent care, and we have excellent overworked doctors and nurses in most hospitals,
                  perhaps we have too many people in this country now,
                  and the NHS is bursting at the seams because of that fact.
                  I have made my point, above in regards to The Green
                  Energy lie so therefore will not repeat myself.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, no need to bother reading that endless socialist blather.

                  No need for you to obsessively tag along after my posts. It’s somewhat creepy, too. I release you from that burden.

                • Kitty MLB

                  So you decided not to respond like a grownup.
                  just in a utterly illogical and absurd manner.
                  Actually you are the socialist, that’s obvious by
                  your response to some chimerical words about you,
                  as well your response to me chastising you for
                  saying FP was uneducated, that was preposterous,
                  he is also unlike you a gentleman.
                  May I also gently remind you that you have been the one
                  marking up all my posts since arriving here
                  a month ago, you also interrupted a private conversation
                  between someone I knew from ConHome who also
                  posts here, we thought that was strange.
                  Well me ‘ tagging along’ was an attempt to find
                  that nice and reasonable chap, but I have quite
                  finished now, I have nothing else to say
                  and I am sure nor do you .

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …and no need to read that endless socialist blather either.

                  No need for you to obsessively tag along after my posts. Really, you should cease, before you get to the bunny boiling stage. Let go of your burden. It’s best. I release you.

    • realfish

      Do you believe Smith?

      He / the EA were adamant, before Xmas, that dredging would make no difference whatsoever…then we were told it might be helpful, but it was not the complete answer…then we were told by Smith, in his Newsnight ‘chat’ with Paxman, that it would make a significant difference. In a paper in June, the EA sided with wildlife charities opposition to the calls for dredging (despite their promises to do so after the 2012 floods).

      The so called cost benefit analysis excuse, looks just like that, an excuse used by an organisation that for years has been committed to returning parts of the levels to nature by ‘just adding water’.

      • Pip

        I don’t believe Smith, only a fool would.

        • Fergus Pickering

          A Labour peer? I wouldn’t trust him to tell me the time.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …a socialist numpty, reappointed by his fellow socialist numpty, your guy Dave.

            You socialists stick together, afterall.

      • The Laughing Cavalier
        • the viceroy’s gin

          A picture is worth a thousand envirowhacko lies.

      • ButcombeMan

        I do not believe Smith at all. He was either telling fibs on the Today program and pretending ignorance of the deliberate flooding policy, or he is grossly incompetent (or possibly both maybe?). He is a man without shame.

        These pictures illustrate exactly what the deliberate flooding policy has done.

      • Sickofgreen

        I wonder what the cost benefit analysis revealed about donating £30,000 to gay pride?
        I think also that more consideration should be given to the “silt is controlled waste” portion of the excuses I have heard. I can understand that in a heavily navigated waterway pollutants may be concentrated in the river sediment. But surely a simple sampling protocol would re enable the Somerset silt to be deposited on the farmland as the useful source of nutrients it once was known to be. The levels are not heavily navigated waterways.

    • newminster

      You are assuming that the effects of climate change need ameliorating. Most of the papers I have seen (I don’t pretend to any great expertise) suggest that as far as the UK is concerned the effects are likely to be broadly beneficial if you take the most recent mainstream view of forcings and feedbacks and things.
      It’s also worth noting two things.
      First the hypothesis is that the poles warm faster than the tropics which reduces the temperature gradient so storms ought to be less frequent if warming is what’s happening.
      Second the current weather is reminiscent of the 1940s when the last 30-year warming episode had come to an end and a 30-year period of stasis or slight decline had begun — which is similar to the climatic state now when the 1970-2000 warming has ended and we are again in a period of static or declining temperature.
      As for reducing the number of people, this has always been at least one sub-text of the whole global-warming alarmist agenda. Neo-Malthusians are very strongly represented amongst the politicians, scientists and civil servants who pushed this meme the hardest in the 70s and 80s.

      • Kitty MLB

        May I ask a question, apologies if its rather simplistic.
        We are told that we are polluting the environment, (cars etc)
        that we are damaging the ozone layer, and causing climate change.
        When did we actually start speaking of this climate change, ( people believe those words are utter balderdash ) you mention the 40s ( was not around until a couple of decades later)
        I am sure it was not mentioned then, do you suppose that the alleged
        damage to our climate was due to the amount of bombs
        and aircrafts at the time of WW1 & WW2.
        You also have knowledgeably the natural change of
        our climate periodically.
        Thank you your post was very informative.

        • Sickofgreen

          Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming was rebranded to climate change when it stopped warming (Ca 17 years ago). According to the thermogeddonista it is still all our fault & the destruction of our way of life (or at least prosperity) is the only solution.

          • Kitty MLB

            Thank you.
            I suppose eventually we will all wander back to the dark
            ages, living in mud huts, sitting by candlelight ,
            nibbling carrots, wandering everywhere by foot,
            decaying wind farms in the back ground.
            But never mind we will be saving the planet, instead
            of the people who live on it. The Greenies will be very happy I suppose.

    • mikewaller

      Do you lot ever think? The only possible basis upon which to have any chance of persuading mass polluters like China and India to do something about it as to have put our house in order. Like the meerkat says, Simple!

      Even the reaction on this list about the prospects of colder dryer winters makes me think that you lot walk round like 5 year olds with your fingers in your ears. One of the risks of GW is the mass melting of Arctic ice, the melt water of which would be more than sufficient to significantly desalinate the waters of the North Atlantic. As the present level of salinity is crucial to the maintenance of the Gulf Stream (aka the North Atlantic Drift or Atlantic Conveyor) which brings warm water up from the South, this could cause the loss of the Atlantic-warmed prevailing South Westerlies which currently give us the warm moist weather that belies the fact that we are on about the same latitude as Labrador. The result would be colder dryer winters.

      In critiquing GW theory you do not have to be a believer; but getting your mind round at least some of the basics really ought to be a sine qua non.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Why bother? You hysterics will on to global cooling hysteria, any minute now. You lot go in cycles, we’ve discovered .

        • mikewaller

          I take it that the “why bother” relates to thinking.

          • Alexsandr

            there is an adage in computing -‘garbage in -garbage out’
            the climate change lot dont have enough data to make a reliable model, so the output of their model is rubbish.
            just cos the data is in a fancy spreadsheet doesn’t make it right.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            No, actually, we’ve been thinking about you hysterics for about 4-5 decades now, lad.

            As I say, you lot will be shrieking about global cooling shortly. It’s about that time in your predictable cycle. That’s the only scientific consensus associated with all this, fyi.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Good post, viceroy. I can’t believe I actually said that.

              • Kitty MLB

                You were right to actually say that.
                The delightful ( but snappish) viceroy is a very perceptive chap.
                Fergus, people here do not appreciate his sensitivities.
                There are those who will be fooled by those polar bears
                on melting ice caps – Cameron might even hug them
                as they disappear, and then go off in search for huskies.
                Viceroy is right about global cooling, we are indeed
                entering a cooler period. Scientists who do know( those who do not work for the government) will tell you that the world
                had been going through these periods of climate change
                well before we were even here, quite natural, and there are things we have no control over and regardless
                of what Cameron tell you- we were not responsible for
                the demise of the dinosaur- Global Cooling, instead of global
                warming, around forever you see.

        • Daniel Maris

          That’s a prediction is it?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            It doesn’t really matter what it is, as far as you’re concerned, as you’re too ignorant and poorly educated to understand it in any event.

            • Daniel Maris

              I agree it doesn’t really matter what it is.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Again, it doesn’t really matter what you agree on, as you’re too ignorant and poorly educated to understand what is to be agreed.

      • Weaver

        Really? You think moral example will persuade China? You seriously beleive this?

        That’s just….well, I don’t know. You’re just coming at this from a position which suggests we have a completely different model of how human pyschology and politics works….

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …or is getting paid to hold a position.

          • mikewaller

            Cheap shot and, as usual from you, a million miles off the mark.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …meaning it hit home, eh lad?

              • mikewaller

                No, it just means that I thought the posturing old fool has got it wrong again. [:-)]

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …no, that type of emotional, knee jerk reaction generally means it was a bullseye.

          • Weaver

            Nawh, Mike’s just dumb.

            I’ve met similar types; they just don’t know anything about international politics and history, there’s no malice involved.

        • mikewaller

          I speak of the West not just the UK, and surely any fool can see if we just carry on belching it out, so will they. Set an example and that plus the slow asphyxiation of their own populations might just lead to progress.

          • xmarkwe

            China has their own and obvious pollution problems, and are in fact beginning to reacte to that now, out of their own self interest, and no doubt will continue to do so.

            your own economy as an example to nations who can already out-compete
            you because of their cheap labour, lax environmental controls,
            subsidized energy and favourable finance conditions is the very height
            of idealistic naivety.

            • mikewaller

              China is a very sophisticated country which does understand the meaning of intelligent self-interest; but even it needs as much encouragement by example as possible to cut down on the amount of muck it puts up in the air. However, many other countries are now entering the industrialisation game and frequently coupling this with massive destruction of forests, usually by burning. Many of these are very much less sophisticated. We are already very much on the back foot with them because, as they point out, high levels of pollution and massive deforestation is what gave us the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

              If this caries on unchecked, never mind GW, we will have a particulate-driven nuclear winter. At some stage self-interest is going to drive us to greatly increase the extent to which we prohibit the importation of goods the production of which is deeply damaging to our common environment. To do that the West has to be the world’s “Mr Clean”. I do, however, fully appreciate that is perhaps too complex a strategy for individuals with limited and highly egocentric perspectives.

              • itdoesntaddup

                I think that Greens would be capable of justifying nuclear winter in our futures: they’re the Dr Strangelove’s of our times.

              • Weaver

                Umm….you realise the UK industrial revolution was a response to deforestation rather than a cause? That the majority use for wood in poor countries is domestic fires? And that this stops with industrialisation?

                Seriously, I don’t think your economic history is as good as you think it is…

                • mikewaller

                  Nonsense. Coal largely replaced wood because the bright minds of the age came to appreciate that coal had a far greater calorific value. The deforestation had mainly occurred far earlier in the interests of agriculture and the massive pollution of the environment accelerated after industialisation as more and more coal was used. Remember, you are dealing here with a guy here who went to school at the tail end of the “pea-souper” London fogs.

                  What cleaned the air up here was democracy and legislation i.e a people with the power to make themselves heard brought about the Clean Air Act. And if you seriously think that we can afford to sit back and wait for countries like India – not to say Bangladesh – to meet all their energy needs from low polluting, centralised energy sources whilst hundreds of millions of rural dwellers sit around two bar electric fires cooking toast, you are living in Cloud-Cuckoo land. Long before that point is reached (if at all) there would not be a stick of wood left.

                  In my view the one best hope is a huge investment in the development of low cost renewables that would bring succor to the world’s poor, both rural and urban, and also enable the First World to give itself some capacity to cope with loss its power grids for a considerable periods for any one of several quite plausible reasons.

                • Weaver

                  Yes, I think we agree there. Deforestation wasn’t caused by industrialisation; it simply preceded it. Cheap coal stoves replaced expensive wood, iron and brick replaced timber, and deforestation slowed/stopped. Presently there are additional factors like land clearance and hardwood exports to worry about, but broadly speaking industrialisation is good for forests by changing domestic heating fuels, reducing the marginal value of land/agriculture, and moving populations to the cities.

                  I really don’t understand the rest of your post in this light…. coal heating and local diesel generation is rapidly replacing wood in India/Bangladesh, even in places without a grid connection. I think the forests will survive. There’s increasing marginal costs at work in their favour. Wood probably isn’t economic to collect for most rural dwellers there now.

                • mikewaller

                  I just happen to be reading “To the Navel of the World” by Peter Somerville-Large, first published in 1987. He has this to say about deforestation in Nepal:
                  “Whilst the need for preserving forests is recognised, the hacking away of green timber and removal of forest cover continues inexorably. Looking at the denuded hillsides it is hard to grasp that Buddhism holds it a sin to cut down trees other than in unavoidable circumstances. …. Outside the (National) Park, hills were shaved like lamas heads with here and there the stubble of felled trunks left as a reminder of where the forests had stood.”

                  Although I suspect that this is a fairly typical third world experience, perhaps others more knowledgeable can favourably surprise me. What I do know is that what has been done in the head waters of the rivers that eventually run into Bangladesh and elsewhere has had a terrible effect on those countries. The newly created lack of tree cover results in flood water arriving much sooner and, as a result, in much greater hourly quantities in the lower reaches of those rivers.

                  I appreciate that coal and diesel may take some weight of the forests, but I suspect that it will be too little and too late. Nor are they without attendant problems. As I tried to make clear last time, the terrible smogs in the UK arose from the highly inefficient burning of fuels in domestic grates and elsewhere. And that was with a population of about 40 or so million. Quite what the effect is going to be of billions of poor folk using stoves and generators in varying states of decrepitude, I shudder to think.

                • Weaver

                  There’s a good summary of the global situation here.


                  Yeah, coal is not a great domestic heating fuel. The particulate load and heavy metals are quite horrible. It’s just a lot better (cleaner burning) than the energy equivalent mass of wood and animal dung, And it spares forests, mostly. In the long run you want to move rural developing world over to gas for heating / cooking with diesel for electric until you can get full grid connection.

                • mikewaller

                  Why do you so consistently close your mind to putting a massive research effort into producing very small-scale green generation technologies that would offer the added bonus of giving advanced societies some modicum of generating capacity in the event of loss of the grid for a considerable period? Seems ostrich-like to me.

                • Weaver

                  I’m not closed to it but….Look, I’m a systems engineer with graduate level economics and an amateur interest in power generation. And I don’t think the numbers add up…. for now. I’m interested in seeing what solar PV will do in the medium-long term.

                  Small scale renewable systems remain not very cost-effective, and the despatch problem is especially acute in non-grid settings. They work fairly well in remote, sunny/windy communities with high grid connection costs and diesel backups. The great bands of the world about the tropics, the 30 latitude deserts (but no one lives there) and the interior of the major continents. They are not cost-effective against grid-based conventional/nuclear plants instead in the developed, wet, temparate zones of the world.

                  As for grid backup…well…that’s a none-starter. If you want continuity of supply, you’d get much more grid reliability and stability by spending the equivalent sum on CCGT than building windmills that might not even be turning when the lights go out.

                • mikewaller

                  Your repeated references to cost -effectiveness shows that your nose is still stuck in the economics text book and that you are not facing up the the horrendous problems that modern industrialised societies have created for themselves by sleepwalking into a monstrous over-dependence on centralised power generation. Before WW2, power engineers on both sides of the North Sea were convinced that in an age of long-range bombers, a war could only last for a few weeks and its outcome would be determined by whose power grid was smashed first. In the event, the bombing proved massively inaccurate, the power stations were too numerous and too small, a great deal of heat and generation was provided by fuel burned in domestic grates and prime movers in industrial plant, and because the systems had grown like Topsy, damage to the distribution networks could easily be by-passed.

                  A moment’s thought will tell you that none of these now apply and nor is conventional war the only threat. Attack by terrorists, using physical or cyber methodologies, prolonged industrial action, pandemics which might wipe out critical numbers of key workers, natural disasters from solar storms to dramatic climate change and large-scale civil unrest are all realistic treats to significant loss of the power network.

                  Should any of these have a major impact, the great majority of people would have no fall-back position and even those with small generators could only last as long as the fuel was available. Against this kind of background, saying that very, very basis highly localised generation is not cost effective is much like saying that life boats are not cost-effective as a transportation system. They are if you hit an iceberg!

                • Weaver


                  Mmm. I know my way about large scale power systems reasonably well. And I know my way about critical infrastructure vulnerabilities even better, having been sat across the corridor from the team that did the COBRA analysis for the better part of a year. The things on your list are modelled, you know…. :-)

                  I simply don’t think you have a good handle on threat level, asymmetric, conventional, natural disaster, or otherwise.

                  The UK (or any modern, well-built) power grid is simply not that vulnerable. You get graceful rather than catastrophic failure. If you have a threat big enough to take it down for significant periods, then you have much bigger problem on your hands than the lights going out.

                  (Incidentally, I also know my WWII Strategic Bombing campaign pretty well, and starting from the USSBS and BC war diaries, power stations were seldom primary targets… pre-war doctrine called for immediate attack on aerodromes and airfields and aircraft factories NOT power stations.)

                  It all falls back to cost-effectiveness and opportunity cost. What would be the cost of providing local renewables power for the whole UK? Immense. Probably on the order of £100B+. Local generation is very cost-inefficient. (Renewables are even worse – the despatch problem is horrible in small locales and the designs do not scale at all well. You could be looking a £200B+ here for an unreliable system.).

                  The systems engineer in me says you’d get (much) better results from the same spending in hardening the main system than build a very expensive redundancy system. So to extend your iceberg analogy; you’re safer strengthening the hull and adding iceberg avoidance radar than buying more lifeboats.

                • mikewaller

                  1. Of course power stations were rarely on the priority list – up until the last 18 months of the war they simply could not bomb that accurately and by time they could, those running the war were sick to death of what they called “panacea” solutions i.e. proposals that if we hit dams or power plants or oil refineries or ball-bearing factories etc etc we will end the war in a fortnight. As a result even when they had the accuracy, bombers continued to be used largely as bludgeons. However, before the severe limitations of bombers became clear, the power system was most definitely seen as a key vulnerability (see Leslie Hannah’s history of the electricity industry) and at the anecdotal level, my late neighbour who served in the Home Guard throughout, said that the first task his unit was given was to stand guard on a major substation in the neighbourhood against the possibility of its being attacked by German paratroopers. Frankly, any country in a life or death battle against another would be highly unlikely not to target key infrastructure if it could. Indeed, that is what the Americans mean by “shock and awe”. And as we now live in world in which a small clutch of cruise-type missiles could take out 7% of our generating capacity just by hitting Drax, I think that we have something serious to worry about.

                  2. In terms of our “gracefully” failing power system, I think yours is a mindset comparable to a Churchill’s subsequent claim that he no more thought that the big shore batteries in Singapore were incapable of firing inland than he thought a battleship would be built without a bottom. Ditto the “inability” of anybody to attack through the Malayan jungle. They, like you and others, set as your parameters that with which you are comfortable, the prerogative of the ostrich throughout time.

                  3. Any fool knows I am talking about a great deal more than lights as virtually all the other utilities are now critically dependent on mains generated electricity. In our small village we rely on a sewerage pumping station. Severn-Trent won’t give a direct answer, but the implication of what I have been told is that, come Armageddon, we are on our own. Ditto with water.

                  4. Your fantasy maths assumes very substantial domestic installations. All I have in mind is something which, for example, by using renewables primarily to charge batteries would give us the barest modicum of civilised life post disaster. Indeed, having been in Michigan during the recent ice storm, is was the want of things as basic as that drove people from their homes in very short order.

                  5. Finally, lordly dismissal may seem OK at this stage, but if the worst happens I’ll leave you to handle the lynch-mobs!

                • Weaver


                  1. Respectfully, I think you might be slightly underestimating my professional expertise here.

                  In the interests of brevity, you may assume I know my WWII history at graduate level. You may assume that I’m generally competent in military affairs; all domains, from TTPs to JWPs (better at the high level stuff, though). You may assume RUSI and IISS membership. You may assume that I work, or have worked, in central MoD and related agencies at a medium level.

                  To put it kindly, you’re not really telling me anything I don’t know. Yes, an all-out conventional war with a major power could hurt us very badly, with or without cruise missiles. The answer to this is :

                  a) The list of such powers we might be in conflict with is very short (Russia, China…)
                  b) Policy does NOT expect any such conflict with Russia to be “all-out” because of escalation risk. China simply lacks reach.

                  Before you shoot back, I’d ask if you have read the SDR? Or any of the public domain stuff on UK future miltiary operations? Seriously? Because if you want to debate future scenario planning that might be a good starting point for an unclassified discussion.

                  (Incidentally, “Shock and Awe” circa 2003 did NOT have utility infrastructure targets, for rather obvious operational reasons that we wanted to them working not wrecked. Yes, I have seen the joint target list and the ATO for that night. You’re just showing a layman’s knowledge here).

                  2. Look, if you’re just going to insult me, there’s no point to this. Come up with some maths or a professional risk assesment reference or just don’t bother.

                  3. I’d hoped the phrase “lights going out” was reasonable shorthand for “total utility and industrial failure”….I am aware that losing national power for a few weeks would be catastrophic.

                  4. I have a very good grasp on the cost of such a scheme. I don’t believe you can have ever seriously worked the numbers to make this claim. Why do you think no serious engineering study has reccomended it?

                  Look…a rechargable battery is about £0.30 per Wh. Generously. Onshore wind is about £1M per MW CAPEX for your back-up system (very generous – this is for large efficient grid-connected! Your “local” schemes would not even be £2M per MW). Assume you need to meet 10% of UK normal demand for your “emergency” period. Assume that you build enough renewables to meet that, on average, but take 5 days of battery storage to account for winter high pressure zones (in line with DECC assumptions, which are too generous by a country mile). Assume emergency daily winter demand of 110 GWh (at 10% of actual). Assume 25% capacity factor. You need:


                  0.30 x 110 x 1,000,000,000 x 5 = £ 165B

                  Wind, Onshore,

                  1,000,000 x 1,000 x 110/24 x (1/0.25) = £18.3B

                  Total costs ~ £193B with unrealistically generous assumptions and no maintenance costs. Is there any part of this “fantasy” maths you don’t understand?

                  5. I’ll bear that in mind. Any else useful to contribute?

                  You have no clue of the cost of battery storage KWh. It is horrendous, even for a “minimum” load of, say, 10% normal.

                  The worlds largest battery is

                  Again, come up with some maths of your own showing that this is feasible at cost.

                • mikewaller

                  I am impressed by your background but

                  (a) you grossly over-estimate what I expect of small localised systems. Merely to be able to run an old 25 watt bulb at night would make a huge difference as the people without power in the Philippines are now finding. Last thing I heard was that extreme acts of violence were take place in the total darkness and gangs were abducting young women for exploitation elsewhere. Being able to recharge batteries for use in computers, phones etc would be a Godsend. May seem trivial stuff to you and not worth bothering about, but for people in rural communities who can cope with no mains sanitation and still find potable water it would make life significantly more tolerable.

                  (b) I am far less convinced that you obviously are that delivery systems are the big limitation on the capacity to hurt us badly. Quite apart from major natural disasters including pandemics, it is worth bearing in mind that it was not a constraint on 9/11 and they chose a pretty high profile target. Smuggle viable nuclear devices into any country you wish to attack and the only delivery system you need is a modest launcher.

                  (c) As for things being OK if they are not “all out” that’s fine if you are sitting in the hardened central operations room, but not for the poor souls who are any given region selected by “the enemy” for demonstration purposes as in Japan. [BTW, given what the Russians are up to now in the Crimea I should have said all bets are off. Or is that, to the central planners, just in another “far away country of which we know little” the fate of which is never going to effect us? And never forget such is the Kremlin mindset it was they who effectively cashiered an officer for not launching a retaliatory nuclear strike when what their computers were actually picking up was a flight of geese.

                  (d) Finally, if you and your central planning colleagues have actually decided that in the worst case scenarios there is really nothing you can do for millions of people stuck out there with neither heat nor light nor much else, would it not be fair to tell us so that we could at least make such modest efforts as we are able to protect ourselves, however ineffectual these might prove? In this regard I suggest that you revisit the film “When the Wind Blows”.

                • Weaver


                  It seems most of your reply concentrates on our first point of strategic risk. I take it you accept the rest of my reply, especially the rough cost estimates for your local renewables scheme?

                  a) I suggested you had to make 10% of normal demand for the “emergency period”. That would barely cover some transport, emergency utilities, and public administration and maybe half an hour of domestic power each day.

                  If you have a different list… look, what services do you think you need for this emergency period? I’ll tell you how much power you need.

                  (Btw…charging your phone/computer is useless without the basestations and core infrastructure being powered. You realise that running that consumes, IIRC, about 1GWh per day?)

                  b) Mike, look…mmm…without meaning to be too brash, you obviously don’t know the first thing about this area. You’re talking to someone who, if not an expert, at least knows his way about nuclear weapons and strategy.

                  Firstly, There are no backpack / smuggling nukes (any more)…and “launchers” (whatever you think you mean) are much bigger than your “smuggled” device (leaving aside the hilarious re-integration problem). It would take a major power (basically, Russia. I think this is beyond China) to even attempt something like you describe. And why would they bother? The trail would lead right back to them.

                  Seriously, your view of the problem makes so many basic assumptions which are plain false or technically unfeasible or strategically pointless it is hard to know where to start. If this sort of thing keeps you awake at night, then please stop worrying and get more sleep.

                  c) I have a hard time seeing what your main claim is here. You seem to ramble a bit.

                  If things are not “all-out” I expect the impact on the civilian population and power systems to be slight. If you disagree, please feel free to quote statistics from any modern, conventional, limited, war.

                  (PS. I assume you mean Japan ’45. Surely this is an “all-out” war? So we can bin that example without even examining the dubious aspects of the “demonstration” claim.)

                  (PPS. No one is going to start WWIII over the Ukraine, Mike. I think you need to relax a bit in your threat assesments. )

                  (PPPS – that cashiering incident in the RVSN was NOT as you described. Please stop with the anecdotes; you’re not telling me anything new and they do not help you).

                  d) The answer is:

                  i) We don’t expect to get into that situation. Analysis clearly shows resources are (much) more efficiently spent avoiding the situation than managing it should it arise.

                  ii) If you’re still worried, I’d personally reccomend the following steps, in order of decreasing cost-effectiveness.

                  a) Keep an emergency supply of food and water, radio, torch, batteries, blankets, etc. Make an emergency plan.
                  b) Buy an small petrol/diesel generator, and make sure you can run your gas pump off it.
                  c) Fit a wood-burning stove and water heater.
                  d) Install septic tank and water storage tanks. Buy a geiger counter.
                  e) Buy a weapon and practise. Crossbows are still legal.
                  f) Buy a house with a well-drained basement.
                  g) Move to a relatively isolated community on the west coast of Scotland / NI.
                  h) Buy land and practise farming.

                  Wind power and batteries just don’t come into it. Ever.

                  (PS Speaking as a professional, “When the wind blows” is a well-made piece of scare-mongering anti-scientific rubbish. If you are (unreasonably, in my view) worried, I reccomend you revisit “protect and survive”. It really is what you should do in that (very unlikely) situation.)

                • mikewaller

                  I very much enjoy your posts and would be the first to admit that I learn a lot from them. However, as I read through I find myself involuntarily singing the third verse of “Praise my Soul, the King of Heaven”. As you will recall it runs thus:

                  Fatherlike He tends and spares us,
                  Well our feeble frame He knows;
                  In His hands He gently bears us,
                  Rescues us from all our foes.
                  Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
                  Widely yet His mercy flows.

                  Indeed, were I a believer, I would read the present developments in the the Crimea as God gently telling you exactly who is the omnipotent one. I agree with you that the Crimea is unlikely to lead to all-out war; but then, had you and I been around in 1914, we would not doubt have agreed that about Sarajevo. The problem is – and here I draw on years spent in what was then called Personnel Management – you and I are types, much like chalk and cheese, and as you have had several goes at characterising me from the written word, I feel free to spell out my image of “the planner”. These, in my experience, are highly intelligent individuals, confident of their innate superiority in respect of the rest of humanity, driven by an overwhelming desire to reduce the real world to something that enables the future to be confidently predicted. My supposition has always been that the underlying psychology is a strong tendency towards introversion which carries with it a dread of the stresses arising out of chaos. The trouble is that the real world is, at virtually every level, a chaotic system. To deal with this the planner retreats within the plan, the inevitable parameters of which rapidly cease to be mere assumptions and instead become Holy Writ. And that is why planners rarely succeed at the highest executive level.

                  Your latest posting provides a outstanding example. You list all the very sensible things an individual could do to maximize their chances of surviving some kind of global catastrophe; but (a) how many people have actually done what you suggest? and (b) if most everybody went down that road, how many of your proposals exist in such finite quantities that the majority would find their intentions frustrated? Am I being unfair is suggesting that in your mind, you having told “us” what we ought to do – however impossible that may be for most folks who are just scrapping by – that’s been dealt with.

                  One last point. You have told us “When the Wind Blows” is just so much imaginative rubbish, may I ask whether you have seen the programme “Blackout” which Channel 4 put out a couple of months ago? It sure rang bells with me. Or is that too to be dismissed as what might be termed mere arty-farty nonsense?

          • Weaver

            I think such moral example will have zero, I repeat, zero, effect on their decision. International politics simply does not work that way.

            Chinese self-interest, and their self-interest alone, will drive their decision. The economics and game theory is interesting, but you might like to know pre-commital to unilateral reduction is actually the worst possible move by the west, from the point of view of ourselves, if not general utility. (In laymens terms; it reduces the Chinese cost of carbon). Free rider / co-ordination effects don’t help as it is.

            Note I expect China to get cleaner as they get past about $8k per capita anyway, that’s just basic environmental economics.

            • mikewaller

              As I have already pointed out elsewhere, it is going to reach the point at which we will have to act in our own self-interest by heavily penalising products produced in ways which dangerously pollute the atmosphere common to all. At that stage it will be vital that we, like Caesar’s wife, are beyond reproach. Of course, if we accept the deep cynicism of your world view (which I largely do) the underlying motivation may well be protectionism in a new guise. However, the beyond reproach argument would still apply.

              • Weaver

                Mmm. Tax imports by embedded carbon content? Conceptually cute BUT:

                1) Very hard to do. Several treaties to denounce, and totally evil to administer (how do you deal with the re-imported goods problem?)..
                2) Assume general retaliation. Wealth effects (impoverishing both east and west) could easily overwhelm environmental benefits.

                • mikewaller

                  Just how long do you think that the democracies are going to stick with globalisation? We have had all the good bits in the form of the wonderfully cheap goodies but as its pressures drive down the Western standard of living as they must, there will be voters’ revolts against which the standard economic arguments in favour of free trade will have very little purchase. In that context, there would be virtually no cost to environmental levies, as the barriers would be going up any way. Nor am I convinced that the Chinese would be totally opposed. As they are clearly smart enough to be starting to do things about their present appalling emissions, restrictions based on such factors could work to their advantage. And, as I repeat for the umpteenth time, the key thing is that we must be able to show that we have taken the right measures ourselves.

                • Weaver


                  Could I ask, respectfully, how much formal economics training you have? I’m not following your link between free trade and falling western living standards….these are complex matters of current debate and I’m not sure how you are coming at them.

                  I do expect China to clean itself up as it becomes richer regardless. Everyone does.

                  Well, I know you keep repeating “at we must be able to show that we have taken the right measures ourselves.” but you haven’t actually made an argument for why that is necessary to make a deal with China (beyond the “moral force” one, which I really can’t accept as being supported by any international relations data or the game theory).

                • mikewaller

                  Fifty years ago I studied economics at university but after one year I chose to abandon it in favour of Political Science, not least because of the sheer ludicrousness of the then prevailing “model of man” that then underpinned economics. I accept that things has subsequently improved and welcome the coming of behavioral economics as indicative of the discipline actually starting to grow up.

                  Throughout the intervening years I have taken a close interest in the discipline and am fully aware that according to the standard model, unalloyed free trade maximises the general good and works to the advantage of the vast majority of those involved. That said, in my view, the discipline’s key weakness is revealed in your passing reference to games theory. I have had extensive experience with the low tech end of that: running the prisoner’s dilemma as an aspect of management training. As I am sure you know, the maximum general benefit from that is secured by the participating teams keeping faith with each other, yet time after time, the outcome is betrayal. So, too, I think with globalisation. Indeed we had a clear example of that during, I think, the first G W Bush administration. Supposedly a government of rock solid free traders, their unreformed steel industry came under a lot of pressure from more efficiently produced steel imports, and “Bang!” up went the unilateral trade barriers.

                  I think this very much the shape of things to come in respect of gobalisation as its short/medium term effects continue to hit established industry after established industry in the developed world and all the economic theory in the world isn’t going to placate the anger of those directly affected. As there is an obvious danger in seeking to protect our own by frustrating the expectations of the newly emergent industrialised economies, we need to be able to say something rather more than “hard cheese” – as that way war lies. And,regardless of GW, it would also be a very good idea if we could apply tariffs – ostensibly at least – designed to encourage them to clean up their environmental acts and not too grossly to exploit their own workforces. This would be good for the planet, good for at least some of their workers as well as acting to level up the economic playing field. BUT if we are to pursue this policy we have first to make sure that we have cleaned up our own acts if it is to have any face credibility. Obviously this is something very difficult to pull off; but it is the only way I can see of avoiding massive discontent and unrest in the West.

              • Weaver

                I don’t think moral force has any bearing on deliberations of the CCCP Standing committee. They’ll sign any deal to their own benefit, regardless of what their countersignatory is doing.They care only that we keep our deals.

                I repeat: pre-commital to reduction will cause China to emit more than the business as usual case. Both now, and in the future.

      • Brian

        mikewaller you write:
        ‘In critiquing GW theory you do not have to be a believer; but getting
        your mind round at least some of the basics really ought to be a sine
        qua non.’

        You seem not to be aware that the received wisdom of AGW is seriously defective to the point of being wholely mistaken. It relies on a planet’s temperature being sensitive to its albedo (the amount of light it reflects). If this were true simple devices such as a Dewar flask would not retain the temperature of its contents.

        Further, the Earth’s atmosphere is retained by gravity. Any gas, O2, N2, CO2, H2 etc.develops a temperature gradient in a gravitational field; the evidence for this is found on Venus.

        Venus has a very high albedo but where the atmospheric pressure is the same as on Earth (1 bar) the temperature is 20C warmer than Earth only because Venus is closer to the Sun. If you descend to the surface of Venus the temp. rises with depth to 462C because the pressure there is 90 times that on Earth. So Venus, with an atmosphere 95%CO2, has no greenhouse effect!

        If you check the reasons for these basic facts the AGW theory is completely destroyed. It is small wonder that the rent boys of AGW will not discuss their theories with skeptics!

      • Fergus Pickering

        W eare going to persuade them are we. By the sanctityiof our lives. What utter balls.

        • mikewaller

          As I have already explained in another post, if the muck keeps going up we will eventually have to protect ourselves by legislating against the import of goods produced in ways seriously harmful to our collective atmosphere. Getting our own houses in order before that point is just intelligent self-interest.

    • Brian

      Lord Smith was educated this way:
      He gained a first class honours degree in English, and a PhD with a thesis on Coleridge and Wordsworth”
      (cited from Wikipedia)

      But has he not been advocating “storing water in the hills” i.e to stop it rushing to the flood plains?

      This is of course a sound engineering matter.

      In such matters it is vital to check that the storage is effective before (NB – before) stopping dredging the run off channels on the flood plains, otherwise the current situation in Somerset levels arises.

      Lord Smith may well have had an excellent education but clearly not in water management. It seems he is not aware of his shortcomings in this matter, he should be more circumspect in his pronouncements.

  • Terry Field

    How stupid of her to specify climate change to a local issue of the jet stream sitting on the UK for a couple of months. In the context of the world, the UK is small, and its experience is local.
    For those of us concerned the science is correct and a climate change horror is opening up in the coming decades, this idiotic woman does not help.
    I may or may not be the result of global excess heating but it cannot now be proven.
    SO she gives the floor to Lawson – a man whose ERM game gives enough comment to his level of judgement.
    I think Attenborough is correct – nothing will be done on climate change until catastrophe happens.
    Too late then.

    • HookesLaw

      How do you explain ‘the pause’? How do you explain that there has been no global warming (in contradiction to all known climate models) for over 17 years, despite the continued rise in CO2?
      How do you explain the Dame’s totally contradictory advice of some months ago – where she claimed ‘climate change’ or global warming (or whatever other gobbldegook you want to bring up) would cause DRYER weather?
      How do you explain how we ‘do’ something to stop naturally occuring events – like changes in the weather?

      Can you explain the most interesting principle of ‘global excess heating’?? Not least in the context of the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Possibly you may care to bring in ENSO cycles and the Maunder Minimum and other Solar activity.
      In explaining all this – which I suspect if done properly will qualify you for a Nobel Prize – you will I am sure bring home the utter complexity of the global weather system and our total inability to both iunderstand and model it – and of course predict it.

      • Terry Field

        I do not explain anything – I rely on Science.
        Firstly there is excellent data to sho where the heat output has gone to – the world is not just the atmosphere – there is such a thing as water and ice.
        The Dame is no argument for anything. her eccentricity or otherwise is no argument for or against anything.
        No – global warming is not a naturally occurring event – that is simple mis-information.
        The earlier changes in temperature are well identified and discussed in serious scientific papers – unlike you I am not a barrack room lawyer.
        You have said nothing valuable, just sniped at me – I am an observer – just like you, free to form a judgement, nothing more,

        • HookesLaw

          You are no barrack room lawyer? its you that come out with phrases like ‘a climate change horror is opening up in the coming decades’.

          In short you cannot explain anything (certainly not why temperatures now are lower than in the Medieval Warm Period) and you rely on cherry picking science. You certainly cannot explain why there has been no global warming for 17 years and therefor why for an absolute certainty these floods are not the result of global warming.

          • Terry Field

            I said if the science is correct. That is all.
            Nobody knows, not even you, Mr Ego.

        • Alexsandr

          well its a lot warmer here than in the Pleistocene. or even 1683/4. We simply do not have good enough data over a long enough timeframe to say.

          • Terry Field

            Yes, too much uncertainty, but when the trend becomes patent, it will be far too late to do anything – if anything really can be done to reduce the horror, if horror it be.

            • newminster

              That is always the argument of the dedicated fanatic. Unless you do such-and-so now we are all doomed.
              There is not one shred of empirical evidence (as flaxdoctor says, model output is not data) to support the view either that runaway global warming is possible (if it were it would have happened several hundred thousand years ago), or that the recently stopped period of warming shows any temperature fluctuations outside normal variation, or that the most extreme scenarios that some scientists in the manic fringe are feeding to highly receptive media are in any way likely.
              Spending money now on the basis of a speculative and unproven hypothesis occurring in 30 or 40 or 100 years time is not sensible, especially since nothing the UK does will be anything other than futile gestures anyway. “Setting an example” with taxpayers’ money ought to get any government turfed out of office except that they are all equally wedded to this inane idea.

              • flaxdoctor

                I think you mistyped ‘insane’ there 😉

                • newminster

                  I considered it and opted for ‘inane’ instead. Marginally more polite, I think!

              • Terry Field

                Most of your blog flies in the face of good science so I discount it.
                But I am NO fanatic – I take a view at present – I may change my view of the weight of evidence supports it.
                You are correct about the UK – it is a pipsqueak irrelevance to the global change requirement – which itself is probably impossible to achieve anyway – I think the outcome will be a disaster based on everything I have read – just an opinion ………………………………just like yours is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                • Weaver

                  You know, a dozen exclamations points doesn’t exactly say “I Am NO fanatic”…..

            • Weaver

              So…the Argument From Fear is it?

              • Terry Field

                Th argument is based on the best available information, the possibility of a particular outcome and a range of outcomes, As to fear, it seems to me that the issue is simply a conundrum as to what is appropriate, was is possible, and what range of disutilities actions may avoid.
                Difficult, unemotional stuff; fear is possibly a sensible motivator; I assume you do not drive off the white cliffs of Dover for fear of the reduced personal performance that you may experience as a result of such an action?

                • Weaver

                  The IPCC reports simply don’t suggest armageddon as a likely outcome.

                  Have you even read the damage projections? Really? They are for mild-to-moderate damage and loss of life under the mainline 2c-4c scenarios. A few hundred billion of present day dollars. Nothing comparable to, say, a World War, the odd collectivisation famine, pogrom, or Great Leap Forward.

                  So even if you are right about AGW, the world, or even human civilisation, is not going to end. Relax.

          • Terry Field

            I liked playing with pleistocene when I was a kid

        • flaxdoctor

          So where are the data to show where the ‘heat output has gone’? Models, by the way, are NOT data.

          • Daniel Maris

            Well you and your 20 uparrowers might benefit from looking at this from page 10 onwards. Plenty of facts and figures – data.


            • flaxdoctor

              I’ve seen it. It says that the alleged ‘excess’ heat ‘might’ be hiding in the deep ocean. I’ve got several things to say about this – firstly, if it is, then it got there without being detected in the upper ocean. Secondly, why did this start in 1998? Thirdly, the energy balance is yet another weak model based on limited observations and with large error bars. Fourthly. if all the heat’s going into the ocean, what was all the fuss about atmospheric warming all about? Isn’t this ocean hypothesis a load of post-hoc handwaving to cover for the fact that the climate science ‘consensus’ been utterly exposed as a shambles of incompetence, hubris and deceit? Kevin Trenberth said it was a ‘travesty’ that the models showed that the heat was ‘missing’ – how convenient that it should turn up where we can’t measure it. And how mindlessly gullible are those that take such face-saving dissembling assertions at face value.

              Finally, in the unlikely event that the heat IS going into the deep ocean, and is increasing temperatures by barely measurable hundredths of degrees over decades, how can this hugely dispersed low-grade energy have any significant negative impact? Biodiversity loves warmth, hates cold.

        • Steve Crook

          Afaik the only thing we have for measuring deep ocean temperatures (to 2000m) is the Argo program.

          Around 3600 floats in total for all the oceans of the world. They’ve barely begun their working lifetime and there’s simply not enough data from them. I recommend the opening page as it makes some statements about the poor quality of ocean temperature measurement prior to Argo.

          So, when someone says they know where the heat has been going, you have to take that with a pinch of salt, because it’s not really got much backing from observation.

          • flaxdoctor

            And given that there’s one Argo float for each 400,000 cubic kilometres of sea water, the claims of being able to measure ocean temperatures to hundredths of a degree Celsius require an astonishing degree of gullibility from the warmists.

            Unfortunately for the credibility of science as a whole, this degree of gullibility is available to be exploited by the busload.

        • The Filthy Engineer

          “Firstly there is excellent data to sho where the heat output has gone to
          – the world is not just the atmosphere – there is such a thing as water
          and ice.”

          Where is this excellent data that you speak of? The Argo sea buoys are certainly not showing it and the ice at the poles is growing again. Next you’ll be spouting the “heat is hiding in the deep oceans” mantra.

        • Brian

          “I rely on Science.”

          You do?

          If you rely on science do you believe that a body’s (e.g. Earth) temperature depends on its colour (e.g. albedo)? The 2nd law (and the conservation of energy – same thing) says it doesn’t.

          Do you believe CO2 absorbs heat radiation from the Earth? I do. But AGW claims that this radiation is ‘trapped’ – not true.

          All the evidence i.e. weather satellite infrared photographs, shows that CO2 (and H2O) radiates all the radiation it absorbs, i.e. radiation is not ‘trapped’ by GH gases.

          Is that ‘scientific’ enough for you?

          • Terry Field

            Ha ha – now you show yourself as a third rate cod-scientist – where do you work, what are your qualifications, – I bet you are a simple nobody.
            You really are not worth responding to any mor
            Sod off.

            • Brian

              Hi Terry Field:
              “Is that ‘scientific’ enough for you?”
              Clearly it was ‘too scientific’ for you!

        • Weaver

          Yeah…apparently the heat has gone into the deep southern ocean where we can’t accurately measure it, and no-one spotted it slinking off there.

          How very convenient.

          Look, I’m not saying that’s wrong. Its possible, I suppose. But when one has to come up with post-hoc explanations for why one’s theory was wrong, it behoves people to have a bit more episotological humility. Loudly shouting that this was predicted all along and you’re just as confident as before, or even more so, reminds me of mystic meg justifying last weeks lottery picks.

      • FF42

        Global warming as measured has continued over that period. In the last few years we have seen an unusual transfer of energy from the atmosphere to the oceans through an el Nino effect. At some point that additional heat should be released back again into the atmosphere. El Nino / La Nina definitely affects the North Atlantic jetstream and our weather. Climatologists speculate that the El Nino / La Nina cycle is itself affected by global warming.

        • Ron Todd

          How do we know the transfer of energy is unusual since we have only been able to measure these things for what is really only a very short time?

        • xmarkwe

          The original global warming scare was all about surface warming. And, the models had it sorted out, ‘the science was settled’.

          Then, when dire predictions did not come to pass, we are told ‘the heat’ unexpectedly ended up in that absolutely gigantic heat sink which regulates the whole planet, the oceans.

          A fairly major oversight for a settled science, don’t you think?

          • xmarkwe

            Perhaps people need reminding too that Trenberth’s missing heat, supposedly since found, equates to a supposedly measured temperature rise of 0.063°C (zero point zero six three) increase in temperature of the upper 2000 metres of the oceans, ….. over a period of 55 years!!

      • Terry Field

        There is no ‘pause’.
        idiotic, anti evidential, anti-science codswappol.
        People like you are – literally – beyond reason.

    • John Hancon


      Carbon Dioxide is a green house gas. The argument is whether the increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause runaway increases in temperature, positive feedback, or have little or no effect on temperature, negative feedback. The Global Warming hypothesis (positive feedback) has been tested by observation and failed. All the predictions made since 1988 have not happened.

      There is no scientific theory of Climate Change, as a theory must be falsifiable. It has come to mean any bad weather and is a political slogan.

      The models used by Climate scientists looked for positive feedback mechanisms, but positive feedback makes the models unstable so that any input makes the output increase dramatically. They appear to give very low weight or ignore completely the main climate drivers i.e. the major ocean oscillations (PDO, AMO, ENSO), the effects of extreme UV light from the Sun on the Jet streams, the level of magnetic particles from the Sun hitting the earth affecting the number of cosmic particles incoming from space. These cosmic particles seem to seed cloud formation on earth. It is difficult to check most climate models as their code is secret, not very scientific.

      The temperature rise over the years is very small and well within the error bars of measurement. The worldwide measurement of temperature by surface instruments is a shambles, with the closing of many stations, the misplacing of many others and the application of just one station to huge areas. There have been unexplained adjustment of historical data, downwards during the 1920′s 30′s and 40′s and upwards in the recent past. In fact this whole episode smacks of fraud. See the obnoxious practices revealed by the climate gate emails and the crude political whitewash undertaken to exonerate the culprits.

      • Terry Field

        Everything you have uttered here – literally everything – is anti-science wishful-thinking codswallop.

        • Ridcully

          Well, there’s no arguing with that detailed point- by- point rebuttal!

  • kyalami

    Oh no. Here we go again. Another fruitless debate between the warmistas and the deniers.

    • Weaver

      I think you’ll find in the medieval warm period fruits were grown at the North Pole by vikings.

      Oh, hang on… :-)

      • kyalami

        Best contribution to the debate in years! Thank you.

  • Alexsandr

    why are the met office even discussing climate change. Climate change is all over their web pages.
    They should concentrate on their core function, reliable forecasts for the next week to 10 days and shut up about other stuff.

    • HookesLaw

      Dear dear mr Alexandr it is oh so nice to agree with you.

      But really how on earth do you otherwise expect these scientist to aggrandise themselves and demand money for their maga million super computers and their fancy offices with their Star Wars furnishings . How else can they swan around spouting at their symposiums in their gratuitously self serving way. How else can they get the attention kudos and priority which they crave?

      • Alexsandr

        back to my argument about the environment agency and all the other quangoes. The met office is another. It should be taken back into government (MoD or Defra) and become part of a department again.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Follow the money as always. Who pays the scientist? What tune is he or she expected to dance to.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          They dance to the tune you socialist Camerluvvie global warmingists are calling, lad.

          • Joseph Jesus

            “Sustainable Development” is part of the same warming now rebranded to “climate change” belief system.
            It vomits from the UN to the EU to the UK.

            2012 The UN Panel’s work was closely coordinated with that of the intergovernmental working group tasked to design Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed at the Rio +20 conference. Co chair one David Cameron.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        They can swan around as long as you socialist Camerluvvies support the global warmingist kookiness, lad. They’re a problem, but you and Call Me Dave are the real problem.

        • Kitty MLB

          Viceroy, dear lovely chap.
          I agree with you in this as I do in many things, fellow conservative and comrade.
          This global warming kookiness is the result of those who eat too many strange mushroom they find in the woods,
          its a fallacy and a way to steal and for energy companies to become rich. We even have emotional blackmail
          with polar bears on melting icecaps.
          We shall not tell them the climate has been changing
          every 40 years since the beginning of time.
          Cameron needs to stand up to his sandal wearing
          and yoghurt knitting soul mates and put a stop to all this rubbish. Especially now Ethelred Miliband has jumped on this,
          his favourite bandwagon.
          But Cameron will not, they are all in it together

          • the viceroy’s gin

            As I say, you socialist Camerluvvies are the real problem.

            Oh, and and again, no need for you to obsessively tag along after my posts. I release you from your burden.

    • Pip

      Because it has morphed into a vehicle for UN Agenda 21, like so many other organisations.

  • Geronimo von Huxley

    It makes sense to hang the elite. Let’s start in the banking sector.

    • RobertC

      Like Gordon! He was in charge, or rather, he should have been in charge!

      • Geronimo von Huxley

        Submit a Change of Use Planning Application and reinstate the original lighting design, surface finishes and purpose of the Tower of London.

  • HookesLaw

    Furthermore as a commenter on an article in the Times pointed out, she gave evidence to the parliamentary climate change committee and said we could expect dryier weather and less rainfall as a result of climate change.

    ‘Slingo told the MPs that there is “increasing evidence in the last few months of that depletion of ice, in particular in the Bering and Kara seas, can plausibly impact on our winter weather and lead to colder winters over northern Europe”.
    She added that more cold winters mean less water, and could exacerbate future droughts.
    “The replenishment of aquifers generally happens in winter and spring … a wet summer does not replenish aquifers. So we are concerned if we have a sequence of cold winters that could be much more damaging,” she told the committee. ‘

    She is simply making it up as she goes along and exposes herself as a totally bogus personallity. She should resign.

    • Pip

      Another fool placed in position by the establishment to further their agenda, just like those who control our numerous Quangos, all need to be removed.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      She is simply making it up as she goes along and exposes herself as a totally bogus personallity. She should resign.


      Goodness, has your boy Dave had a gender reassignment? Your statements fit him to a tee.

  • Frank

    Who decided that Slingo should get a Damehood?

    • HookesLaw

      As I suspect you know anyone can put someone forward for an honour. They are considered by various committees. The chair of the science and technology committee is Lord Krebs, the Principal of Jesus College, Oxford University.

      I think its fair to say that if you live long enough virtually everyone in public service (and light entertainent) gets an honour of some sort. It’s to compenstate them for their poor wages and conditions.

      That last bit was a joke.

      • Latimer Alder

        Johnnie Krebs gets around a bit. He’s also on the Climate Change Committee.

        Wonder how he gets any time to do any Prinicpalling at all. Or even ornithology (his field of study)

        • itdoesntaddup

          Time for Lord Krebs to be recycled?

      • Brian

        Lord Krebs is a zoologist
        He does not appear to have a background in thermal physics (necessary to uderstand how the Sun heats the planets…….)

    • stuart squire

      Prince Charles. Hes A.G.W driven

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