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Another cold winter?

Bob Ward has a letter in the Telegraph bemoaning (quite correctly) attempts to link the hot weather in Russia and the Pakistan floods to climate change.

SIR – The recent extreme weather in Pakistan, Russia and China is not “proof of climate change” (report, August 11).

While increases in the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall in some parts of the world are consistent with the expected impacts of the rise in average temperature, it is long-term trends in extreme weather that provide evidence for a changing climate.

Researchers must be careful about presenting the evidence for global warming. Every warm or wet event cited as proof may legitimise the erroneous portrayal of outbreaks of cold weather, such as those in northern Europe and eastern North America last winter, as evidence that global warming has stopped or does not exist. Such apparent contradictions increase public confusion.

I read somewhere that we're going to have another cold winter, at least according to some forecasters. I wonder if Bob read the same article.

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Reader Comments (20)

Hmmm. Mustn't confuse the public. They might start thinking that global warming (or climate change) is a load of .... or a pile of ..... or, heaven forbid, doesn't exist.

Aug 15, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hm. Very interesting.

Would that be the same Bob Ward taking RP Jnr to task for saying much the same thing?

Here's one of the comments from Ward to Roger:-

"Your claim that there is "no scientific basis" does not stand up to scrutiny. There is a scientific basis for concluding that the characteristics of this year's monsoon rainfall may have been affected by climate change. It's just that you can't bring yourself to admit it. I think these articles provide rather more thoughtful discussions of the potential links:"

So, is it related to climate change or not?

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Carter

I sure hope the poor polar bears don't freeze.

Honestly, one more "cold" winter like we had six months ago, and South America is having now, will pretty much bury Global Warming in the eyes of the average punter. I suspect that the AGW crowd had figured that out and that is why they are touting "Climate Change™" this year.

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Today's (August 15) New York Times has a front page article linking flooding in parts of the eastern U.S., the Pakistani floods, heat waves in parts of the eastern U. S., Africa, eastern Asia and Russia with global warming. The article quotes Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth at length, dishing up the usual "consistent with our understanding" comments. I encourage a few folks who are conversant with the details to send a Letter to the Editor of the NYTimes taking on this piece of advocacy journalism. It may be found at


Aug 15, 2010 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

He simply realises that continuous alarmism is a switch-off for the public.

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Bob Ward is amongst the set of people involved in alarmism about climate who deserve deep study. Not so much for what they say, as for why they say it.

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

After I found all this I was clear to me that Bob Ward is one of the most unpleasant of the greenbrownshirt alarmist spinmeisters, sharing a place with the likes of Connolley and Romm.

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

My 2c: This is Bob Ward moving into "soft sell" mode.

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

Don p-d-l-s.

Hi Don, is this Ward chappie really La-la. :)

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

Let's keep off anything ad-hom please.

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I have previously commented here about the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, NZCSC, and their anti AGW position. New Zealand has brought in an ETS scheme and it appears that the NIWA (see below) may have "erred" in calculating temperatures over a longish period. Now the NZCSC is taking NIWA to court in order to get them to invalidate their calculations.

On a separate matter, the upcoming Australian Election may have an interesting outcome. If the opposition leader wins, a man who has declared AGW as a SCAM, just might cause a few dominos to topple.

Keep on hoping. Fingers crossed, Mitres raised.

Peter Walsh

Niwa sued over data accuracy
Last updated 16:09 15/08/2010
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The country's state-owned weather and atmospheric research body is being taken to court in a challenge over the accuracy of its data used to calculate global warming.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition said it had lodged papers with the High Court asking the court to invalidate the official temperatures record of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

The lobby of climate sceptics and ACT Party have long criticised Niwa over its temperature data, which Niwa says is mainstream science and not controversial, and the raw data publicly available.

The coalition said the New Zealand Temperature Records (NZTR) were the historical base of NIWA's advice to the Government on issues relating to climate change.

Coalition spokesman Bryan Leyland said many scientists believed although the earth had been warming for 150 years, it had not heated as much as Government archives claimed.

He said the New Zealand Meteorological Service had shown no warming during the past century but Niwa had adjusted its records to show a warming trend of 1degC. The warming figure was high and almost 50 percent above the global average, said Mr Leyland.

The coalition said the 1degC warming during the 20th century was based on adjustments taken by Niwa from a 1981 student thesis by then student Jim Salinger, a Niwa employee who was later sacked after talking to the media without permission.

The Salinger thesis was subjective and untested and meteorologists more senior to Dr Salinger did not consider the temperature data should be adjusted, it said.

The coalition would ask the court to find Niwa's New Zealand Temperature Record invalid.

It would also seek a court declaration preventing Niwa from using the NZTR when it advised the Government or any other body on global climate issues. It would also ask the court to order Niwa to produce a full and accurate NZTR.

Mr Leyland said Niwa was refusing to repudiate the NZTR to avoid political embarrassment and loss of public confidence.

A substantive hearing was expected later this year.

Aug 15, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

They are clearly treading on thin ice here


Aug 15, 2010 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Schrodinger's Cat

He simply realises that continuous alarmism is a switch-off for the public

I think you put your finger on an interesting point. I quite agree with you. However, will the rank and file of the AGW movement follow? One problem with a mindless mass is that once set into motion in one direction, it is hard to get them to change direction. It is quite like the ancient Greek phalanxes. They were unstoppable and would run over any opposition. But all you had to do is move to the side and watch them go chugging along in a straight line because they could not turn and then hit them from the sides and back.

This last winter was a bad surprise for the AGW crowd, and while there are some screaming "NO! NO! We mean Climate Change™!" the masses are still bleating "Climate Warming™!"

It will be interesting to see how they tie CO2 into that.

It also appears that the Hockey Stick is now dead.

The problem they have is in the change and getting everyone on board with it and not confusing people. They have also gone off on this Biodiversity tangent, which will really confuse things.

I think we are seeing the fragmentation of the whole effort. That is not to say they will not come back again some other day -- they always do -- but that their current effort is failing and fragmenting.

Aug 16, 2010 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

However, Ward is right. It is long term trends that prove or disprove climate change, not particular events. What is more, he is also right in affirming that more intense or frequent extreme events may be a consequence or be consistent with climate change.
As other people have said here he may also be protecting his back from possible repeats of cold winters. But that is irrelevant. I do not really like ad hom arguments, or dismissing people I'm not agree with. I like much more examining arguments in a rational way, and trying to ascertain whether they are soundly based on logic and facts. In this, Steve McIntyre is a good role model, as is also Your Grace, dear Bishop, jugding from your delighting and well balanced book.

Aug 16, 2010 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

sorry Bish, no offence intended, just an attempt at a wry (or not as the case may be) follow up to a previous comment on the book reveiw thread.)

Aug 16, 2010 at 7:00 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

Hector M

Of course what Bob Ward is saying in that particular letter is right - but it is also obvious. What is remarkable is that he said in the first place.

And Bishop, of course we should avoid getting into ad homs, but isn't *who* wrote it the very reason why you found it worthwhile to report that letter here - since it's otherwise unremarkable?

Bob Ward's official role is PR, which means that, by definition, his aims when writing to newspapers in his professional capacity are PR-related rather than related to the correctness of the science. Noting that is hardly ad hom, I would think. And it seems likely that the PR logic behind it is precisely the one Schrodinger's Cat mentioned - to prevent the "boy crying wolf" effect from getting worse.

Aug 16, 2010 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

I would argue that extreme weather events are not a result of global warming, but are more consistent with global cooling. The argument that warmer air puts more energy into the weather systems is sophmoric. It is the temperature differential or delta that drives severe weather events.

I would also argue that what we currently label as record breakers in temperature or precipitation are strictly a statisitical result of short term record keeping. We will continue to set new records, with decreasing frequency but increasing amplitude, by very definition, as our record base gets longer in time.

Aug 16, 2010 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

This is a change of tack by a communications director. The PR man who used to cry wolf in nod-nod-wink-wink mode.
He’s essentially saying “The climate police cannot say any more at this stage, but they are not looking to interview anyone else with respect to this extreme event”.

Aug 16, 2010 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers
Aug 16, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub Niggurath

Gavin's answer in a cold weather article :
"When I get called by CNN to comment on a big summer storm or a drought or something, I give the same answer I give a guy who asks about a blizzard,” Dr. Schmidt said. “It’s all in the long-term trends. Weather isn’t going to go away because of climate change. There is this desire to explain everything that we see in terms of something you think you understand, whether that’s the next ice age coming or global warming.”

Gavin's answer in a warm weather article :
“If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. “If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.”

This second quote when asked about a "big summer storm ... or something" does not seem to be "the same answer" he gave when asked about blizzards in March 2008. Perhaps I'm wrong or have missed something?

Aug 17, 2010 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterGregS

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