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« Medallion man - Josh 161 | Main | Westminster loses it »

Beddington whips science five-nil

Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientific adviser, writes in Farmers Weekly.

There is much to prompt comment. For example, you might have hoped that a credible chief scientific adviser would not make statements like

the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record"

without commenting on whether this meant anything in the context of the remainder of the record. Advocacy 1, Science 0.

Then there is a claim that

All the trends point to global warming, an increase in the level of sea level, the arctic ice is melting...

neatly avoiding the issue that policy responses are predicated on AGW and not GW. Advocacy 2, Science 0.

Prof Beddington cited two pieces of recent evidence which he said were "particularly dramatic".

Firstly, evidence collected by the insurance company Munich Re, which looked at disasters between 1980 and 2010, showed that disasters which came from a geological basis, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, have had no trend.

As anyone who reads RP Jr knows, neither does the trend in climate-related disasters. Advocacy 3, Science 0.

However, all the disasters that are determined by climate, such as floods, droughts and storms, have all shown a "dramatic increase" over the last 30 years, said Prof Beddington.

And again, as anyone who reads RP Jr knows, it is well known that this rise is because of growing wealth. Once this factor is controlled for, there is no trend. Advocacy 4, Science 0.

Secondly, a recent graph on the US state of Texas, a major contributor to US agriculture, shows a dramatic change in recent years in the historical relationship between annual rainfall and temperature.

"In 2011, the average temperatures were in the high 80s (F) and the rainfall was the lowest ever, but now it's right off the scale," said Prof Beddington.

Cherrypicking. Oh yes, and they've just had a very wet winter in Texas. Advocacy 5, Science 0.

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    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - Beddington whips science five-nil[...]

Reader Comments (74)

"Firstly, evidence collected by the insurance company Munich Re, which looked at disasters between 1980 and 2010, showed that disasters which came from a geological basis, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, have had no trend."

Isn't/wasn't there some alarmist moron trying to suggest there is a link between my driving to Tesco and earthquakes somewhere in the world ?

Apr 11, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

[Unnecessary. Manners, please. BH]

Apr 11, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

James P wrote:

I've not tried it, but I believe he is tweetable. A suitable case for tweetment, perhaps..?

Apr 10, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

My comment...Naughty but Nice!

Apr 11, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

It has been said that a drownig man will cluth at staws.
We now have the proof of that statement.

Apr 11, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

That should read "clutch"

Apr 11, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

This man needs to be challenged to a public debate on CAGW science with someone like Linzden, or S Fred Singer. He is an utter disgrace to his profession.

Apr 11, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

"However did such people manage to scale the heights of government science advisors?"

Further proof, if it were needed, of the Peter Principle, unfortunately.


Peter Walsh

Thank you! Brace yourself..!/uksciencechief

Apr 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Check this story out about the BBC

Some dodgy Pirate took Panorama for a spin round the block

Apr 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

James P : Beyond belief....!

Foresight, part of BSI. Yet another pressure group.

"Our role is to help government think systematically about the future

We use the latest scientific and other evidence combined with futures analysis to tackle complex issues and help policy makers make decisions affecting our future.

Our work makes a critical contribution to meeting important challenges of the 21st century - such as food security, flooding and obesity."

Apr 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Our work makes a critical contribution to meeting important challenges of the 21st century - such as food security, flooding and obesity

Kill the fat people, use their bodies to shore up river defences. All 3 problems solved at once.

Or shouldn't I be giving them any ideas?

Apr 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

>"I would completely disagree with those that dispute climate change and say 'look at the evidence'," said Prof Beddington.

I think he intended a comma after 'change', but it reads better as written. It is high time he looked at the evidence.

Apr 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Charlie Flindt

I enjoyed your parallel piece to Beddington's. Say what you like about farmers, they do know about the climate.. :-)

Apr 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


That telegraph article is wonderful news. No sympathy for solar panel chancers who have their hands in my pocket.

Apr 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Brubaker

Thanks, James P - you're very kind. Not sure if we 'know about the climate', but it is something that occupies our minds every hour of every day - and has done since the dawn of our profession. Or should that be 'weather'? Even now, I'm studying the rainfall radar on the Met Office website (just about the only feature of any use there) to see if I can go and put fungicide and growth regulator on my wheat this afternoon - but, judging by the storms that are erupting this afternoon, it looks like it would all get expensively washed off the leaves.
Still - 'Wet to dry, and dry to wet, nature always pays her debts!'

Apr 11, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

@ Brent Hargreaves

However did such people manage to scale the heights of government science advisors?

I find if you replace the word "government" with the word "council" you get a synonym for "state-provided" that also imparts a much clearer idea of the quality and significance of whatever it is the state is providing.

Council school, council house, council swimming baths, council estate - to pair anything with "council" is to identify unerringly its innate, abject, depressing crapness.

"Sir" John Beddington is just a council advisor. Big deal.

Apr 11, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

This reminds me of the excellent advice (I think given by Peter Lilley?) to new Ministers whenever they had a meeting with a 'scientist' on any matter. Basically he said always invite another scientist (with difference perspective) along to make sure there was some balance. There was more to it than that, and it would be very apposite and useful to email to ministers given the situation we have today. Dave and his upper class twits down south (and both the Lab-Lib and SNP Salmond administrations in Scotland) have been badly let down by their scientific advisors, few of who seem to have any knowledge of physics or engineering, hence the Climate Change Act and the very expensive renewables fantasy, most of which we have still to pay for in terms of grid upgrade costs and impending blackouts.

The problem is I cannot find any trace of the advice on the web - does anyone remember or have the source? Maybe it wasn't Lilley at all. I probably read it on WUWT a few years ago but can find no trace of what I am looking for using Google and Alta Vista. Anyone remember or have a link?

No matter, in any case I think it is time someone setup a "Campaign for Real Scientific Advisors".

Apr 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

"the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record"

Isn't this not only entirely misleading, but, in fact, untrue.

If one checks back on the pre-Hansen-adulterated temperature data, wouldn't the 1930s still be the warmist decade of the thermometer era? (at least in the U.S.) Maybe I am wrong, but it would certainly be nearly as warm as the warmist decade since then.

Apr 11, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBobDoyle

anyway why is booby Beddington choosing to take Munich re's word for anything? Does he not know that they are not climate scientists and have not published in (approved bits of, eg not E&E) the peer reviewed literature, is that why he is not disqualifying their utterances? And second, to a 'public servant' perhaps the idea that most company utterances are self-serving propaganda, is just too hard. Of course Munich Re want a link fabricated between AGW and disasters. What better reason for disproportionately jacking up premiums? And how much better yet, premiums having been jacked up, if the extra disasters don't actually materialise! Trebles all round....

Apr 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Perhaps governments get the science advisers they deserve. If you set out to be the greenest guvnmnt evah, you declare your naivete - not a politically astute move.

Apr 11, 2012 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


Cant find that, but this is Peter Lilley's excellent article in the WSJ on 17 Dec 2009 during the Copenhagen Conference

It is too depressing to think what might have happened or even not happened had the Conservative Party given him more votes in the 1997 leadership contest.

Apr 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Beddington appears to be a bit player in a much greater deception. Two papers, Manabe and Wetherald 1967, Hansen et. al. 1981, created the main errors in climate science which mean the IPCC's predicted warming from CO2 is at least ~10 times too high and it could be net zero.

M&W assumed IR from the earth's surface is the same as a black body in a vacuum, an elementary mistake no professional engineer would make but it seems many physicists have forgotten physics.

H. et. al. confused lapse rate warming which occurs even with non GHGs, with much smaller GHG warming, another elementary mistake.

Carbon taxation and the push for renewables when they don't actually save CO2 is I suspect a giant confidence trick. Real scientists and engineers, including yesterday 50 senior NASA employees [Hansen heads up a NASA offshoot] are speaking out now they understand how many of their peers have for political and career reasons lied about experimentally verifiable science.

The purpose of the scam appears to be to permit politicians to increase taxes and control of the population, also to enrich their families.

Apr 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

I totally agree with mydogsgotnonose; 'The purpose of the scam appears to be to permit politicians to increase taxes and control of the population, also to enrich their families.' This is all about screw the population, not save the population.

Apr 11, 2012 at 9:31 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Correction: I have just looked in detail at M&W 1967 [see two posts above] and the radiative equilibrium at the Earth's surface is net LW = net SW at that point. This in not the B-B level, The inference is that putting it at the BB level was done later.

Curiouser and curiouser: the IPCC models are not based on peer reviewed literature apparently but a later and completely wrong assumption.

Apr 11, 2012 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Extreme Weather, Extreme Claims

In the Little Ice Age, witchcraft was blamed for the devastating climate: Fagan's The Little Ice Age (Basic Books, 2000):

“Witchcraft accusations soared, as people accused their neighbors of fabricating bad weather…. Sixty-three women were burned to death as witches in the small town of Wisensteig in Germany in 1563 at a time of intense debate over the authority of God over the weather.”

“Almost invariably, a frenzy of prosecutions coincided with the coldest and most difficult years of the Little Ice Age, when people demanded the eradication of the witches they held responsible for their misfortunes.”

When rainfall and agriculture had resumed, the Aztecs responded by massively increasing the number of human sacrifices to their rain god Tlaloc. It is thought that hundreds of thousands of people were sacrificed.

These days we don’t blame witchcraft for the weather, instead we blame it on our emissions of carbon dioxide, describing it as a pollutant that must be controlled by Government taxes and vilifying anyone who dares to challenge the orthodoxy.

We ignore thousands of years of climate evidence, in favour of an agenda based upon a century and a half of sometimes distorted and often-disputed temperature records, coming out of a known Little Ice Age and we call it “Science”.

Apr 12, 2012 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis A

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