Beddington whips science five-nil
Apr 10, 2012
Bishop Hill in Beddington

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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