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« Warm letters | Main | A change in the shale story »
Thursday
Feb142013

GCSA can't tell weather from climate

Sir John Beddington is heading for retirement and has taken the opportunity of an an interview with Civil Service World to remind everyone how shaky his grasp of climate science has been.

On climate change, he admits that government investment in renewable and alternative technologies is likely to be constrained by economic circumstances. But he is adamant there is no suggestion that climate scepticism – which some detect in some of the Treasury’s activities – is infecting the policymaking process. He says: “The data is showing not just that climate change is happening, but that we are getting an increase in extreme weather. 2012 had average rainfall, but almost none in the first quarter and enormous amounts in the second half of the year.”

Let's hope the next guy is better.

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Reader Comments (40)

Well he can say with 95% confidence that 'climate change' [sic] did not get worse on his patch.

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

But he is adamant there is no suggestion that climate scepticism ... is infecting the policymaking process.

They just can't help themselves from loading the vocabulary, can they?

With these caring, sharing progressives, sooner or later, the hairy hand emerges...

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

It's just a shame his mother isn't around to give him a good skelp round the ear for telling lies. Roger Pielke says otherwise.

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Global warming according to Beddington.


When it rains it's a sure sign of global warming
When it doesn't rain it's a sure sign of global warming

Simples

PS

Weather forecasting Fort William style

If you can see Ben Nevis, it's going to rain
If you can't, it's raining already.

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"The data is showing..."

Wrong on so many levels. What does this man read?

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

"Let's hope the next guy is better."

What are the current odds on that happening?

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Weather forecasting Fort William style

If you can see Ben Nevis, it's going to rain
If you can't, it's raining already.

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Latimer Alder

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have similar wisdom in Northern Ireland

We also say-

"If you dont like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will get wetter."

"You know it's Summer, the rain gets warmer."

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Civil Service World allows comments and has posted mine:

"Sir John Beddington is a very busy man."
Too busy, evidently, to acquaint himself with the latest scientific evidence.

He claims that
"The data is showing not just that climate change is happening, but that we are getting an increase in extreme weather"
but the 2012 IPCC SREX report says that there is low confidence in any increase in tropical cyclones, while on droughts it says
"There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter".

How ironic that when climate change sceptics mention our recent cold winters they are jumped on with the "weather is not climate" argument, but that our chief scientific advisor can get away with a remark about our dry spring and wet autumn and imply that this is evidence for climate change.

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"The data is showing..."

Wrong on so many levels. What does this man read?

Feb 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM | SayNoToFearmongers

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Possibly this. It is from a blogger who accepts climate change. Regardless of how you perceive the source, the graphs are accurate.

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/2012-updates-to-trend-observation-comparisons/

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Paul Matthews.

"There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter".

That makes sense The total moisture content of the atmosphere increases with temperature, but its distribution depends on wind patterns. 500 years ago the Sahara had a regular monsoon, then the wind pattern changed and it became a desert.

The Southwestern US and Northern Mexico have been in almost continuous drought since 2010, bcause the winds are carrying the water further North into Alaska and Canada, both of which have experienced increased precipitation.

In the UK 2012 spent 3 months locked into a pattern of dry, continental winds, then locked into a maritime regime in which the jet stream directed weather fronts further south than normal. Whether this was weather, or the onset of a new climate pattern remains to be seen.

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Feb 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Entropic man

That page you link to has nothing about trends in *extreme* weather. Note subject of this page.

How do you perceive that source? Did you read it, or just saw lines going up? ;)

Though I note he speciously shows the rise in trend in CO2 rise in the last 10 years as a final "ta dah!" at the end as if it explains everything. Even some commenters there say that is a bit crap ;)

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It also seems likely that his economics knowledge is non-existent.

Investments should have a positive return.

Of course perhaps the "investment" was of looted taxpayer's money to fund his sinecure in retirement?

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Leopard in the Basement

Say No To Fearmongers has a tendency to vague comments about other people's data, without supplying data of his own. I like to give him something to read.

You will find a direct comment on this thread's theme in my 12.29pm reply to Paul Matthews.

Feb 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

For data on extreme weather in the US go to

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/

For the UK go to

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/extremes/

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Feb 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Entropic man

I know what SayNoToFearmongers was quoting above and to help you out further with the ellipsis

“The data is showing ... we are getting an increase in extreme weather."

It's the subject of the page etc. So why point to something irrelevant in response?

If you think something is vague why don't you try and get clarification rather than immediately link to irrelevant pages?

Your perception of vagueness is completely your creation - is it deliberate? Either way fighting perceived vagueness with actual vagueness leads nowhere ;)

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

@Feb 14, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Entropic man

Any evidence you have any better understanding of the meaning your latest links that seem only to have the merit of having the word "extreme" in them? ;)

Why don't you tell us if you know what exactly Beddington's "other people's data" he is using?

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Sigh.... They just don't 'get it', do they..?

How much NORMAL WEATHER do we have to have before someone on the alarmist/warmist/government side admits: 'Well, actually we said all along that it was open to interpretaton/question/manipulation....'...?

Unfortunately I'll be pushing up daisies before that happens...

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

The narrative flow is beginning to eddy. Turbulent times ahead.
============

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Wait'll someone tries to swim through the latest paper, suggesting that weather and climate extremes characterize glaciation and deglaciation, but not the interludes. So much for weather and climate 'weirding' if we're entering that characteristic phase.
==============

Feb 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Entropic Man,

When I spoke to Sir John Beddington shortly after he took up his position, I asked him about his typical workload. He told me that he spent at least a whole day every week reading scientific papers.

Given that his role as Chief Scientific Adviser to Her Majesty's Government involves keeping abreast of relevant publications, I'm surprised that I'm apparently better versed in what the IPPC's SREX says than he is. Maybe he's very busy, but you're in no position to scientifically advise anybody about anything unless you're on top of the literature.

I've no idea at all why you've pointed me at the Met Office's extremes page - surely daily events are the ultimate definition of weather NOT climate, or are you suggesting that Northern Ireland has been on a cooling trend since its highest daily minimum temperature was recorded in July 1868?

As for Tamino's website, there's nothing less convincing than drawing your confidence intervals on in felt-tipped pen when you've already got the data. Or maybe he's better than the IPCC because their predictive model has failed, as page 55 of the IPCC SOD of AR5 WG1 so resoundingly shows.

(Many thanks to TLITB for his supportive comments)

Feb 14, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Registered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

data (plural noun)

1. Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions.
2. Computer Science Numerical or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer.
3. Values derived from scientific experiments.
4. Plural of datum.

Hence "The data is showing....." Should be "The data are showing...."

Feb 14, 2013 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

John,

That was the other level I alluded to above - maybe I'm a pedant, but chief scientists should be able to cope with detail. Or indeed be scientists, not economists.

Feb 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM | Registered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Say No To Fearmongers.

Sir John Beddington has access to both climate and weather data, as you say, it is his information stock in trade. He is as capable of spotting both long term trends and short term anomalies as you are. You have come to the opposite conclusion to him regarding the recent extreme weather. Do you have data that he does not, falsifying his hypothesis?

There is no need to draw confidence limits onto temperature graphs with felt-tip. Both GISS and Hadcrut data come with confidence limits.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.gif

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/monitoring/climate/surface-temperature

One thing that did show clearly on the temperature graphs Tamino used was that 1998 stuck out uniquely above the upper bound, highlighting its unsuitability as the starting point for the " no warming since 1998" sceptics. If those same sceptics had chosen 2003 instead, I might have taken their claim more seriously.

Northern Ireland has, perhaps, the second least changed climate after the South Pole. The weather changes so often that the climate cannot get a look in. :-)

Feb 14, 2013 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"Global warming according to Beddington:

When it rains it's a sure sign of global warming
When it doesn't rain it's a sure sign of global warming

Latimer Alder

Exactly. And is there any difference between that and:

When it rain, it sure sign Rain God angry
When it not rain, sure sign Rain God angry

Warmist pseudoscientists have plunged us backwards 100,000+ years. The mandatory sacrifices to Beddington's rain god will doubtless begin soon.

Feb 14, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The MET Office claims that the excessive rainfall in England in 2012 is due to climate change. However, Scotland had a relatively dry year. How do the 'climate change factors' influence England but not Scotland. It's as about as likely that Alex Salmond and the SNP have a secret weather plan. i wonder whether Prof. Beddington is aware of this.

Feb 14, 2013 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

Spen

Normally the weather systems crossing the British Isles track across Scotland during the Summer, carryng their rain with them and leaving the South dry.
Changes in the jetstream in recent years have tended to track them further South than normal, giving higher rainfall in England and lower rainfall further North.
Alex Hammond might well suspect that the solution to the droughts of the noughties has been found; climate change is an English plot to steal Scottish rain. ;-)

Feb 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM: "Alex Hammond and the Droughties"?

Feb 14, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Given that climate change is always with us, attributing events to 'climate change' is a bit like attributing them to 'the passage of time'.

Feb 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

The Jet Stream is influenced by solar activity according to this

Feb 14, 2013 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

@ entropic man

...One thing that did show clearly on the temperature graphs Tamino used was that 1998 stuck out uniquely above the upper bound, highlighting its unsuitability as the starting point for the " no warming since 1998" sceptics. If those same sceptics had chosen 2003 instead, I might have taken their claim more seriously....

Hmm. Here's the woodfortrees for 2003-2013. You will see that it is also a downward trend.


I suspect You won't take that seriously either, though. You'll probably say that 10 years is too short. Because there is no way that Climate Change can ever be proven wrong...

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

EM: "Alex Hammond and the Droughties"?

Feb 14, 2013 at 4:46 PM | michael hart

The first bagpipe rock band? :-)

On a more serious note , perhaps a more human oriented measure of extreme weather would be food supply. Measures of food reserves, food prices and food riots.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/16/1024581/un-warns-of-food-crisis-in-2013-if-extreme-weather-persists/

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Feb 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Entropic man

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/krugman-loses-perspective.html

[A]nyone who thinks that action on greenhouse gases provides a meaningful lever to influence food prices, much less unrest in the Middle East, has lost all perspective.

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:28 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Dodgy Geezer

From 2003 I agree with you. A linear regression shows a slight downward trend. I can even suggest a proximate cause in the extended period of reduced insolation at the end of solar cycle 24 and the weakness of cycle 25.

You are also correct that I do not regard this ten year period as a statistically significant predictor of long term temperature stability.

I would love to be proved wrong on climate change. I am no more keen to see my children and (hopefully) grandchildren struggle with it than anyone else. One reason I put up with the bull**** on these sceptic sites is the hope that someone will come up with strong enough evidence to falsify the whole climate change paradigm.

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

The Leopard in the Basement.

Pielke's piece is rhetoric, but without much substance. He completely neglects the reduced economic activity in the Third world countries, and their enlarged populations. I am unsure what he expects to happen when authoritarian regimes which have long subsidised their bread prices meet economic reality.

Nevertheless, I hope he's right. Once again time will tell.

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

As I have already said on another post.
Do not feed the Troll.

Feb 14, 2013 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

@Feb 14, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Entropic man

Pielke's piece is rhetoric, but without much substance. He completely neglects the reduced economic activity in the Third world countries, and their enlarged populations.

What? You complain that Pielke doesn't address subjects that are not even mentioned in your original link and then say it is *he* who is merely furnishing rhetoric without substance?! Lol !

Please, I may not be as harsh as Don Keiller, but I am beginning to wonder. It seems that whenever you are asked to show any deeper understanding than displayed by your own rhetoric attached to the links you liberally sprinkle about, then your disdain starts to show and you get lazier and further away from specifics.

Please don't posture with your "hopes" and "cares" when you haven't yet demonstrated clearly you care enough to engage in good faith.

You certainly don't seem to have well thought out position of your own that can be seen, especially if you disdain Pielke Jr in preference for the emanations from Romms site. Although you do seem to enjoy wallowing in bullshit, so stop pretending you are a martyr hoping...

... that someone will come up with strong enough evidence to falsify the whole climate change paradigm

Especially since that "paradigm" seems to only exist in some lightweight movable space that only you know about at any one moment ;)

Feb 14, 2013 at 7:40 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Entropic Man said: "One reason I put up with the bull**** on these sceptic sites is the hope that someone will come up with strong enough evidence to falsify the whole climate change paradigm."

I'm afraid that this shows your lack of understanding of both the scientific method and the 'null hypothesis'. CAGW started out as a theory and it has yet to be verified, so it's up to people like you to show us the real-world evidence that does this. Unfortunately, many would say that the real-world evidence to date actually falsifies it, which makes your statement seem all the more absurd.

Feb 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Entropic Man said: "One reason I put up with the bull**** on these sceptic sites is the hope that someone will come up with strong enough evidence to falsify the whole climate change paradigm."

And you have the nerve to accuse others of talking bull****?

Feb 14, 2013 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

John de Melle

Hence "The data is showing....." Should be "The data are showing...."

Give up. Language changes, and data is now a collective noun.

A Google search of terms like "the data say" vs "the data says" shows that collective noun wins by a ratio of about 8 to 1. (An little hobby of mine is spotting pedants getting it wrong themselves, when they forget their own pedantry.)

Or are you one of those morons that argues that "awful" should mean "full of awe", like it did 400 years ago?

Entropic Man

Pielke's piece is rhetoric,

You do know that Pielke isn't a sceptic, don't you? He accepts that CO2 warms. So his "rhetoric" is from your side.

Feb 15, 2013 at 4:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Looks like 'Civil Service World' kept the comments window open for all of 82 minutes before the hurt became too much for them. Strong criticisms were made in the 4 comments that sneaked in before the shutters were closed, for example:

"How ironic that when climate change sceptics mention our recent cold winters they are jumped on with the “weather is not climate” argument, but that our chief scientific advisor can get away with a remark about our dry spring and wet autumn and imply that this is evidence for climate change." Paul Matthews

"Calamitous computer predictions are proving so off-base that even the Met Office has started making the necessary downward adjustments. Who is giving John Beddington such bad advice?" michael hart

"I spent 20 years as a technical civil servant, advising the Cabinet Office, and I am ashamed of the current crop of technical specialists that Sir John heads. Support for environmentalism, and Climate Change in particular, has now corrupted science to an amazing degree." Dodgy Geezer

The fourth comment is critical of the Home Office on the topic of 'biometrics', claiming that there has been no adequate justification of it. ( Seems to be about technology for automating immigration checks using facial recognition and fingerprint checks in particular.)

Feb 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

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