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« Zeke on climate sensitivity | Main | Don Keiller on plants and carbon dioxide »

Avoid like the plague

Sir John Beddington's speech to the AVOID symposium is quite interesting. He takes a pop at GWPF's Lord Turnbull, in particular with what he says is a claim that temperatures haven't gone up for a decade. Beddington seeks to refute this claim with a graph of decadal averages temperatures.

How one would know what has happened to temperatures in the last decade from a figure for the average temperature over 2001-2010 is anybody's guess. This is probably a form of mathematics to which only the Government Chief Scientific Adviser is privy.

The arguments over sea ice are more interesting. I see the decline in Arctic sea ice and, like Lord Turnbull, am surprised that the extent seems to return to normal over the winter. One would have thought that since the poles are warming as rapidly as we are told, the winter ice recovery would be less each year. I should also mention that I always view discussion of the Arctic without mention of the Antarctic as fairly naked cherrypicking. As we know, the IPCC says Antarctic ice should be in decline too.



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Reader Comments (71)

Not wrong: AVOID talking on data that do not conform the hypothesis, as the sea ice in Antarctic and other inconvenient facts.

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJFB

'By and large given my arguably absurd job description ...'

Now I know why you got the position, Sir John. Good of you to be so candid. I just wish you were not so irresponsible at the same time.

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Beddington and Rapley between them seem to have the cunning plan of boring us to death.

I do hope Sir John doesn't snub me next time I see him at his club . . .

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Without affordable energy there is no hope… …

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commentercj orach

Is this the quality of advice that the government is getting?

Beddington is simply wrong. It is he that is the typical saloon bar scientist in his lack of rigour. Did he really say there is no evidence that the global temperature has stalled in the past decade? yes he did. Someone, for God's sake, send him Whitehouse's GWPF standstill report. And is he aware of the big storm in the Arctic that made such a difference to the ice melt trajectory last year?

This is so serious. How can the governments CHIEF science advisor be so ignorant and out of date.

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonasD

Jonas D
Of course it's serious. But Arctic ice melt fits the paradigm as does dismissing out-of-hand anything that comes with the GWPF Imprimatur.
Why the Arctic ice is melting is not important, only that it is and since 95% of the sheeple are scientifically illiterate (or as good as) tell them it's melting because the planet is warmer and they will believe you. That much science they understand.
The question that intrigues me is why Beddington — who is beholden to the government for his salary but not for research funding (ie he doesn't really have a dog in this fight) — should be so ignorant of even the most elementary aspects of climate science. The man is an embarrassment!

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:57 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I see the decline in Arctic sea ice and, like Lord Turnbull, am surprised that the extent seems to return to normal over the winter.

The reason is as follows. After a substantial loss in sea ice, the resulting open water efficiently emits long wave radiation into the atmosphere. That facilitates the open water cooling—and freezing. When new ice thereby forms, it is so thin that heat loss from the underlying ocean to the atmosphere remains efficient. Hence, the ice tends to grow rapidly and recover after the prior loss.

This mechanism was discovered and explained by Tietsche S., Notz D., Jungclaus J.H., Marotzke J. (2011), “Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice”, Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L02707, doi:10.1029/2010GL045698.

[BH adds: Thanks!]

Mar 19, 2013 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

There does seem to be a campaign to get the GWPF. Perhaps the GWPF have these guys rattled. I read an interesting quote in one of the GWPFs reports, it went something like

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win.

Seems to me that Rapley/Beddington/Ward etc are at stage 3.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonasD

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct scientist." [after Keynes]

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered Commentercui bono

When people try to refute the "temperatures have not increased over the last decade" argument with the "temperatures have been highest over the last decade", I find the best comeback is to say that this is like arguing that a 30-year-old person is still growing because the last decade has been the tallest of his life. (I wish I had made that one up.) It works better than bringing up the Nyquist sampling theorem...

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

He makes Deben sound like Aristotle. He actually says that in his job, having figures that are statistically significant is less important than having maps with lots of red and orange on them. Imagine if he was talking about the content of beefburgers instead of climate change. The newspapers would be on to him and he’d be sacked within 24 hours.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Sir J B: "What I have termed saloon bar science which people like I have got to combat. It's the person that looks out of the window and notices its cold and says 'Huh, this global warming is rubbish isn't it, have another gin.' And that's the sort of style which actually, unfortunately is influential."

So, in saloon bar style: there is no F in CAGW.

Combat that, Sir John.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat


He makes Deben sound like Aristotle.

I can only skim right now. But that jumped out and bit me. I think I'll give Beddington a miss this time. And thanks.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Embarrassing. He may not be beholden to government for grants but I would love to see his investment portfolio. He can't be that stupid so follow the money often supplies the reason for his clearly denialist position.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

That opening picture should have a caption - something like "how do I switch this on?"

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:29 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The BBC doesn't agree with you on Arctic and Antarctic ice. This is an extract from the response to a complaint to the BBC regarding the current situation,
This is from Jonathon Amos

Thank you for your mail and interest in my story. The comparison between what is happening in the Arctic and the Antarctic is, on the face of it, a very interesting one. But I spend a lot of time talking to the scientists who study the cryosphere in depth, at both ends of the globe, and have my head in the literature. And I can assure you the analysis is a pretty uniform one. The Arctic and the Antarctic are behaving exactly as you would expect in response to forcing, with the former experiencing much more rapid warming with the consequent implications for its marine ice cover. This can be explained by the different geography in the two regions.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

JonasD 5:00pm - the 'First they ignore you....' line is a quote from Gandhi.

I'd agree we've reached stage 3.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D


You had me laughing but then I got depressed at the dismal situation.

As I commented on CA, the foggy (and worse) handling of data seems to be at the heart of some problems in climate science as presented to the public. Beddington and many others should make this an urgent project, to understand insight vs. obfuscation in handling of data.

An article linked by Bernie1815 discusses the work of statistician Edward Tufte on Feynman, the space shuttle disasters, and foggy compilations of data which obscure crucial points. I highly recommend the brief article linked below, including this summary which I think highlights the kind of insights into the real meaning of data which Steve Mc pursues:
[emphasis added]

“Tufte codified the design process into six principles: “(1) documenting the sources and characteristics of the data, (2) insistently enforcing appropriate comparisons, (3) demonstrating mechanisms of cause and effect, (4) expressing those mechanisms quantitatively, (5) recognizing the inherently multivariate nature of analytic problems, (6) inspecting and evaluating alternative explanations.” In brief, “information displays should be documentary, comparative, causal and explanatory, quantified, multivariate, exploratory, skeptical.”

Maybe some of the bloggers here should consider a post linking Tufte, McIntyre, and Feynman! How foggy use of data led to the losses of two space shuttles and to bad papers/presentations in climate science.

Ironically, that SciAm article is by Michael Shermer who is a rather fervent alarmist about climate science. Maybe he can be convinced to re-examine his beliefs about climate science in light of his advocacy of skepticism and rigorous data handling.

article in Scientific American on Edward Tufte's principles for visual display of data

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:50 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

First 30 seconds he admits he don't know jack about Climate Change and he would rather be talking about Lasers and Nuclear Fusion

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I presume Beddington's use of decadal averages is a nod to the fact that we shouldn't read anything into fluctuations over shorter timescales.

The Arctic and Antarctic sea is one is interesting. For me the key thing to remember is that the north and south pole systems could hardly be more different. Pretty much their only common factor is that they are at poles. It would be surprising if they responded the the same way. We know circulation has a big role to play in regional temperatures. Without ocean and atmosphere circulation the equator would be a lot hotter than today and the poles a lot colder. What I think is happening in Antarctica is that the already somewhat isolated continent is warming slower than rest of the planet, increasing the temperature difference, which is further increasing its isolation from climate dynamics (circulation). I think I read somewhere that the isolating circumpolar wind field has strengthen.

The take home is that it's incorrect to suggest global sea is is decreasing, it isn't. But it's also incorrect to suggest the growth in Antarctica some how nullifies the significance of Arctic ice loss, that would be comparing apples to oranges. The two systems are not commutable, talking about one without the other isn't cherry-picking.

As for winter grow back - the Arctic winter is very cold and very dark. We'll always see a lot of single year ice forming in the winter. In fact, the more ice that melts in the summer, the more open water there is to refreeze in the winter. That's why the winter refreeze graph has been increasing of late. Of course this is only talking about area - the ice volume metric shows a different story.

Mar 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris

More Beddington from 14'17"

Of course other things we need to think about are how we deal with the sceptics. This was the rather delightful conversion of Richard Muller, who actually having come out - and I have actually collected a series of statements from Muller which I won’t, being kind and he’s on our side now - repeat, but essentially this was a man who was saying this was complete nonsense, I will do it right, and you people in the climate world don’t actually understand how to do statistics or modelling, and we’ll do it. Pretty much the sort of thing point that Muller was making, but now the dramatic difference between the Berkeley EARTH assessments and NOAA and NASA and that crew would take a little bit of enticing out to actually make that point.
So those are this, but we need this sort of attitude because we have to deal with this nonsense and the media misinterpretation of results. I remember I was choked over my breakfast porridge on the Today programme when it was announced that the Met Office had said had come out and indicate that there was no climate change and that temperatures were not increasing. And you know I was sort of I had Julia Slingo on speed dial anyway, so “What on earth have you idiots been saying?” But of course they hadn’t been saying something they’d been doing proper and sensible analysis taking into account the factors that actually affect predictions of temperature change out to five or ten years, and actually a revision, so the degree of revision, which is shown by the sort of central thick blue line with the confidence regions around him indicate, you know, this is not a big deal, but look at what the good old Daily Mail on line says “crazy climate change obsessions that made the Met Office a menace”. How do you deal with this? The answer is that you have got to deal with it analytically, calmly. You know I made a joke just now talking to Neal Morrissetti who is our new climate change envoy in the Foreign Office that you know “I don’t think it’s going to help cutting them dead in my club” you know you have got to think about how we address this.This is the sort of thing that we will continually get in terms of sniping, but we have got to gear up to do it, gear up to address these issues, and one gets weary. You get weary of it. This is not the science we signed up to do, but we gotta do it.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Beddington - is he Arthur or Martha? I'm not sure he knows himself - try these:

John Beddington: chief scientist says climate change sceptics 'should not be dismissed':
Climate change sceptics should not be dismissed, the Government's chief scientific adviser has said, as he called for more openness in the global warming debate.

Chief scientist blasts climate change sceptics:
The government's chief scientific adviser has told Farmers Weekly that farmers should be convinced that global warming is a reality.

Climate change researchers must be more open, says chief scientist:
John Beddington tells the Guardian researchers must be more transparent when they make errors in data

Government's chief scientific adviser hits out at climate sceptics:
Professor John Beddington dismisses 'unreasonable' comments from groups including Nigel Lawson's thinktank, as Royal Society responds to critics with new climate science guide

I wonder if he actually has any opinions of his own.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:10 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor


I did a post on this and Amos is wrong. Most of the literature predicts reduced Antarctic ice. Post-hoc handwaving about Arctic and Antarctic being different doesn't cut the mustard.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

So the BBC's Jonathan Amos says he can "assure us" that the polar regions are behaving as they should. And does Jonathan Amos have a track record in environmental reporting, has he ever spoken, let alone reported on, a 'sceptic?'

Just another unqualified BBC yes man science parrot who is unable to do any journalistic enquiry other than ask an 'expert' or, err. one of the 28gate.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJKP

' I see the decline in Arctic sea ice and, like Lord Turnbull, am surprised that the extent seems to return to normal over the winter.'

It should be remembered that most of the sea ice growth in the Arctic is geographically limited, ie the sea ice runs out of sea to grow on when it reaches the coast. It doesn't matter how much colder it gets or has been in the past, sea ice beyond that point becomes land ice.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

It's depressing, but the guy is history. He just hasn't stopped talking yet.

Look on the bright side. A few days ago the BBC, on the 'Health' page not the 'Global-Warming' page, quoted the governments new Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport, saying:

"Sir Mark says the security of our energy supply - making sure the lights don't go out and that our infrastructure works - are the obvious challenges ahead."

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

This is probably a form of mathematics to which only the Government Chief Scientific Adviser is privy.

Aye, that's where he found 'em.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


I did a post on this and Amos is wrong. Most of the literature predicts reduced Antarctic ice. Post-hoc handwaving about Arctic and Antarctic being different doesn't cut the mustard."

Perhaps the cheese?

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames

it is clear that the way ahead is as follows

1. every extreme weather event is caused by climate change (and the hint was that proving that is where the grant money is going to be)

2. the climate for the next 20 or 30 years is already fixed by the evil we have already done; and

3. well, you know

The one thing I found surprising for someone who is supposed to be an adviser to government is that he was unable to make the link between poverty and the availability of cheap energy. One thing we can all be sure of is that Sir John will do his best to ensure that cheap energy is kept well away from those that need it most.

With people like this in any position of responsibility it is no surprise the country is completely f*cked. As someone said upthread, what an embarrassment.

How I would like to see this guy cross examined by a competent barrister!

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

Bish, the description given by Douglas Keenan also appears to bear the suspicious hallmarks of a negative feedback.

Others come to mind: When the surface ice melts completely before refreezing it presumably also dumps the accumulated black-carbon aerosols into the ocean (as well as expanding the area of cold water available to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere). I read suggestions that more water vapour from the open surfaces may increase snow fall, lowering albedo.

A larger melting and refreezing of sea ice-area could result in a larger annual FLUX of ice. When sea ice forms where does all the salt and dissolved CO2 go? Down, seems like the most credible answer. I strongly suspect if people spent half their intellectual energies trying to think of negative-feedbacks as well as positive ones then so much confirmation bias, as epitomised by Beddington, would never have crept in through an open door.

Mar 19, 2013 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

SandyS quotes the BBC, "The Arctic and the Antarctic are behaving exactly as you would expect in response to forcing..." I guess it depends on the meaning of the word exactly. The predictions of sea ice loss of AR4 WG1 in the Arctic appear to be too optimistic, and in the Antarctic to be too pessimistic.

I won't dwell on the Arctic, which has been discussed extensively, but AR4 WG1 predicted the fastest seasonal sea ice extent loss rate as the Antartic in the (austral) winter, see Figure 10.13d. A recent paper by Parkinson and Cavalieri shows winter sea ice extent has increased slowly over the past 30 years, at a mean rate of +13,000 km^2/yr (from their Table 2). This should be contrasted with AR4 WG1 Fig10.13d, which projects a trend of -40,000 km^2/yr.

Mar 19, 2013 at 7:12 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

The "Our saloon bar friends" put-down is nothing short of rude. That this guy is the Chief Scientific Adviser, (plus CMG, FRS) is nothing short of staggering. National Risk Register - where does the economic damage from money wasted on windmills, etc. feature?

Mar 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrJohnGalan

Dunno about anyone else, y'know, but I find someone who lards every sentence he speaks with "y'know" incredibly irritating. For the repeated implication is that I know something, when in fact I don't know, and am trying to find out (which is what I imagine science to be about).

It's as if some mathematics teacher said, "the square of the hypotenuse is, y'know, equal to the sum of the squares of..." No, I don't know! So please stop telling me that I already know something that I don't know, and which you're supposed to be teaching me.

Unless, of course, the repeated use of "y'know" simply reflects Beddington's prejudice in this matter, and possibly every other matter. He already knows the answers. It's just a question of finding the right coloured graphs to back up that prior knowledge.

Mar 19, 2013 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis

This presentation is as muddled, boring and as replete with errors as that given by Chris Rapley.
Beddington's speech patterns, where he 'hunts' like an automatic gearbox which can't decide which gear to select in his attempts to select relevant factoids for his listeners, seem to be those of an individual who is not only well on his way on the journey to senility but either has only a slender grasp of the subject or is very badly prepared; his performance suggests he really must be put out to grass before he embarrasses himself further..

Mar 19, 2013 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Beddington to Oxburgh
"A blinder well played".

End of discussion.

Credibility of Beddington:- Zero.

Mar 19, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

There seems to be an elephant in the room.
Your eminence, have you been possibly silenced irt recent news events regarding certain data which was formerly password protected?

[My email has been busy, but not with anything like this.]

Mar 19, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Does he also remind anyone of Pat Roach the old wrestler .Bomber in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet .And he was in Indiana Jones.

Mar 19, 2013 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Quote of the day

'Beddington's speech patterns, where he 'hunts' like an automatic gearbox which can't decide which gear to select'

Mar 19, 2013 at 8:51 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Public School educated Beddington's first degree was Economics. His third degree was in applied population biology. He's a spread sheet wallah, not a physical scientist.

So he can't work out why Climate Alchemy is wrong. It takes a bit of physics' talent to perceive how the scam was done and he ain't got it.

Mar 19, 2013 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Alexander K:

Got it in one.

What's really scary, however, is that self-regarding, preening types such as Beddington, buttressed by vast quantities of government money and armies of sycophantic government employees (financed by precisely the same sucker tax-payer) have exactly no sense that their self-importance bears zero relationship to the real world.

Beddington is eerily similar to one of Cromwell's lesser generals, earnestly clinging onto to power in his master's wake but without any convictions of his own.

In short, the cringing time-server personified.

Mar 19, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Let's look at another measure of temperature that won't easily fall easily to data manipulation like records of average temps can: the world record temperatures for the hottest & coldest days.

The record for the hottest day was set in 1913; the record coldest day was 1983. Now, if we had been a period of runaway warming throughout the 20th century, we'd expect those dates to have been reversed. Cold record way back when, hot record just recently. Instead, the opposite.

Moreover, as I observed on Real Science: the world record for hot was set 100 years ago, 134°F in Death Valley (a supposed 1923 temperature of 140°F in Libya was recently disqualified). The warmists maintain that temps have been going up like a rocket, for a hundred years. Somewhere then in all that time we should have had that record hot temperature broken. But no. So, something is rotten in the state Denmark, and in the leftist activist / “scientist” Michael Mann’s brain. Hockey stick my rear.

Mar 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Simpson

I get it Bish stop already! I give in. You’ve proven you can at will, anytime, find a video of a hideously white middle aged man having a mid-life crisis droning on about how climatically aware and heroic he is! ;)

It is in embedded in Geoff's transcript above but, I stopped listening at 15:15 and have to point it out...

Let us be clear - Whenever the UK's Chief scientific advisor hears the MET quoted on the BBC in a way he doesn't like his first instinct is to speed dial Julia Slingo and say "what on Earth have you idiots been saying"

This from the guy who at the start introduces himself with a Uriah Heep 'ever so 'umble' about his climate knowledge, later admitting that he is screaming insults at his MET office minions when he hears their authority used in a way he doesn't like.

Nice to know. ;)

Mar 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

As an aside but I hope not OT, since it could link together Beddington's talk with recent articles here on Rapley, Rose, and others.... As I noted on the thread about Jeff Condon receiving a legal notice from UEA lawyers (at The Air Vent), it could be useful to highlight the tensions between "the science is settled" kinds of people with

"The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change"

(emphasis added)

I think the best response to this official legal representation would be a series of articles, on as many blogs as possible, to the effect that,

The University of East Anglia has officially and legally acknowledged that claims that 'the debate is settled' in climate science are unfounded.

For the former implies the latter, there is no reason to allow for a "debate around climate change" which does not properly exist.

You know the saying.... Hoist.... own petard.....

Mar 19, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I have no scientific qualifications being a salesman in the flexible packaging trade. However a good nine years of studying the climate via the internet either by direct contact with scientists or websites like this, WUWT, Talbloke et al has given me somewhat more than an inkling as to what is going on.
It makes one cringe when you hear AGW waffle and a complete denial of the real science...does Beddington actually believe the nonsense?.....I think he probably does.
CRU and their American comrades have filled Beddington's head with so much "" it beggars belief.
Cooling Sir John...cooling for 16 years...and we have been much warmer in the past and with greater levels of CO2.
Planet greening up...ask NASA...crop yields up....and so on.
Oh and by the way CO2's ability to create heat is logarithic, so it cannot over heat the planet.

Mar 19, 2013 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterjames griffin

Further to the point made by Eric Simpson Mar 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Eric Simpson

It is interesting to consider the temperatures in the 1860s to 1880s. Between about 1860 to about 1880 global temperatures were warming. Then in the early 1880s came Krakatoa. It is often suggested that Krakatoa depressed global temperatures by up to 1.2 degC. I do not necessarily accept the volcanic forcings asserted by the Team but it is interesting to consider what temperatures would have been seen in the period say up to 1886 had Krakatoa not erupteed.

If the Team are correct that aerosol particulates spued out by Krakatoa depressed global temperatures by up to 1.2degC, it follows that but for Krakatoa global temperatures in the period 1883 to 1885 would have been higher than those observed today. Indeed, they would even have been higher than those observed in 1998 (ie., the warm year resulting from the super El Nino of that year).

That is quite a remarkable consideration bearing in mind that it is claimed that between about 1880 to date, CO2 has increased almost 50% from about 280ppm to nearly 400ppm. We have therefore had nearly one half of a doubling, and if the effects of CO2 is logarithmic then a nearly 50% increase in concentration ought to have resulted in more than half the climate sensitivity temperature figure. If climate sensitivity is claimed to be 2.5degC per doubling of CO2, we would expect to see temperatures of not less than 1.3degC above those seen around the 1880 period. Materially, we are not observing this. Indeed, as noted, but for Krakatoa, the temperatures in the 1880s would have been warmer than today!

This is something to ponder on since the AGW theory has no clear explanation for this.

Mar 19, 2013 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

at 11.17 he comes out with his yellow highlighted "NRR" woo scary.
he then pleads that to convince his Whitehall masters he needs the audience (presumably climate experts) to make his case stronger with their help !!!

if I had a teacher as incoherent & dense as this at school I would have tried to move class.

Mar 20, 2013 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

richard verney,

Fascinating. I would like to see more attention to this. From a different direction I had been asking on other blogs about the century 1820 - 1920 in relation to the Marcott et al. (2012) paper. Different issues from what you raise, but can the Marcott study accurately represent that period of time?

There seems to be some dispute about their temporal resolution, which may be more on the order of 300+ years rather than a much higher resolution, but in any case do they have an accurate story of declining 19th century temp.? In the way the story has been shaped to the media, they make it seem like the climate was not emerging from the Little Ice Age until very suddenly around 1920. Making the contrast so dramatic serves the "alarmist" narrative (except that it does not explain why such temp. increases should start before 1950-60). Does it accurately represent the science?

Mar 20, 2013 at 12:32 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Wonder whether Saif Gaddafi is embarrassed to have obtained a qualification from the same organization as Beddington?

Mar 20, 2013 at 12:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Thanks, Pharos and Agouts!

Mar 20, 2013 at 2:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I know the USA suffers from our feeble (Chief) Presidential Science Advisor, John Holdren, but still this Beddington character is a real embarrassment to the idea of a govt chief science advisor.

It is a really strange talk b/c it was so superficial, yet presented to a group who presumably already "knew" just about everything he had to say. No attempt at insight or analysis, no attempt at real thought.

He certainly has the "tipping points" bit of jargon, but provided no hint that he understood what tipping points might be or how they could be caused.

Since he troubled to cherry-pick a couple of recent bad weather events in the USA, I will note that if one wants to see extremes of dry and wet in North America before there was any plausible case for "CAGW" it is easy to find some for counter-cherry-picking:

1930s series of devastating drought years and the "Dust Bowl" era

1927: massive Mississippi River flooding, worst river floods ever recorded in USA

Mar 20, 2013 at 5:00 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

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