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« Something strange in the atmosphere | Main | Bringing politicians to Booker »

SJB's last hurrah

It is Sir John Beddington's last week in the job, and he has chosen to take one last opportunity to speak out on climate change. He is making a raft of media appearances today, having been on the Today Programme on Radio 4 and BBC Breakfast telly already. There will be more on Radio 5 later on. I gather that the TV and Radio 5 will be speaking to Benny Peiser after 8am.

I'll post links and reaction as I get them.

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Reader Comments (77)

So both on Breakfast and on Today (Palab Ghosh), there were mentions of the sceptics and the sceptical position. Beddington came over as very evasive and untrustworthy - however did he become Chief Scientific Advisor?

Mar 25, 2013 at 7:48 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Because he gave the answers the Government needed to support it's position on Mann Made Global Warming (tm).


Mar 25, 2013 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

It was a rhetorical question ;<}

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:01 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

We can let the other side have the rhetoric, as it's apparently all they've got.

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

After listening to Beddington on Radio 5, why do I fee like saying 'Yada, yada ?'

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRalph Tittley

all I could think of as SJB spoke on radio 4 this morning was ...evidence ?evidence ? evidence

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Sir John Beddington worried about global warming?
I nearly smashed the radio with my snow shovel

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

And while Beddington fiddles, the UK freezes!

What a legacy and a mess of our electrical generation system to leave behind for someone else to sort out! But ironically, in his last week of tenure, his beloved windmills may well have kept him out of the proverbial due to the high winds that have been blowing in this freezing weather.

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter


I believe the correct convention on the interweb for a rhetorical question is to place a smiley after the question.




Mar 25, 2013 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

SJB on R4 just now: "The last decade was warmer than it HAS EVER BEEN BEFORE"

Words fail......

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

After hearing the SJB interview on R4 just now, all I can think is 'journalism?, journalism??, journalism???!'.

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Don't worry, NBY, Richard Betts will be along any minute now to condemn the egregious disinformation spouted by the soon-to-be-erstwhile Chief Scientist .....................

.........or maybe not

Mar 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

As Philip says, it is encouraging that Pallab Ghosh mentioned scepticism in his BBC news report. I heard it on the radio at 8.00 and there is a web version here.

Tallbloke reminds us that there was a recent Nature editorial saying it's premature to link extreme events to global warming.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Very unconvincing interview with john Humphrys on RADIO 4. A bright child in year 9 could have take the twerp on. Where is Prof Stott when you need him. However, at least contrary arguments were given, if only as quotes.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

Who takes over from SJB? SJP?

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJit

Bish - Pallab Ghosh link deadends ?

Angus - it'd be nice if somebody with some credentials the chatterers recognise could point out the SREX report to the beeb: SJB's sound bites are now in the R4 headlines.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

The Governments chief rain dancer is set to retire.
In other news Cyprus has reached a deall.............

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Headline in the Sunday Mail.

UK's coldest spring since 1963 claims 5,000 lives: Pensioners worst affected - and experts say final toll could be 'horrendous'

2,000 extra deaths registered in just the first two weeks of March
And for February, 3,057 extra deaths registered in England and Wales
Campaigners warn weather could prove deadly for thousands more

Read it here.

It is a well known fact - in Britain [and in Europe], cold kills people.

Many men and women who have finally succumbed to the cold this long winter and the other increased death rates during the previous cold winters stretching back now to 2006 - anyone remember the 'late spring' in 2006?

Does, Beddington and his claque of political liars bear some responsibility for this extreme state of affairs?

Oh indeed by extension they do, I wonder if he has a dreamless sleep every night?
Still, playing the obtusely innocent green Saint will not wash Sir John Beddington - your advocacy perpetrated the lie and pushed ever higher heating bills - as some sort of necessary forfeit in the crusade to combat a chimera [CAGW] - you lied Beddington and God help you - you are still pushing the lie.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

So SJB decides to talk on more flooding...

Considering the level of building on flood planes that causes more water to remain in the watercourses of rivers and thus increases the flooding from the same amount of rainfall, it would appear from the below linked literature from the Geographical Association, that there has been quite a consistency of flooding since about 1545.

Where's your evidence John?

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

SJB's sound bites are now in the R4 headlines
Of course they are, NBY, that's why they interviewed him.
The Today programme sets the political agenda for the day. That is what it is for. Otherwise the bien pensants wouldn't know what to pense (so to speak!). Still worse, half the politicians wouldn't know what to think either. The key interview (0710) sets up the 0800 bulletin and the 0900 headlines and with a fair wind and a bit of traction provides the meat for The World at One.
It maybe irrelevant to what is happening outside the closed and incestuous world of Westminster/BBC/Guardian but then who gives a stuff about reality?
Correction: about other people's reality. What I've described is reality as far as they are concerned.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Even the fact that opposing views are getting airtime is a step forward. Rejoice.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Registered CommenterGrumpyDenier

SJB's last hurrah
SJB's last. Hurrah!

The joys of punctuation!

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

I have a full transcript of this morning's BBC Breakfast News interview with Sir John Beddington, here:

Sample quote (my emphasis):

Sir John Beddington: Yes, I think the thing that has to be recognised - and I think there's been increasing scientific evidence shows this - is that we're going to expect weather to be much more variable. In a sense, we've moved from the idea of global warming to the idea of climate change, and that's rather important. Yes indeed, temperatures are increasing, but the thing that is going to happen is we're going to see much more variability in our weather. I think you only have to look at the last few years to see how that is actually starting to manifest itself, even in the UK.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Alex: He displays wonderful logic doesn't he! And people believe him.

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As always - thanks Alex. And I'm glad you highlighted that particular passage. As I said on Unthreaded immediately after viewing the Breakfast item, "Woefully unimpressive - especially his weird attempt to sideline "global warming" in favour of "climate change" as if they were totally unconnected".

Mar 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Thanks for that, Alex.

Interseting, isn't it, how alarmists can claim "the last few years" tells you something about the future when it suits (hot summers, snowless winters, floods, droughts, whatever) and, at the very same time, dismiss the "last few years" as irrelevant when it does not suit (flat or falling temperatures, increasing Antarctic ice, freezing winters, increased snow, cold summers)?

They are no better than astrologers.

Actually, come to think of it, they're far worse than astrologers. They're responsible for people (real, actual people, not future hypothecated "future people") dying right now by artificially creating scarce, expensive energy. They are causing suffering and misery to the poor and the vulnerable, the very people in whose name they claim to be acting.

They truly have blood on their hands.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

His prediction of a ticking time bomb of nv CJD momentarily dormant in the population was also a major fail as tests on tissue samples from operations over the years have failed to reveal a single example to back his alarmist pronouncements. The cost to farming was enormous.
His handling at the outset of Foot and Mouth was tardy, ill planned and behind the curve, whilst Bird flu was another major fail costing billions.
He will not be missed.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Prof Beddington's blunt response is: "The evidence that climate change is happening is completely unequivocal."

Not only blunt but fatuous. We all know climate change is happening. Is it ever going to be so dangerous that extremely expensive and regressive controls on CO2 are justified? That's the question we sceptics are asking, Sir John. You've never even begun to answer.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Had to laugh when the term 'Climate Disruption' was batted around. Thought that had long been confined to the bin.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"but the thing that is going to happen is we're going to see much more variability in our weather. I think you only have to look at the last few years to see how that is actually starting to manifest itself, even in the UK"
I think SJB is right and I suggest that we could divide the variable weather into seasons.
Spring, summer, Autumn and Winter.
Just sayin:)

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

pesadia: We could introduce weather differences between nighttime and daytime as well.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As Mike Jackson at 9:17 writes, this is an example of classic agenda-setting by the BBC with an item which will play and replay through the day. Also, notice the juxtaposition in the 8:00 BBC Radio 4 News of a report on the freezing weather followed immediately by carefully selected quotes on "climate change" from Beddington.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterHugo Tillinghast

His claim that we are now seeing the effects of [CO2] increase from 25 years ago is/was plain stupid.It appears to have been designed as a face saving gesture for the absence of warming: the creepie greenie weirdos bang on about extreme weather when there is no evidence that CO2 causes it!

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

Unfortunately I missed the SJB interview. However, if he did actually warn of more bad weather due to AGW, then he is even more unscientific than I thought possible. Surely it is only a matter of months, or perhaps a year since even the 'scientists' at CRU warned against confusing short term weather with climate. And even now it is only the real hard core warmist fanatics that are trying to make the connection.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Beddington's interview with Bill Turnbull this morning did more for the "sceptics" position than anything written or said before. He made statements even contrary to the IPCC official position. What beggared belief was the comment that we have already reached a level of Co2 in the atmosphere that will cause considerable variability of climate in the next 25 years. Logically, if we have already reached this level then variability will be indefinite, otherwise what causes this variability to decline or cease after 25 years, mote Co2!!!! Pathetic.

Ian Neill

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan Neill

Beddington is Professor of Applied Population Biology so a very good ''expert'' on climate.
His claims do not stand up to any sort of scrutiny. He is completely wrong but I suppose had to get this last shot in before falling back into obscurity where he belongs.

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Sir John Beddington before He stopped shaving:

Mar 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

The 'increased variability' catchphrase was used in the 1970s in association with the ice age scaremongering. The argument went then that reconstructions of conditions at the end of interglacials showed increased variability, but there did not seem to be any sense of 'consensus' over this*.

Is this spin now being used to help sustain the current climate scare about warming in the absence of rising global mean temperatures (that construct being the previous vehicle of choice for conveying alarm)? Who briefs or briefed Beddington about climate? It does not seem credible that he himself has given much thought to the matter - he does not come across to me at least as a deep or critical thinker.

*Here is an extract from 'Climate Change to the Year 2000', a survey of expert opinion published in 1978 by the National Defense University of the USA (Library of Congress 'Catalog Card No. 78-600020'):

Given the climate panelists' diverse comments about variability and some tendency to associate greater variability of precipitation and length of growing season with global cooling, but less variability with warming, it cannot be said that the responses to the climate questionnaire corroborate the existence of general agreement about the onset of increased climatic variability.

With regard to precipitation variability, the report notes there were 'collective uncertainties' about it, and this was

'evident in the verbal comments ... which ran the gamut of what could be said about variability:
#Less variability with warming
#More variability with cooling
#More variability, regardless of temperature change
#No radical changes expected
#No cause to believe anything about change in the variability of any meteorological element.

Now thanks in part to the orchestration opportunities cleverly provided by the structure and leadership of the IPCC, we are no longer given the impression of such a range of opinion. Now we have the official view (such as no doubt Sir John was coached to convey) constructed to minimise the exposure of politicians, and the public, to 'uncertainty' or indeed variation of informed opinion. After all, if we want them to take drastic actions, we don't want to confuse them do we? Nowadays it is the establishment versus 'deniers', the knowledgeable and high-minded versus the ignorant and the fossil-fuel-funded.

What happened? Apart from the political drive and skills of the IPCC, aided and abetted by such as the leadership of the Royal Society and government servants such as Beddington, what else might there be to account for the new orthodoxy and the associated 'speaking with authority'? A good chunk of it must be due, I suspect, to the cultivation of GCMs. In part this is part of the orchestration achieved by the IPCC, but in part it may be a more primary driving force in its own right. In the 1970s, GCMs were as I recall treated by some as a bit of a joke since they went all over the place on the slightest of perturbations. I suspect they still would, but that their husbandry has improved to the point at which, despite the remaining wide range of output, they generally share in public the same general direction with regard to temperatures, for example. They go up. Not least because they are run with the addition of a sudden reduction in heat loss at the top of the model atmosphere. Heating up then stands to reason, don't it guv? Model runs that cool could be discarded or stopped in their tracks, much like a unproductive sheep might be culled from the flock to improve overall performance.

Beddington has been part of the phenomenon of undue influence of narrow and channeled climate science on governments based on the presumption of sustained temperature rises due to CO2, modified to suit when the temperatures stop rising, or fall further - it's all due to that gas, and if we control that gas, we'll be better off. Our emissions are a few per cent of natural ones, but never mind, our gas is so powerful it can be a control knob for the global climate. That is the article of faith. The spreading of this as gospel in high places is part of Beddington's contribution. Time will tell just how ashamed he should be of it.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Quote 'increased sea swells'

Where does he get the idea that Global Warming increases Tides.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

As with the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, under Lenin and Stalin, the present generation, to the Greens, is so much raw material to be used in building the radiant future. More suffering will occur to future generations if we are not harsh and demanding of the present one. The movement must achieve decarbonisation in one country. In a green, fluffy, cuddly, inclusive, diversity celebrating way, of course (not).

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

Who briefs Beddington?

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat


Mar 25, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

SJB's last hurrah
SJB's last. Hurrah!

The joys of punctuation!
Mar 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Indeed. If it is truly the last then we should all be grateful.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

This was the first time I have seen him in the flesh and it left me with one impression of him....shifty. Not the sort to buy a used car from I think.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan

John Shade -
Your post reminded me of an article written in 1975 about the consequences of a cooling climate (as was the trend at the time). A C. C. Wallen, described as chief of the Special Environmental Applications Division, World Meteorological Organization, was interviewed and summarized thus:

The principal weather change likely to accompany the cooling trend is increased variability -- alternating extremes of temperature and precipitation in any given area -- which would almost certainly lower average crop yields. The cause of this increased variability can best be seen by examining upper atmosphere wind patterns that accompany cooler climate. During warm periods a "zonal circulation" predominates, in which the prevailing westerly winds of the temperate zones are swept over long distances by a few powerful high and low pressure centers. The result is a more evenly distributed pattern of weather, varying relatively little from month to month or season to season. During cooler climatic periods, however, the high-altitude winds are broken up into irregular cells by weaker and more plentiful pressure centers, causing formation of a "meridional circulation" pattern. These small, weak cells may stagnate over vast areas for many months, bringing unseasonably cold weather on one side and unseasonably warm weather on the other. Droughts and floods become more frequent and may alternate season to season, as they did last year in India. Thus, while the hemisphere as a whole is cooler, individual areas may alternately break temperature and precipitation records at both extremes.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

John Beddington's experience as a Professor of Applied Population Biology is in fact highly relevant as he has spent a lifetime analysing complex statistical data and it is the cumulative evidence from multiple data sources which points in his opinion (though obviously not yours) to man made climate change being a genuine phenomenon.
His background in monitoring worldwide fish stocks is also pretty relevant given the damaging effect on marine eco-systems caused by the increase in temperature of sea water.
I'm lobbing this damp squib into your complacently one sided conversation purely in the spirit of 'giving opposing views airtime' as all I expect in return is opprobrium and more nonsense from conspiracy theorists convinced that serious scientists are part of a secret worldwide campaign to destabilise energy prices.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAggrieved interloper

Schrodinger's Cat: "Who briefs Beddington?"

Bishop Hill: "Slingo"

Please don't forget that Beddington boasts of having Slingo on speed dial so he can demand “What on earth have you idiots been saying!?” whenever he hears the MO name used in vain. Once you understand this then you know how the circle is complete. ;)

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I have e-mailed Jeremy Vine, to set the record striaght, don't hold your breath !.

Mar 25, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

I would love to see the MSM publish a list of all the extreme weather claims and show the actual data. WUWT and Jo Nova have covered this on many occasions.

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The most confusing thing in all this, is Pallab Ghosh's use of the phrase 'so-called'.

OK hyphenating "so called" seems a bit odd but that isn't what confuses me. Why are climate sceptics, 'so-called climate sceptics'? Does he think that the people claiming to be climate sceptics aren't really climate sceptics? Who does he think we really are?

Or should I assume that he really thinks we are all 'big-oil funded climate deniers' but the BBC will no longer permit that to be said?

Mar 25, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterNickM

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