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« Green disinformation: worse than we thought | Main | Energiesuspende »

Why does Lord Deben misreport the science of extreme weather?

The appointment of Lord Deben as the government's chief adviser on climate change matters was always something of a nonsense. As somebody who knows little or nothing of science, let alone climatology, his appointment was always more about sending out messages to target voters than the provision of meaningful or useful information. As if to underline the point, the noble lord has sent out a tweet today on the subject of extreme weather:

Pity it takes American to tell truth about Australia. Climate change makes extreme weather worse & is a cause.

If climate change makes extreme weather worse, then you would think the planet would have experienced more extreme weather, given that we have been experiencing global warming for decades and climate change forever. Unfortunately for Lord D's case increases in extreme weather are not what the IPCC reported in its most recent assessment report or in the earlier SREX report, for almost any extreme weather phenomenon you care to mention. The best they could come up with was a claim that there were more areas with increases in extreme precipitation than decreases, and the possibility that heatwaves were happening more often. A look at the evidence behind these claims suggests they are decidedly iffy too.

Meanwhile, droughts and hurricanes are refusing to toe the line at all. As if to emphasise the point, a new paper in BAMS has confirmed that tropical cyclones are not increasing.

So when Lord D says climate change makes extreme weather worse, he is not exactly reporting the science. This being the case, you have to wonder about the advice that the government is getting from the CCC. Does anyone in government actually pay it any attention? Or do they know that this is just an expensive way of Cameron buying a few green votes and ignore Lord Deben's utterances accordingly?

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Reader Comments (54)

Obama's over egging of climate scare in Brisbane has polarised people here.
The warmers are in mutual admiration, suggesting that the PM should not be the odd man out in Paris. They neglect to mention that Australia is unlikely to be alone.
Sceptics picked up at once that much of his speech was puffery.
Many think Obama was undiplomatic to intrude, as a guest, in domestic matters here.
At present, my take is that he had some effect, but that time will dilute the message a lot.

The ABC is, as expected, giving lip service to the economic matters and then fast switching back to climate change for lengthy acolyte analyses.
I am slightly afraid for the way that people we expect to be analytical are happy to gush like Deben. Of course, as a scientist, I regard the trashing of science for climate propaganda to be unforgivable.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

I imagine Ed Davey listens pretty carefully.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

And just to prove it he's going to expose his daughter Cordelia to extreme weather by making her stand out in the rain. Well she survived being force fed beef burgers. Tacky politician.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterceed

I think Paul Homewood might have something to say about Deben's nonsense.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Bad analogy, ceed. He was trying to show beef burgers were safe so his daughter could safely choke one down. He believes extreme weather is bad, very bad, even extremely bad. It would be unforgivable for such a loving father to expose his offspring to such danger.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Customary silence to follow, by Esteemed Scientists who only care about science when launching tirades at Lord Lawson or the Daily Mail.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Yes, no doubt the Met Office won't be putting Deben right.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:23 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"his appointment was always more about sending out messages to target voters"

But whose target voters? Even at the height of the CAGW hysteria the only voters massively swayed by deep greenery were far more likely to be Green Party loyalists or the sort of Labour or Lib Dem voter who was never going to vote Tory for many other reasons. I have never been a Tory fan myself but it always seemed madness for them not to use one of the few issues on which they could safely differentiate themselves from the other main parties as a USP, even if it was only by maintaining a diluted scepticism.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Aren't the grain yields, particularly in eastern Europe being compromised by the early onset of winter, and early snowfall making it wet, and therefore unusable? Double edged sword, perhaps - all this warming about, causing early winters and snowfall...

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

Deben hasn't bothered to do his homework.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation report from October has the headline:

"Good harvests and ample stockpiles continue to drive international food prices down"

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Maybe Deben has been misled by his neighbour:

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Well, Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards, we await your perspective on what the good Lord is telling us plebs. Do you agree with him or not? If not, why are you staying silent?

If you feel that doing so would be suicidal from the career standpoint, that is understandable. But exactly who in the UK is prepared to step up and state authoritatively where the science really stands when the likes of Deben misrepresent it? Clearly Deben should not be the mouthpiece for the science but, until someone from the UK climate science community puts him in his place, he will continue to use his status to misrepresent the science in support of the CAGW agenda. For whatever reason, climate scientists appear to be fully content to let him, and others, do that.

In contrast, climate scientists do seem prepared to step up to the mark when those sceptical of CAGW venture in the MSM. Strange that.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC

I think like Obama that Deben has probably handed his Twitter account over to an activist group and doesn't actually write those tweets himself

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:02 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The (un)worthy Lord has always been a fact free politician. I think the possibility that anyone in the Conservative Party actually lstens to, let alone believes, Lord Deben is remote.

This man takes a position he favours without question or enquiry, and seemingly is unconcerned with the facts, or acquiring them.

The good Lord really hasnt got a clue anyway. Many people think that a good adage is 'if you dont know/understand keep your mouth shut and find out the true facts'. Not so Deben, an insult to the river whose name he adopted when enobled.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Baird

"I imagine Ed Davey listens pretty carefully." Philip Richens

He does indeed, you can see them here in a very cosy picture:

Have a look here as well, you can see John Prescott hiding at the top of the stairs. Davey isn't a Globe member so isn't in this picture but is featured on the page. This has all the appearance of an official FCO event, on government (our) premises.

"On 14 January 2013, GLOBE International presented the 3rd edition of the Climate Legislation Study and formally launched the GLOBE Climate Legislation Initiative at a high level Summit held in the Locarno Rooms of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London."

Read what FCO minister Alastair Burt had to say:

"Welcome to this conference which launches the GLOBE Climate Legislation Initiative. I’m delighted to be here to mark the launch of this ambitious work. And it’s wonderful to see delegates from so many countries here in London for this event. I am particularly pleased to welcome Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She is a great champion of the importance of climate legislation and we are grateful that she could be here today."

Figueres of course, was previously working for Nick Stern's IdeaCarbon group before taking the UN job.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Have you noticed that warmists hardly ever use a graph? Someone ought to start a #showusthegraph for every time they make a claim without any evidence. After all. they keep banging on about needing PR. Surely they could make the effort to make graphs to prove all these claims they make?

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Nov 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

Obama's over egging of climate scare in Brisbane has polarised people here.
The warmers are in mutual admiration, suggesting that the PM should not be the odd man out in Paris. They neglect to mention that Australia is unlikely to be alone.
Sceptics picked up at once that much of his speech was puffery.
Many think Obama was undiplomatic to intrude, as a guest, in domestic matters here.
At present, my take is that he had some effect, but that time will dilute the message a lot.


Obama is a mendacious character and knavish with it - a very rude bloke.

He [Obama], made 'play' and thereby was deliberately obtuse ably exhibiting his vaulting arrogance and gross ignorance of all matters pertaining to climate or, any science you could care to mention. Obama, he damn well knows about PM Tony Abbot's attitude on all things green and deliberately set out to rain on his parade. I mean think, just say it was the other way around? Mind you, I do not think for a minute that Tony Abbot would be so overtly discourteous over in the USA.

Obama, definitely abused his position and on the Brisbane platform. By, using the opportunity in Brisbane to promote the alarmist doom mongering mythology. He, POTUS has his eyes glued on a global emissions treaty to be signed sealed and delivered in Paris next year. Obama will know well, that, he was lobbying the green blob in Aus and that, there is still a large green rump in Australia - in fact, I'd go as far as to say, Obambam was deliberately stirring the 'green' nest of hornets - he doesn't like Abbot's politics nor, does he think Abbot is that secure politically speaking.

I read his speech [Obama] it said nothing of any real import, no facts and just scare stories probably penned by that harridan of alarmist hyperbole Naomi Oreskes.

I'd have to say - the G20 circus is [boring] - a sham conference, where the west and east meet to mutually disagree and make noises about varied political decisions to play to a home audience. That, Obama sought to wrest the conference away from its preset parameters [in mutual accord and agreement with the Australian government], it tells you all you need to know about the Chicago Shyster and his cocking a snook at Australia's democratically elected first minister. If I was born with a lucky card - to be an Australian, I wouldn't be very happy with this crass behaviour, after all Obama was a guest of the Australian people and guests should not behave in such a disrespectful way........ but then Obama - he just acted to type.


As for Deben,

Good Lord, he is an insignificant jerk. Though, what really worries me - someone gave this whelk - albeit a very small key, to open a door onto power. The fact that, he milks it for all it's worth financially speaking should not surprise anyone. Plainly, what is needed is remedial therapy for this eejit and for him and his fellow travellers to be removed from his, their posts at the first opportunity - which I believe will be forthcoming come May 2015 - a date which, cannot come soon enough.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"He, POTUS has his eyes glued on a global emissions treaty to be signed sealed and delivered in Paris next year." Athelstan.

Assuming there will be a treaty signed. If Germany are sweating over their emissions goals, it could be the end of the line for ambitious promises... or any promises.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

From their website:

GLOBE - The Global Legislators Organisation is an international organisation comprising national parliamentarians from over 80 countries committed to developing and overseeing the implementation of laws in pursuit of sustainable development.

GLOBE is a non-party political organisation that supports legislators through national chapters to develop and advance laws on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests.

So, it's all about making laws, whether we need them or not.

Meanwhile, GWPF, with far fewer pretensions of grandeur, has, on its advisory panel, 17 professors, 3 doctors (of science) and 3 Knights of the realm (just for starters). They seem more concerned with making sure that the policies being followed by the likes of GLOBE are backed up by real science and not scare-stories. The pity seems to be that Deben and his power-mad fools don't want to listen. Meanwhile, the BBC will fete the likes of (unqualified) Deben and Davy whilst side-lining the better-qualified and better-advised, Lawson.

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

'Lord D is now reporting that

Climate change means less food.'

Well they are taking agricultral land out of production by using it to grow feedstock for AD plants and biofuels

Nov 17, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterbilbo

"Pity it takes American to tell #Abbott truth about Australia. Climate change makes extreme weather worse & #coal is a cause."

It's like it's written by a 12 year old.

Nov 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Secure hysterical media headlines but never issue an apology, correction or withdrawal statement once claims are exposed as being incorrect or misleading. In plain English it's called lying.

Nov 17, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Lord Beef-Burger leading the Charge of the NO-Light Brigade, perhaps?
(Sorry but I couldn't let that brilliant 'Charge of the NO-light Brigade' phrase by stewgreen go unheralded:)

Nov 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Because some dishonest rogue at the Met Office misreported it to him probably.

Nov 17, 2014 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Roger Pielke, Jr. has just published a book on weather extremes, "The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change."

"In recent years the media, politicians, and activists have popularized the notion that climate change has made disasters worse. But what does the science actually say? Roger Pielke, Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the data to give you the latest science on disasters and climate change. What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates."

At $8.09 for a paperback at, the government could afford it.

Nov 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

artwest, I think the Tories are, or were, afraid of being on the wrong side of history.
As the warming continued and the seas rose they needed to be able to say - "We were against this!"

And they were against this. Thatcher hyped the whole AGW thing when she was out to get the coal miners.
Also, the "Nasty Party" needs pictures of fluffy nature to soften the image and attract female voters.... according to the focus groups.
The policies they've pushed have transferred wealth form the poor tot he rich so they aren't opposing their class interest.

It was a good gamble - assuming the science was right. Which may have been a bad assumption.

Nov 17, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Honest Lord Deben telling people that Germany is producing 60% of its energy from renewable sources:

Nov 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

More Ammo for UKIP in Rochester

Cameron is giving 650 million in Green Aid to Africa

For Renewable Energy .Concerned Tory Backbenchers are furious about it.

On the same day as the new Band Aid Bob Geldof song for fighting Ebola.

Nov 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

@ZT That mythology on the state of German renewables comes from a sacred verse of Saint AlGore published in the holy book of 'truth' called Rolling Stone, June 18, 2014

"Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar; and analysts predict that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020. (Indeed, one day this year, renewables created 74 percent of the nation's electricity!)"
(It isn't well defended in the comments)
- It was debunked by Pierre in the German Climate Blog : Serial Exaggerator Al Gore Loses All Sense Of Reality…Exaggerates German Wind And Solar Power 178% By P Gosselin on 22. Juni 2014

- In The Center for Industrial Progress podcast their regular German correspondent Steffen Henne is responsible for this podcast title Al Gore and Rolling Stone Need to Issue a Public Apology for Journalistic Fraud

Nov 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

My advice to the government regarding Gummer's advice; ignore it.

Nov 17, 2014 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

"Why does Lord Deben misreport the science of extreme weather"?

Because he has been appointed as the Government's Chief Adviser on climate change matters. He can say what he bloody well wants to as long as it supports and enforces the 'official' line on climate change, irrespective of whether it has any scientific or truthful basis at all. As I've said before, as a retired scientist in the Civil Service, once a scientific issue becomes a political issue, politics drives the science and not vice versa.

Nov 17, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Slightly o/t, but I notice that BBC History Magazine is pushing 'British coastal winter weather to be more extreme' in the December 2014 issue (p12). Interestingly, although the original study (published in the International Journal of Climatology) appears to have been carried out by UEA's Phil Jones 'with colleagues from the University of Sheffield and the Met Office', according to UEA (, the History magazine says only that it was 'led by academics from the University of Sheffield'.

Sheffield's Professor Edward Hanna commented that it was too early to say that global warming is the cause, but 'that according to the long-term NAO trend we can say that the probability of getting extreme winter weather – either mild/stormy or cold/snowy - has significantly increased in the last few decades.'

Nov 17, 2014 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

@RichardABetts seems to argue OPINION trumps EVIDENCE
@TC Debden's Twitter says "Climate change makes extreme weather worse & #coal is a cause." (simple present tense)
Skeptics laugh at that claim cos that has not been validated by past EVIDENCE
@RichardABetts on Twitter has defended that claim quoting these PDFs IPCC 2013 The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers & Managing The Risks Of Extreme Events And Disasters To Advance Climate Change Adaptation (snappy titled SREX )
They seem to offer OPINIONS about weather of the past and future
eg page 5 "Table SPM.1 | Extreme weather and climate events: Global-scale assessment of recent observed changes, human contribution to the changes, and projected further changes for the early (2016–2035) and late (2081–2100) 21st century. ...
1. Warmer and/or fewer cold days and nights over most land areas
2. Warmer and/or more frequent hot days and nights over most land areas"
(I tweeted the pic of that page)

i. note the stretching of definition ..less cold days is extreme weather
ii the above (1 fewer cold days) seems like a POSITIVE as would reduce deaths

- Bottom line it only matters if Negatives outweigh the Positives
so far @RichardABetts has declined to #ShowUsTheGraph

Nov 17, 2014 at 7:40 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

In answer to the question ....

For the same reason that the hubris addled twerp and poetry buff Baron Smiff of Finsbury invented a new type of rain.

Ignorance and self interest mainly but not exclusively - there's some seasoning of willful delusion in there too.

Nov 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM | Registered Commentertomo

it's also in .... looks like a cut and pasted job .. as used by that BBC mag to provide something to be surrounded by adverts

Nov 17, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Obama has proved beyond doubt, by his apalling behaviour at the G20 leaders conference in Australia, that he only takes advice from the Left and that his rudeness and arrogance are truly monumental. No wonder the voters of America have made him, thoroughly deservedly, into a Lame Duck president.
Like many Antipodeans, I used to take offence at the ways in which Obama was demonised by his fellow Americans for being black. I am now beginning to understand why so many Americans use racial terms to express their dislike of him; singlehandedly he has thrust the civil rights movement back fifty years.

Nov 17, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

It's hard to respect those who apply the best science to advise on a topic where the best science just isn't good enough. Somebody used the example of Pooh Sticks to explain climate will change following a certain direction over time, but what happens during single years is unpredictable.

Same reasoning of course applies wrt space . The climate will change globally in a certain way but what happens at regional and national level is unpredictable.

None in the UK climate community is courageous enough to admit such a Truism. And so our money is wasted trying to predict the unpredictable, with tragicomic consequences.

Nov 17, 2014 at 9:12 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

@RBetts now says "no, not opinion, read actual report for evidence, analysis and reasoning behind table"
- I don't have time to check myself , but surely if that is published evidence of CO2 causing extreme weather that is first proper published evidence I have heard off #IamSkeptical and of course he still doesn't #ShowUsTheGraph

Nov 17, 2014 at 10:19 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

'It's dead, Jim' - another well below average Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close. Eight storms, 6 hurricanes and an ACE of 64. The Met Office forecast 10, 6, 84 with a 70% chance of the ranges being 7-13, 3-9, 47-121. The ranges cover from below average to above average in each category so it only remains to claim total success in the Verification of 2014 Seasonal Tropical Storm Forecasts for the North Atlantic report.

I do hope they remember to say that this is the ninth consecutive year of no landfalling major hurricane in the US and that this is unprecedented; in fact, even more unprecedented than it was last year:

For the eighth year in a row, no major hurricanes made landfall in the United States. This is the first time since relatively reliable landfall data became available in 1878 that the US has had an eight-year period without a major hurricane landfall (CSU 2013).

So no 'coal effect' in the US. Anyway, since 6% of all Australia's exports are thermal coal to China, the bad weather should be happening in China not Australia. #Deben

Nov 18, 2014 at 12:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

... according to the long-term NAO trend we can say that the probability of getting extreme winter weather ... has significantly increased in the last few decades
Can anybody out there explain just what that statement actually means? If anything.

Nov 18, 2014 at 9:09 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

stewgreen, thanks - must have missed that one!

Mike Jackson - I may be wrong, but I think it means 'give us more money' ... ;-)

Nov 18, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

So, trougher Deben who, by his syphoning of taxpayer money into his own trousers would in this country be found corrupt, wants to lecture us on why we won't divert our money to his trousers. The Peking Lame Duck Obama's visit to our shores was a nasty and uneducated act of unfriendliness (may he rest in peace), and Deben's display combines EU pomposity, ignorance and personal self-interest in spades.

We will be happy to live here and prosper from free trade deals with China, Japan and Korea. Good luck with that European project and enlightenment.

Lazlo of Sydney

Nov 18, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazlo

Slightly off-topic - but little Cordelia never took the bite of that hamburger..

Look at the original photo - the 'bite' is far too big to match her little chops - and was actually (allegedly) taken by Lord Deben's (then John Gummer) researcher...

Nov 18, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Richard Betts either hasn't read his own links or he already knows they don't support Gummers puerile rhetoric but doesn't care because few climate doomsters read beyond the headlines anyway.The SREX tells us only that the available data don't support any attribution and it won't be possible for a long time yet. In fact that is generous because an objective observer could only conclude that the available data actually refute any connection between warming (manmade or not) and extreme weather. Betts cannot even refer to the models because they can tell us absolutely naff all about it. But you can always rely on the Met Office to just make stuff up that is entirely unsupported by data, theory or models. It's almost as reliable as their 100% medium-term forecast failure record; random monkeys would be more accurate!

Nov 18, 2014 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

@JamesG I expected that, cheers for doing the reading,.. If his assertion was true he would have said something like "see graph on page 28" ..insted of saying "yeh it's all in the report (somewhere)" ..that's not good enough is it ?

Nov 18, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

stewgreen: btw, bet this is the source of the Farming Today story (3rd and 4th articles down, both on NFU VP and 'extreme weatherist' Guy Smith)

Nov 18, 2014 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

For the education of Betts, Gummer and anyone else who might need perspective, some real science about the UK flooding was covered recently by Pielke Jnr here:

"A new paper in the Hydrological Sciences Journal (Stevens et al. available at
finds no evidence for an increase in UK flooding once the data is normalized for exposure.

The authors conclude:
Consequences are the combined results of high river flows, pluvial flooding and coastal flooding, the numbers of people and property exposed to flooding and the effects of flood defence construction and floodplain management policies. The increase in the total number of reported flood events in the 20th century in the UK appears to be a function of the gradual increase in exposure due to urban expansion and population growth. However there is also greater capacity to report flood events. The number of reported ‘Class 3’ flooding events has remained static or decreased slightly over the 20th Century. This is despite the UK population almost doubling and the number of dwelling houses tripling over the same time period. "

Meantime I await the next drought to be hyped up by the doomsters/hucksters as being caused by the same thing as the flooding, just as it was a mere 2.5 years ago. In a BS world where proxies are used upside-down, warming causes cooling and normal events are hyped as abnormal, skepticism is the only rational response.

Nov 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

You're wrong; in the world you describe, the only rational response is total disbelief!

Nov 19, 2014 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

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