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I'm due to be on Newsnight tonight to discuss the reaction to the floods with Lord Deben and Kevin Anderson.

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Reader Comments (88)

Dear Andrew,

I really think you should have interrupted. You should make a point in future not to allow these alarmists their extended rants because the presenter is not going to ensure you a fair share of time. So please be a bit more assertive.

Feb 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa


The point is so obvious I can't see why you bother disputing it: assuming (against much evidence) that the UK floods are caused by increased global CO2 emissions, "decarbonising" the UK economy (in effect, deindustrialisation) would have no effect whatsoever on the floods. Given that it would cripple us, the response "but it would set a good example to others" strikes me as slightly sadistic.

Feb 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commenteralan kennedy

Very interesting, and to my mind very sensible, article by Andrew Lilico in the Telegraph, arguing the case for adaptation rather than prevention.

Feb 18, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Actually I think everyone citing the 1929 winter rainfall as being the highest in the UK Met Office Records is reading the table wrong. In the ranking listings the year follows the value. The record high year for winter rainfall over the period Dec-Feb is in fact 1995, not 1929. The highest December rainfall ever was 1929, but this would be in the 1930 winter calculation. Note also that the Met Office tables define winter as Dec-Feb, so this years figures are not in yet.

However, if we look at where the period Nov - Jan 2013-2014 sits in the Nov - Jan rankings from 1911 onwards, the answer is 2013-2014ranks...4th.

Here is the Top 10 Listing

1930 554.0
2007 481.5
1915 461.3
2014 461.0
1995 451.9
1960 447.5
1975 445.7
1983 443.1
1952 441.8
1912 441.4

Note that big December rainfall in 1929 contributed to the wettest period Nov-Dec 1929-1930, and it outranks everything else by a long way. Extreme weather weirding in 1930 anyone?

And while we are on the topic, the Nov-Jan months in this winter looked as individual monthly rankings are:

November ranks 74th
December ranks 6th
January ranks 3rd

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

I thought Andrew did a good job. Appearances matter and Andrew came across as calm while Anderson seemed quite mad.

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBK

Just watched it on the iPlayer. Another excellent contribution. The mass media is soaked in a stew of cagw catchphrases, and delusions, e.g. to pick a minor one, that Kevin Anderson is a scientist, or even as I think I have seen him described elsewhere, a leading climate scientist. A climate agitator is a more apt description of the man. He is a natural choice for the BBC then, and one of Andrew's contributions in that peculiar environment is to have shown restraint. Anderson was, on the other hand, primed full of sound-bites bursting to get out. I like to suppose that one day, and perhaps it is already happening, the people producing such programmes in the BBC will spot the difference between a thoughtful person and one who is but a vehicle for relaying the latest catchphrases of 'the cause'.

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

It's pretty tough to go on Newsnight and even tougher to be linked in rather than sitting in the studio so very well done accepting the challenge. That said, to the neutral observer he walked all over you. Objectively, you had the calm and irrefutable facts, Kevin had the dramatic, attention grabbing message even if it was spurious. If the BBC are going to make a habit of inviting you onto these programmes, and I hope they do, you need to master the medium and the format. Take some advice from an old pro like Lord Lawson. If Nigel had been sitting in your chair, armed with the same ammunition, he'd have made every bullet count and blown the silly, panic-stricken nitwit off the screen. Again, well done accepting the challenge and thanks for all you do.

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim

Newsnight - 17/02/2014
BBC iPlayer Thingy for UK ISP Only
(use a proxy you foreign muppets)
Available ONLY Until 11:19PM Mon, 24 Feb 2014

Some person will maybe put this up on YouTube eventually.

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Enigma-Machine

Well done for being a calm voice of reason, when you were given a moment to speak. My guess is that KA was given 80+% of the time slot.
I was amazed to hear someone still trotting out the uber-alarmist stuff about 5 or 6 degrees of warming, metres of sea-level rise and so forth. It raised a small suspicion that - just maybe - he was invited to illustrate the "frothing fanatic" position.
We need a second front. We may be making progress on the science but that does not reach many folk. As others have said, there are two harsh truths which need to be front-and-centre of any debate: whatever we do as the UK (or even the whole EU) will make naff-all difference, even if the IPCC is right; any further efforts will just add more burdens on energy bills, further compromise the power grid, hamstring our industry, etc..
On that first point, is it rock-solid? Does anyone have links to the calculations which underpin the "negligible impact" claim?

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Shame about the "mitigate against". Replaying must make you wince.

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Entropic man

When Harlech castle was built in the 13th century it had direct access to
the Irish Sea. Today it is over half a mile away, so if sea levels are rising
there is a long way to go to get back to the levels of the 13th century.

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commenternewtobianbob

Goal-poaching, & Quacktivism are today's magic words
- Step back & see the full picture & have your answers already on your cue cards, so you can reel them off.
- Right Newsnight twits here is where we are :
...We've had an awful lot of rain (in certain areas of the country), but you with your totally PROVEN SCIENCE warned us what was coming, calculated what to do and saved us untold millions ?
Did you flip ! Just like a schoolboy GOAL POACHER you hang around and claim whatever happens as your own whether it's drought, flood or wind.
- You haven't got the flippin science cos you can predict squat all. Like any religion you've taken a basis of science and way extrapolated your own feelings and fears as certainty then when things happen you post rationalise it.
- Don't flippin smirk at me it's not damm funny. You see that closed factory over there, that's you ! If it wasn't for you a lot of businesses would be opening here instead of fleeing overseas where energy is much cheaper, example number 1 is America.
- And have you idea how much money you have taken out of the normal man's pocket ? Not only have YOU increased his energy bills by 30,40,50% you have increased the price of every product he/she buys as every business must buy energy. You are Poverty Creators not wealth creators.
- Oh "shut-up you are not a scientist, climate change caused the rain" you say Well Shut-up or Put-up. Where is this properly validated science you've got ? Where is your evidence ? You haven't got any science linking extreme weather to CO2 otherwise you'd be making reliable predictions. Instead you have TRAMPLED Science & thrown the proper scientific method in the bin, ABUSING the scientific process stealing it's credibility, starting with a basis of science but using your own hyped opinions to extrapolate it into to proclaim certainty to SELL your narrative of FEAR.
..That my friend is quackery..and the BBC is a national shame to roll over and give a platform for your QUACKTIVISM when it could so easily challenge it and contribute to the public good
..shame on you Newsnight disgust me !

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Be sure to mention Roger Pielke Jr, not GWPF nuts.

From the GWPF !!

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

5 degrees, put that flipper in the same file as your other certain predictions like "50 million and 200 million environmental refugees by 2010", Ice Free Arctic by 2000, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 etc.
- You've had 40 years of selling your climate disaster scenarios. Name one prediction you guys have got right so far ?
... Why should the public trust you, any more than any other quack medicine seller ? It's virtually the same scary spiel isn't it ?

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

On the calls to ban climate doubters from the BBC
- Are you flippin insane ? Can you go into the street and grab 1000 licence fee payers and find how many of them have no doubts that man made CO2 is likely to bring some kind of disaster ?
- You BBC hyped the Al Gore film "see how CO2 & temperature go up in parallel ! only the stupid would deny that"
.. Yet your licence payers have seen the the CO2 go up year after year for 17 years, it's up 40 flippin percent. And where's the temperature ? ..about the same
..So today of course those people have doubts about your friends proclamations of certainty and you have a DUTY to ADDRESS those doubts !

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

NO-RECYCLE days in honour of BBC GreenTrolling
- You know what I am powerless as the BBC becomes incredibly biased and only airs the promoters of the climate scare pyramid scam.
- The BBC should reflect the views of the whole rainbow of personalities of the population, but somehow only 2 colours get a say : Red & Green. Is that a way to run a family ? To just do everything the 2 mouthiest members want ? No that is true usurping of the democratic process !
.. We skeptics are powerless we are denied a voice as the BBC GreenTrolls us again and again.
- Such actions should have consequences . I know you BBC guys are fanatics about recycling even when us engineers know parts are counterproductive. So every time the BBC GreenTrolls us by broadcasting unfairly & dishonourably in favour of the Climate Religion we'll take that as a sign that that day is a NO RECYCLING day.

(. I don't favour bringing my garbage over to the BBC's doorstep, even though the emebedded Greenpeace activists in some BBC depts continually dump their GARBAGE climate (beyond)science on us almost everyday. )

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Professor Kevin Anderson has some vested interest in making these unfounded assertions. was posted on another thread

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Enigma-Machine

"but it would set a good example to others" strikes me as slightly sadistic.

Feb 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM | alan kennedy

Unfortunately, being seen to 'take the moral highground' gives clueless politicians a glow of self-righteous satisfaction, Oliver Letwin (one of Cameron's inner circle) being a prime example.

Feb 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS


Google isostatic uplift.

Feb 18, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic Man: Like Mike Jackson I have always regarded you as being intelligent and well informed. However, checking another of your "facts & figures" about rainfall I have to revise my opinion - you are presenting unsupported numbers which you appear to be either making up, or plucking from thin air or some completely unknown source which is not the Met Office.

You state:

"When you look at the data, annual rainfall was around 1100 mm/year in the 1920s and 1230mm now. That's an increase of 130mm or 11%."

This is simply not true. Using the Met Office UK rainfall annual figures in Excel, clicking on the annual figure for 2013 and then dragging back and looking at the dynamic average Excel calculates it is not possible to get an average of 1230 mm now. The absolute highest you can get is to average just 2012 and 2013 and you get 1211 mm. But that's clearly not a valid average to take just two years. Even cherry-picking really hard and choosing the period 2000 - 2012 which includes the two biggest recent rainfall years only gets you to an average of 1171 mm.

If we follow the usual climate computation criteria and take climate as averages over 30 years then using the Met Office annual rainfall data from 1911 to 2013 and picking the earliest, middle and most recent 30 year periods we get the following rainfall averages:

1911 - 1940 1098 mm
1947 - 1976 1053 mm
1984 - 2013 1133 mm

If you want to argue a change of 35 mm in an average for which the standard deviation of rainfall between the averages of the 30 year periods is 40 mm and the standard deviation of rainfall interannually is about 107 mm then be my guest, as I always like to laugh at a bit of a joke.

In the meantime perhaps you would like to confirm that your facts are incorrect and that the modern average annual rainfall is not "about 1230 mm" but is in fact 100 mm less than that at around 1133 mm.

Feb 18, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Mike Jackson

"Wettest winter since" is talking about the noise. I presented annual data for a century and talked about the signal.

I would have expected an engineer to appreciate the difference.

Feb 18, 2014 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Took the time to view Newsnight… meh….

What more can be said? Anderson spouting figures that have no obvious link with reality without challenge from the BBC – I mean, what sea-level rise? The temperatures have risen 0.8°C in over 100 years, have not risen at all for over 15 years, yet you expect us to believe that it is set to soar another 4°C in the remaining 85 years? Non-noticeable sea-level rises suddenly surging by 1m, swamping all the lowlifes (sorry, too much to hope for…) lowlands of Britain? Get real, puh-lease!

The only solace that we can take is that, as the claims get more outrageous, yet nothing continues to happen, the message will eventually seep in that perhaps there is nothing in them.

Feb 18, 2014 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Entropic Man:

"Wettest winter since" is talking about the noise. I presented annual data for a century and talked about the signal.

Er, no you didn't. You presented some numbers that appear to bear little relation to the actual annual averages published by the Met Office, and especially the most recent "average" you gave. Please see my post just above at 6.29 pm.

So you either made a mistake with the figures (perfectly understandable, we can all make mistakes), got them from some other undefined source (please tell us where) or made them up. Which is it?

Feb 18, 2014 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Radical Rodent: "The temperatures have risen 0.8°C in over 100 years,", quoting Anderson.

Yes, but the additional point should be made that the putative effect of CO2 warming would have been insignificant before the 1950's, so the warming is much less than 0.8 degC. Note how every alarmist is now talking about the warming for the entire 20th Century as though that is caused by CO2, when in fact CO2 warming science could only have affected the latter half of the Century. The warming from around 1910 to about 1940 was natural, even Phil Jones says so.

Also, remember that if you examine unadjusted temperature records, the 1930's were as hot as the 1990's....

Feb 18, 2014 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

'I grew up on the edge of the Fens.' so says ectopic man.

Now we know - he's NFN.

Feb 18, 2014 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Okay, ThinkingScientist, I could have made my post a lot, lot longer. I was trying to get my message over in a few words; the alternative is boring you to sleep. Anyway, as we all know, the thermometers in the 30s were reading way too high; the present ones have been over-corrected and read way too low… Unless you are saying that the alarmists are not telling the truth?!

Feb 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

So Entropic Man, no comment?

Feb 19, 2014 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Radical rodent: when the data corrections clearly have a systematic trend in them, all in the sense of an increasing linear temperature trend, when that correction contributes at least 1/3 to the final adjusted temperature trend and there is no clear explanation as to why such a correction is necessary or why it should be a systematic linear trend in the correction, one has to wonder if the result is reliable. And not one climate scientist ever asks the question: what is the physical reason for a systematic linear correction trend?

Nor do they ask why is it necessary to make ever larger temperature adjustments downwards to older thermometer measurements?

Surprising, this lack of curiosity. While the temperature record constantly gets revised to an increasingly steeper trend.

Feb 19, 2014 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Wettest 6 month period

Rank From To mm
1 1929/Aug 1930/Jan 859.3
2 2006/Sep 2007/Feb 838.4
3 2000/Sep 2001/Feb 827.0
4 1954/Jul 1954/Dec 824.6
5 2006/Oct 2007/Mar 824.6
6 2006/Aug 2007/Jan 820.5
7 1954/Aug 1955/Jan 816.8
8 2000/Aug 2001/Jan 812.5
9 1982/Aug 1983/Jan 804.7
10 1992/Aug 1993/Jan 802.0

Wettest 12 month period

Rank From To mm
1 2006/Aug 2007/Jul 1432.3
2 2006/Sep 2007/Aug 1426.3
3 2006/Oct 2007/Sep 1390.7
4 1999/Dec 2000/Nov 1375.0
5 2006/Jul 2007/Jun 1350.6
6 1929/Oct 1930/Sep 1338.7
7 1949/Oct 1950/Sep 1337.4
8 2000/Jan 2000/Dec 1337.3
9 2012/Jan 2012/Dec 1334.9
10 2012/Feb 2013/Jan 1334.5

Feb 19, 2014 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

EM is the sort of wilful nitpicker that so loves an argument that reason or facts get overlooked in his eagerness to strut his stuff in the common room. After years of being earbashed by his type, I retired from the teaching profession. I wish he would go somewhere else to pick his silly and pointless arguments and not spoil perfectly good threads.

Feb 19, 2014 at 3:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Entropic man says:

"Look at the smoothed curve. ..... Why is everyone here so keen to cherry pick individual figures that fit their convenience, rather than look at the overall picture?"

Could it possibly be because floods are caused by "individual figures", not by "smoothed curves"?

Feb 19, 2014 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered Commentertty

The recent rainfall and flooding in the south-west of England is not unprecedented, and in historical terms is probably not even exceptional. If it was Kings Charles the whatever would not have paid Dutch engineers to drain the levels, and local bodies would not have been busy pumping, dredging the rivers and sluicing the tidal flows for the last 250 years. I find the whole debate over what the rainfall has been in the last 3 months, and the idea that this is due to "extra moisture" in the atmosphere, facile. To be frank, it is bollocks. There has been no extra rainfall, all that has happened is that it has fallen further south than usual, and we in the north have had less than usual. The fact is that England is a largely flat country with slow rivers which are prone to flooding when you get what is average precipitation for most of Scotland. e.g. in the "wettest summer for 100 years" in 2012, the total rainfall figure for E&W was less than the long term average for Scotland. Indeed, summer 2012 we had a drought north and west of the Great Glen, which was quite serious - they had to stop making whisky in Tobermory and on Skye crofters had to water their tatties for the first time in living memory.

All that is happening is that the storm tracks have moved south, and more rain is falling in the south, but not more overall. (it would be interesting to see the total rainfall figures for a 500 mile wide grid which extended from Portugal in the south to the Faroes or Iceland in the north - that would be an effective measure of the total rainfall coming off the Atlantic).

For me, the key question is why the jet stream and storm tracks have apparently moved south. Is it just natural variability, or a sign that there is more cold air to the north of us and the NH is cooling again after the mild winters of the 1990s? Given the recent recovery of Arctic sea-ice, the increased NH snow cover and surface station data which suggests Alaska has been cooling for the last 10 years, I tend to go for the latter.

Feb 19, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

ThinkingScientist (12:10 AM): somehow, I get the suspicion that you are implying that there may be some shady moves afoot. Now, I wonder why that should be?

Lapogus: well said! I, too, have the feeling (oh, how unscientific!) that global cooling is not too far away. We are nearing a breaking point in the entire scam; which way the bricks fall as it all collapses, though, is more difficult to ascertain.

Feb 19, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Entropic man:

"He also glossed over the fact that the rate of sea level rise has tripled since 1920 from 1.2mm/year to 3,2mm/year after staying almost stable for the past two millennia."

EM has glossed over the fact that there was a sudden rise in sea level with the start of the satellite era, this is another data splice, that of tide gauges which don't show such increases, with satellites that do. No matter how often the sea level claims are shown to be false, back come the zealots like EM with their bald unsupported statements, repeated like mantras.

Feb 19, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa


actually tide gauges do show an increase in rate of sea level rise, but only a short term one

following eruption of mount pinatubo in 1991 (shortly before satellites went up) sea levels around world were drepressed. After a few years they reverted to normal and as they were doing so there was a particularly strong El Ni (1997/98) which raised sea levels. This combination produced what looked like an increase in rate of sea level rise. Which some (eg EA) have tried to pretend is a new permanent rate.

However even satellite measurements (even after adjustments and death of envisat) show rates have fallen back since about 2002.

So it's a question of short term fluctuation and long term trend

Feb 19, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

thinking scientist

My figures were for Oxford, a good CET (Central English Town). :-)

Feb 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM, I think you've just "jumped the shark" :-)

Feb 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Dave salt

I like Oxford. I prefer Cambridge, but it is too far East for a central England sampling point.

Feb 19, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

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