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« Protesting too much | Main | Forecast = projection = scenario »

Lean outdoes himself

Even by his own high standards, Geoffrey Lean's latest piece in the Telegraph, is quite extraordinarily daft, a silly piece, from a silly journalist, for the silly season.

Global warming, climate sceptics keep saying, has stopped for the last 16 years or so...The sceptics base their claim on just one measurement of warming, the temperature of air near the earth's surface , whose increase has indeed slowed down recently, though it has not stopped growing.

This is of course drivel. Sceptics do not base this claim on only one measurement. Satellite measurements of the troposphere show the pause just as the surface temperatures do. Global sea ice levels remain above their long-term average. And the pause is clearly visible in the current graph from GISSTEMP, the only record that has been alleged to still show a positive trend this century.

Lean then goes on to say that sea surface temperatures around the UK have gone up by, erm, 1.6% (although I'm not sure if he is working in Kelvin or Centigrade!) and goes on to say that this is affecting fish ranges:

Cod and haddock, for example, are now rarely found wild in British waters. They are being replaced by warmer water species like sea bass, hake, gurnard, red mullet and anchovies, while John Dory – once only found off Cornwall – has spread through the North Sea up to Scotland. Diets, however, have yet to change to match.

Do you think the cod and haddock thing might be something to do with overfishing? And what about the warm-water species thing? This paper shows a considerable John Dory catch off the Hebrides in the mid-1990s (see Fig 2). Red mullet are found halfway to Iceland. And while we are about it, it's also worth pointing out that top-of-the-ocean temperatures are another climate series that shows a pause, whether you find such records convincing or not.

And newspaper owners wonder why they are going out of business.

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Reader Comments (53)

I read something a couple of days ago about the 1.6C rise on sea temps around the UK, and the change in fush types as a result. Can't find it now, though this from the BBC seems to be based on the same report:

Aug 7, 2014 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

I am convinced he is employed to deliberately write nonsense just to generate comments on the Telegraph Blogs. Whatever though he does a fine job in discrediting the CAGW position!

Aug 7, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Johnson

Seems I found an old (2010) report, not the recent one. Apologies for the typos.

Aug 7, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk
Aug 7, 2014 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

oh dear . mr lean is truly living in fantasy territory in this piece. perhaps he is using information from a recent paper which actually used outdated ICES information. what many people fail to realise is that unlike climate science,the marine world moves at a very fast pace.
the doom and gloom promulgated in 2009 is now old hat . current ICES assessments for species like cod,mackerel and haddock include an admission that in recent years these stocks have been underestimated by between 2 - 400% (believe me when i say marine fisheries statistics bear a close resemblance to those used in climate science) and currently ICES are offering advice of reducing bass catches by upwards of 80% due to poor recruitment.

the above suggests that as uk bass are near their northern distribution limit that the spring water temperature of 9c plus that is required for optimal breeding conditions are not occurring. this is supported by the increase in the more traditional stocks of cod and haddock that benefit from the exact opposite conditions than those preferred by breeding bass. the period known as the gadoid outburst occurred during a prolonged and deep negative phase of the north atlantic oscillation ,characterized by cold winters resulting in lower spring temperatures in the seas around the uk.

5 years ago there would have been physical evidence to support this article, today however there is not. in fact,increasing stocks of species like cod and haddock (the last 3 years in particular have seen the highest recruitment of cod at any time in the last twenty years) would suggest that as the positive phase of the north atlantic oscillation reduced recruitment of the main commercially fished species in uk waters ( exacerbated by maintaining the same commercial fishing effort long after said massive drop in recruitment) the effects of the move to the current negative phase are now taking place and in the case of the uk, this is unlikely to coincide with warming temperatures,either land or sea.

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterbit chilly

I do not know why the Telegraph continues to employ Lean. Virtually every one of his inane posts, consisting of rambling greenwash, attracts a torrent of criticism, and appears to provoke a high level of irritation in the paper's readers judging by the Discus recommendations.
He never acknowledges the feedback, and I suspect never reads it, as it would surely provoke a pause for thought in any sane person.
Perhaps this is just another reason why many, including myself, have stopped their on line subscriptions to the Telegraph.

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander

Where did the 1.6% originate? That's over 4.5 degrees Celcius!

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

I suspect that this report is simply a red herring!

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

The 1.6 comes from the following (see my Guardian link above):

Marine scientists have found that the seas round the UK have risen in temperature by a remarkable 1.6C since 1980, a jump that is almost four times the global average rise for ocean temperatures. Britain's position on the relatively shallow continental shelf of Europe, and the enclosed nature of our seas – the North and Irish seas and the Channel – have intensified the impact of global warming.

The fact the Mr., Lean does't know the difference between 1.6C and 1.6% tells you all you need to know about his abilities.

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

'sea surface temperatures around the UK have gone up by, erm, 1.6% '

Beware those that claim precise knowledge of that that can only be measured imprecisely .

Even in UK water the chances of being this accurate are slim , that he gets the rest wrong is just normal for green journalists reporting on AGW. For they have long given up any idea that its the facts that matter , for the idea that facts can be dammed its the stories 'impact' that matters.

Aug 7, 2014 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I wonder if Geoffrey Lean will get the same sort of derision that Christopher Booker did for similarly mixing up degrees and per cent? See Mark Lynas' tweets here:

Aug 7, 2014 at 5:13 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

I stopped reading Mr Lean's pieces long ago. He was bad for my blood pressure.

Aug 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Temperature should never be used as a measurement of warming.

Aug 7, 2014 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

Pun Alert

Everything is Hunky Dory with John Dory.

Aug 7, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

So blue fin tuna were caught off Greenland 342 years ago and then disappeared for while.

Here they are again.... am I worried?

Aug 7, 2014 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

He seems to have got a lot of the Skepicalscience kids to support him, lots of quotes and misinformation. For the first time I felt the comments supported him more than mocked him which was a shock, rent a mob sprang to mind.

Aug 7, 2014 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMIke

I wonder if poor old Geoffrey had ever heard of enthalpy before he was struck down with senility.

Aug 7, 2014 at 8:17 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

One has to assume after the Barclay bruvvers got rid of a bunch of actual journalists last year - that Mr. Lean doesn't actually fall into the journalist category.

I really wonder about his working week... and how much "Britain's longest-serving environmental correspondent" sucks down as a retainer for his pisspoor witterings.

Does he stand permanently in a bucket-full of soil and get watered every other day? Is he a confidante of The Heir to The Throne?

Aug 7, 2014 at 8:20 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Geoffrey just needs to get out more. ASDA, despite a reputation of a down-scale supermarket, always had a surprisingly good fish counter when I lived in the Lancaster area.

Aug 7, 2014 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Geoffrey Lean may come across as a rather harmless gullible old ecowarrior, but his influence in elevating the political profile of environmentalism has been significant. He was author of many reports for UNEP the United Nations Environment Program (whose first head was Maurice Strong),

Geoffrey Lean was formerly Editor of 'Our Planet', the magazine of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Also a consultant to the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

UNEP together with the World Meteorological Association was responsible for establishing the IPCC in 1988.

Aug 7, 2014 at 9:19 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Geoffrey Lean can't help it as this is the rubbish he is fed by his Green friends. Since he is not capabile of understanding how stupid these statements are, he believes he is saving the planet by writing this verbiage!

Sad really!

Aug 7, 2014 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

@Pharos his retention by TMG is an endorsement of his output - others with better records of actual journalism have walked / been let go....

Lean is not harmless, he's possibly lazy / stupid enough to be serially gullible - however, AFAICS he is a mendacious scaremongerer - I don't recall any instance of him apologising for errors etc... What could possibly qualify him for the consultancies you list beyond acting as a conduit for the dissemination of policy via his media position?

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Registered Commentertomo

No mention of fish farming then? It might upset the whole argument.

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills


Quite so- The whole green edifice is built on promulgation of unsubstantiated alarm. For those doing that as a career, mendacity is more likely than gullibility.

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:26 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

"The sceptics base their claim on just one measurement of warming, the temperature of air near the earth's surface..."

Well, there might be a good reason for that.

From the EPA web site (and I'm pretty sure I've read the same definition in the IPCC reports):

"Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth's surface."

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Delingpole fillets Lean's fish post

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:46 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

From now on I suggest we refer to the aforesaid Mr Lean as the Numerically-challenged Mr Lean'.

Aug 7, 2014 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

Reference to Lean's column dated 15th July 2011 finds him making this peculiar statement.
"Might Greenpeace consider renaming one of its ships SAMANTHA CAMERON, after its former supporter"
Certainly Geoff is "Dave's" favourite environment correspondent, but Lean has never explained the Samantha connection.
But you may also wonder why he's still at the Telegraph and why his pieces are repeated.
A useful clue may be found if you have a copy of the Telegraph dated Saturday 13th August 2011, when a new series was started, called "Age of Energy".
This was a blatant attempt to kill off fracking in the UK unless it was "strangled" by Carbon Capture and Sequestration.
The lead article was by Cameron's "Minister of State for Policy", Oliver Letwin, and supported by the likes of Laura Sandys, Ben Goldsmith and Caroline Lucas, alongside Shell UK's then Chairman, Graham van't Hoff, who has since been "promoted sideways".
The whole series was a Shell production with their "Senior Climate Change Adviser" David Hone much in evidence and with a certain Geoffrey Lean as "Chairman".
All rather embarrassing and no trace of it can now be found online.

Aug 7, 2014 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

I caught a piece of recent BBC agitprop, talking about southern UK sea temps - knocking on the door of ±20°C and I thought wow that is warm for around our shores. Indeed, I think that the Andaman sea only gets to about 23°C - so I thought "total bbc tosh!" Moreover from personal experience, I remember swimming in the North Sea, the temperature never got much above 12-14°C - even at the end of a long hot summer. Of course it was better and warmer dipping - off Cornwall but not much above 16- 17° - anyone got figures for UK sea temps handy?

I haven't recently seen an isotherm chart for coastal waters but there is some major BS narrative being spun here.

Aug 7, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"All rather embarrassing and no trace of it can now be found online."

Ain't that a fact, how really rather convenient, strike one for the Chipping Norton posse, green wellies and green galoots.

Aug 7, 2014 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


yes, well... one can only wonder at what gets discussed about the environment in the Cameron household eh? Maybe green stuff is off the menu after the debacle of the windmill - Dave doesn't get reminded about that anywhere near as much as he should be - after all - it's a resounding metaphor for this and the previous government's energy policy.

SamCam -> maybe that's what Viv Westwood's game is - trying to get one up on a handbag designer with connections to government and Gweenpiece....

Aug 8, 2014 at 12:33 AM | Registered Commentertomo

"I haven't recently seen an isotherm chart for coastal waters but there is some major BS narrative being spun here."

Aug 8, 2014 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

"Aug 7, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Alexander
I do not know why the Telegraph continues to employ Lean. Virtually every one of his inane posts, consisting of rambling greenwash, attracts a torrent of criticism, and appears to provoke a high level of irritation in the paper's readers judging by the Discus recommendations."

That is because The Telegraph is going to the left already for a couple years and most the reader base is still in the right.
So expect that The Telegraph in some years to be another newspaper in crisis.

Aug 8, 2014 at 1:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterLL

Aug 7, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

This should provide all the information you require :

Be careful what you ask for though. It shows sea surface temperatures around the Cornish coast running close to 20C (actually 19.4C).

Warm and sunny weather will do that.....

Aug 8, 2014 at 1:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnything is possible

Skeptics point out that Himalayan glaciers, slr, oa, storm frequency, storm strength, droughts, Arctic pack ice, Antarctic pack ice, heat waves, polar bears, and temperatures are all not cooperating with the cliamte catastrophe narrative and poor Mr. Lean can only recall one metric.
And then he has to go and mangle the defense of that metric.
What a hoot.

Aug 8, 2014 at 1:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Quick, someone get the message down to the British Antarctic Survey.........


Aug 8, 2014 at 3:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Weather forecasts for the SW have frequently mentioned that the sea temeprature is around the 18-19 mark, something not seen for several years and due to the strong sunshine we have been having this summer.

Aug 8, 2014 at 6:45 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip - careful now, you appear to be suggesting that warmer than average sea temperatures are related to decreased cloudyness and a corresponding increase in sunshine. We all know that local and global warming is purely as a result of increased atmospheric CO2 and that any correlation between reduced cloud cover and increased temperatures is entirely coincidental:

Global cloud anomaly (%), 1983-2012)

Climate for You; cloud cover verses air temps, tropics graph


Aug 8, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Well I base my claim also on the hiatus in sea level temps (to 700m) since accurate records began in 2003 and in the halt in stratospheric cooling since 1995. ie 3 independent verifications. Meanwhile the evidence that there isn't a hiatus is nonexistent which is why there are so many 'pause-deniers' among the alarmists telling us to regard poor proxies, poorer models or even just their personal gut-feelings rather than the measured temperatures.

Of course there are also 'pause-procrastinators' who acknowledge the non-warming but remind us it has happened before (when it was presumed natural) or decade-by-decade it is still warming (which is not unnatural) or who say we need 30 years data when they previously used just 20 years data (starting from a period they say was artificially cooled by aerosols) to declare imminent thermageddon.

Admitting that they were wrong is clearly a slow, difficult process for the faux-greens. Bearing in mind the sheer number of false scares we have endured, this cognitive dissonance is aided by highly selective memory.

Aug 8, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Some 45 yrs ago I was catching bass on the south coast of england in summer. The man's an ijut.

Aug 8, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Two fish species in British waters in decline and five on the increase. I call that a win.

Aug 8, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Having given Mr Lean’s cod piece a quick skate over I have come to the conclusion that he has lost his plaice and sold his sole to the green god of CAGW, whereas he should be herring on the side of caution, he has floundered on the rocks of realism and shown himself to be just a clown fishing around for a porpoise.

Aug 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Y

Steve Y,

Whale oil be.....

Aug 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Vivienne Westwood, by the way, also calculates temperatures in per cent. "Look, this T-shirt says ‘+5%’. If temperatures go up 5 per cent, as they’re predicted to, everything below this line, the world below Paris, will be uninhabitable. The heat will be unimaginable. No one will help each other, there will be war.”

It's true because her T-shirt says so, I suppose.

Aug 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

There was another article in The Telegraph today about a jellyfish that has reappeared in the Adriatic. It was last seen 50 years ago. One reason it might have reappeared was suggested to be global warming. Surely, if that were the reason, then it must have been warmer 50 years ago when it was last around?

I never bother reading Lean's column; he looks such a sanctimonious old g*t.

Aug 8, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy


thanks for that /sarc ... shudder.

Aug 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Steve Y and jones
The whiting is on the wall......

Aug 8, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Agree with all the above. Lean is one of the rats clinging to the sinking ship that is the Telegraph. Most of the content these last couple of years is dross. When I lived in Rhyl in the 1940s and 50s the May to October sea temperatures were typically 18-19 C and not very much colder in the winter. We regularly pulled gurnard up in the nets but tossed them back. I first became a sceptic when I read many years ago about fish stocks migrating north because of you-know-what. Absolute certainty expressed - no mention of the industrial fishing for sand eels by the Dutch changing the food chain. I thought aye, aye - something's not right here.

Aug 8, 2014 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

If, for some reason, you want to calculate % of temperature, you can do that. But you have to use absolute temperature (K).

Aug 9, 2014 at 2:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexej Buergin


Yes, if you actually understand science, that's the only reasonable way to do it. Except for the results. If "temperatures go up 5 per cent, as they’re predicted to", that translates to 14 degrees C temperature rise.

Aug 9, 2014 at 7:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

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