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« The extraordinary climate effect of land-use change | Main | Superforecasting »

Library manoeuvres

The opposition have called a debate on the Cumbria floods tomorrow, and so the House of Commons Library has issued a briefing paper to MPs. There's lot to amuse. For example, I read with interest that:

...there is a general understanding that climate change is likely to be linked to increased winter rain in the UK.

I think it's fair to say that this is complete drivel. As Richard Betts has quite rightly noted, predictions of UK climate are incredibly difficult because of our geographical position. Most commentators also agree that GCMs are useless when it comes to rainfall. So predictions about UK rainfall are almost impossible to take seriously. The "increased winter rain" story is of course derived from the UKCP09 climate projections, which are so wrong they put even Lord Deben in the shade. The idea that there is a "general understanding" of anything based on this farce of a computer simulation is preposterous.

There follows a mealy mouthed section insinuating that the storm that hit Cumbria was something to do with human activity, including a lengthy excerpt from a blog post from activist outfit Climate Central. Interestingly, the "Further Reading" section also includes, among other things, a suggestion that MPs might like to take a look at a paper entitled "Floods, Climate Change and Flood Defence Investment", published by Friends of the Earth.

Which is odd, because the first-named author of the briefing - one Sara Priestley - turns out to have worked at Friends of the Earth before moving to the House of Commons.

What makes me think that MPs' briefings have something of a bias?

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Reader Comments (101)

I have had a reply to my letter mentioned above Dec 16 8:54pm:

"Thank you for your e-mail.

I was not able to be at the debate earlier in the week, but can assure you that the House of Commons Library and its staff provide the highest quality of unbiased research to MP. I would not wish to call the integrity of any member of the Library team into question and indeed I have always found their professionalism and impartiality to be exemplary in all the years I have dealt with them."

Very neat politician's answer!

Dec 18, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohnbuk

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