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The Lords discuss the Met

Excerpt from Hansard:

Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, can my noble friend inform the House of the statistical and scientific evidence for the Met Office's estimate that there was only a one in 20 chance of a severe winter in 2010-11, an estimate on which the airports relied?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has asked Sir John Beddington to give him scientific advice on the likelihood of future severe winters. On 25 October 2010, the Met Office provided the Cabinet Office with an updated three-monthly forecast, which suggested a 40 per cent chance of cold conditions, a 30 per cent chance of near average conditions and a 30 per cent chance of mild conditions over northern Europe.

Looks like Earl Attlee didn't answer the question, but good to have confirmation that the message we saw was the real thing.


Teacher training

This is from CRU's local paper in Norwich.

Hat tip Dave B.



Booker wades in

Booker aims a few punches at the BBC and, in particular, Horizon (what else?). In a little addendum though, comes this:

Dr Benny Peiser and Dr David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), have written to John Hirst, chief executive of the beleaguered Met Office, asking for an explanation of a press release issued by his organisation on January 20 and headed “2010 – a near record year”. This won headlines by claiming that last year was hotter than any other in the past decade.

When the two men examined the original data from which this claim was derived – compiled by the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre – it clearly showed 2010 as having been cooler than 2005 (and 1998) and equal to 2003. It emerged that, for the purposes of the press release, the data had been significantly adjusted.

Comparing the actual data for each year, from 2001 to 2010, with that given in the press release shows that for four years the original figure has been adjusted downwards. Only for 2010 was the data revised upwards, by the largest adjustment of all, allowing the Met Office to claim that 2010 was the hottest year of the decade.

I asked the Met Office to comment on what seems like yet another embarrassing example of juggling with the figures. It denied the charge and I shall report on its lengthily evasive reply, once the GWPF has had a more considered response from Mr Hirst.


Question Time

Mrs Hill has pointed out to me that James Delingpole is going to be on the BBC's Any Questions show next week.

What a funny coincidence.


Paul Dennis on the trick

Someone called Paul Dennis is commenting on the Simon Singh thread. I assume this is the paleoclimatologist of that name who works at UEA.

He agrees with my take on the trick to hide the decline.


Judy is climatologist of the year

Judith Curry has been acclaimed as climatologist of the year at the post-normal science conference in Lisbon. Her prize - a Josh t-shirt!


Met Office in big trouble

A blogger called Katabasis turns out to be the first person to get his hands on the Met Office's correspondence with the Cabinet Office - this was where the Met Office is alleged to have warned the government of a cold winter ahead.

As readers here learned the other day, this alleged warning was hard to construe as, well, a warning, but the correspondence that Katabasis has obtained shows that the situation is actually even worse. The line agreed between the Met Office and the Cabinet Office was that there was nothing clear in the forecast:

Someone at the Cabinet Office wrote to the Met Office to tell them what the official position would be: "The Met Office seasonal outlook for the period November to January is showing no clear signals for the winter". The Met Office writes back - "That is fine." - also note the first mail sent my the Met Office, these are their "initial thoughts" (!)

It seems clear that the public were lied to over this issue. But this is, of course, the public sector, so expect nobody to be responsible, especially not Mr Napier, the environmentalist who is in charge at the Met Office, nor Mr Hirst the chief executive, and glad receipient of a 25% pay rise last year.


More Horizon fallout

Updated on Jan 29, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Jan 31, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

There is more fallout from the Horizon programme, some of which is more in the realm of tittle tattle than science and some of which isn't.

The tittle-tattle first. The famous pop-sci author, Simon Singh and the blogger/lawyer/libel reform guru, David Allen Green are trying to pressure James Delingpole into doing another interview, in which Singh gets to bring along a climate scientist to support him. This strikes me as a tad ungentlemanly of Mr Singh. What would be interesting is if Singh and Dellers both got to bring their chosen expert along - given that the Horizon programme majored on Climategate, we could have Phil Jones and Steve McIntyre to discuss the trick to hide the decline, for example.

Click to read more ...


Best commentary on Nurse

Ben Pile has just posted up what may be the most intelligent commentary to date on Paul Nurse's Horizon programme. There is some pretty bilious stuff on this programme doing the rounds of the web, and Twitter has to be seen to be believed. This is the antidote. It makes Nurse's efforts look rather shallow.


Commenting difficulties

A couple of people have said they have been having slowness and/or errors. This is a problem with Squarespace, but they seem to be on the case.


Funding the blog

As the blog grows - and we're up 25% in the last two or three months - it is occupying an increasing proportion of my time. With trying to earn a living in a very hard marketplace, supervising small children, as well as writing another book, I am stretched very thin, and I'm in danger of taking my eye off the ball.

The tip box is very helpful and readers have been very generous (thanks everyone!), but I am wondering about possibilities to make the blog pay for itself in a more reliable way.

There's advertising of course, although I like having an ad-free site, and I'm not sure how much it would actually raise.

Another idea I've wondered about is a "subscriber's club", where you make regular payments and in return get the next book serialised ahead of full publication (plus, say, a limited-edition signed hardback when it does finally appear). Maybe also access to bits of information that I don't want to put out as a full blog post for one reason or another.

Lastly I could try standing outside Exxon's offices and wait for the cheque to be dropped into my hand.

Thoughts on any of these would be welcome, particularly the subscriber's club idea. How much, if anything, might people pay?

In the meantime I've put up the tip box again. 


Bishop Hill for mobile devices

I want to get a handle on how many people are using the Bishop Hill for mobile devices thingy at

Mofuse are moving to a new platform and I'll need to recontruct my site on the new one. Not sure how much of a priority this is though. If you are using the Mofuse version of the site, can you let me know.


Scepticism on the up

It's not just UKIP that's on the up, but global warming scepticism too. According to the Daily Mail, the number of people unconvinced by Messrs Pachauri, Mann and Jones has doubled.

The number of climate change sceptics has almost doubled in four years, official research showed yesterday.

A quarter of Britons are unconvinced that the world is warming following successive freezing winters and a series of scandals over the credibility of climate science.


UKIP on the rise

The UK's only sceptic political party of any note is apparently shooting up the political charts, and is now polling at levels it has never reached in the past. According to Ed West, the party is even beating the LibDems in some age brackets.

With the Tories on the Science and Technology Committee voting for whitewash rather than the truth, I would expect plenty more people to abandon the Tories for Farage's anti-establishment party.


SciTech committee to investigate peer review

This could be interesting:

The Committee has today launched an inquiry into peer review. The committee invites evidence on the operation and effectiveness of the peer review process used to examine and validate scientific results and papers prior to publication.

The Committee welcomes submissions on all aspect of the process and among the issues it is likely to examine are the following:

  1. the strengths and weaknesses of peer review as a quality control mechanism for scientists, publishers and the public;
  2. measures to strengthen peer review;
  3. the value and use of peer reviewed science on advancing and testing scientific knowledge;
  4. the value and use of peer reviewed science in informing public debate;
  5. the extent to which peer review varies between scientific disciplines and between countries across the world;
  6. the processes by which reviewers with the requisite skills and knowledge are identified,  in particular as the volume of multi-disciplinary research increases;
  7. the impact of IT and greater use of online resources on the peer review process; and
  8. possible alternatives to peer review.

The Committee welcomes submissions from scientists whose material has been peer reviewed, those who commission peer reviews and those who carry out peer review.

The Committee invites all written submissions on any of these issues by Thursday 10 March 2011.