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Discussion > Trouble At T'Jewel in the Crown

There seems to be some turbulence behind the closed doors at the Met Office.

I posted my own guess as to some of their discussions on BH a short time ago: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/4/24/another-mp-develops-an-interest-in-statistics.html#comment19967732

On the one hand, Richard Betts is doing his best to put across that the Met Office does science; not advocacy. This could perhaps be described as the Met Office's new, cleaned up image.

On the other hand, despite Dr Vicky Pope having, it would seem, been muzzled, it is clear that the Old Guard are still beavering away, apparently leading to some internal Met Office conflict.

One symptom of this discord is the Met Office's recent "My Climate and Me" website - apparently aimed at impressionable young people and putting across the AGW message. Presenting itself as explaining science but really pure warmist propaganda.

[Note: There is no doubt whatever that this is a Met Office website, despite its caption "In association with ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ Met Office". In my view, posting such a caption is dishonest. Not a major thing but, as has been said on another thread, if they are not honest with little things, why should they be believed about other things?]

Videos feature Dr Kate Willetts (a UEA PhD) explaining things. In each case, a simplistic and AGW slanted explanation is given.

Originally, the website said

"Despite this improved understanding, almost daily, we hear some extreme views on the impacts of climate change and others arguing that it's just not happening. Such claims frustrate scientists in equal measure so it's little wonder there's a lot of confusion.

We think people deserve a clearer understanding of what's going on with their climate. My Climate & Me is dedicated to explaining the truth about climate change science. It's your go-to resource for an unbiased account of the scientific evidence around climate change, straight from the scientists themselves."

Clearly there was a revolt by some Met Office scientific staff and the website now says

"The My Climate and Me team are not Climate Scientists, but we've got direct access to over 150 Climate Scientists here at the Met Office, many of whom are world leaders in their fields. Our role is to make the latest climate science and scientific understanding more accessible to you."

But they forgot to update a page titled "The Team". I commented

"Hello – I suggest getting your website consistent. On this page, you say "The My Climate and Me team are not Climate Scientists…"

But on http://www.myclimateandme.com/the-team/ you say
"The My Climate & Me Team is made up of:

Richard Betts – Leads Climate Impacts area, specialising in ecosystem-hydrology-climate interactions.
Peter Stott – leads the Climate Monitoring and Attribution team.
Kate Willett – climate scientist working on high resolution climate data with a focus on surface humidity and thermal comfort.

I'm sure these people will be quite upset to learn that they are not Climate Scientists."

"The Team" page was soon updated. Richard Betts himself replied
"Hi Martin
The "Team" page has been updated to make it clear that Peter, Kate and myself are advisors to the MC&M team."
On another thread, BH commenters have made comments which are worth a look.

Hilary Ostrov: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/5/3/book-burners.html#comment19989286

AngusPangus: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/5/3/book-burners.html#comment19989558

Can any Kremlin Met Office watchers offer better insight into what has been/is going on at the Met Office?

May 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I don't have any better insights, but I do note that one of the tour guides at their Hadley Centre seems to have more common sense than I would expect to encounter so readily there:

He says (or words to this effect), “throughout history, the world has, on previous occasions, warmed to a far greater degree than we are seeing today. In that larger historical context, the warming we are seeing today is relatively minor. For me, I think it is inevitable that we will burn our way through all the fossil fuels there are. For example, I myself drive a very fuel inefficient car, I think you might as well have fun using it up”

http://transitionculture.org/2013/04/24/im-sorry-what-a-visit-to-the-met-office-hadley-centre/
(h/t Tom Nelson, http://tomnelson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/met-office-tour-guide-says-that-warming.html)

May 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Totally Met Office


Rob Hutt
Creative Facilitator & Innovation Consultant at Met Office
Exeter, United Kingdom | Environmental Services

Current:My Climate & Me Creative Director and Johnny Zero Executive Producer at Met Office, Creative Facilitator & Consultant at Met Office, Busi...

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Robert/Hutt

May 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

"Johnny Zero Executive Producer at Met Office" WT*?

May 3, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

No idea what it's about. Anyone know?

http://www.who.is/whois/johnny-zero.com/


Domain name: johnny-zero.com

Registrant Contact:
Met Office
Helen Ticehurst ()

Fax:
FitzRoy Road, Exeter
Devon, EX1 3PB
GB

May 3, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The chap parachuted in to give that ludicrous, jewel-in-the-crown, pep-talk to the Met Office, one John Ashton, has been turning his hand to stirring up sixth form pupils about climate.

He does not do it very well, since he introduces two perfectly reasonable statements which he wishes them to regard as outrageous, after having previously primed them to whistle at his command (quite literally - see the link!).

The talk is bereft of argument, of science, of data, of evidence. It is just one chap pushing his opinions at a group of youngsters, and urging them to get angry. Well, I sure hope they got angry at having to sit there and listen, but it is unlikely that we shall ever know. I daresay some of them will at least get angry in retrospect if they have not the knowledge for that just now.

http://www.rtcc.org/why-you-should-be-angry-and-why-anger-isnt-enough/

May 3, 2013 at 4:59 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

JS - Is John Ashton "Johnny Zero" then?

May 3, 2013 at 6:00 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The worst MyClimateandMe fiasco is their article on the Marcott et al paper. "NEW ANALYSIS SUGGESTS THE EARTH IS WARMING AT A RATE UNPRECEDENTED FOR 11,300 YEARS".


The story is all there in the comments at myclimateandme, and some of it is summarised by Hilary.
First they followed much of the rest of the media in unquestioningly promoting the paper. I pointed out some obvious flaws, like the lack of spike in the Marcott thesis using the same data, which prompted the surreal reply that it was all good because it uses a 5x5 grid like CRU.

Eventually they acknowledged some of the criticism and announced that they were going to get a climate scientist to comment on it.

Then they changed their story and said they are not going to ask a Met Office scientist for comment.
But the scaremongering headline is still there.

May 3, 2013 at 6:06 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul Matthews,

"Eventually they acknowledged some of the criticism and announced that they were going to get a climate scientist to comment on it."

================================

What, you mean One'sClimateAndOne is just a propaganda operation, taking whatever scare story they pick up from the usual channels and parroting it uncritically?

Who'd have thought it?

May 3, 2013 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I think My Climate and Me may have quietly passed a tipping point of its own.

I did a quick analysis of the dates of postings on the site.

.
09-Apr-13 4 days after previous posting
05-Apr-13 2 days after previous posting
03-Apr-13 9 days after previous posting
25-Mar-13 0 days after previous posting
25-Mar-13 5 days after previous posting
20-Mar-13 5 days after previous posting
15-Mar-13 3 days after previous posting
12-Mar-13 5 days after previous posting
07-Mar-13 2 days after previous posting
05-Mar-13 6 days after previous posting
27-Feb-13 0 days after previous posting
27-Feb-13 7 days after previous posting
20-Feb-13 0 days after previous posting
20-Feb-13 1 days after previous posting
19-Feb-13 4 days after previous posting
15-Feb-13

Average time between postings: 3.53 days

So from the first posting to the most recent one, they were being posted at the rate of about two per week. HOWEVER, since the last posting on 9 April ("New research suggests transatlantic flights ‘to get more turbulent’ "), there have been no postings at all. So 25 days now since the last posting.

Of course, it could simply be that Rob Hutt, My Climate and Me's "Creative Director", is on holiday.

On the other hand, could it be that the plug has been pulled on My Climate and Me? Whoever in the Met Office was sponsoring the My Climate and Me exercise cannot but have noticed that the great majority of comments there are critical of the "science" it presents and of the Met Office.

The only complimentary (I think it is complimentary) comment I could find at a quick glance was the following:

Jeniifer says:
April 16, 2013 at 9:03 am

What does the word CHANGE mean to you, stay the same??? Deserts will become awash with foondilg, rain-forest will see drought, the Jet-Stream moves down 3 States in the US, causing the artic air to go to the lower states, while the northern states enjoy a Warmth durring the winter!!ME!There is so much dis-information on this subject it is rediculis to say go here or there In my lifetime I have seen the amount of natural disasters increase by a factor of 5 over the last 40 years where we would have 1 every 5 years, we now have 5 per year ME AGAIN!.

May 4, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin,

I admire your attempts to hold the Met Office to scrutiny, but I think you may be banging your head against a brick wall. Until the MO understand and admit that it is impossible to numerically simulate a coupled, non-linear chaotic system all we will see is smoke, mirrors and propaganda. There are too may vested interests, and turkeys do not vote for Christmas.

We have been here before. Centuries ago we presumably had a Department of Alchemy – the DOA. Unfortunately the DOA had no knowledge of chemistry or nuclear physics so did not know that their goal was impossible, and it withered on the vine. When their dreams of endless riches vanished Newton, and others, started on the road to knowledge and understanding that should have obviated subsequent attempts to achieve lofty goals that were based upon unknown or flawed science.

I propose that DECC is replaced by a new DOA to save the planet – the Department of Asteroids, I have a full technical solution to deflect or destroy incoming asteroids, and it will only cost the same amount of money that DECC require to avert catastrophic climate change. Please send the grant money to my bank in Nigeria, account number.......

(On the other hand DOA could mean dead on arrival....)

May 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Roger Longstaff,

If people complain they dismiss or ignore it.

But if no one complains, they interpret it as approval.

As for admitting that it's impossible to numerically simulate a coupled, non-linear chaotic system when they pay the bills. I'd expect some reluctance.

I've never seen climate models as much more than a propaganda tool.

May 4, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Roger - Thanks for your comment. I'm not under any illusion that the Met Office is going to decide to clean up its act and get back to bullshit-free weather forecasting. That just does not happen with big organisations that have lost touch with reality. Northcote Parkinson explained it all years and years ago.

Some time back I posed the question of what should replace the Met Office. I think what is needed is to replace the current bloated organisation with a small efficient team of meteologists and the climate research bit can be privatised and left to sink or swim.

http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2052862

May 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"what is needed is to replace the current bloated organisation with a small efficient team of meteologists and the climate research bit can be privatised and left to sink or swim"

I completely agree!

May 4, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Martin A / Roger Longstaff
I think I made a similar point a few days ago in one of my futile gestures in the direction of BB (so you probably didn't notice it!).
Given that the whole CO2=global warming meme is starting to look a little threadbare and on the basis that, depending on which figures you happen to use, we have enough coal/gas/oil/uranium to last anything up to a millennium, why waste government, ie taxpayers', money on researching something that may be of academic interest but has no practical application in the foreseeable future.
[I was actually talking about research into alternative energy sources but the same argument applies.]
On the other hand if the government wants to fund research into adaptation to changing temperatures so that we are all in a position to jump in whichever direction is necessary that is a different matter. But in that case let's get rid of this "global" idea because the local or regional variations of hot or cold or flood or drought are not going to be accommodated by a one-size-fits-all approach much as I'm sure the UN and their useful idiots would like it to be.

May 4, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

futile gestures in the direction of BB (so you probably didn't notice it!)

No, didn't see it.

Replying to BB is a double waste of keystrokes and bandwidth since some BH posters simply skip over anything to do with the Bucket and so your thoughts are lost to them.

Plus 97% of BH commenters agree that logic and facts spill off BB's mind like water off a duck's back so the last thing that will happen is that he'll change his viewpoint about something or concede that you are right.

why waste government, ie taxpayers', money on researching something that may be of academic interest but has no practical application in the foreseeable future.

In general, I agree completely about government funded research into things for which there is no requirement.

However, I do see some value in re-doing some climate research from scratch, by physicists, statisticians, chemists and engineers who have had no previous involvement with "Climate Science" of the Mann/Jones/Trenberth/Met Office variety. Models would only be used where they could be validated, and their precision defined, by physical measurement. Whether making a clean start is even in the slightest bit realistic, I just don't know.

May 4, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Exactly what I was thinking Martin. No need to say no climate science post catastrophism. But reduced.

May 4, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

MartinA, give us an example of this 'logic' and these 'facts' that I am so immune to.

May 4, 2013 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Something must be amiss in Exeter, it is now the 5th of May and they do not yet know, or are not reporting, what their (The Impeccable) HadCRUT numbers are for March!

Super cool super computer output getting cooler?

May 5, 2013 at 12:44 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The Team stood on the burning DECC
While all around had ducked
The missing heat
Had turned to sleet
And all the Team were... severely compromised

May 5, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Something must be amiss in Exeter, it is now the 5th of May and they do not yet know, or are not reporting, what their (The Impeccable) HadCRUT numbers are for March!

Super cool super computer output getting cooler?
May 5, 2013 at 12:44 AM Green Sand

I remember reading a treatise on investing. It pointed out that, if a company's annual report was late in being published, it was generally a bad sign: "Bad figures always seem to take longer to add up than good figures".

For the Met, "bad" = "difficult to square with the line that the Earth is undergoing unprecedented warming".

May 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Barry Woods got to meet Richard Betts at the Met Office. Unfortunately the Met Office environment is so noisy I could not make out much of what was said.


http://www.myclimateandme.com/2013/05/07/when-barry-met-richard-our-first-poll-winner-comes-to-the-met-office-2/#comments

I posted the following to a commenter who said "To me the underlying point must be that while ever CO2 atmospheric concentrations continue to accelerate, climate scientists can be pretty confident the 2C temp raise will be reached, and passed. Barry Woods is clutching at straws."

So can we be so sure that “while ever CO2 atmospheric concentrations continue to accelerate, climate scientists can be pretty confident the 2C temp raise will be reached, and passed”?

No we cannot, for several reasons.
To mention two of them:

(1) The Met Office states that its climate models have been validated by their ability to reproduce past climate. If a model could not reproduce the past, it would obviously have failed. But reproducing the past does not confirm that it has correctly modelled all the necessary physical effects. I could produce an Excel spreadsheet that would correctly reproduce the past but it would be utterly useless at prediction.

Results from models, programmed by people who believe CO2 causes significant warming, as "proof" that CO2 causes significant warming are simply unconvincing to people such as me who have done plenty of mathematical and simulation modelling in other fields and who would be horrified to be asked to give results from models that had not been thoroughly validated by extensive testing.

(2) My understanding is that all model predictions of significant warming depend on positive "feedbacks", in particular: warming due to CO2 = more water vapour in the atmosphere = additional warming due to H2O also being a greenhouse gas = amplification of the effect of CO2.

However the understanding (ie from physical measurements) of these effects seems extremely limited.

For example, there is also the equation: "more water vapour in the atmosphere" = more clouds = more solar radiation reflected directly to space = reduced heating by the sun = attenuation of the effect of CO2. I have not yet found a quantitative discussion of the relative magnitude of these different effects. Maybe I simply have not looked hard enough.

Until these effects have been quantified by physical measurements or by real-world experiments, climate scientists' predictions are, to me, the equivalent of "argument by hand waving".

May 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Oops, what's happened to the myclimateandme website?

May 9, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

For the Met, "bad" = "difficult to square with the line that the Earth is undergoing unprecedented warming".

May 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM Martin A

It would appear that we have a new version HadCRUT.4.2.0.0, which, as per all other "new" versions of global temperature data sets, has rewritten history. Not sure what has been done but it would appear to be the land set - CRUTEM4 that needed to be "corrected".

No need to ask what the effect is... for one the highest rate of warming is now for the first time "evva" in excess of +2C/century albeit for one month only Dec 2003!

May 9, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

May 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Martin A

what is needed is to replace the current bloated organisation with a small efficient team of meteologists and the climate research bit can be privatised and left to sink or swim.

The Met Office is a Trading Fund, which means it is a government-owned organisation but has to run itself as a self-contained business and generate revenue from other sources in order to give better value for money to the taxpayer.

So, it does not receive direct funding in the same way as government departments. All government funding is essentially a subcontract from other departments, and increasingly there are new sources of revenue such as commercial contracts with the private sector, which are competed for against other organisations (including commercial consultancies). This includes a growing areas of climate consultancy and climate services (ie: advice on climate variability and climate change sold to other organisations and businesses who see a business benefit in being able to make informed decisions on aspects of their operations which are sensitive to climate.

Presumably if these customers find this information to be not worthwhile, they'll stop paying us for it. However, on the contrary, this is a growing area, and we get a lot of repeat business. Some of these customers include industries which invest very heavily in long-term infrastructure - eg: energy sector (non-renewable as well as renewable), transport sector, utility companies, mining and oil companies. Opening a new mine or marine oilfield is a massive investment and they want to know about potential risks of, say, reduced water supply or changes in sea conditions.

Profits from this are re-invested in the underpinning research, again to ensure that ongoing climate research is not funded purely by the taxpayer, but also by the private sector whose business benefit from improved climate advice.

Incidentally, My Climate and Me is not "propaganda". They also did an article on rainforests may be more resilient to global warming than previously thought. Interestingly, that didn't receive any comments at all.

May 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts