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Discussion > Do you Trust the Met Office?

While the archive URL is good enough, the Met Office statement remains on the MO website, albeit at a different location, namely here.

Aug 13, 2015 at 1:07 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

@HaroldW, did you happen to notice the Disclaimer at the very bottom of this list of those who "endorse" this infamous Statement:

This statement constitutes the personal views of the signatories only

And while we are on this particular aspect of this topic, I think it's also worth noting (as I did a few years ago!):

[...] notably, the word “consensus” is conspicuously absent from the actual text – as are some names (such as Jones, Briffa, Osborne, Hulme) that we’ve come to know so well, in the honour roll of signatories from UEA.

Perhaps it's also worth recalling that in this list of approx. 1700 "professional scientists, from students to senior professors" - notwithstanding the rather curious (or sloppy - you may take your pick!) designation of "students" as "professional scientists" - one finds:

651 designated as Dr
237 designated as Prof.

For the record, I did not count the total number of institutions; but I did find among the institutions 66 designated as "University"

Hmmm ... 888 designated Professionals and 66 Universities?! Some might say that, well, the Devil is in the details;-) But I couldn't possibly comment!

P.S. Pharos, I forgive you!

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary

"This statement constitutes the personal views of the signatories only"

Yes, I noticed it. I assume they wanted to be able to deny, if necessary, that it was the Met Office's (or the Govt's, since the Met Office is accountable to the Govt) official statement. Or maybe it was included so that signatories would not feel obliged to get the approval of their institutions before signing it.


I also noticed the inclusion of "students" as "professional scientists". Reminiscent of the Climategate email where someone said not to worry about only including PhD's for a petition, as nobody would be checking.

To estimate the number of students you could simply count the non "Dr", Prof" signatories, assuming that the majority of "climate scientists" have PhD's. Assuming that your "888" count is correct, that would give an estimate of 1700 - 888 ≃ 812 students. So it is possible that only about half of the 1700 signatories were actually "professional scientists" in the sense of being professionally qualified and earning their living as salaried professionals in the field.

On your blog somebody mentioned a Met Office statement that *did* mention "consensus".

Peter Cahusac (@decaux)
February 7, 2012 at 6:02 am

Of course there was also the UK’s MetOffice “consensus” statement that was signed by many scientists, see: http://info.ma002.com/anony/newsletters/C4/C4_0557.asp?str=*3235313330383933302C31383336

“The widespread consensus among UK scientists on climate change has been clearly demonstrated after more than 1,700 scientists from more than 100 institutes signed up to a statement on the issue. The signatories agree climate change is happening, is primarily due to human activities, and the science that proves this is extensive, robust and reliable.”

The link given by Peter Cahusac no longer works. Any chance of tracking down that Met Office statement?

Perhaps HaroldW could locate it?

Aug 13, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A -
Peter's link appears to be just a report of the Met Office statement, to which Hilary links in her reply. [Same Met Office link as the one given above in the 1:07 AM post, but Hilary found it 3 years ago.]

Hilary -
I did notice the "personal views" disclaimer at the bottom of the Statement. I'd like to see the "official statements" of various professional societies, whose statements came from small committees, to use the same disclaimer, rather than claim that they speak for the entire society membership. But little chance of that happening.

Aug 13, 2015 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

HaroldW - thank you. Hilary said (a few years back) "notably, the word “consensus” is conspicuously absent from the actual text"

I may be a bit confused - I had probably thought that Peter was pointing to something significant and containing the following text.

“The widespread consensus among UK scientists on climate change has been clearly demonstrated after more than 1,700 scientists from more than 100 institutes signed up to a statement on the issue. The signatories agree climate change is happening, is primarily due to human activities, and the science that proves this is extensive, robust and reliable.”

Aug 13, 2015 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Hilary Ostrov
I take some omfort from the fact that my alma mater has no presence in the list of signatories, perhaps because of its engineering bias.

Aug 13, 2015 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

A few interesting additions to this re-emerging picture ...

@Martin A ... Believe it or not (and I certainly didn't recall doing so!) I had actually quoted that "The widespread consensus ..." paragraph in a post I made right here at BH! See: Ranalli on scientific consensus where I had introduced it by noting (last comment on that thread):

The U.K. Met Office 2009 Newsletter (demonstrating the efficacy of declaration by number of petition signatories):

I can't recall why I didn't include a URL for the quote ... and, unfortunately, the U.K. Met Office Newsletter seems to have died (as has the info.ma002.com site) - or at least sent the archives thereof underground!

FWIW, I did try the archives, where - notwithstanding the announcement that they only go back for three years - they actually have stuff all the way back to 2011 (although who knows for how long!)

But, on the bright side, thanks to Google - and the foresight of a chap by the name of Veli Albert Kallio - I did find:

UK Meteorological Office: Adapting to Climate Change Issue 11 [Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010]

which contains several introductory and interesting "blurbs" - including the one in question. I was hoping to find the full originals on the now-not-so-new, improved Met Office site, but alas ... please see above! Perhaps the most interesting of the blurbs is their intro (my bold -hro):

The global conversation on climate change continues to develop at pace - the UN climate conference in Copenhagen ended with no binding agreement to cut carbon emissions; the science of climate change is under intense scrutiny; and surveys consistently show less people accept the science than a year ago. Yet this is against a background overwhelming and ever-growing evidence our climate is changing due to human activity. Let the Met Office guide you through the latest developments in this fast-moving area.

On the counts I found earlier btw, many of the "naked" names look as though they might be entitled to use one title or t'other, so I wouldn't put too much stock in the numbers I found!

@Harold, I certainly share your wish that we might see such a disclaimer from these noble organizations ... but, I'm inclined to suspect that, as the old song goes, "That'll be the day"!

@SandyS I hope you're counting your lucky stars;-)

Aug 13, 2015 at 10:07 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary: "...without even a hint that they've made the change."

My opinion is that they aren't deliberately trying to dupe anyone, they simply don't have the quality control systems you'd expect in an engineering environment. As evidence of this I offer up the denial from the Met Office that Vickie Pope was wrong with her 0.3C forecast.

The first thing to note is that it isn't usual for those making the predictions to decide whether they've been achieved, or not, in a good quality control process.

Secondly they believe they've got themselves off the hook by stating that the 0.3C was a forecast with a +/-0.21C range. Again, the quality control issue is whether a forecast with a +/-70% is remotely of any use.

Thirdly it speaks to the amateurism in the Met Office that anyone in there though that a forecast of X +/-70% would be of any use.

I can't come anywhere near understanding why anyone would believe them capable of doing any job with such a, clearly, amateur approach to going about it.

But I don't know, maybe the whole of the climate activist community is similarly unaware of what real people, in real situations, apply their quality control systems.

Maybe that's the underlying problem.

Separate the weather forecasters from the soothsayers and we might get somewhere.

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

In the week Climategate broke, but obviously composed as a piece of pre-Copenhagen propaganda rather than a response to Climategate, Slingo co-authored this as well

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2009/climate-science-statement

Of course, returning to the 'round robin trawling for signatures' statement, I suspect Slingo was already an influential member of the Natural Environment Council (NERC) which controls the grant funding for the vast majority of the signatories. No pressure, of course.

As a piece of 'Where were you when Elvis died?' type Climategate trivia, I was just a humble sceptic who took up an invitation from Roger Helmer (now UKIP, but then Conservative MEP) of a place on his 18th November 2009 climate conference in of all places the heart of the European Parliament building in Brussels. It was noteworthy not least because both Anthony Watts and James Delingpole, both destined to see their internet viewings skyrocket thereafter, were there. Unfortunately the star guest Henrik Svensmark, was ill and could not attend, but otherwise it was a splendid day. Of course nobody realised what had happened until they got back home, Anthony to find that Charles the moderator had got the link from the Russian server and downloaded the files and the rest is history. I'm glad I got to shake Anthony's hand - nice bloke.

The Conference Programme was

Have Humans Changed the Climate? - Facts and Consequences

Programme for the climate conference in the European Parliament
the 18th of November 2009


10.00 Introduction by MEP Roger Helmer

10.10 Mr AnthonyWatts, NIPCC, USA
What can we say today about the temperature measurements of the past?

10.45 Professor Ross McKitrick, University of Guelph, Ontario Canada
Climate Models versus measurements: An Updated Comparison

11.20 Professor Tom Segalstad, Univ of Oslo. Norway
CO2 chemistry, carbon cycle and ocean acidification

11.55 Dr Henrik Svensmark, Danish National Space Centre, Univ. of Copenhagen,
How the Sun and its solar winds affects our climate.

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 Adj Professor Fred Goldberg, NIPCC, Stockholm Sweden
Ocean currents and its effect on the climate and Arctic ice conditions

14.05 Professor Fred S. Singer, NIPCC, USA
Why can’t we trust IPCC?

14.40 Dr Hans Labohm, independent economist and expert reviewer IPCC
Economical, political and social consequences of a COP15 agreement

15.15-15.30 Coffee break

15.30 Dr Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Media Bias, Climate Alarmism and the Rise of the New Media

16.10 Dr James Delingpole, The Telegraph
Role of the Media

16.30 -18.00 Open debate

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:49 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

geronimo - Vicky Pope's actual words were quite specific "For 2014 we're predicting that it will be point three degrees warmer than 2004. To put that into context, the warming over the past century and a half has only been point seven degrees globally".

Likewise, the press release said "Over the 10-year period as a whole, climate continues to warm and 2014 is likely to be 0.3 °C warmer than 2004. At least half of the years after 2009 are predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record"

Nothing about possible error ranges. In my book if an error range is not specified, there is an implication that the value is accurate to the number of figures given.

Their honesty is comparable with a car dealer who tells you the car will give you 30mpg and, when you find it actually gives 9mpg, tries to get off the hook by saying that the accuracy of the mpg figure is qualified in the small print as being ± 70%, so in fact there is nothing wrong with the figure given.

Aug 14, 2015 at 12:54 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, you'll find no disagreement with me on the issues you've raised, in fact I tweeted her with the video saying there had been no equivocation in the talk about 0.3C. Richard Betts has tweeted me today to say that there should have been mention of short term natural variability in AR4. In fact natural variability is all but ignored, short term or long term.

Personally I think they believed three would be a 0.3C rise, AR4 was the peak of the IPCC reports in terms of activism. The Met Office is, or was, basking in the glory of being one of the major alarmist organisations contributing to the IPCC, they were on a roll. They truly believed that the minuscule period of warming in lock step with rising CO2 would continue - as evidenced by their model forecasts. Then the bloody temperatures stopped rising.

Having said all that weaselling out of it by telling us that the boundary conditions were +/-70% is a downright insult to our intelligence, which sends us another signal. Basically they don't look a very professional outfit in terms of quality control, God knows what their code looks like, I'm assuming that the normal QC processes are followed, but what we appear to have here is a bunch of physicists who are doing software engineering and statistics. While it's not impossible to gain the basic knowledge of both the latter disciplines sufficient to do your job, it is highly unlikely that the detailed knowledge of the methods and stringent quality control systems of both these disciplines will be followed by people operating outside of them. And it shows in my view.

Aug 14, 2015 at 6:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

geronimo

While it's not impossible to gain the basic knowledge of both the latter disciplines sufficient to do your job

Anyone who has worked in IT is familiar with this scenario. Vic has written an Access/Excel Database to do X, now it has stopped working and he/she has left the company. It has to be fixed today because the whole department relies on it. A week is then spent deciphering comment free spaghetti VBA code.

Microsoft probably caused a lot people premature grey hair.

Aug 14, 2015 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

geronimo "God knows what their code looks like"
Like 1M lines of Fortran written by people not trained as software engineers?

From ~2008: Engineering the Software for Understanding Climate Change, Steve M. Easterbrook, Timothy C. Johns

Organisations cannot help but be consistent. (eg if the shop floor workers bog in a company is disgusting, so will be the quality of the company's products).

"Separate the weather forecasters from the soothsayers and we might get somewhere."

Let's get this straight. There is no reason in principle why quality control methods should not be applied to weather forecasting.

But predicting future climate with unvalidated models is an exercise in self-delusion, a field where quality methods are irrelevant. Climate prediction models are inherently incapable of being validated, if only because the data needed to test against is unavailable. (Let's not get into the fallacy of "it reproduces the training data, therefore we know it works" embraced by the Met Office.)

If an organisation sees no problem and is willing to produce and deliver a product from a production line where it has never once been checked that the product actually works, then talking to them about 'stringent quality control systems' is going to get nowhere at all.

Aug 14, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Anyone reading this thread may have inferred that I am not a complete fan of the Met Office.

I chanced on a thread I kicked off a while back, asking the question: What should replace the Met Office?


I'm not sure that I would stand by my suggestions today but I think my summary of the Met Office's problems is still valid:

So now we have an organisation that is bloated, costing around £½M per day, and unfit for purpose. The weather forecasting function is overstaffed by a large factor. The Hadley Centre is hopelessly permeated by groupthink, oblivious of the distinction between physical reality and the output of unvalidated computer models. The self-delusion extends to a firm conviction that their computer models have in fact been validated, logic and evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. There is no realistic prospect of changing the mindset of an organisation of around 1500 where, for decades, staff have been selected and rewarded for their active belief in the CO² threat.

Aug 14, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This Discussion will hopefully be referred to many times by researchers investigating what has happened to the Met Office and the possible harm it has brought to the world in general and our society in particular.

Here are some other Bishop Hill posts (and their comments) which are worth revisiting in this area:

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/4/10/letter-to-the-times.html

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/8/27/more-on-gcms-and-public-policy.html

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/12/18/diary-dates-moving-on-edition.html

I started drafting a comment for here with a selection of extracts from these, but it grew too large to be readily readable!

Aug 14, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

John Shade, see also the latest post

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/8/14/the-fco-misleads.html

Two Met Office employees involved in writing a report claiming extreme weather - citing IPCC SREX which says the opposite.

Aug 14, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Micro-project. Anyone got a little time to spare? How about checking out any part the Met Office has played in the lead-up to this reported Guardian comment:

Fed up with the incessant rain in the UK the past 10 days or so?

It's very odd because I distinctly remember The Guardian reporting in 2006 as fact that (my emphasis):
"Scientists know a lot about how events will unfold...which means that whatever we do, our climate destiny is fixed for the next few decades... Rainfall will decline in the summer and the increased deluges in winter will struggle to replenish thirsty reservoirs because much of the water will run off the baked ground."
Scientists know... climate destiny is fixed... Rainfall will decline in the summer..." It's all rubbish folks; most of these scientists are not predicting based on science, they are designing science to fit the desired predictions.

The above is from a blog which as far as I can see has no particular interest in climate matters. Yet the author has taken it upon himself to find relevant data and compare it with the confident prediction he quotes. That's got to be a good sign: merely checking the data is often all that is required to pull the rug out from under climate junksters. He finds that prediction to be 'rubbish' for this year. But how many planners have taken it seriously. And if it were to be 'rubbish' say for more years than not, what losses might result?

Source: http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/awfully-wet-isnt-it.html
Hat-tip: someone, ostensibly the blog author, posted the link in a comment here: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/8/14/gary-yohes-fictional-citation.html

Note. An accessible intro to rainfall trends in England & Wales can be found here: https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/long-term-rainfall-trends-in-england-wales/

and here: https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/rainfall-trends-in-england-and-wales/

Meanwhile this might be worth checking out from the relevant year of 2006: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/q/h/UK_climate_trends.pdf

When was Peak Alarmism in the Met Office? (another project maybe?)

Aug 15, 2015 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

JS, the original Guardian article is here:
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2006/jul/22/environment.frontpagenews

There is no reference to the Met Office, nor did the author appear to have any connections.

Aug 15, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Thanks, michaal hart, that's good to have. I had a quick read through it. A minor classic of the alarmist genre, including as far as I saw, no references, no sources. So, if our Met Office was by any chance behind it, was it only on a 'psst, off the record, here's a word in your ear, you might want to use this' basis? Is it too fanciful to imagine a covert agitprop department in the climate cabal there and then?

Aug 15, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

He finds that prediction to be 'rubbish' for this year. But how many planners have taken it seriously. And if it were to be 'rubbish' say for more years than not, what losses might result?
(...)
Aug 15, 2015 at 10:10 AM John Shade

"what losses might result?" Yes. Good question..

On a previous discussion thread about the Met Office, I mentioned the 2007 report that the Met Office itself commissioned: Met Office The Public Weather Service’s contributionto the UK economy

It is unrealistic to expect people to audit themselves, above all in a propaganda organisation which, by its nature, has to believe its own propaganda. The Met Office has commissioned consultants to estimate the value of its services but with the obvious fallacy of not including the costs and losses incurred through errors and inaccuracies in its forecasts. And without even a mention of the hideous present and future costs consequent on the Climate Change Act, which would not have been proposed, let alone passed into law, without the advocacy of the Met Office.

The foreword to the Met Office's report starts with the vainglorious words...

"The Met Office is critical to the efficient and effective running of the UK. Its services are wide and numerous including: keeping the nation safe by providing severe weather warnings; modelling climate change; contributing to flood prediction; ensuring safe and efficient transport links; supporting military operations; advising on government policy; predicting and limiting the damaging effects of disease and pollution; and a great deal more."

Aug 15, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

David Adam, the Guardian science correspondent, has written a lot on OCD.
I wouldn't mind a bit of that - once they get the letters in the right order.

Aug 15, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

The BBC is not going to renew its contract with the met office.

Aug 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrödinger's cat

As John Shade (Aug 15, 2015 at 10:10 AM) asked, "When was Peak Alarmism in the Met Office?"

A couple of years back, I posted a comment saying ( ... muted panic.. ):

There can be no doubt that the Met Office is/are "disjointed" at present. The rapidly changing tone of their output and the disappearing of older climate change publications confirms that...

I then speculated on the discussions leading to the post peak-alarmism Met Office ( Trouble At T'Jewel in the Crown ):
There seems to be some turbulence behind the closed doors at the Met Office. (...)

There is certain to be an interesting inside story behind the BBC/Met Office split, nothing to do with costs. No longer alarmist enough? Too many barbeque winters?

Aug 23, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Maybe the person making the decision didn't go on 28 Gate training?

Aug 25, 2015 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2