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Reply From My MP

July 1, 2013

By Paul Homewood

 

Readers will recall that I wrote to my local MP in May, asking her various questions and how she could any longer justify the UK Climate Change Act. My letter (or at least the draft) is here.

My MP, Angela Smith passed my letter on to Ed Davey for comments. On his behalf, Greg Barker, Minister of State in the Department of Energy & Climate Change wrote back to Angela, who has sent me a copy with a covering letter. The letter is copied at the end of this post.

Before looking at the reply in detail, there are some general comments I would like to make:-

1) At no stage has Angela Smith actually answered any of my questions, or offered any comments, either in her initial reply, confirming she had passed my letter on to DECC, or in her subsequent covering letter. Obviously we cannot expect individual MP’s to know every little technical detail on every policy matter, but I find it astonishing that any MP would vote for such a far reaching measure as the Climate Change Act, or subsequent related legislation, without an understanding of some of the basic issues that I have raised. (Parliamentary records show this was the case).

2) The letter from DECC is instructive as much for what it does not say, as what it does.

 

So, to my original questions. I stated some relevant facts and asked if Angela was aware of them.

 

 

1) Global Temperatures

Global Temperatures in 2012, according to the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, were lower than 1998, and the 10-year running average has been falling since 2010.

Head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri accepts that there has been a 17 year pause in global warming.

2) UK Temperatures

As measured by the Central England Temperature Index, maintained by the Met Office, UK temperatures have been falling for the last 10 years.

The 5-year trend is now back to where it was in 1991.   

DECC Reply

We are aware of recent reports about global and UK temperatures over the last 10-15 years. However the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC)* has concluded that urgent global action is still needed to meet our objective of keeping a 50:50 probability of a global temperature rise close to 2C with a negligible chance of reaching 4C by 2100. The science behind long term climate risks remains robust. Early and deep cuts in emissions are still required.

New research may reduce uncertainty over climate sensitivity. However, the weight of evidence continues to indicate that climate sensitivity is very likely between 2C and 4.5C, with a best estimate of 3C, as the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report said. The IPCC will assess all the recent evidence in their Fifth Assessment Report this September.

[* The CCC is the UK committee, chaired by John Gummer, not to be confused with the IPCC.]

 

It was a fairly predictable reply – settled science, IPCC and all that. Bearing in mind, however, that my letter specifically asked for justification of continuing with the Climate Change Act in the light of these facts, DECC’s reply is noticeably silent. The standstill in global temperatures cannot simply be swept under the carpet, and DECC should surely be urgently asking themselves, not to mention the CCC and IPCC, what implications such a standstill has on previous predictions of climate change and public policy.

At the very least, they should surely be considering whether there is as much urgency in reducing emissions as they originally thought.

It is also interesting that they totally ignored my point about UK temperature, other than to acknowledge it. Much of the justification for the Climate Change Act has been centred around calamitous predictions of what would happen to the UK’s climate. While I accept that UK and global temperatures are two different things, it would have been nice to have received an acknowledgment that DECC had got their projections wrong for the UK, and were reviewing what effect this would have on public policy.


3) Heatwaves in the UK

The forecast increase in frequency and severity of heat waves has failed to materialise. UK summer temperatures in recent years have, instead, been falling. The summer of 1976 remains by far the hottest on record.

In Sheffield, there have been no days since 2006 when temperatures reached 30C, in contrast to many such years in the 1970’s and 1990’s. The record temperature of 34.3C was set in 1990. Again, the summers of 1975 and 1976, along with 1995, stand well above any other summers since on the temperature record.

4) Drought in the UK

According to the Met Office, last year’s drought was not unusual by historical standards, and was not as intense as the drought of 1975/76.

DECC Reply

NONE

As with the point I made about UK temperatures, the government has used dire predictions of heatwaves and droughts in the UK to justify taking action on climate change. Do DECC still stand by such predictions? I think they should tell us.


5) Global Warming Projections

In recent years, climate models have consistently forecast an increasing rate of global warming, that has totally failed to materialise.

For instance, in 2007, the Met Office predicted that by now global temperatures would have increased by 0.20C, compared to 2005. Instead, they have fallen by 0.08C. The difference of 0.28C may not seem a lot, but it is about the same amount by which global temperatures have increased since 1981.

The failure of these models of the Met Office, IPCC and others to forecast the current standstill in temperature casts grave doubts over their ability to forecast longer term trends. Yet we continue to base government policy on them.

Significantly, in December 2012, the Met Office produced a new and totally different forecast, which totally overturned their earlier ones. This effectively predicts no increase in global temperatures for the next five years.

 

DECC Reply

Mr Homewood takes issue with climate change projections as a result of computer modelling. However, a recent study in Nature notes that climate models appear to have useful skill at predicting global temperature change on decadal timescales. This study compares recent observations of global temperature with a forecast of the decadal mean temperature from 2001 to 2010 made using the Met Office’s HadCM2 climate model.

My first reaction was are they having a laugh? The study they refer to was the Myles Allen one, that I showed here most certainly did not forecast the current standstill. Nevertheless, let’s take their word for it.

According to Allen, his model “provided support for the 2001 IPCC report , which stated that “anthropogenic warming is likely to lie in the range 0.1–0.2 °C per decade over the next few decades”. This can be seen in Table C below, where it predicts that temperatures for 2001-10 would be 0.25C higher than 1986-96, i.e 0 .16C/decade.

 

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http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/refs/climate/ngeo1788.pdf

 

Yet DECC have already said that “the weight of evidence continues to indicate that climate sensitivity is very likely between 2C and 4.5C, with a best estimate of 3C”, and that this is what their policies are being based on. If warming is less than 0.2C/decade, this completely undermines the case for the Climate Change Act.

They have also failed to respond to my mention of the latest Met Office forecasts, which predict a continued flatlining for the next 5 years. (It is worth pointing out that, if this is the case, Allen himself admits that his original predictions would lose any statistical significance – see here.)

Together with the Myles Allen study, this further erodes the case for the Act. Their failure to address either of these issues suggests that a disturbing lack of connection with reality.

As their policies are based on much higher forecasts of warming, how much longer will it be before DECC review the Act?


 

I will post on the remainder of the DECC response to me in the next day or so.

On a personal note though, I would like to point out that my constituency is a coal and steel one, that has seen much economic decline in the last few years. Angela Smith is a Labour MP, who presumably would have stood up for such industries in the past. I therefore find it sad, but not surprising, that she has been party to policies that have already wreaked much damage on them, and will continue to do so in future.

 

 

 

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6 Comments
  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 1, 2013 5:34 pm

    “The standstill in global temperatures cannot simply be swept under the carpet, and DECC should surely be urgently asking themselves …….. what implications such a standstill has on ………….. public policy.

    At the very least, they should surely be considering whether there is as much urgency in reducing emissions as they originally thought.”

    Will turkeys vote for Christmas?

    Every civil servant’s job/livelihood within DECC depends upon the need for ‘action’. They are biased and no longer Fit-for-Purpose.

  2. mitigatedsceptic permalink
    July 1, 2013 6:23 pm

    Joe I disagree – their purpose is to stay in business and reap as much cash and kudos as they can. This is their expertise. Even crass failure can be turned into cash – see the report that £100M new supercomputer has been authorised for Met office to help them put their mistakes right!

    Biased – yes they always have been – towards what will increase their power and rewards. For example if temperatures really do begin to fall dramatically, the same teams will be redeployed to ‘fight’ global cooling, to extract as much fossil fuel as possible; open coal mines, promote fracking and research how to paint snow black.

  3. July 1, 2013 7:34 pm

    Coincidentally, I had a reply from Greg Barker this morning with regard to three questions I asked my MP on climate/energy. The response went a long similar lines with absolutely no facts, just tired old assertions, and a heap of flawed economic modelling from 2050 Calculator v3.4.6. This know-it-all calculation gives the ‘total energy system cost per person per year, on average from 2010 to 2050’ between £4352 and £5329. That is around the same amount as the combined income tax and national insurance paid by an average person in the UK (also equivalent to ~25% of take home pay). http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk

  4. July 1, 2013 8:51 pm

    AGW has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with climate.

    AGW confirms George Owell’s 1946 prediction:

    A tyrannical government was in our future then.

    It arrived on schedule in 1984. It has now completely engulfed the globe.

    It falsely claims control over events that are controlled by the pulsar at the core of the Sun:

    The pulsar that made our elements, birthed the solar system, and maintains control over every atom, life and world in it.

    Those who took Big Brother’s money to fabricate fairy tale explanations for data deserve full credit for the current demise of science and society.

    Oliver K. Manuel Former NASA PI For Apollo Samples

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Brian H permalink
    July 1, 2013 10:34 pm

    The Act puts severe pressure on the economy, for the foreseeable future, based on scientific claims. MPs should welcome relaxation of that pressure, but they appear to fear it.

  6. July 2, 2013 10:09 am

    ‘At no stage has Angela Smith actually answered any of my questions, or offered any comments, either in her initial reply’

    ***

    I have learned a few lessons (how often is that phrase heard?) on the actual value of the lettergoround that results from ‘writing to your MP’, especially on matters heftier than closing a local Post Office.

    The whole thing is an exercise in futility, with procedure being seen the only target at the expense of any result getting done.

    The likelihood is an MP will have no zero about the topic in hand. Or, they will know enough, or have been Whipped to know what they are supposed to say, and in the most generic cookie-cutter terms possible.

    Even if you get in touch by email, the whole procedure will default to parchment borne by carrier pigeon, and so to grinding pace will be added unreliability.

    The minute things look feisty, they will indeed pass the parcel asap, usually to a Minister who has no more clue than the MP on the topic (passing from Health to Defence on PM’s whim) and will simply hand it to a minion to reply.

    This will involve 90% telling your MP what you told the MP a few months ago, a few tut-tuts, a ‘lessons have been learned’ and a polite ‘that’s the file closed’.

    The MP will sit on this, copy it and post to arrive a month later, with a ‘hope that’s answered you concerns’ when they know full well it has done no such thing.

    Any follow-up will be deemed you harassing them and wasting state time.

    Ain’t democracy grand?

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