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Minister (And Slingo) Wrong To Blame Floods On Climate Change

December 10, 2015

By Paul Homewood  




From The Times:


Scientists have contradicted a minister’s claim that last weekend’s flooding in Cumbria was unprecedented and linked to climate change.

They say that there have been 34 extreme floods there in the past 300 years and that lives had been put at risk by “grossly underestimating” the risk of floods and failing to consider evidence from records.

Liz Truss, the environment secretary, told MPs on Monday that Cumbria had experienced an “unprecedented weather event” that was “consistent with climate change trends”.

Dr Tom Spencer, a reader in coastal ecology and geomorphology at the University of Cambridge, said that analysis of deposits left by floods in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries showed they were the “biggest events”. These floods happened long before the rise in manmade emissions, undermining the claim that last weekend’s floods were linked to climate change. He said that the government relied too heavily on records dating back only 40 years.


This is absolutely damning, not just for Liz Truss, but more so for Julia Slingo and other scientists that Truss relies on for advice.

As I have pointed out previously, the 1960-90 period was an unusually dry one for Britain. Yet it is this period that has been used for years to determine flood risk when building on flood plains. To ignore the longer term record, and instead mindlessly blame every flood event on “climate change” is putting lives at risk in a very real way.

  1. December 10, 2015 8:21 pm

    There is a very simple idea here, to determine meteorological limits you look at actual data from the PAST, you don’t bleat on about climate change and attempt to do it by modelling. If the Met Office has used some short period of relatively quiet weather to set these limits then it is at least guilty of incompetence, possibly with legal implications.

    • December 10, 2015 8:34 pm

      The BBC are still pushing the climate change link, and there is no shortage of scientists that will play ball. On radio 4 this afternoon there was rubbish being spouted about running models with and without anthropogenic effects, which leaves listeners with the desired impression, whereas the question itself is entirely unscientific, and any reputable should say so, there is no way of quantifying anthropogenic effects on a single storm.

  2. manicbeancounter permalink
    December 10, 2015 8:47 pm

    Andrew Montford makes a similar point in the Spectator.

    Montford also cites this blog on the claims of record rainfall.

    The climate alarmists are like people with a gambling addiction and with a foolproof computerised betting system that will make them rich. They can explain every winner from their super model after the event. But unfortunately they never, through using the model, manage to put their money on the right horses.

    The only difference with the gambling addicts and the climate experts is whose money they are pouring down the drain. The gambling addicts are wasting their money, with the climate experts it is everybody else’s.

  3. December 10, 2015 8:52 pm

    The article says “scientists”, but I can only see one name.
    At least it;s one who talks sense for a change.

  4. December 10, 2015 9:10 pm

    The fact that they are reduced to trying to pin their climate change tail on every passing weather donkey is a telling sign of their desperation.

    Temperatures are not conforming to their beloved climate models, haven’t done for nearly two decades, and they know it.

    But they still won’t accept defeat for their man-made warming theory despite the clear evidence, in public at least. Trying to fool people by pointing at individual weather events is pathetic.

    • Nigel S permalink
      December 10, 2015 10:07 pm

      At least the donkeys have names now to make it all more scarey.

  5. The Old Bloke permalink
    December 10, 2015 9:24 pm

    Following on from my first post, and thanks to Paul for uploading it, concerning the measuring of rainfall, please find the attached link which is an in-depth study of measuring devices including the issues with error reporting. Of all the gauges used for the measure of rainfall, it would appear that the one used at Honister, if as in the photo it is a tipping bucket one, (it looks like the EM ARG100 (10″ funnel diameter)), then this type of gauge is prone to a myriad of errors, as disclosed.

  6. The Old Bloke permalink
    December 10, 2015 10:10 pm

    How can one edit a post once posted?

    • December 10, 2015 10:32 pm

      Sorry, you cant!!

      Just add another comment correcting the first, or just ask me to amend

  7. December 10, 2015 10:37 pm

    Paul, this is good and important stuff. As a geologist I’m all for using recent stratigraphy as a means of extending records. Its just a great pity there’s not a lot more academics out there with integrity and guts.

  8. December 11, 2015 12:43 am

    “Yet it is this period that has been used for years to determine flood risk when building on flood plains. ”

    Surely the best way to determine if a property has a flood risk is to request a flood insurance quote. If an insurance company will offer a quote, you know there’s no flood risk, so that particular property should be OK 😀

  9. December 11, 2015 1:41 am

    “To ignore the longer term record, and instead mindlessly blame every flood event on “climate change” is putting lives at risk in a very real way.”

    Corruption of both science and engineering on a grand scale.

  10. James Howard Jr. permalink
    December 11, 2015 3:42 am

    Forty years of boating, dinghy racing, running a business in Salcombe (1973-2015). There has been no rise in sea levels in that time. I have friends amongst fishermen, estuary users for a liveyhood and one retired harbourmaster who all confirm this.
    Old Jim.

  11. sarastro92 permalink
    December 11, 2015 6:06 am

    These UK flood events are reminiscent of the “Sandy” storm that hit NYC. Back then, there was an attempt to palm off Sandy as an unprecedented Extreme Weather event caused by SUVs and the like. In reality the mid-Atlantic in the US is hit every 50-80 years with these large systems… old timers recall a hurricane in ’39 that flooded several cities on the coast and petered out in central Massachusetts. Much of the Extreme Weather scare tactics ply on general ignorance of of local climate history– an ignorance abetted by the MSM, the political establishment and , of course, the “science wing” of the CAGW industry.

  12. Ian Wilson permalink
    December 11, 2015 9:22 am

    Contrast :Liz Truss’ feeble bleating about climate change with Owen Paterson’s energetic and effective action on the Somerset floods.

    The replacement of that excellent minister with pitifully out-of-her-depth Liz Truss was a travesty.

  13. December 11, 2015 9:28 am

    In the UK we may be going through a temporary period of high flood risk but there will be periods of low flood risk and low rainfall in the future.
    The problem is, this may be decades in the future and alarmists will say its all down to “climate change” or measures taken at COP21, even though they won’t exist.

  14. CheshireRed permalink
    December 11, 2015 12:14 pm

    Another predictable pile of hysterical tosh on last night’s Question Time, with Caroline Flint at the forefront of the nonsense. When even the IPCC admit there’s no noticeable increase in ‘extreme’ weather events then that particular gig is up, yet still they tried to pin the Cumbria floods on climate change.

    Tbf Mary Beard made some good points about river management, dredging etc, which would be far more likely to influence localised flooding than ‘global warming’ that hasn’t happened for the best part of 20 years.

  15. December 11, 2015 12:22 pm

    Lamb does indeed spring to mind:-

    I have always thought it a misfortune that the general introduction of plumbing into British homes coincided with the quite unusual run of mild winters between 1896 and 1936. And possibly some of the modern glass architecture and the hill-top sites with an open south-west aspect which became so desirable a few years ago seem less to be recommended in the 1950s.

    HH Lamb – The Changing Climate (Routledge Revivals): Selected Papers Note – the paper was ‘The changing climate, past and present; which appeared in Weather, October 1958, Vol 145, pp. 299-318

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