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Nice Work If You Can Get It!

March 24, 2016

By Paul Homewood  




You may recall the BBC report last month on a study which claimed that climate change would make transatlantic flights longer.

Matt McGrath reported:


Flights from the UK to the US could take longer due to the changes in the climate, according to a new study.

Global warming is likely to speed up the jet stream, say researchers, and slow down aeroplanes heading for the US.

While eastbound flights from the US will be quicker, roundtrip journeys will "significantly lengthen".

The University of Reading scientists believe the changes will increase carbon emissions and fuel consumption and potentially raise ticket prices.


As I pointed out at the time, other scientists such as Jennifer Francis claim the opposite, that global warming is slowing down the jet stream and thereby leading to more extreme weather.

Given that the study only found that the journey times would only be a “few minutes different each way”, and that pilots always find the best routes to maximise the benefit of the jet stream, I wondered who had paid for this junk science. Maybe the airline industry thought it worthwhile funding it?


The research was carried out by Dr Paul Williams of the University of Reading, so I asked them about the funding. They advised that the work was funded as part of a University Research Fellowship paid by the Royal Society:






So, over the eight year period the Royal Society has forked out £739K. As we know, the majority of the Society’s funding comes from the UK Government.

How useful his work is is highly debatable, since most of it seems to be based around models. But is it had any real value, I am sure the commercial airlines would be queuing up to support it.

It is not just the waste of money though. As somebody commented earlier on a different topic, we need to ask ourselves what this money could have been spent on instead.

  1. March 24, 2016 7:14 pm

    It proves the theory that you always follow the money trail!

  2. March 24, 2016 7:28 pm

    The RS is a key part of the Green Blob, just look who won their “Science” book prize last year, a green journalist/activist called Gaia Vince, whose book only has a shallow connection with science, including some obvious howlers:

    Sadly, my local library wasted money on buying a copy, but they wisely file it in a section next to books about the mafia and organised crime.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    March 24, 2016 7:38 pm

    “The University of Reading scientists believe the changes will increase carbon emissions and fuel consumption and potentially raise ticket prices.”

    Yet nobody at the RS (or Uni of Reading) had the gumption to state the bleedin’ obvious:

    That minor rise in temperature actually reduces the space heating demand of the millions of citizens, so the overall benefit is a decrease carbon emissions and fuel consumption and potentially reducing heating costs.

  4. March 24, 2016 7:44 pm

    ‘The University of Reading scientists believe the changes will increase carbon emissions and fuel consumption’

    Did all that grant money not lead them to the astounding discovery that a headwind in one direction is a tailwind in the other? Therefore half the time the jet stream is beneficial – in case they’re still scratching their heads and wondering.

    Can I have the grant cheque asap please.

    • ralfellis permalink
      March 24, 2016 7:57 pm

      Ah, but the gains are less than the losses, because the flight times are different. Think about it. But the difference between gains and losses is not that great.

  5. ralfellis permalink
    March 24, 2016 7:54 pm

    Not surprisingly, the R.S. rejected my paper saying that climate is regulated by albedo, not Co2. One reviewer accepted it, but the other rejected based mainly on prejudice (that I was the wrong sort of person to be writing science papers). It was also clear that this reviewer misunderstood the science, saying that there was no evidence that glacial maximum CO2 levels had effected plant viability, which is simply not true.

    It is pretty clear that any science that challenges the Co2 consensus, now has to be done abroard.

  6. David Richardson permalink
    March 24, 2016 7:55 pm

    £739K Paul – drop in the ocean, just a rounding error for the idiots who “govern” this country. AND if it produces stuff to show how CO2 is behaving so badly, then job done.

    Back in 2008 there was a book published called “The Bumper Book of Government Waste” by Matthew Elliot & Lee Rotherham. The book was written from a small government viewpoint it is true, but it was full of “facts” that made your hair curl.

    £280K was spent on a conference addressed by Blair & Brown on value for money in public services.

    £100K was torched assessing whether £400K spent on modern art for 7 hospitals was
    money well spent.

    More than £16M spent on VIP lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick which are not even government owned!

    When I was a boy GB could run a good bureaucracy, now we can’t even do that.

    The current crop of idiots are no better – A 2016 version of the book is long overdue.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    March 24, 2016 7:59 pm

    I seem to recall that someone? checked on the impact of no trans-Atlantic air travel at all for several days following the 9-11 bombings. Can’t remember the result, but I think it was negligible, if at all.

  8. Don Keiller permalink
    March 24, 2016 9:27 pm

    I wouldn’t have paid Dr Williams in washers for this risible rubbish.

  9. dangeroosdave permalink
    March 24, 2016 10:00 pm

    The whole transatlantic effect can be balanced out by having the next climate meeting in Mumbai rather that Paris. And carpool. 🙂

    • Green Sand permalink
      March 24, 2016 10:37 pm

      No, as we move into the COP 20’s we find delegates voting for more appropriate venues.

      Among the top picks are Atlantis, Shangri-La, Camelot, El Dorado and even Utopia, all of which reside within the Golden Pentangle:-

      • tom0mason permalink
        March 25, 2016 10:22 am

        IMO ‘The Atlantis of the Sands — Ubar’, aka ‘Eudaimon Arabia’ or ‘Al-Yaman as-Saeed’ would be more apt.

  10. Dorian permalink
    March 25, 2016 7:02 am

    So £739,000 were used to figure out that it will take an extra 4 minutes for round flight between Europe and the USA. Furthermore, eight year of wages were wasted. We must be talking about here some £2-3 million pounds of tax payer money being wasted on this nonsense. All for 4 stupid minutes, for a flight that takes some 5 hours. We are talking about 1% change. It washes out in the error; error alone would be at least several percent. So in other words, the study is useless, and it shouldn’t even be published. But it was.

    Those reviewers who passed this study should be fired for incompetence.

  11. tom0mason permalink
    March 25, 2016 10:08 am

    I propose a new paradigm for improved flight efficiency — as the jet-stream now greatly impedes west-bound flights in the northern hemisphere then all flight will now take an easterly direction. Westerly directions will only take place in the Southern hemisphere, all north-south take place over the Atlantic ocean, with south-north flights traveling over the Pacific ocean.

    All this will make flights so much more sustainable as they now use the jet-stream wind to the best advantage, and beneficently minimize CO2 hot-spots by distributing this evil ‘greenhouse’ gas more thinly over larger areas/volumes, thus reducing the often noted localized greenhouse effect over urban areas — minimizing the heat island effect over airport and flight path towns.

    It’s a win-win for flying green!


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