Project Fear From Lord Krebs
By Paul Homewood
The Telegraph reports (and it’s not even little Emily!):
Heatwaves fierce enough to kill thousands will become the norm in the UK within 30 years due to climate change, a report prepared for the Government warns.
Repeats of the extreme heat seen in 2003 that killed more than 2,000 people are likely to become routine by the 2040s, leaving the ageing population at particular risk.
The Committee on Climate Change, an independent body that advises the Government, said people living in newer homes faced a greater risk of overheating than those in older properties.
The new analysis also found that the potential for future floods put the viability of some conurbations under threat.
Project Fear is alive and kicking!!
The report they are referring to is the Committee on Climate Change’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017, produced by the Adaptation Sub-Committee, chaired by Lord Krebs. Krebs, a zoologist whose speciality is ornithology, was Chairman of the Food Standards Agency between 2000 and 2005, which no doubt qualifies him well to sit on the Committee on Climate Change!
The Report’s main findings are:
1) The impacts of flooding and coastal change in the UK are already significant and expected to increase as a result of climate change.
I am quite sure the impacts of flooding are significant, just as they have always been.
The Report, however, offers little evidence that it has become worse or been affected by global warming. From Page 21:
Rainfall: There has been a significant upward trend in annual rainfall over Scotland, to a level more than 10% above the average during the early decades of the 20th century. Smaller, non-statistically significant increases in annual rainfall have also occurred over Northern Ireland, England and Wales in recent decades (Kendon et al., 2015). More winter rainfall has fallen as heavy precipitation during the last thirty years, and there have been increases in winter run-off and high river flows (Watts et al., 2015). These changes are consistent with projected global rainfall patterns in a warming climate but it is not possible at this stage to attribute them unambiguously to climate change. The relatively short rainfall and river gauge records in the UK may also understate the current risk of extreme rainfall.
The following graph is also produced:
This is based on the flawed Kendon study, that attempts to draw a trend from 1960. As flood expert, Prof Stuart Lane of Durham University, has shown, the period since the early 1960s and until the late 1990s appears to be relatively flood free, especially when compared with some periods in the late 19th century and early 20th Century.
And as another expert, Aberystwyth University’s Prof Mark Macklin revealed earlier this year, his researchers had found "evidence of much larger and more frequent floods" in the 18th century, which were between 20% and 30% larger.
2) Heatwaves in the UK like that experienced in 2003 are expected to become the norm in summer by the 2040s.
The average number of hot days per year has been increasing since the 1960s,
There is in fact no evidence that summers have been getting hotter in recent decades. The summer of 1976 remains by far the hottest in England.
Since 2006, cool summers have predominated.
As for hot days, there has only been one day over 30C since 2006 in the CET. In contrast, there were four in 1975, and nine the following year.
The Report goes on to claim:
“currently 2,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK from heat-related conditions.”
Yet summer is the time of year when daily death rates are at their lowest.
No mention is made of the fact that 43900 excess deaths occurred last winter, a fact that would put their claim into perspective.
This is little more than a disgraceful piece of scaremongering, designed to conjure up images of people lying in bed, gasping for breath.
No evidence is provided for the claim that “currently 2,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK from heat-related conditions”, and the ONS don’t publish any such data.
If “Killer Heatwaves” really are killing 2000 people each year, then we perhaps we should also be worried about the number of people killed by “Killer Mild Weather in May”, or “Killer Showery Weather in April”.
3) Climate change is projected to reduce the amount of water in the environment that can be sustainably withdrawn whilst increasing the demand for irrigation during the driest months
In reality, there is little in the way of rainfall trends since 1910, and certainly not towards more drought.
The Report raises particular concerns about the effect of drought in East Anglia, one of the driest parts of the country, (page 36). Yet, according to the Met Office, there has been no trend in rainfall there either since 1910:
4) The affordability of food for the UK population is subject to domestic and international risks affecting production and prices
Extreme weather events affecting international production, trade and supply chains could make food prices volatile with occasional spikes. Longer-term incremental changes in climate are likely to alter the agricultural productivity of regions that are important for global food production.
The Report conveniently ignores the fact that agricultural yields have been steadily rising since the 1960s, both in the UK and the world as a whole, regardless of what the climate has thrown at them. (It is worth noting the sharp drop in UK yields in 2012, the summer when it rained non stop).
5) The impacts of new and emerging pests and diseases are potentially high for otherwise healthy people, animals and plants. The warmer, wetter conditions expected with climate change will allow some pests and diseases to extend their range.
Apparently, we’re going to have wetter conditions, at the same time as we have droughts!
Time and again, proper scientists have shown these sort of claims are nonsense. But it does not stop the Report from begging:
Nationally and internationally there is a need for more research to understand how pest and disease outbreaks can be contained.
Translation – send us more money!
The detail of the Report also includes a couple of paragraphs, which are worth commenting on:
1) Sea levels: Average UK sea levels have risen at a rate of around 1.4 +/- 0.2 mm per year since 1901, close to the global average rate of change.
For some reason, they do not think it relevant to tell us that the rate of sea level rise has not been accelerating, and that it was rising faster around the mid 20thC.
Some might think such an omission was dishonest.
2) Wind storms: The frequency of severe autumn and winter wind storms increased between 1950 and 2003 although storminess in recent decades is not considered unusual in the context of longer European records dating back to the early 20th century (Allen et al., 2009). Wind speeds show a very slight decline across the UK in all regions except the south-east, which shows a slight increase. These changes are consistent with climate projections for the UK but uncertainties are large.
So, nothing much has changed in storminess, in terms of the long term. Apparently this is consistent with climate projections.
The overriding conclusion is that the CCC have produced a deliberately scaremongering report, based on very little evidence and a huge amount of modelling.
In particular, they have failed to provide any evidence that the small amount of warming seen in the UK has had any deleterious effect at all.
It seems the only purpose has been to generate headlines, like this one from the BBC:
Climate change could have a domino effect on key infrastructure in the UK, government advisers have warned.
In a 2,000-page report, the Climate Change Committee says flooding will destroy bridges – wrecking electricity, gas and IT connections carried on them.
The committee also warns that poor farming means the most fertile soils will be badly degraded by mid-century.
And heat-related deaths among the elderly will triple to 7,000 a year by the 2050s as summer temperatures rise.