Where Did Lord Krebs’ Heatwaves Go?
By Paul Homewood
Booker demolishes Krebs’ killer heatwave nonsense:
A few weeks of not abnormally warm summer weather have prompted light-headed journalists to report not only that this could be the “hottest August for years” and “the hottest year on record” but that, thanks to climate change, we can, within 30 years, expect “killer heatwaves” to become “the norm”. This claim was taken from the latest report by that curious body the Committee on Climate Change, which, under the Climate Change Act, has more influence than anyone else on Britain’s energy policy.
This report on the risks posed to the UK by climate change was produced by a special sub-committee chaired by the zoologist Lord Krebs, and made up of a solicitor, a doctor, an engineer, an economist and the former chief executive of the RSPB. None has any expertise in climate science. So their familiar predictions about Britain’s future climate – more floods, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, etc – were simply parroted from elsewhere. Particularly interesting was their claim that “the number of hot days per year has been increasing since the 1960s” and that “heatwaves like that experienced in 2003 will become the norm by the 2040s”. This was taken directly from a particularly excitable report published by the Met Office back in 2004, which described that exceptional European heatwave in 2003 as having probably been the hottest since at least 1500, with a claim that by the 2040s, “half of Europe’s summers are likely to be warmer” while “by the 2060s a 2003-type summer would be unusually cool”.
We have not since then seen anything remotely to equal that 2003 heatwave, which meteorologists at the time explained was entirely natural, resulting from a freakish mass of hot air blown up from the Sahara. But the claim that hot days in Britain have been increasing since the Sixties has been subjected to expert analysis by Paul Homewood on his website, Not A Lot Of People Know That.
Using the Met Office’s own records, he meticulously plotted the days, months and years of greatest heat since the relevant data sets began in 1910. By far the hottest summer was the drought year of 1976, followed by 1911, with 1933 and 1947 not far behind. It is true that the hottest day on record was in August 2003, and that two of the 10 hottest summers were in 2003 and 2006. But what most strongly emerges from these graphs is how remarkably stable the overall trend of our summer heat has been, right back to before the First World War. Easily the summer with the greatest number of days above 29C was 1976. So when the Krebs committee claims that “the number of hot days has been increasing since the 1960s”, as Homewood points out, this may be true.
But it would be equally true to say that since the Seventies, their number has declined. And when Krebs tells us that future temperatures could reach 48C, such nonsense belongs in a comic strip, not in a supposedly serious study. To claim that temperatures like those of 2003 “are expected to become the norm” by the 2040s, is simply selling us snake oil. The only thing which should really concern us about such nonsense is that the Government is legally bound to treat these solemn pronouncements by a bunch of non-climate experts as a guide to Britain’s future energy policy. Only when the Climate Change Act is repealed will we get an end to such childish absurdities.
It is good to see that he repeats my comment about snake oil salesmen. No doubt we will see much carping and misdirection from the usual suspects at the BBC/Guardian, but the facts speak for themselves.