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Where Did Lord Krebs’ Heatwaves Go?

August 13, 2016

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.


Booker is referring to two of my recent articles, here and here. For clarification, both refer to recent summer trends in England.


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.

  1. tom0mason permalink
    August 14, 2016 3:02 am

    It’s summer in Europe as you can tell by NOAA’s graphic for last week –

    Must be the hottest month evaaahhh!

  2. martinbrumby permalink
    August 14, 2016 4:16 am

    Lord Crabby has as much sense as Patrick the starfish, whilst lacking the latter’s amiability.
    I wonder what interests he has in Ruinables.

  3. August 14, 2016 6:36 am

    Well done Paul. You are the go-to person when it comes to demolishing the Krebs crap.

  4. August 14, 2016 8:49 am

    where do these idiots get their funding from, — don’t tell me — powerful vested interests

    • Joe Public permalink
      August 14, 2016 10:16 am

      Rather – the opposite.

      Poor taxpayers.

  5. dearieme permalink
    August 14, 2016 10:22 am

    It’s no wonder that frustrated citizens call for hanging all these people.

  6. August 14, 2016 11:04 am

    We are in our second straight week of high heat and humidity here in West Virginia. Oh, that’s right, it is August. Nevermind.

  7. CheshireRed permalink
    August 14, 2016 11:57 am

    Ok, so Paul produces official data that flatly disprove Krebs’ remarks and Booker brings it to the public’s attention by writing another killer article. Then what? At what point is Krebs (and by extension the CCC) guilty of;
    1. Misleading parliament.
    2. Misleading MP’s, ministers and ultimately, HM government.
    3. Misleading the public and misdirecting UK national commercial / industrial priorities and interests?
    4. When does he retract his INCORRECT claims?
    Oh and there’s one more:
    5. Should he (and / or the CCC) fail to retract these PROVABLY INCORRECT claims should he resign or be sacked and should the CCC be revised or closed down?
    We cannot simply continue barking up the wrong tree in the face of demonstrable facts that prove beyond doubt Krebs and the CCC are entirely mistaken in their findings. Where is the accountability?

  8. August 14, 2016 12:29 pm

    ‘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’

    UK heatwaves are largely dependent on a favourable wind direction, not trace gases – hardly surprising at latitudes well above 50 degrees North. It’s a long way from the tropics here in case Krebs & co hadn’t noticed.

  9. roger permalink
    August 14, 2016 2:04 pm

    Where did the much heralded 30°C for Tuesday disappear to? For disappear it has from forecasts other than the MO via the BBC.

  10. Mike Jackson permalink
    August 14, 2016 4:58 pm

    Booker nails it yet again!

    The identifying of those on Krebs’ sub-committee ought to be devastating and any self-respecting Commons committee ought to be pinning Deben to the wall to get him to justify why “a solicitor, a doctor, an engineer, an economist and the former chief executive of the RSPB”, all under the command of a zoologist, are advising government on a subject on which they have no expertise.

    The answer to Cheshire Red, with whom I am in complete agreement in principle, is contained in Booker’s references to what “will be” the norm in the 2030s and the cherry-picked figures for the number of “hot” days which, if you choose your start date carefully, have indeed increased since the 1960s.

    As also has my younger son’s weight (he being now 48!) but he will tell you very proudly that it is now three stones less than it was 18 months ago. Likewise the number of hot days has lost a few stone since the 1970s as Paul has been at pains to point out to the discomfiture, one hopes, of the faithful.

    I’ve quoted Humpty Dumpty before on words (in this case figures) meaning what he wants them to mean but it is worth remembering his punchline as well:

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    At the moment it’s Krebs and his pals, I’m afraid. But hang in there.

  11. August 15, 2016 2:23 pm

    thanks to climate change, we can, within 30 years, expect “killer heatwaves” to become “the norm”

    cleverly worded as usual. it would be hard to disprove.

  12. August 15, 2016 3:06 pm

    Tomomason’s (the first post at the top of page) has a point . hasn’t there been a kind of European heatwave ?
    And Krebs errors are – Certainty beyond evidence or wishful thinking – over egging – and failure to think about geographical limits.

    Heatwave grips Europe 18th July 2016 BBC

    BTW I note that May 23 Accuweather predicted “2016 Europe summer forecast: Heat to bypass UK.

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