The National Trust’s Climate Myths
By Paul Homewood
From the “How to confuse weather with climate” department:
From the National Trust:
Ten years ago the National Trust began conducting annual reviews of the impact of the year’s weather on our wildlife. Although every year has been unique, bringing different wildlife winners and losers, some patterns have become clear.
Winters have become milder, and often wetter and stormier, with the exception of the more traditional winter of 2010-11. Last year brought the mildest December on record. After a cold start, this December has been tracking it. Children in the south now rarely play in snow.
Spring has jumped the gun and come earlier, and been more vulnerable for it – with cold or wet weather setting in after early, promising starts. May has become a disappointing month.
The UK last enjoyed a good summer back in 2006. Since then, we have at best experienced blemished summers, with spells of fine weather ending abruptly as the jet stream suddenly jumped. Whatever happened to the Mediterranean climate some of us thought ‘global warming’ would bring?
The most benign month of recent years has been September. People planning on getting married would be wise to choose September.
Climate change seems to be narrowing the gulf between our winters and summers. The impact on wildlife has been enormous, and at a time when many species are declining sharply as farming as other land uses intensify.
This year was remarkable for the rampant growth of grass and other coarse vegetation, like bracken and bramble. The last few years were strong grass growth years too, but 2016 exceeded them by far. Our ranger teams battled to keep footpaths clear, and nature conservation grazing regimes were often found wanting as conservationists and their farming partners struggled with the excessive growth.
Low-growing plants were swamped, especially diminutive annuals, and populations of insects associated with small plants, bare ground pockets or short swards plummeted. That means it has been a poor year for many bees, butterflies, grasshoppers and other warmth-loving insects, particularly those associated with short turf or bare ground.
It may well be that many insect populations were reduced by the mild winter, which prevented successful hibernation of larvae. The knock-ons up the food chain will be significant, and what affects our insects today are likely to affect our tomorrow.
But right now, we are wondering: where’s winter?
Just every claim made about the weather is either wrong or cherry picked:
1) Winters have become milder
FACT –Since 2006 five winters have been colder than the 1981-2010 mean.
Although last winter was the warmest since 1910, no other one since 2006 has been in any way unusual.
2) Winters have become often wetter
FACT – The winter of 2013/14 was exceptionally wet, but precipitation was still only 8mm greater than 1914/15.
Clearly there is no connection with a warmer climate.
Other than that, since 2006 five winters have been drier than average.
Clustering of wet winters is not uncommon, for instance 1914/15 to 1915/16, and 1993/4 to 1994/5.
3) 2010/11 was a traditional winter
FACT – A ridiculous statement.
Not only was it much colder and drier than average, December 2010 was by far the coldest on record.
4) Last December was the mildest on record
FACT – This is pure cherry picking. The mild weather in December 2015 had no more significance than the cold of 2010.
5) Children in the south now rarely play in snow.
FACT – Neither did they in the 1970s and 80s.
6) Spring has jumped the gun and come earlier
FACT – Since 2006, temperatures in March have been below average on five occasions.
March 2013 was the second coldest on record, behind 1962.
The warmest March weather came in 1938 and 1957.
7) The UK last enjoyed a good summer back in 2006. Since then, we have at best experienced blemished summers, with spells of fine weather ending abruptly as the jet stream suddenly jumped.
FACT – Hot summers have always been the exception to the rule in England.
8) Climate change seems to be narrowing the gulf between our winters and summers.
FACT – The difference between winter and summer temperatures has remained stable since 1911, if anything slightly increasing.
Matthew Oates is apparently a nature expert, and I am sure he fully understands the impact of weather on nature.
Unfortunately, he clearly understands little about climate.
This is evidently yet another instance where preconceived prejudice is more important than facts.
Met Office graphs are available here: