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Daily Telegraph Falls For Lord Deben’s Extreme Weather Scare

December 13, 2017

By Paul Homewood




To the long list of naive young Telegraph journalists, we can add the name of Ashley Kirk.

Last week he penned an article called “What is Britain doing to tackle flooding in the face of extreme weather? “ (Unfortunately behind the paywall).

Apparently primed by Lord Deben, he goes on to make apocalyptic predictions that the UK will be hit by a vicious combination of extreme storms, intense downpours and rising sea levels as it faces the next century. This is all apparently predicated on a couple of wet winters in recent years.

Because of climate change he claims that our flood defences simply won’t be able to cope with the extreme flooding coming our way.

He quotes Deben as saying that periods of intense rainfall could increase in frequency by a factor of five this century as global temperatures rise, and then goes on to describe all of the problems this could cause in England, with winters being wetter.

There’s one slight problem though, which young Mr Kirk might have spotted if he had bothered to check the facts. Winters in England are not becoming wetter. And even the extremely wet winter of 2013/14 had just 8mm more rain than 1914/15.

England Rainfall - Winter



Worse still for Deben’s little bit of disinformation, there have been several winter months which were much wetter than anything seen recently.

The wettest of the lot was in December 1914.




And when we look at all months of the year, we find a similar pattern. Again, the 1910s and 20s stand out as much more extreme.



Kirk also reminds us that the Met Office concluded last year that there is around a 10% chance in any given year of existing monthly rainfall records, over any of the large regions, being matched and/or broken. 

Unfortunately it did not occur to him that there are 10 UK regions, as classified by the Met Office, and 3 winter months. In other words, there are 30 possible combinations of regions/months, for which records could be set.

Given that the Met Office data only dates back to 1910, there is statistically about a 1 in 3 chance of such a record being set every year.


If Kirk had bothered to read the Met Office report which he links to, “Met Office science behind the National Flood Resilience Review”, he would have discovered this statement near the start:

The flooding in 2013/14 and again in late 2015 was driven by large-scale frontal rainfall, a weather pattern that is often associated with river flooding and typically seen in the UK during winter months. The focus of our work was therefore on looking for synoptic weather patterns that give rise to large accumulations of rainfall that are likely to drive high river flows and flooding.

We also assessed whether climate change has played a clear role in recent rainfall and flooding events and concluded that natural variability is by far the dominant cause and will continue to be so for the next 10 years


The floods of 2013/14 and 2015 were natural variability was the dominant cause, and not climate change.


As for the rising sea levels he is panicking about, he might like to know that they have been rising at a pretty steady 7 to 8 inches a century since 1900, with no sign of acceleration.

The rate of rise was highest prior between 1920 and 1970. In the last fifty years, the rate of rise has fallen to 1.57mm/year. Indeed, at North Shields there has been no rise at all for more than a decade.





The biggest irony of all of this is that Ashley Kirk claims to be a “data journalist”. But apparently he does not believe in actually checking the data himself.

  1. John F. Hultquist permalink
    December 13, 2017 7:43 pm

    It is possible, is it not, that this cub reporter and data journalist (?) was told to write a scary weather story?
    He would then use his skill as a seeker of “data” and find your Lord Deben – not so much falling for the “factor of five” statement but joyously grasping it as the thing needed to please his editor.
    A job well done.

    • RAH permalink
      December 18, 2017 11:33 am

      Report what your controllers want regardless of the facts is called “journalism”?

    • RAH permalink
      December 18, 2017 11:45 am

      According to the API

      “What makes journalism different than other forms of communication?”

      …………”That value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions, and its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”

      So the whelp in question is not a journalist. But then again, neither are the vast majority of those that profess to be journalists.

  2. Jackington permalink
    December 13, 2017 8:35 pm

    If he’s lucky he may come across the real story not the fairy story before it’s too late but like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers I’m afraid he has already been processed.

    • mothcatcher permalink
      December 14, 2017 10:40 am

      Seems his CV mentions Guardian Media during his formative years, so you are surely right about the processing.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    December 13, 2017 9:04 pm

    An article called “What is Britain doing to tackle flooding in the face of extreme weather?“


    A valley in the Forest of Dean will echo to the sound of herbivorous munching next spring when a family of beavers are released into a fenced enclosure to stop a village from flooding.

  4. December 13, 2017 9:29 pm

    I heartily agree with the good Lord, the conclusion being that every penny of tax and bill payers money allocated to “Fighting CC” should be spent on flood resilience, such as dredging rivers, raising sea walls, and re-routing the rail line to the West Country.

    Since the science is settled, and we are all in agreement, some money can be saved by issuing P45s to the CCC, and by stopping the Met Office from doing anything other than weather forecasting.

  5. Curious George permalink
    December 13, 2017 9:31 pm

    The Telegraph has data journalists, of which Mr. Kirk is an example, and also fantasy journalists, of which there are multiple examples.

    • J Martin permalink
      December 13, 2017 9:48 pm

      Judging by this example there would seem to be no difference between data journalists and fantasy journalists.

  6. Mary White permalink
    December 13, 2017 9:54 pm

    So please keep these coming. You are educating a lot of people, and their friends as well. Mary White

    On Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 12:15 PM, NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT wrote:

    > Paul Homewood posted: “” >

  7. December 13, 2017 11:24 pm

    Searching thro Kirk’s c.v., there is nothing I can find pointing to any training or expertise on the subject of Climate. He is a mere dabbler in grab..bag of numbers ….. it is his!

  8. BLACK PEARL permalink
    December 14, 2017 12:06 am

    Lord Deben AKA John Gummer the Govts Official Con Man and liar, still spreading the bull poop for the last 25 the public.

    You remember the one who officially stated we couldn’t get Mad Cow from eating beef as the Govt paid scientists said so…. Now he’s in charge of informing the gullible masses on Climate Change

    But there was ONE female Scientist with integrity stated you could and she was correct.

    A more relevant article from the Telegraph

    • JerryC permalink
      December 14, 2017 3:39 am

      Haven’t heard much about mad cow disease recently. How many verified human cases did there end up being, anyway?

      • dave permalink
        December 14, 2017 8:13 am

        “…cases [of ‘variantCJD’]…”

        178 in the UK and about 20 in the rest of the world (the latter is presumed to have been caused by exported meat, or to have occurred in people who lived temporarily in the UK.)

        It was entirely natural for people to react emotionally. The idea for a parent that when giving your children a little treat you may have been setting them up for a horrible death at an unknown time is almost unbearable.

        There has been 1 death in in the last 4 years. No living diagnosed cases exist.

        The disease only affected people (about 30% of the population) with two copies of a particular allele in a particular genetic locus. Suggestions that other genetic types among us would succumb eventually to whatever the cause was, have not been borne out. It is now 30 years such the last presumed exposure to infected meat. There have been vanishingly rare cases of human-to-human transmission, involving surgical operations and transplants.

        Shortly after the Gummer-child, force-feeding incident, I published a prediction based on the statistics of similar transmissible illnesses (including scrapie in sheep and kuru in cannibals) and the obvious latency period that the total number of cases would be 200. Naturally, this was completely ignored, in favour of the gleeful prediction – of millions of deaths – from hitherto unknown ‘prion scientists’ glorying in their sudden elevation in status.

        The point is, that the statement “It is impossible to catch vCJD from BSE- infected cattle” is nearly correct for practical purposes. You just have to change it to “It is almost impossible…”

        BSE itself has essentially been eradicated.

        The whole incident was, in epidemiological classification, a POISONING episode, not a DISEASE episode.

      • December 14, 2017 8:26 am

        Truly verified, probably none. vCJD is about 250, not 500,000 as predicted. When I was young, vCJD was called premature senile decay.

  9. Green Sand permalink
    December 14, 2017 12:06 am

    LOL! Love it! Get used to more! 70 years on Murmansk convoys in reverse! I love it!!

    ‘Russia to send first Arctic gas cargo to Britain in the wake of supply crisis’

    • Mick J permalink
      December 14, 2017 12:54 pm

      Definitely something that needs to be promoted. 🙂
      This article at the Express talks of plans by the World Bank to curtail lending for Gas and Oil exploration over the next two years. Carney is all over it:

      “This comes at the same time when Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England has revealed amounting support for a new deal designed to highlight companies that lend to companies with carbon-related risks.

      This was a Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which was set up by Carney and aims to help reduce carbon emissions. ”

    • rapscallion permalink
      December 14, 2017 11:02 am

      Could this be classified as “the Russians hacked the Gas crisis”?

  10. December 14, 2017 5:16 am

    there was a day that The Telegraph was a reliable source of news and reasonably balanced comment.
    This egregious item reduces them to “rag” status.

    • Paddy permalink
      December 14, 2017 7:16 am

      The Telegraph is getting worse by the day. Mostly nonsense about “slabs” and “fashion” now. I’m reading it less and less, and know quite a few people who have given it up.

      • dave permalink
        December 14, 2017 8:29 am

        It is all part of the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ world’ of the UK. My daughter-in-law is an American mathematician, who is teaching at present in an average English Comprehensive. When such a person says, “British kids are much stupider than American ones” it is a shock. Especially since she teaches the top set!

  11. December 14, 2017 6:28 am

    Paul, Have you sent the young cub a copy of this post?

  12. Bitter&twisted permalink
    December 14, 2017 8:14 am

    As always when you follow the money, you will find the grasping hands of Lord Dipin.

  13. Nigel S permalink
    December 14, 2017 10:13 am

    Too busy mining for Bitcoins to spot Gummer’s nonsense?

  14. AlecM permalink
    December 14, 2017 10:16 am

    Lord Deben is arguably a deeply disturbed man, possibly the result of his elite-caste child abuse at school, who deserves to be taken to court for his climate lies.

    He and his fellow ex public-school output who were forced into their private schools because they had no chance of succeeding against bright 11+ kids of all backgrounds, have no right to be in the HoL

    Blame Cameron’s clique and blame May’s and Rudd’s demented belief in fake climate science.

    • Dung permalink
      December 14, 2017 1:45 pm

      You are right again Alec but not only disturbed but truly evil. He lies to the government, he lies to the public and he then enriches himself on the back of those self same lies about climate change. However he is also deeply involved in the sustainability crap that has invaded all parts of our society and economy. I truly wish the death penalty still existed.

    • Bitter&twisted permalink
      December 14, 2017 4:22 pm

      Spot on. I was a “Northern Grammar” lad whose parents left school at 16 with no qualifications. I read Natural Sciences at Cambridge. I now live in Cambridge and still do some undergraduate teaching.
      And I can tell you this- there is less diversity in the intake than when I was there in the 1970s.
      You can thank the Labour public school elite for this act of vandalism and helped by successive, wet, Tory governments.

  15. ottokring permalink
    December 14, 2017 11:04 am

    But… but… I thought CAGW was going to cause dry winters and wet summers ! So we were all going to starve because the crops would fail and then die of thirst because the aquifers were all empty….

  16. December 14, 2017 12:12 pm

    Paul, your graphs are for England. I think the Telegraph article is talking about the whole UK.

    • December 14, 2017 5:50 pm

      Yes, but the comments about floods in the Telegraph are all about England

  17. Ajax permalink
    December 14, 2017 3:18 pm

    Is John Gummer a money grabbing idiot, as I heard tell the other day, or a very serious politician ? Oh! J Bummer is now “Lord Deben”.

    • December 14, 2017 6:31 pm

      You have good cause to ask …. Wikip says:
      “In 2009, Gummer was involved in the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, after claiming £36,000 for gardening over 4 years, as an parliamentary expense. Although the claims were encouraged and initially approved by the Parliamentary Fees Office, rules state claims should only be made on expenses essential to parliamentary duties. He repaid £11,538 for gardening and household bills and donated £11,500 to charity, saying that he was paying above the minimum required in order to demonstrate “corporate social responsibility” for the expenses system.”

      • December 14, 2017 6:45 pm

        BTW, I shd have reinforced for our readers that Gummer got booted upstairs to the Red Chamber as Lord Deben.
        At that time (circa 2009) there was a huge parliamentary scandal over MP’s expenses. (Follow the Wiki entry for Gummer for Opn..Sesame links to the scandal in its entirety. So much for the probity of your elected officials!)
        Deben’s continuing influence in public affairs is something I find personally offensive.

  18. tom0mason permalink
    December 14, 2017 4:34 pm

    Lord Debens may lie and enrich himself on the back of so much worthless blather, bigger fools the voters for allowing him to con the government.

    The excuses are thick however from the Met Office, the very people who help give credence to Lawd Debens nonsense of lowering CO2 levels. Currently the Met Office has a long range weather forecast up, where their sophistry says —

    Predicting how the weather will behave over the coming hours, days, weeks and months is a complex undertaking. Each timescale presents its own challenges. In an ideal world, everyone would like to know exactly what the weather will do so we can make definite plans. Nature, however, doesn’t work like that. When looking at forecasts beyond five days into the future the chaotic nature of the atmosphere starts to come into play – small events currently over the Atlantic can have potentially significant impacts on our weather in the UK in several days’ time.

    I read this as a straight admission that despite £millions of taxpayer money being shovelled to them over the years, they still have no genuine improvement in weather forecasting ability. And given that the climate models are based on the same technology, and probably a lot of the same code, how can these jerks say they can predict (project) climate trends out for decades, or even a century into the future.
    Or is that MO sophistry the start of a campaign for more tax-payers money from the government.

    Just wait until the farmers across UK and Europe start to feel the pinch of the shorter growing season. I can tell you this, as the world cools the storms will get worse.

    • BLACK PEARL permalink
      December 14, 2017 11:34 pm

      “… the world cools the storms will get worse.” Yep that’s what history appears to tell …

  19. December 14, 2017 11:30 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    The first 20/years of the 20th Century were full of extremes for the British Isles and World War One was especially hard, but don’t expect journalists to know their history. They are just happy to copy and paste any old press release from the green blob rather than finding out what is available at their finger tips.

  20. John Moffat permalink
    December 15, 2017 8:39 am

    ..and I particulalry dislike his shade of lipstick.

    • Dung permalink
      December 15, 2017 2:45 pm

      Very funny comment mate 🙂

  21. December 18, 2017 11:36 pm

    H. L. Mencken, famous columnist: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – & hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    Gummer seems to be the consummate profiteering politico.
    The greenhorn journo seems to be an incompetent who does his editor’s bidding, who does his proprietor’s bidding, who does his advertisers’ & bankers’ bidding. Follow the money.

    A good site:
    Click on quotes.

    John Doran.

  22. Ajax permalink
    December 19, 2017 10:56 am

    Bummer really is an obnoxious little git, but he is clever. Specially at coining filthy lucre from a fools’ gold: “man made global warming” ! Why the Torygraph can be taken in by him is beyond belief.

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