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Another batch of DECC ministerial climate briefings have been published. I assume once again that this is down to Leo Hickman.

Here's an exerpt from one of them, on the subject of extreme weather:

More extreme weather
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released, on 28 March, a Special Report ‘Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation’. The report states that human influence has already led to changes in some extremes, including temperature, rainfall and extreme coastal high water. The report projects says that by the end of the 21st century:

  • substantial warming in temperature extremes is virtually certain;
  • intense tropical cyclone activity is likely to increase in some areas;
  • increased extreme sea levels are very likely.

If I remember correctly, the SREX report was the one where the IPCC went all cagey and, well, scientific. Have I misremembered or has DECC been "reheating" the leftovers?

Do read all the documents. I particularly enjoyed (if that's the right word) "D12 909328 Climate science top lines & key facts (P).pdf".

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Reader Comments (27)

Funnily enough, Steve McI's contribution to WUWT-TV tonight covered the SREX report and its relatively cautious nature when compared to other IPCC utterances.

Nov 15, 2012 at 9:24 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Haha - very interesting. Luckily they do explain why their viewpoint does not accord with SREX:

The UK’s Climate Change policy does not rely on a single source of evidence (the IPCC) but on the peer-reviewed work of many research groups in the UK and around the world. Analysis in the Committee on Climate Change’s reports also drives UK Government policy.

Aside from the last sentence, it's difficult not to laugh. Since documents such as this are presumably supposed to provide accurate information for ministers and MPs, it might be worth strongly pointing out to MPs the contradictions with SREX, the literature and expert opinion.

Nov 15, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

Only read the one you suggested so far (Climate science top lines & key facts) but you are right: it's extraordinary in it's disingenuousness.

5/6 of the "Top lines" are simply untrue. The last is probably also untrue, can't say for sure since they don't name the "groundbreaking research".

Of "Key facts" those which are "literally true" are presented in way intended to mislead, and several appear to be to be untrue.

e.g. Key "fact" 1: temperature rise of 0.8C in period 1900-2012 is literally true. What they don't say is: 0.8C in period 1900-2000, but only 0.01C in period 2000-2012.

Devious little greenies.

Nov 15, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Sorensen

■ intense tropical cyclone activity is likely to increase in some areas;

■ increased extreme sea levels are very likely.

These two bullet points are meaningless.

The first one will be true if there is any variation at all in intense tropical cyclone activity (a certainty: there are numerous natural cycles at work); an increase will be able to be found somewhere. You could equally say 'intense tropical cyclone activity is likely to decrease in some areas' and be equally likely to find that to be true.

The second is very likely to be true since sea level has been rising at a more or less constant rate (according to tide gauges) for several hundred years. If nothing changes at all then there will increased 'extreme sea levels' (whatever they are).

These 'projections' are a highly developed method of saying nothing.

Nov 15, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

'Extremes in rainfall and temperatures may just be part of the natural variability we see in the weather around the world, rather than the effect of climate change.'

That was the only unbiased statement of the current state of knowledge in the whole briefing, and doubtless only included for backside insurance.

Unfortunately, the next sentence returns to the predictable take on the unpredictable-

'However, part DECC-funded research just published (on 10 July) on attributing
climate extremes gives us the capability of assessing whether the risk of
experiencing recent extreme weather events has changed because of recent
climate change due to human activity...' Guess what happened to the risk.

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

These 'projections' are a highly developed method of saying nothing.
Nov 15, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

But inviting people to assume they are saying a lot.

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Every bullet point in D12 909328 falls into one of three categories doubtful, misleading or flat out wrong. The worrying thing is that the country is run by politicians that are incapable of understanding the issues involved, either that or the just can't be bothered to inform themselves of the science upon which they are basing critical decisions.

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered Commenteradamskirving

I see that this weeks red top (sorry - orange) New Scientist has also been at it:

"Climate Change: Five Years Ago We Feared The Worst. But it's looking even worse than that" - plus the usual picture of steaming cooling towers. Maybe it was influenced by their line at the bottom of the cover:
"Roll up, roll up. The great marijuana experiment gets underway"

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRod


Maybe it was influenced by their line at the bottom of the cover:

"Roll up, roll up. The great marijuana experiment gets underway"

Or written by those still affected by the first great and ongoing marijuana experience?

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:56 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand
Nov 15, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Off thread

Watch Newsnight from about 23:00 on wind. Outrageous rubbish from the Lib Dem "scientist" and weak response from the Tory MP after a science free report from a "science" reporter and a propagandist from Renewables UK.

Must go and lie down.


Nov 15, 2012 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maynard

'likely' is the keyword for under this hides much which is just really speculation , and when it comes to such approaches you always need to ask about the motivation for such 'speculation' in the first place.

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Billy Liar and Cosmic

"These 'projections' are a highly developed method of saying nothing."

both wrong ^.^

These 'projections' are a highly developed method of knowing nothing and saying far too much.

Nov 16, 2012 at 1:29 AM | Registered CommenterDung

To get the low-down on the SREX report just go to Rodger Pielke Jr.'s site and search on "Bull Shit Button." The quotes in his blog of The SREX report directly counter-dict the climate briefing excerpt given above.

Nov 16, 2012 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterScott Scarborough

Paul Maynard -

in Australia, the Govt & the Opposition are still backing the Renewable Energy Target. in a democracy, there should be a way to put a halt to the insanity:

16 Nov: Bloomberg: Stefan Nicola: Munich’s Biggest Power Outage in Two Decades Brings City to Halt
Munich is recovering from its biggest power failure in two decades, a blackout that affected at least 450,000 customers in Germany’s third-biggest city, halting underground trains and trapping people in elevators…
Power supply has moved to the center of the political agenda in Germany ever since Chancellor Angela Merkel decided in March 2011 to replace nuclear reactors with clean fossil-fired plants and a growing share of renewable-energy sources. Her government has backed plans to prevent utilities including EON SE and RWE AG (RWE) from closing unprofitable power plants as the nation seeks to safeguard supply…

Nov 16, 2012 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

It slyly splices on a sentence on projections(extreme events) to observations (no extremes) - Old and common trick in these things. The only 'confident' observations in SREX are: climate changes, temperature has risen, sea level has risen. It offers not a single 'confident' observation of extremes being linked to 20 th C temperature rise.

Nov 16, 2012 at 5:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterOakwood

Is it really helpful to call these people greenies, eco-fascists, watermelons, marxists, etc.?

I'm not worried about offending them, I'm worried that none of these terms capture what they're about, so when they move onto something else, which might be nothing to do with environmentalism, and hard for the casual thinker to connect with marxism, we'll be back to square one in terms of convincing the masses that they're up to no good.

That is why I suggested a new term such as "serps" for "self-regarding public servants". It's not that I want any credit for inventing anything, and I would be delighted if someone came up with something better. But it would have to be obviously applicable (in the eyes of ordinary people) to these people when they have moved onto something else.

When they have moved onto something else, they will still have the same attributes which result in poor policy: a desire for sainthood, too great a regard for their own wisdom and that of others in their bubble, and too little willingness to study all of the evidence carefully and think logically. This can lead them to believe in and promote stupid policies which can be damaging to the ordinary people they don't listen to.

In fact I think you can already see the effects of this attitude in other areas of national policy, I think it is in the nature of politics and power to attract such people.

Nov 16, 2012 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

“substantial warming in temperature extremes is virtually certain;”

Obviously not written by someone who gained qualifications in mathematics, English grammar or science.
Rearrange the words in any order and they will make as much sense.
I can understand that extreme upper temperatures might be higher, but will the extreme lower temperatures also be higher?.
If the certainty is virtual, does that mean it is only certain in some synthetic world and those of us in the real world can relax?

Nov 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill Irvine

"Serps" has already been used and is still familiar enough to enough people to be unusable in another context. Also it limits the description to public servants which the majority of those who are causing the trouble patently are not (at least not in the eyes of the public or by strict definition).
Sorry to pour cold water.
You could try "swivel-eyed loons" but that's casting your net a bit wide!
It is very difficult to pin down just who we are trying to describe, which is why I have seen — and used — phrases like "liberal intellectual", "middle-class dinner-party givers", "bien pensants", and various others.
We know who we mean; trying to identify them is like trying to knit fog.

Nov 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"Average global temperatures may rise (relative to 1990-99 temperatures) by
between 1.1 and 6.4°C by the end of this century, if greenhouse gas emissions
continue unabated with further increases likely in the frequency and severity of
extreme weather events."

Now, let me see, where is the fiddling the figures in this one! It's all start dates & end dates. More CO2 in the atmosphere than for 800,000 years = less CO2 in the atmosphere than for 800,001 years! Over the last 1.2Myears we have undergone regular Ice-Ages roughly lasting 100,000 years, interspersed with Inter-Glacial warm periods lasting betweeen 10,000 & 20,000 years. The last four Inter-Glacials going back 500,000 years were warmer than today by as much as 5°Celcius (acknowledged by the UNIPCC). Danish research has shown that CO2 levels over Denmark (& therefore most likely the rest of Europe) were around 330ppm 9,500 years ago, suggesting only an 18% rise in levels (always use the bottom end estimate for maximum dramatic effect). Losses of CO2 are incurred in the ice-core drilling process as well as in the original absorbtion process, todays "blip" probably won't be seen in a few hundred years time Oh & as they do so much enjoy appeals to authority, as for Arctic summer ice loss, may I remind the DECC about that rather embarrassing letter from Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, written 1817 to the Lords of the Admiralty, about the ice in the far north "being much abated" suggesting a new source "of warmth" had occurred! Must be all those coal powered fire stations they had back then I guess! Then again Lord Kelvin in 1895 as President of the Royal Society proclaimed with great authority that "heavier than air flying machines are impossible!" Well, you win some you lose some!

Nov 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit


It's about taking our money off us to spend on things we wouldn't want and for which there's only a dubious, ideologicam, justification, and it's about forcing us to spend money in ways we wouldn't choose because of legal restrictions or manipulation through guilt. All in the service of some nebulous higher good - "Saving the Planet".

A command and control economy with a wise and good set of guardians who are quite at liberty to hoodwink us and feather their own nests. The people promoting this generally seem to have a love affair with the big state. Commies, fascists, bureaucrats, left-liberal tossers. I think that's why there's roughly a left/right divide on CAGW. Leftists see it as a glorious reason to extend the power of the state, which they see as an inevitablly good thing and rightists are highly suspicious of an over mighty state.

Nov 16, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic


Totally agree with all you said however in the right/left divide there is a very important odd man out who is currently screwing things up. Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party but Cameron is Green, Cameron believes in big government, Cameron believes wind turbines will power electric cars (he what?????), Cameron reduced defence spending but is spending £38billion on a high speed rail link. It seems Osborne is the one trying to protect and defend the values of the right but Cameron is an obstacle.

Nov 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The anointed, as in Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed (Self Congratulation as a basis for social policy) appeals.

Nov 16, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Mike J, no problem at all about the cold water, I don't think my suggestion was that good myself, and I'm glad to see alternatives being suggested. But doesn't public servant mean anyone who is paid to serve the public, including MPs and the BBC, and one could even argue scientists funded by government grants. As opposed to those in private companies who are only serving the voluntary, non-captive, customers of their company, who are free to take their custom elsewhere on a day-to-day basis, without having to wait five years to vote on the matter plus 100 other matters lumped together, along with 60 million other people.

Bottom line, I think *something* is needed which is accurate and which might catch on with the hitherto disinterested masses, but I'm not sure it exists yet.

Nov 16, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

Mike F, I've seen that book mentioned before but haven't read it, I probably ought to as it sounds as though the author is describing the problem as I see it. Not sure that 'the anointed' would be readily understood by a significant fraction of our population however! As another suggestion inspired by a book title, how about "righteous minds".

Nov 16, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF


The Conservatives collectively have never really been small state, more like paternalistic socialists or the squirearchy, keen to look after their pals but never really opposing the growing state, or idly opposing it but never doing much about it, as in Cameron's Bonfire of the QUANGOs.

Thatcher was an exception but she wasn't really a Tory, which is why she's such a hate figure. Lefties could do business with the Tories, but Thatcher was a departure they couldn't do business with.

Come to that, the Labour party aren't altogether socialists these days. They push for a bigger state and more public spending, but they've got their pals and dynasties. The old divide they were part of isn't really there any more. Weren't they pushing for a huge Casino in Manchester while in office? This was surely a very odd thing for a party making much of victimhood and 'social justice', and having some of its roots in Methodism. Much of it seems to be about having a permanent underclass they can hand-wring over, and which creates jobs for the worthy to shepherd, but which they perpetuate.

The two major parties have come closer together and the differences on anything important are small, such as the CCA being passed with just a few dissenters.

Cameron was on a mission to disinfect the Tory brand and when he was off hugging glaciers, the costs of the green nonsense were distant and only dimly realised and we were enjoying something of a boom. Politicians were outbidding each other on their green credentials and very few were calling bullshit. It fitted in with the EU's agenda, it was a delightfully attractive scare, it gave an opportunity to grow the state, it gave British politicians a chance to indulge in the fantasy that we were leading the world. Then there were the taxes and the rackets and the jobs to be dispensed.

I don't think Cameron is much different to anyone else the Tories were likely to have put in place as leader.

Anyway, imagine waking up as PM and being horrified that the country has no sensible energy policy and has embarked on a huge brain holiday, backed by the BBC and large amounts of other rent seekers, plus a lot of legislation has been based on it. A network of influence has developed. You couldn't change this at the stroke of a pen.

I really don't understand the HS2 vanity project at all. I don't understand the foreign aid thing either. Much of what they do seems calculated to deliberately annoy section after section of their natural support.

However. I think there's more to all of this than Cameron's perversity.

It doesn't get any closer to a snappy phrase or word to describe the network of influence and graft posing under the pious pretence of Saving the Planet, but attempting to manipulate us into going along with the kind of thing lampooned in books like "Animal Farm" and "1984", with scare stories and false pretensions.

Nov 16, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

SJF - You're probably right about the title not being generally grasped. It's interesting, I came across the book because somebody recommended it on this site (or another) but had not heard of it otherwise. Thus enlightenment is spread through the internet (and not by the BBC). It was published in 1995 and although it has a specific American context, it's conclusions are of general application.

Nov 17, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

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