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Walport on uncertainty

Paul Matthews notices this slide about uncertainty of predictions in a presentation by new government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport.

Note the lack of any uncertainty in the graph - just different sets of starting assumptions.

Ho hum.

It would be interesting to superimpose the last generation of Met Office predictions on this graph, if anyone can lay their hands on them.

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Reader Comments (52)

Slide number 4 in the same pack says "All activities need to be underpinned by evidence, analysis and data" - looks like slide 28 breaks this guiding principe!

Sep 4, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

"Even in the strong mitigation scenario we are still committed to further climate change for the next 2-3 decades due to inertia in the climate system."


A total fabrication.

If that is the case how have we managed to go around 15 years or so without any worthwhile warming whatsoever? And all on the back of significantly increased emissions, too. Any chance they could be more precise about exactly when this 'locked in' warming is likely to leap out at us? No? Thought not. More unfounded bluster.

Sep 4, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

The projections start 2005 but data runs to 2012. Hiding The Pause?

Sep 4, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

From Walport's wikipedia entry:

"At the beginning of his tenure as Chief Science advisor to the UK, one of his first acts was to champion neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides which has been implicated in colony collapse disorder and other systemic environmental degradation. In defending the pesticide, he cited a study that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had commissioned, which purported to show that neonicotinoids do not harm bees. The study, however, was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. (Among many other problems, the controls were hopelessly contaminated with the pesticide whose impacts the trial was supposed to be testing.) The study was later criticized by the European Food Safety Authority.[21] Commentators have observed that Walport's actions mark a new role for the UK's Chief Scientist. Formerly, the role of that position was to provide objective scientific information and advice."

Sep 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The HadCRUT4 data in slide #14 only runs to 2010 despite citing the Met Office 2013 as the source. I think I am right in saying that HadCRUT4 was not even published until 2012(?). An extra three years of non-rising temperatures.

Slide #10 says science is about asking questions. So I am asking the question. Why is this extra information omitted? Other slides talk about new ways of collecting data. What is the point of collecting data when it is then excluded from important presentations?

Sep 4, 2013 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

So, NO natural variability at all then. Jolly good.

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

This is about keeping the new age religion going.

You would have thought that with the great doubts - to put it politely - about AGW/Climate Change etc you would have expected that everyone would welcome a chance to dump insanely expensive policies that seem more designed to cripple human progress, and pander to the anti-human Green agenda.

It is funny how the degree to which our country was committed to the anti-AGW fight was never put to the electorate in a democracy - at least there was one on Europe membership. Like choice A - E and costs against each. With A being do nothing, or would they get a result they don't want.

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterCicero666

I presume the mitigation scenarios relate to the world population, not just the UK... does he state how much each will cost (i.e. both fiscal and 'standard of living') and for what real benefit?

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

The 'inertia' in the climate system is to allow for 30 years of 'strong mitigation' with no visible result. 'Strong excuses' will no doubt be dreamt up during that time.

A bit like the 'ozone hole' which is still the same after more than 20 years of 'strong mitigation'.

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

OK, this is just a general sales pitch, though I see from Slides 33 & 34 they have expertise in the "Misuse of statistics"... oops, maybe I've read that wrong :-)

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

How about superimposing it over current known instrumental trends, along with a reasonable upward adjustment of older instrumental samples and downward adjustment of more recent instrumental samples, to correct for the well known "Hansen" effect.

Extra points are on offer to those who applying these corrections in alphabetical order.

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

Different dog but same bark . The RS has fully comminted itself to AGW promotion and dam the facts .

Walport is merely 'following orders '

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Little off topic, but about perils of listening to expert predictions.

There is a link on Roger Pielke Jr's website to a PDF of the testimony that Paul Erlich gave before the US Senate in 1974. It's just wonderful!

I recommend everyone read the whole thing.

However, this bit is priceless.

A huge chunk of his Erlich's testimony is about his fear of monsoons never returning to India. He mentions the theories of Professor Reid Bryson, of the Department of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin.

It's worth quoting this in full.

According to Bryson, carbon dioxide and dust pollution from human activities and the injection of fine dust into the atmosphere by renewed volcanic activity are combining to block the northern movement of the monsoons. He doubts that the monsoons will return to India regularly in this century.

If Bryson is correct about the monsoons, then a large increase in human death rate, with hundreds of millions of additional people perishing, will occur in the near future. But there is a potentially far more ominous conclusion about future food supplies that can be drawn from meteorological data. By convention among meteorologists, “normal" weather is that which occurred between 1930 and 1960. Careful reconstruction of past climate, however, shows that this period was the most extreme weather pattern to occur in a thousand years. Those thirty years were on the average the warmest since the days of Viking exploration. Since 1960, the average temperature worldwide has been dropping to levels more typical of earlier times. But virtually all of mankind high yield crops are genetic screen selected to give maximum productivity under a narrow set of environmental conditions – those that prevailed during what appears to have been a once-in-a-millennium period of freakish weather!

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

O/T but this may or may no be worth watching next Monday coming.

Note that the blackout is due to some sort of hack attack as opposed to any other reason.

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul


Your Ehrlich quote should read (from page 269)-

" It turns out that was the most extreme period of good weather in the last 1000 years. We are now clearly coming down off of that peak.”

As in, Ehrlich is claiming that the period 1930-1960 was the (longest, most stable, least variable?) stretch of good weather in 1000 years, not the most extreme weather. That brings up all sorts of issues, of course. The Grapes of Wrath comes to mind.

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

"It would be interesting to superimpose the last generation of Met Office predictions on this graph, if anyone can lay their hands on them."

"The latest MO 5 year Decadal Forecast" but how it can be overlaid on the other piece of graffiti I am not sure.

In typical "Climate Science" keep it clear and simple the following is to be noted:-

UKMO HadCRUT4 is anomaly relative to 1961-1990

UKMO 5 year "Decadal Forecast" is anomaly relative to 1971-2000

Walpole "Uncertainty of Predictions" is anomaly relative to 1861-1890

The only clue I have is that the UKMO 5 year "Decadal Forecast" finishes with a number of approx +0.40c year ending Oct 2017, which is the equivalent to approx +0.51C HadCRUT4 1961-1990

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Aside from the lack of uncertainty in the HadGEM2 projection for each scenario, there's the inter-model variation for the same scenario. In this regard, Forster et al. show that HadGEM2 has the highest value of TCR among 23 models, and second-highest ECS.

And that's not even considering the fact that observations are running well below the multi-model mean. [As previously noted, not visible on the chart which truncates observations in 2005.] The chart's main conclusion (4 K warming by the end of the century for business-as-usual) is highly uncertain. One might even say "highly unlikely."

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Merged images here:

Not very informative due to the differing resolutions of the graphs, but so it goes.

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

"inertia in the climate system"

Doesn't he mean "inertia in the climate grant payment system"?

As long as pseudo-scientists are still getting granst to study "manmade" "global" "warming", there will still be fake scientists claiming the a 16 year flat line is in fact going up. (And there will be trolls who parrot their BS).

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

It would appear that for the last 10 years global temperatures (according to the unimpeachable source - UEA) have been rising negatively:

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

The last thing the Chief Scientific Advisor is going to admit is that the world's taxpayers may have squandered trillions on the findings of junk science

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

A chimera cannot be mitigated, solved or, do they wish to spirit it away.............

What process, scenario, catastrophe - do these numpties [Walport et al] wish to mitigate - please pray - do tell.

Unreasonably then - why is it that, they wish to mitigate a sequential and very beneficial natural warming?

The government wishes to continue taxing the public in the obligatory green taxation - to fund what can only be described as a phantasmagoria of patently useless palliatives, risibly reliant on such variables as wind power and solar input, heavens above - in a country at 50+N of the equator.

In pursuance of this nonsensical endeavour, HMG persists in producing egregiously poor facts, figures and graphs which only succeed in making the government already less than credible policy even less clear than the previous set of dodgy statistics.

It is a mystery for many people, scurrilously it is kept a very dark secret and I do not need to wonder why. You see on the face of it not many seem to be benefitting from the great green experiment - least of all the taxpayer.
In actual fact there are lots of men and women who are completely dependent of the great scam continuing long into the future. From investment bankers, to our political elite to the insurance industry and an enormous multitude of civil servants all over the world but more especially sucking of the teat here in the UK and we have a name for it - symbiosis of vested interests and the political elite - the great global warming scam is most unfortunately keeping these 'lotus eating' vulnerable parasites alive.

That's what new government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport, he does - keeps the gravy train on the rails, sometime soon these charlatans [ for science] will reach the end of the line, even for government shills - there are only so many ways you can tell a particular lie.

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

steveta_uk (5:47 PM) -
Thanks, very helpful, if only to extend observations. Also, the discrepancy between the newer prediction (HadCM3? I get them mixed sometimes) and HadGEM2 is striking, although limited in duration.

Further to my earlier comment about run-to-run and model-to-model variation, please look at Lucia's graph showing CMIP5 runs as compared to observations. HadGEM2 is one of the warmest colours. The corresponding post is here.

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Does anyone know who the the last government Chief Scientific Adviser was who actually gave genuine unbiased scientific advice?

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Chris Y.

The quote is accurate. But it's from his written testimony (page 276), not his oral testimony (page 269).

And, yes, I absolutely took it to mean the exact opposite of today's climate alarmism. He's saying 1930/1960 is an extreme and untypically pleasant 30 year period in human history. Ha!!

Testifying in 1974 he is clearly saying that the Earth is heading BACK to its normal cold unpleasant past. Despite modern climate alarmists claiming there was no mainstream claim back in the seventies of impending doom, here it is.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised though to have black become white. They're still doing it today. ‘The science is settled’ becomes ‘there is no pause in warming’, becomes ‘we always predicted a pause in warming’.

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

"...even in the strong mitigation scenario we are still committed to further climate change..."

But real temperatures show no climate change even in the present no mitigation scenario.

Note the use of the "we are". This is not a scientific statement as it contains no expression of uncertainty. These people are that sure?

Secondly, note the composite graph. Any future temperature prediction graph, that within its range of predictions, encompasses a 0-45 degrees sweep, is virtually un-falsifiable. When this was pointed out to Richard Betts, as being implicit in the previous IPCC report scenarios, he countered that the 'baseline' was not actually a scenario but merely a no-GHG run and therefore did not represent a realistic situation.

Now, with the above graph, the UK govt is officially in fraudulent territory. Place yourself sometime in 2030 or so (i.e., the mid-point of the circled region) According to the composite graph then, temperatures can go anywhere from: slightly < 0 - 3.5 C, relative to that point in time, and the prediction would still be correct. In other words, these people have taken up >50% of the prediction space available. A coin toss is good for 50%.

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:21 PM | Registered Commentershub

Bish, see if anything here helps

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook


Thanks for clarifying. I had not yet read that section of the report.

The written testimony portion is at least as interesting as the oral testimony. Ehrlich claims that 1930-1960 was the warmest period since the days of Viking exploration, and that this was GOOD! He then claims that since 1960, temperatures had been dropping.
With this testimony in 1974, Ehrlich used roughly a 15 year trend to suggest that crop-crushing global cooling was dead certain.
Hansen did the same hand-waving in 1981, using the dead certain 0.2C warming trend from 1965 - 1980 (which has since been adjusted away... ho ho!) to suggest that global warming was dead certain.

The one constant in climate science over the past half century has been the putrescinic stench of suppurating politics.

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Given Walport's area of expertise, he obviously did not author the presentation himself. I wonder who did. Julia Slingo?

Sep 4, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

The graph for this post, which is without any uncertainty, is from Slide 28 of the presentation.

Slide 26 is titled "Communication: uncertainty and getting our message across". The slide says that it is important to have "clear diagrams - but without losing the nuances".


Sep 4, 2013 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

I regard this, an isolated slide in a generalized presentation, as simply a woefully poor choice of slide showing a range of scenarios, misinterpreted as interpretational uncertainty, probably selected from a flick through of some stockbook DECC or Metoffice presentation.

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Registered CommenterPharos


It takes the Bish's time away from other things deleting its postings and any responses.

Plus he has frequently requested not to feed it.

Sep 4, 2013 at 10:46 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

it would be even better to superimpose the observations!

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterlucia

Phil Bratby

Probably, Robert Hook.

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

I regard this, an isolated slide in a generalized presentation, as simply a woefully poor choice of slide showing a range of scenarios, misinterpreted as interpretational uncertainty, probably selected from a flick through of some stockbook DECC or Metoffice presentation.

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Pharos, that was my thought also. But the link gives the further information that it was a

"Presentation by Sir Mark Walport at the annual conference of the Royal Statistical Society on 3 September 2013."

I wonder what questions were asked by the members present, and did Walport also tell the grandmothers present how to suck eggs? What did they really think about such a presentation?

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

did the Met Office offer support to this latest disaster waiiting-to-happen? I only ask because Dr Betts has not given a sound-bite, which indicates that something has gone wrong in official circles.

Sep 5, 2013 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I'm an Aus. Perhaps most people may be aware we have a major election in two days. "Climate change" is a critical, major issue

Love the irony here. BH has introduced ads to this website, as is his right of course

But the top ad when one logs into this site from Aus is a political advertisement from the Aus Greens, specifically from one Sarah Hansen-Young (disaffectionately known as the Hyphen). She is perhaps the most stupidly naive Greenie ever to sit in our Parliament (as a Senator in the Upper House, and her seat is at risk in two days)

So she is advertising for votes on a website dedicated to cool, hard analysis of her many stupidities

Wunderbar !!

Sep 5, 2013 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

"The 'inertia' in the climate system is to allow for 30 years of 'strong mitigation' with no visible result. 'Strong excuses' will no doubt be dreamt up during that time. A bit like the 'ozone hole' which is still the same after more than 20 years of 'strong mitigation'." --Billy Liar

Definitely on the mark. It's more than 25 years, now. It's fascinating how the lies go on and on, lie upon lie, Warmists always dancing to a new beat as the old one fails. According to climate theory, the holy writ of Warmism, the only imaginable mechanism for global climate change is radiative heat transfer. All right, assuming that's the case, there can be NO "inertia." Radiative heat transfer is instantaneous. Bring on the next lie.

Sep 5, 2013 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Look at Slide 14 in the same presentation. That gives uncertainties for the temperature data to date.

There is an optimum level of complexity for a graph like Slide 28, intended for use in comparing the different forecasts.
Including the 95% confidence limits for all three scenarios would make it cluttered and harder to understand.

The original graph looks like part of the upcoming IPCC AR5, which would have separate and more detailed graphs for each scenario, including the uncertainty for each.

Sep 5, 2013 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Interesting to see where they get their information from; slide 33 the Grauniad!!

Sep 5, 2013 at 4:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC


Nor the other one.

Sep 5, 2013 at 7:16 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

EM - the troll has said that its motivation for posting here is hatred.

Hatred is not amenable to reason.

Some other time, I'll take the time to elaborate on my hypothesis as to why you yourself find climate "science" convincing, despite its avoidance of the scientific method and its gross oversimplifications, not to mention its repeated failures and the denial of these failures by its practitioners.

Sep 5, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

With friends like that who needs enemies?

Sep 5, 2013 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Once again, and more wearily, please do not respond to trolls.

Sep 5, 2013 at 8:22 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

EM, you're wrong there. The closest corresponding figure in the leaked AR5 SOD is fig 12.4. It includes all these scenarios on the same graph and it does include uncertainty bands.

Sep 5, 2013 at 8:56 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews


That made me smile. Oh and it's Hooke...the only reason I knew that is that I have Lisa Jardines' biography of him staring at me!

Sep 5, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Slides 10 and 11 provide a stark illustration of how deep and insidiously the politically imposed agenda of 'carbon mitigation' and 'sustainability' has compromised the pursuit of scientific research in this country and the EU. Slide 10 states 'science is about asking questions. Slide 11 is from Rothamstead Research, a government funded 'charity'. The slide shows the progress in wheat crop yield enhancement from advances in improved wheat cultivars agricultural practice fertilizers and herbicides over the last 150 years.

But slide 11 demonstrates how the most dramatic and spectacular experimental conclusions in recent years about future crop yields (yield enhancement under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations) has been almost completely expurgated not just from our research agenda, but suppression of all official mention or debate concerning it. There is little or no research on this whole area of experimentation to be found in the Rothamstead experimental case studies or database.

The experimental evidence, with biobliographical references, from thousands of studies worldwide on hundreds of crop species and cultivars can be accessed from here

Sep 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Can somebody point me at a definition of climate inertia so I can start throwing brickbats at it?

Sep 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterDung


Have fun.

Sep 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Paul Matthews

I've avoided reading the leaked drafts. We might come back to this when AR5 actually appears.

Sep 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

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