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« Mackay and King on shale | Main | Accelerated depreciation »

Julian Huppert says the Met Office has it all wrong

...we are seeing a changing climate, partly due to manmade CO2 emissions, we are seeing changes in the weather patterns which are bringing more storms. It's no accident that this is the stormiest December that we've had for 40 years or something and we're seeing around the world changes like that.

Julian Huppert, the UK Parliament's only PhD scientist, on the Daily Politics (around 3 mins)

Climate models provide a broad range of projections about changes in storm track and frequency of storms. While there’s currently no evidence to suggest that the UK is increasing in storminess, this is an active area of research under the national climate capability.

The Met Office, a couple of days ago.

In stark contrast, the Telegraph's Tom Chivers has an admirably sensible take on the issue.

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Reader Comments (48)

Another would-be witch-doctor dancing round the campfire sharing his insights into how the world works and hoping we're all falling for it as so many of us usually do.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

So which is it? Is there or is there not any evidence of an increase in sh1t weather?


Jan 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I am in Dr. Huppert's constituency (Cambridge) I have had several (fruitless) conversations with him about AGW and its cost.

He is a fully paid-up member of the Dramagreens.

Interestingly his father (Professor Herbert Huppert) is into Carbon dioxide sequestration and has a published in the area of climate change.

Huppert, H.E. and Sparks, R.S.J. (2006) "Extreme Natural Hazards: population growth, globalisation and environmental change", Phil.Trans. R. Soc. A 364, 1875-1888.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"... for 40 years or something"! What sort of a comment is that from a scientist?
Presumably his PhD in biological chemistry makes him some kind of expert on something but on weather?
Julian, I'm twice your age. I have never spent any part of my life locked up in academic hothouses (unless you count school). I have seen more variations to the weather than you have. You weren't even born when we had the great summers of 1975 and 1976 or the winter of 1962-63 still less 1947.
Shut up!

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

His observations are correct, his interpretation wrong.

The warming due to natural cycles has peaked and we are going back to the typical weather of 40 years ago. It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

It says to me that the Met Office is trying hard to come up with the answer that storms are occurring with greater frequency as part of their "active" research. When will they publish their "active" research, one wonders? Or am I just getting more and more cynical?

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

Well he did say 'partly due' to CO2.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It's a pity we don't seem to have any body from the Met Office on here anymore, because he could point these people claiming more storms, to the Met Office evidence.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

People cry "we need more scientists in the House of Commons". In fact we could do with more Lord Lawson-like figures, whatever their academic background. A non-scientist with a head on his shoulders is much more use than someone with scientific credentials but no ability to think critically.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

40 years ago - So what have 40 years' worth of CO2 emissions achieved ? Not a lot.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

According to Paul Homewood who has been checking the Met Office databases on his "Not a lot of people know that" blog there is no trend in winter rainfall and this winter is not exceptional.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterforester126

So Huppert, the MP who wants to see motorists automatically held liable for crashes with cyclists, now sees manmade CO2 emissions automatically responsible for changes in the weather patterns.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Huppert, baaaaaah - believes in man made warming, Julian Huppert is a sheep. Go with the herd Jules, that's what your yellow lot do.

Take your sheep and get the flock out of Britain.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

There was an environment shadow secretary in the UK parliament today claiming that climate change was causing extreme weather and it would get worse.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

It's a pity we don't seem to have any body from the Met Office on here anymore, because he could point these people claiming more storms, to the Met Office evidence.

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip, when we did have one he was a big supporter of models. He believed them to be extremely useful. He always stuck to the party line but skillfully avoided being decisive.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen Richards

Has the BBC only recently started calling weather "Exceptional" parrotting information from the MET office or has this term been used previously and I have only just noticed its misuse?

ex·cep·tion·al (k-spsh-nl)
1. Being an exception; uncommon.
2. Well above average; extraordinary: an exceptional memory. See Usage Note at exceptionable.
3. Deviating widely from a norm, as of physical or mental ability: special educational provisions for exceptional children.

From the Online Dictionary

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Quoting Chivers: "This isn't to say that global warming hasn't had noticeable effects on extreme weather. Worldwide, heatwaves have become more common; a study in the journal Climatic Change found record-breaking monthly average temperatures are five times as frequent as they were in 1900 – and that almost certainly is caused by human activity. We can't say that the Australian heatwave of recent weeks is caused by it, because that's not how probability works, but we can say that global warming made it more likely."


Jan 6, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

These people are running out of options but will persist to the bitter end I fear. The sensible science is against the religious format that has been the "consensus" for far too long. Nature will ultimately dictate the direction of the issue in the near future. Hopefully before too many folk die due to inadequate preparations to a shift to cold.

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentermikeworst

It's looking more like the background (the population dodge glaciers while the government proclaims a war on <s>people</s>warm) to the Larry Niven novel Fallen Angels is a best case scenario...

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

If only these people would listen to themselves, they would
realise just how ridiculous, their comments are.
Like Michael Fish who said he was witnessing weather
that he had not seen before in his lifetime.
Someone shoul remind him about the winter of 1947.

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

What about the rotation of the planets in the solar system.

The planets don't all rotate in set concentric circles.

Planetary motion Gravity must be affecting pulling Earth weather systems about.

Astronomers Meteorologist Astrophysicists must be able to work back weather patterns to events in history from the computer models of the then positions of the planets in the solar system Napolean Waterloo Battle of Britain Trafalgar The Somme Agincourt ,Francis Drake Spanish Armanda 1066 William the conqueror Gettysburg the weather that day favored the victor.

No more than a bullshit suggestion than saying the heat is trapped in the oceans.

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I've just been watching Sky News and they are now blaming the cold US and the stormy UK on a displaced Polar Vortex. They seem to be suggesting this is because of an increased temperature gradient between the Arctic and the Tropics. Now I thought that the Climate Models predicted a decrease in the temperature gradient between the Polar regions and the Tropics. So can't be climate change.

Just remembered, the models are crap. So must be climate change. But the models predict the climate change so it must be crap because they are wrong.

I was reading yesterday that it's all because the equatorial jetstream has reversed as it did in 1987 when the UK had its hurricane.

My question is, "Which is the chicken and which is the egg?"

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Huppert was complaining recently that the House of Commons did not give him the respect he thought he deserved.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

My question is, "Which is the chicken and which is the egg?"

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

The best question is to ask a UKMet person or any other crimatologist "what controls the jetstream". I saw a UK Metoff guy trying to explain the "polar vortex" and he mumbled on about what it was and said something about the jetsstream moving south "for several reasons" none of he knew, I'll wager.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

What I have noticed a definite increase in frequency of, is the urge to wear a T shirt that says 'BOLLOCKS'.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank


An important weapon in the political messaging armoury is the use of a verbal 'power hook' - a novel emotive adjective or phrase. Environmentalists in general, and in particular the BBC, have honed the use of such subliminal messaging to a fine art, for added persuasive impact. Very cunning, because it uses subtle subconscious auto-suggestion by the listener rather than overt in-your-face coercion to convey the propaganda message.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:17 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Or the T shirt that says 'zzzz zzzz blink zzzz. For a moment there, you almost got my attention.'

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

CH4 News

America living in the 'Day After Tomorrow', Polar Vortex, climate change. What a shame that they disgrace themselves so.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar
And one of the comments underneath his article posits that the increase in records since 1900 is probably due to better reporting.

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Somebody has.

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

* fallacy of argument from authority *
1. just cos he has a PhD & calls himself scientist it doesn't mean what comes out of his mouth is any more valid than any idiot on the street.
2. And note Today it is normal for scientists to be unscientific.
3. If the BBC trained it journalists properly then they would have immediately countered with "What is the VALIDATED EVIDENCE for your statement there ?"

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The lack of a global warming effect on UK rainfall was well covered in an earlier post here. I saved it in my bookmarks as "rainfall lies"

Jan 6, 2014 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

So Theo Walcott has injured his knee and will miss the world cup

So can we also blame that on Climate Change.

Thanks for the clip Saat

Jan 6, 2014 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Huppert is a Liberal Democrat.

And has a (silly little) beard.

Need one say more?

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered Commenternmm

If it rained every single day would Huppert think it a sign of global warming? Or maybe just Saint Swithun doing some moonlighting?
Well, where I live, it has rained heavily every day this week. I make that 100%

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

Did anyone read Leo McKinstry's piece in the Daily Express on Sunday? Magnificently informative and objective reporting.

I laughed till the tears ran down my goitre!

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Yawn, another rent seeker telling us to ignore the weather and only listen to their self serving sales pitch of doom.

Jan 7, 2014 at 3:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

With a moderate sou' wester' blowing and topgallants unfurled - , a bit of luck and let's hope its nothing trivial.

Jan 7, 2014 at 4:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

* typo - you spelled 'Muppet' wrong.

Jan 7, 2014 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterkeith

RE: Heat waves in Australia.
For fun, we can define a heat wave as a hot Tmax averaged over 5 consecutive days, We can go to the start of the measurements to look for records. It's a bit of mucking around to get the result, so here I've done it only for the months of Jan and Feb and for the cities of Sydney (1858 start) & Melbourne (1856) that together hold a lot of the population of Australia.
Graphs here -

You can see that above the arbitrary cu toff that I've used, the hottest heat waves by this method are spread at about decades apart from 1800 and they are not getting any hotter.

This is not a conclusive indication. It is however quite suggestive that Australian heat waves are not getting either more frequent or hotter in these cities in these summer months.

Especially if you can subtract UHI.

Jan 7, 2014 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Unfortunately Chivers then quotes a scare piece from Rahmstorf in Climatic Change as gospel. This is the journal started by Stephen Schneider. Check out the editorial board,

Co-editors are Michael Oppenheimer, (former NRDC, Climate Action Network, now at Princeton), and Gary Yohe, both long time IPCC. Naomi Oreskes is a deputy editor, Peter Gleick is on the editorial board, as is Schellnhuber, (Rahmstorf's boss), identified here as from UEA, rather than Potsdam. Also Ben Santer, Phil Jones, Tom Karl, Richard Moss from WWF and a whole host of IPCC stalwarts. In fact it could be regarded as the IPCC house magazine.

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:38 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

As a LibDem, would he have been allowed to say anything else?

Jan 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

LIB-DEM, ah that wad the keyfact I missed
That explains the crazy enviro-opinion

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I have the doubtful privelege of living in the same constituency as Don Keiller - and so share(?) Dr Huppert as my MP.
He is the one MP who, when he is called by the Speaker, evokes a loud groan from any other MPs who happen to be in the House.
My view is that if it doesn't have to do with cycling, then he's not interested...

Separately, I was watching Sky News yesterday evening when the anchorman conducted Sky's trademark lengthy interviews with two 'experts' - one on the UK storms; and one (with an American meteorologist) on the deep freeze there. I was surprised - nay, heartened - that at NO time duing either discussion was the phrase 'climate change' uttered...!
Is this a first - especially when the opportunities were there..?

Jan 7, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Huppert: "It's no accident that this is the stormiest December that we've had for 40 years or something"

So following his own statement to a logical conclusion...his statement implies December storms were worse 40 years ago. If storms were worse 40 years ago, then logically we have to conclude that storms are getting weaker due to global warming? The logical fallacy of the statement beggars belief.

And as weather systems are driven by temperature gradients/differences not absolute temperature, and given that AGW theory predicts "polar amplification" ie significant warming at poles and little at equator, we would logically deduce that global warming would reduce temperature gradients and therefore reduce extremes. So if the ACE tropcial cyclone index is trending (slightly) downwards in recent decades, why don't AGW supporters use this is evidence of AGW theory? Logically it would fit the theory...but of course not the storyline.

Why is it that AGW supporters state everything will be worse if the planet warms? Why would somethings not get better? What would happen if the planet was cooling? Less extreme weather? (Note that Hubert Lamb no less provided evidence of more storms during the LIA...).

Jan 7, 2014 at 3:10 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Jan 7, 2014 at 3:10 PM | thinkingscientist

You're just being a thinking scientist thinkingscientist.

As you basically point out it acts more like a Doom cult than anything else. I do think there are some legitimate concerns buried in the narrative still.

Jan 7, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Quoting Chivers - and that almost certainly is caused by human activity.

No room for natural variability then (even assuming his information is correct, which others have questioned)

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

The problem is - people have very short memories; and not only that, but think that 'weather' didn't exist before their memories.
I'm old enough to remember the desperate winter of 1947. Also 1963 - when the temperature didn't rise above zero for six straight weeks.
Also dreadful wet summers in the 1960's - when farmers had to harvest AT NIGHT...
Finally of course the drought of 1976 - when the government appointed a Minister for Drought - which promptly brought about continuous rain for about a month...
HOWEVER - these are just random highlights from my short life - which of course bear no relation whatsoever to the long-term climate of this or any other country...

Jan 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

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