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« Inside mathematics | Main | Flooding risk »

Paterson stands by science

David Cameron's foolish linking of the recent floods to climate change has left him in a bit of a pickle. With the Met Office having already said there is no evidence of an increase in flooding storminess the Prime Minister finds himself having to oppose the massed guns of mainstream science.

I have no problem with arguing with mainstream scientists of course, but it's fun to watch Mr C's discomfort as he tries to extricate himself from the mire into which he has blundered. Owen Paterson must be feeling rather smug now, and has refused to change his tune and back the PM's position. This has created all sorts of problems for the greens, who have been running a rather active Twitter campaign to unseat Paterson in recent weeks. If they argue on the one hand that we should trust the scientists on global warming then they are going to struggle to say we should jettison their views on the floods.

Interesting times.



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Reader Comments (19)

"as he tries to extricate himself from the mire into which he has blundered." ... he shouldn't have followed that flood map.

Somehow King Canute comes to mind ... although Canute/Knut was a wise ruler who tried to show his advisors how ridiculous they were being saying he could hold back the tides .. and Cameron is trying to hold back the tides ... of common sense.

Jan 9, 2014 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

"It’s impossible to say that these storms are more intense because of climate change.” said the Met Office and rightly so, wonder if they'd have made that sort of statement even two years ago? One has to be cynical and wonder about their motives - perhaps they enjoy dropping Dave right into the middle of the proverbial.

On a more nuanced observation Andrew, in your post you say,

"With the Met Office having already said there is no evidence of an increase in flooding"

Never would I want to sound pernickety but we must be careful in the usage of words and phrasing.

I haven't read all their splurge, in fact did the Met Office refer to "flooding" - because as we know the causes of flooding are not necessarily all down to weather events - albeit storm size, frequency and precipitation amounts do rather mostly account for riparian flooding and cyclonic depressions raising sea levels, tidal surges + deltaic flooding at coastal locations.

So, what can we say?.................................................

It ain't all about weather,

but it is all about the changing climate,

though it's nothing to do with man made global warming changing the climate

but it is to do with man; changing the landscape and affecting the water cycle and hydro-geomophological re-shaping.

It's us and it ain't us.


I thought Paterson played a calm hand and finessed the Labour man [Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield] superbly, he even trumped Dave rigorously in the process.

Jan 9, 2014 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Received an email today from DC's Party Chairman asking for support pls forward, condone etc.

My reply:-

" What?

Support a Party led by a man who under pressure from winter wind and rain produced the following irrational unscientific cop out:-

" Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is."

David Cameron

Might be good enough for you, but I have to live in the real world. What happened to the inherent logic that was once the strength of the Conservative Party? How have you managed to be so complicit in the destruction of logical thought?

Jan 9, 2014 at 11:01 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Don't forget Ed Miliband also believes that AGW causes extreme weather and has said so many times.

Jan 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

@ CharmingQuark

"Don't forget Ed Miliband also believes...."

O, I don't! But as a previous (and well peed off) Conservative Party agent I think Red Ed's equally inane emails will never be pointed in my direction!

Jan 9, 2014 at 11:26 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

As I have commented earlier: today during, DEFRA questions, Mr Paterson refused to support, or criticise the PM's stance on CAGW and storms. Had he have known the Met Office's latest, publish view, he probably would have made his disagreement known. It is important that Mr Paterson, Peter Lilley and the other CAGW sceptics in the Commons get together and campaign against the the Establishment view,

Jan 9, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Just been thinking... maybe it's AGW that's causing extreme scientists and politicians...

Just getting me coat...

Jan 9, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTux52

Cameron's completely out of his depth and deals entirely in soundbites; utterly shallow.

I suspect that after his immoderate comments about the green crap, he had a pussy whipping which he won't forget in a hurry.

Jan 10, 2014 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I suspect that after his immoderate comments about the green crap, he had a pussy whipping which he won't forget in a hurry.


Indeed so.

I guess it matters, a reassertion of just who wears the trousers ala Chez Camerloon.

Jan 10, 2014 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Blair, Milliband, Clegg, Cameron. It's obvious who wears the trousers in those households. Ventriloquists dummies springs to mind.

Jan 10, 2014 at 6:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

One of the curious features of this particular climate scare is that those who are persuaded by it feel so confident to add to scientific knowledge at the drop of a hat. So, since cagw is clearly bad bad bad, anything bad may be readily attributed to it. Like hurricanes, floods, persistent x - where x is meteorological observable you care to mention, disappearing polar bears/snows/coastal highways/penguins/ice sheets/etc as per The List. There seems to be some enjoyment to be had from this, possibly linked to a feeling of omniscience mixed with heroic notions of saving the planet, spreading the light and such like. Whatever it is, it certainly appeals to many people. Cameron appears to be one of them.

Jan 10, 2014 at 8:47 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

David Cameron is badly advised and (in my humble opinion) seems to think he has to comment on every conceivable issue turning up instead of referring to the minister or other official who is supposed to be "in the know". He has no clear strategy. I doubt he even knows where he is heading. At least with Osborne he has a strategy and you can agree or disagree with him. Cameron is no better than Blair. They are both led by the tabloids rather than a clear vision of where they want to take the country. It's like watching the wind waving branches on a tree.

Jan 10, 2014 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Athelstan: "It's us and it ain't us."

A great summing up of the situation. We are being told,on the one hand, that weather makes for climate; while at the same time being told that climate makes the weather.

Harking back to a previous thread on the HoL CCC meeting, I also recall Lilley asking Deben: (I paraphrase) If, as it happens, (CC) scientists are telling us that the storms, the cooler weather and the current 17 year slow down in warming we are experiencing is really all down to natural variation, how is it that this same natural variation cannot be responsible for the only slightly longer period of time that you call global warming?

Picture of Deben floundering and referring back to his models.

Jan 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Cameron's grasp of detail is a weakness. Who can forget his gaffe when he thanked the USA for standing by the UK in 1940!! I have no doubt that pillow talk is also a factor.

Jan 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

Perhaps Mr Cameron has been recruited by UKIP as an agent provocateur, deep inside the Tory Party.

If so, he is succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of his Controllers.

Jan 10, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

The Met Office might be saying that it's impossible to tell if there's a link, but that's not enough to stop the BBC from trying to spin it to fit its agenda - "Storms' link to climate change uncertain - Met Office".

Jan 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Registered Commenterpogo

I fear that Owen Paterson may shortly get the PM's 'full support'....

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1


UKIP will be rubbing their hands in glee.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

So sad that we have recently lost John Fortune - a 'Bird and Fortune' tv discussion on this matter would be hilarious...

Mind you - Graham Stringer vs Lord Deben comes a close second....!

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

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