The Met Office Secret Predictions and the political implications

Updated from a guest post at Watts Up with That

In The Telegraph (UK newspaper), it was reported that Roger Harrabin, an environment analyst at the BBC, told the Radio Times:

“The trouble is that we simply don’t know how much to trust the Met Office. How often does it get the weather right and wrong. And we don’t know how it compares with other, independent forecasters.” – The Telegraph

Boris Johnson – The Mayor of London, is arguably perhaps the most democratically personally elected politician in the UK. As over 1.1 million London voters voted for him directly for the elected office of Mayor. This is compared to a UK Member of Parliament, who might win their seat with as little as 20,000 votes. In many seats, if you wore the right party badge a ‘mascot’ might get elected. Whilst the public are voting for a person, it is the party they represent that is being voted for.

In my opinion, no other Conservative candidate could have won that election to become Mayor, at a time (May 2008) when the Labour Party were still very much in power in the UK. Boris Johnson won peoples votes despite him being a Conservative for many members of the public that voted for him.

Thus, for a high profile Conservative like Boris to write glowingly about (arch sceptic) Piers Corbyn and criticise the Met Office, is in my opinion very significant politically in the UK. Especially in light of the fact that Boris wrote this before the Met Office started denying they had predicted mild winters and before their ‘secret’ prediction statement.

Boris Johnson cares whether London (including Heathrow airport) and himself is made to look bad in the eyes of a world audience. I wonder what Boris thinks about the Met Office ‘secret’ prediction?

As Boris is in the position of power, knowing whether or not London and Heathrow received the ‘secret’ warning’.

As the UK government, Heathrow airport particularly, were woefully under-prepared AGAIN this winter, the big budget UK taxpayer-funded Met Office have finally moved from being a laughing-stock, into surely a public enquiry by that ‘secret’ statement. In the time of recession, big budget organisations like the Met Office have to be seen to be performing, not acting in the public’s eyes as a global warming campaigning lobby group.

This time politicians have been publicly embarrassed by the Met Office.

In the Sunday Telegraph today, Christopher Booker calls the Met Office to account:

” First it was a national joke. Then its professional failings became a national disaster. Now, the dishonesty of its attempts to fight off a barrage of criticism has become a real national scandal. I am talking yet again of that sad organisation the UK Met Office, as it now defends its bizarre record with claims as embarrassingly absurd as any which can ever have been made by highly-paid government officials.” – Christopher Booker

Anybody in the age of the internet can now check on anything a public body or advocate has said, the politicians and journalists are only slowly becoming aware of this in my opinion. The Global Warming Policy Foundation has also publicly written to the Transport Secretary calling for an enquiry. On the board of the GWPF there are respected senior UK politicians, on the GWPF Academic Advisory Panel there are very well respected scientists including:

Professor Robert Carter, Professor Freeman Dyson, Professor Richard Lindzen, Professor Philip Stott, Professor Ross Mckitrick, Professor Paul Reiter, Professor Ian Plimer & Professor Hal Lewis

This issue will be he heard and will be discussed privately in the corridors of power.

For one particular high profile politician like Boris Johnson to have moved publicly even as far as he goes in the following,  demonstrates that the CAGW ‘political game has changed’ permanently in the UK.

Before the Copenhagen Conference (Cop 15) – Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London (formerly the  Conservative Member of Parliament for Henley-on-Thames – my local town), wrote dismissively of the Climategate emails in the Telegraph;

“That is why the polls show such an amazingly obstinate public refusal to accept the reality of global warming. That is why there is still a market for thermoscepticism of all kinds. That is why people seize on a few stray emails from the University of East Anglia which seem – wrongly – to undermine the scientific case.” – Boris Johnson

At the time Boris was fully behind the Labour Prime Minister, who went off to Copenhagen, stating ’50 Days to Save the Planet’, and spoke about ‘Flat-earthers’, ‘anti-science climate sceptics’. The Minister of State for the Department of Energy And Climate Change, ED Milliband (now the Labour Party leader, in opposition) apparently thinking calling CAGW sceptics  ‘saboteurs’ was appropriate at the time all UK political parties were convinced that environmental ‘climate change’ policies were a vote winner,  a UK General Election was possibly weeks, at most a few weeks away.

This year, we have a new government in the UK after 13 years of AGW consensus, a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, Boris is still mayor of London, and this week, he writes glowingly about Piers Corbyn (Weather Action) out predicting the Met Office.  Piers is a total CAGW sceptic, behind the recent Climate Fools day – House of Commons meeting.  For Boris Johnson to write publicly positively about Piers and criticizing the government-funded, Met Office, demonstrates how much things have changed.  Boris Johnson, despite his slightly buffoonish comical genial image is nobody’s fool, serving prominently as a conservative politician for so long is evidence of that alone.

Telegraph: The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game, by Boris Johnson

“Piers Corbyn not only predicted the current weather, but he believes things are going to get much worse, says Boris Johnson.

“….It is no use my saying that London Underground and bus networks are performing relatively well – touch wood – when Heathrow, our major international airport, is still effectively closed two days after the last heavy snowfall; when substantial parts of our national rail network are still struggling; when there are abandoned cars to be seen on hard shoulders all over the country; and when yet more snow is expected today, especially in the north.”

“….So let me seize this brief gap in the aerial bombardment to pose a question that is bugging me. Why did the Met Office forecast a “mild winter”?

“…Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street. He has no telescope or supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again.Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its “mild winter” schtick, Corbyn said it would be the coldest for 100 years. Indeed, it was back in May that he first predicted a snowy December, and he put his own money on a white Christmas about a month before the Met Office made any such forecast. He said that the Met Office would be wrong about last year’s mythical “barbecue summer”, and he was vindicated. He was closer to the truth about last winter, too.”

Boris Johnson went on to say that man-made co2 is still a cause of global warming, according to an overwhelming majority of scientists,  James Delingpole of the Telegraph summaries Boris’ current dilemma more eloquently than I in his blog.

“So what sounds like a fervent declaration of faith in the Warmist creed may on closer examination be a perfectly innocuous statement of the bleeding obvious cunningly calculated to appease all Boris’s rent-seeking chums in the City who stand to make a fortune from the Great Carbon Scam and would be most displeased if the Mayor of London were to show signs of wobbling.

Yet wobbling is, of course, exactly what Boris is doing. Or rather – remember, this is the man so ambitious he makes Alexander The Great look like Olive from On The Buses – he is slyly repositioning himself to take advantage of the inevitable collapse of public faith in the Great Anthropogenic Global Warming Ponzi Scheme.” – James Delingpole

If the politicians think trouble is ahead, they back the winners, not only has the Met Office predictions of mild winter been wrong three winters in the row, they have been SEEN to be wrong, there was plenty of mainstream press coverage before the harsh winters that other forecaster were predicting a severe winter.  Following the last years mild winter prediction by the Met Office, there was even BBC coverage debating whether their very expensive super computer had a ‘warm bias’ which was wildly reported in the mainstream media in the UK.

BBC – A frozen Britain turns the heat up on the Met office – Paul Hudson

Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?

The Met Office (Hadley Centre) is an interconnected part of the UK Climate Science establishment. In the UK we have not just had a cold winter but the second coldest December on record, and the coldest winter on record. The UK CET record actually means something (not just a 30 year satellite record) the Central England Temperature (CET) dataset, goes back to the 1660′s. Again all this information, is now in the mainstream media with headlines including ‘mini ice age’ and ‘coldest winter in 300 years’  read by millions of members of the general public.

BBC – December 2010 Update – Second Coldest since 1659 – Paul Hudson

There are two possibilities now.

1.) If the Met office are telling the truth.

Then the  government failed to prepare or warn public bodies about what is now the SECOND coldest December in the UK since records began.  London Heathrow was publicly embarrassed and closed for days as it could not handle a few inches of snow, it had only invested an additional £500,000 in de-icing equipment and the government apparently stepped into help ensure fresh supplies reached the airport.  The lack of readiness for the snow will have had an effect on the UK economy. No doubt all this negative publicity shown by the media around the world, billions of pound in the economy and possibly risking future billions of foreign inwards investment, as London appears to be as organised as an undeveloped nation.  I imagine some corporations, passengers, or airlines might want to sue.

There is even, also some suspicion that if this was the case, it was kept quiet because predictions of the coldest winter in the UK for decades would be a bit awkward for the Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State flying off to the man-made global warming, climate change, global climate disruption, future climate breakdown Cop 15 Cancun conference.

2.) If the Met Office are NOT telling the truth

If the Met Office are shall we say, spinning a line, to make out they are not useless at predicting the weather, then I imagine even the dimmest politician and non-questioning ‘investigative’ journalists might start asking what exactly is the Met Office for.

Bishop Hill and other blogs report that Freedom of Information request are being sent off for these ‘ so called ‘secret’ Met Office predictions made to the government.

After all it must be true, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin reported it?

I wonder if the BBC have thought to send any FOI requests in themselves, just to check the facts of this story. The BBC just renewed a 5 year contract with the Met Office to provide all the weather forecasting for the BBC.  The BBC surely does not want to look as if it is being lax in its investigative journalism? If only to check that the service provided to the BBC by the Met Office is competent and can be trusted, as it is taxpayers money paying for this service.

“The trouble is that we simply don’t know how much to trust the Met Office.”  – BBC Roger Harrabin, from the Telegraph

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4 Responses to The Met Office Secret Predictions and the political implications

  1. Chris says:

    Harrabin is known as a friend of the Met so ‘leaking’ it via him is not a smart move.

    If 1) that the met office is telling the truth is the case then the met have put the government on the spot in terms of the lack of prep for the serious weather. That won’t make them popular in government circles at all. However it is a good excuse to sack Mr Huhne – well, here’s hoping.

    If 2) is the case, that they are not telling the truth or are being ‘economical’ with it, then they have just declared war on the government from a PR perspective and they will suffer the consequences.

    Either way its unlikely that they will get their Christmas wish of yet another new computer system costing millions of pounds from the taxpayer any time soon. Sir Humphrey does not take kindly to people acting ‘off message’.

  2. G.Watkins says:

    Good to see you at WUWT. Criticisms of your spelling etc. were unwarranted. An excellent post.
    No-one left in the UK to perform any sort of independent inquiry on anything. No doubt, the Met.Off. will claim that as they are part of the Defence Min. they are not required to respond to FOI requests on grounds of national security.
    Thank the Lord Chris Huhne is in charge of energy – nothing to worry about then.
    Even Charles Dodgson couldn’t make it up.

  3. PhilJourdan says:

    Hacked? Stolen? Leaked? Purloined? Released?

    It really does not matter HOW they got into the public eye, just that the emails did. But I find it very strange that there is more outrage about “WHO” released the emails from CRU than the 250k documents Assange is throwing around the Internet.

  4. Brian H says:

    Boris isn’t the only one parsing carefully (‘most scientists believe …’). The Met Office claims to have warned in Nov of a ‘cold onset’ to the winter. That’s vuurrry vague; could mean a couple of weeks, a month or anything at all. Of course, since the whole winter will be cold, the “onset” figleaf may not be large enough to cover the business.

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