Parliament misses the mood – again

Yesterday as half the country struggled with snow drifts, blocked roads and icy pavements, and as the other half awaited plunging temperatures and a snow storm, Parliament devoted prime time to global warming. I looked in vain at the Order Paper to see how I could raise the state of the highways, the lack of grit for the pavements and side roads, the rush of too many people to casualty departments following slips on treacherous sidewalks. I thought we should be debating the UK’s lack of preparedness for another Antarctic blast. The government was still in world saving mode, wishing to spin its way to success from Copenhagen’s ragged conclusions. I wanted to save the NHS money by gritting more pavements. That could be a deficit cutting item of spending given the costs of fractures.

I asked Mr Ed Miliband a simple question. Why was the Northern hemisphere experiencing such a cold winter, and which of the climate models had predicted this? It was meant to be a rational and interesting question. It should be the kind of question climate change’s chief UK salesman can answer in his sleep. Mr M has always posed as a kind of para scientist. He pretends to read all the climate change science in the back of his Ministerial limo and on those long flights he makes to save the world. I was expecting some answer that told me you can have severe winters within a pattern of global warming, with reference to some climate change model analysis which allowed for adverse variations within the assumed pattern of warming. How wrong I was. Instead Mr M threw his toys out of the pram, declined to offer a civil answer to a civil question, and told me the science of global warming was settled! His problem is that there are a lot of climate sceptics out of Parliament who do not see it like that, who want some answers to some difficult questions about the government’s beliefs and strategy in this area. Some other MP from a sedentary position offered the profound advice that I needed to understand climate was different from weather. At least that was cleverer linguistic gymnastics than Mr M could muster.

The day did not improve when we got onto the main business of the Deficit. I got the opportunity to make a speech along the lines of yesterday’s blog. We did drag out of reluctant Ministers the fact that they think they need at least £57 billion of public spending cuts, along with around £28 billion of more taxes, to hit their target of halving the deficit as a proportion of GDP by 2014. The Chamber was virtually empty on the Labour side. Only two backbench Labour MPs were prepared to speak in the debate. Both of them opposed the government’s measure – one because it did not take the deficit seriously enough, and the other because she could not countenance spending cuts.

It turned out when I had the chance to read their draft Bill that it contains a major flaw even within its own silly terms. It requires future Chancellors to cut public spending as a proportion of GDP every year from 2010 to 2016. This means that if there were by any chance another sharp contraction in the economy the government would not under the terms of this Bill be able to use the natural stabilisers which the government has always told us are so important. In a recession tax revenue falls and benefit spending rises, making the deficit worse. This “cyclical” part of the deficit is always thought to be fair enough, as it will self correct when recovery gets underway. Under this Bill it would not be permitted. Under pressure the government then told us that in such circumstances they would bring a new Deficit Bill to the Commons relaxing this one!

So Parliament wasted the best part of a day debating a Bill written by the Tresury to make the Treasury behave in a certain way for the next six years, only to be told that of course if things went wrong they would tear it all up. The Bill makes clear no Minister can be blamed or punished if they fail to hit the deficit targets!

I have a better idea. Tear the Bill up now, and save the money and effort of putting through this absurd law. It imposes no sanctions on Ministers if they fail to deliver, and we now know it can be changed anytime government wishes. We woudl be better off debating the cold weather, and trying to bring some relief to people seeking to get to work and school. I did ring my local Council who promised faithfully they would grit and salt the roads thoroughly. I would still like more snow ploughs available and more grit for the pavements and side roads.


  1. Hugh
    January 6, 2010

    I saw you making your usual sensible points last night.

    You deserve a palatial flat close to the House, for the quality of your contribution.

    Happy New Year

  2. Kenneth Morton
    January 6, 2010

    Any news of the fate of the members for Birkenhead and North Ayrshire?

  3. Richard
    January 6, 2010

    Your question on the weather / climate was well-timed. The current cold spell coinciding with the hysteria of the Copenhagen conference is a possible argument for the existence of God (with a sense of humour), which Richard Dawkins should perhaps consider. The Conservative leadership needs to be careful about Milliband-style hysteria on global warming. Its quite possible that during the lifetime of the next Parliament + the one after, 'the Science' will turn out to be wrong. The Government of the day will then have to perform a swift U-turn on global warming as public anger at all the taxes and other restrictions imposed will be a major political issue.

    1. Kevin Peat
      January 6, 2010

      A disbelief in God does not mean a belief in climate change.

      I switch off whenever anyone invokes God in their argument. It usually means they've lost a rational debate.

      1. Richard
        January 6, 2010

        I think you've missed the point.

        1. Kevin Peat
          January 7, 2010


          I'm quite defensive of Richard Dawkins, you see.

    2. Stuart Fairney
      January 6, 2010

      31,000 scientists suggest the science is dead wrong right now

      Labour will hang on to AGW (as it is the magic bullet which justifies all sorts of nonsense) for a very long time indeed. As I fear will Mr Cameron. As usual, it doesn't matter what the Lib Dems think.

      1. Ian
        January 6, 2010

        Have you actually read the Wikipedia article? – here's just one line from it, which shows how useless it really is:

        "The term "scientists" is often used in describing signatories; however, many of the signatories have degrees in engineering or medicine, including veterinary medicine. The distribution of petitions was relatively uncontrolled: those receiving the petition could check a line that said "send more petition cards for me to distribute".

        And when it says "many of the signatories have degrees in …" what it really means is "many of the signatories SAID they had degrees in…" – not quite the same thing.

        Still, if this is the best the deniers can do, they're not likely to last long.

        1. Stuart Fairney
          January 6, 2010

          Yes you do realise this was a wikipedia article don't you and you know who is their AGW editor I presume? I was simply a link not a credible information source obviously.

          And whilst we are on the subject you know how many of the 2,500 IPCC scientists are actually climate scientists ? Try 57.

          Do you know what IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri's degree is in? Check it out. The very ccriticism you level at Oregon is actually a critique of the IPCC except the 'Orgeon' boys don't get state funding

          Lastly, please stop calling me a denier as this is ad hominem not credible debate

        2. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          Stewart I'm sure that there are similarly created petitions out there with the signatures of thousands of scientists disputing the veracity of the theory of evolution. What do you think about the theory of evolution, Stuey.

          The great things about petitions is that, well, they're just signatures! They don't really make any point at all, one way or the other. They just shout a bit. They don't provide any data, analysis, evidence or arguments. They just go RARGH, and then allow people to smugly point at them and play scientist signature top trumps. Wonderful white elephants, really.

          And yes, Pacahri's an engineer. Fortunately he's also the chairman of the organisation, and thus has no input into the science whatsoever.

        3. DennisA
          January 7, 2010

          (The business interests of Pachauri are examined in this piece-ed)

          As are (the interests of )some others:

  4. APL
    January 6, 2010

    JR: "Instead Mr M threw his toys out of the pram, declined to offer a civil answer to a civil question, and told me the science of global warming was settled!"

    Perhaps you could ask question: During this recent cold snap, how much of the United Kingdoms electrical energy has been generated by wind power?

    When the answer .9% is provided, perhaps you might ask a suplemental question: What measures are the minister taking to make sure the wind blow harder during future periods of great need?

    Reply: That would be cruel!

    1. alan jutson
      January 6, 2010

      Perhaps the answer would be to eat more beans or sprouts.

    2. Stuart Fairney
      January 6, 2010

      Some people have suggested that AGW is more religous than scientific, and so when blasphemous remarks are made, they can't say "It was such-and-such climate model, because of pollutant X in the higher atmosphere which results in jet stream shift"

      As you observe, no models have predicted the refusal of the world to warm up in the last decade, despite the CO2 increases, so instead we verbally "burn heretics" by repeating the mantra about 'settled science' and simply abuse people who ask sensible questions by calling them deniers.

      Readers maybe interested to take a look at Chris Booker's take on the subject in "The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is The Obsession With `Climate Change` Turning Out To Be The Most Costly Scientific Blunder In History?" Very revealing indeed I thought.

      1. Please grow up.
        January 6, 2010

        What are you talking about? The world's atmosphere DID warm up in the last decade. We know this for a fact. Never in this entire sorry story is that ever called into doubt. Except by you. Nice one.

        1. Stuart Fairney
          January 6, 2010

          No, even the AGW people say 1998 was the hottest year in the last zillion (it wasn't it was 1934 but anyway), ergo it follows that the decade since cannot have warmed in line with the theory and again, please desist from the ad hominem and anonymous that you simply would not make on a face to face basis.

          Perhaps a basic check of the temperature record would benefit your understanding rather than just repeating mantras.

        2. Ian
          January 6, 2010

          "ergo it follows that the decade since cannot have warmed in line with the theory "

          No, it really doesn't follow at all. Let's say that the average 'something' (not temperature, just for avoidance of doubt, could be anything) in the years 1996-2001 was as follows:

          1996: 4
          1997: 5
          1998: 9
          Average for 1996-98 = 6
          1999: 6
          2000: 7
          2001: 8
          Average for 1999-2001 = 7

          I'm sure even you can't deny (oh sorry, be sceptical about) the obvious trend increase, even though none of the years 1999-2001 are higher than 1998.

      2. Sam
        January 7, 2010

        Stuart have you ever heard of things such as variance and standard deviation.

        I'm not convinced that you have.

        1. Stuart Fairney
          January 7, 2010

          Sam, even the IPCC now accept that the theory has failed and are coming up, not with retreats into statistical subterfuge to suggest that the trend is upward as you are doing, but into spurious excuse-making about aerosol particles in the air etc.

          Iain, you cannot simply make up numbers randomly with an upward trend and say that proves the temperature is increasing, your point is unrelated to reality and thus absurd.

        2. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          Oh dear. It's not statistical subterfuge at all, it's just statistics. I wish more people knew and understood a bit about statistics, as they are terribly important in so many areas of life (medicine, insurance, poker), and lots of arguments about this kind of thing would never happen.

          There will be short term blips in any scientific data over most any timescale. Something like climate change science measures data over many many years in order to try and ascertain a picture of what is going on long term. When it comes to looking at temperature patterns there will be rare cold snaps like this, and the occasional heatwave too. However these events are outliers, and can't really be taken to mean anything. Your assertion that "1998 was the hottest year in the last zillion (it wasn’t it was 1934 but anyway), ergo it follows that the decade since cannot have warmed" is just absolutely wrong.

          Anyway, that's all by the by since you're wrong anyway. The MET office, NASA and the GISS all recently published data showing that the last decade was warmer than the preceeding one. look:

        3. Ian
          January 7, 2010

          "Iain, you cannot simply make up numbers randomly with an upward trend and say that proves the temperature is increasing, your point is unrelated to reality and thus absurd"

          Stewart, please read more carefully.

          You stated that "even the AGW people say 1998 was the hottest year in the last zillion … ergo it follows that the decade since cannot have warmed in line with the theory".

          My numbers (which as I stated were invented to demonstrate a point, and are NOT temperatures of any sort) simply show that it quite possible to have an upward trend including a maximum in 1998.

          Getting back to reality, the global warming trend predicts (in the same way as any trend predicts anything, that is with a degree of uncertainty) that there will soon be a year warmer than 1998. If this doesn't happen in the next 20 years I might start to agree with you.

    3. FatBigot
      January 6, 2010

      Is it as much as 0.9%?

      1. APL
        January 13, 2010

        FatBigot: " as much as 0.9%?"

        Just come across this site:


        1. APL
          January 13, 2010
    4. Mark
      January 6, 2010

      Cruel? Remind me who has a personal windmill…

      1. APL
        January 7, 2010

        Mark: “Remind me who has a personal windmill”

        Was it paid for on expenses?

        1. APL
          January 7, 2010

          APL: "Was it paid for on expenses?"

          Because if you don't have to calculate the return on your investment, since someone else is paying your capital expenditure it doesn't matter to you that the windmill you bought in an attempt to court the green vote cost £10,000 and could only be expected to pay for itself at the end of 30 years in terms of electricity generated, it doesn't matter because someone else – the tax payer has paid the capital cost.

          The next photo I saw of the wretched thing, it had lost its blades, perhaps they had been blown off by a gust of wind?

  5. Lola
    January 6, 2010

    You include the phrase "the government’s beliefs" about global warming. Quite. They don't 'know' about MMGW, they just believe in it. Like Blair and his 'belief' about Iraq's WMD's. Oh dear. Oh dear.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      I don't know whether you've ever read anything about basic science, but actually (and perhaps you'd better sit down, this might upset you) nobody actually 'knows' …. anything! The whole world is just a theory! Could be disproved any minute!

      Of course there is one exception – you Lola 'know' that certain other people (who, conveniently, you don't like), are wrong!

      1. APL
        January 7, 2010

        Ian: "The whole world is just a theory! Could be disproved any minute!"

        Perhaps, but until it is disproved. The theories that explain why the electric light illuminates when I flick that switch, or the car moves when I engage the engine to the transmission – or even, now sit down because this may upset you, why it warms up during the day when the sun shines, those theories will do very well thank you.

        In short I will use my critical preference and select the theory that adequately and reliably explains phenomena x,y or z, to your assertion that it works because of magic.

      2. Lola
        January 8, 2010

        Thank you, Ian, for confirming my point. I did not say that I knew that MMGW believers were wrong, but that the way they were using it was a belief system. And just because I disagree with someone does not mean that I dislike them, au contraire I thrive on argument. It's how I learn, and most other people come to that.

        But there are something that I do 'know'. I know, for example, that Gordon Brown is a useless Prime Minister and was a useless Chancellor.

  6. brian kelly
    January 6, 2010

    I watched the Fiscal Responsibility Bill yesterday [most of it]. If anything reflected a dying govt it was this spectacle. It is meant to be a major bill – part of the Queen's Speech – and it was a disgraceful piece of rubbish and an utter waste of time – contemptuous both of parliament and the country. Most of the time there were virtually no labour backbenchers and sometimes only one minister. The conservatives who spoke [of whom J. Redwood made a very telling contribution] – and some liberals – ripped this worthless rubbish to pieces. How can they go along like this? – for 5 months! And to think that there is still a chance of a hung parliament according to polling. I somehow just cannot believe that will be the case – it is such an obviously incompetent, divided and wretched govt deeply obsessed with rivalries and party politics – its main aim is to 'coast' to a general election before the roof falls in – like rabbits in the headlights.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    January 6, 2010

    What a complete waste of time. Is it any wonder that politicians are not trusted and held in such low esteem? John, I don't know how you can tolerate such absurdity but I am grateful that there is at least one voice of sanity in that chamber of black comedy. My problem is that many in your own party are just the same as the Milibands et al. There is no open thought on your side about man-made climate change (previously called global warming). I suspect that if you had asked your own shadow minister the same question you would have got exactly the same response.
    I still wait to hear just how any party, including your own, is going to cut public spending. I think we have a set of spineless politicians leading the main parties. Perhaps they will be happy when the markets intervene and force them to act and they can blame someone else for "the difficult choices" they have had to make.

  8. HK
    January 6, 2010

    JR "Why was the Northern hemisphere experiencing such a cold winter, and which of the climate models had predicted this?"

    Piers Corbyn's climate model did a pretty good job of predicting the cold winter (

    See this October 2009 article from the BBC ( It's always interesting to compare forecasts with the benefit of hindsight. As a taster:

    "The UK winter, [Piers Corbyn] forecasts, is likely to be cold with some very cold spells. His bete noire, the Met Office, says in an "early indication" that temperatures are likely to be near or above the recent average (3.7C for December), though there is a one in seven chance of a cold one.

    "So there you are. The forecasts are out; let battle commence."

    (H/T James Dellingpole's blog)

  9. BillyB
    January 6, 2010

    You could have asked when the government will initiate the Severn Barrage tidal energy project… (capable of approx 5-8% of UK electricity demand?)

    Its only been talked about for 50 (or is it 100?) years

    I'd feel far more comfortable with my taxes financing something like this (manifesto writers please take note)

  10. Mark
    January 6, 2010

    You have identified a new target for a Grand Repeal Bill. I'm sure contributors here could identify many others, and that such a measure would be extremely popular with voters. It would concentrate on throwing off our economic shackles from regulation and imposts, and on those that impinge on us from the Orwellian nanny state. I do hope it is planned as the killer tactic once the election is actually called.

  11. Frugal Dougal
    January 6, 2010

    I hope Mr Milliband and those who say that the debate concerning anthropogenic climate change is settled will deign to tell us where free speech is buried; I missed the funeral and should like to lay flowers at the grave.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      Hilarious! ROFL! Never heard that before!

      If I or anyone else including government ministers says the Earth revolves around the Sun, even if they use the word "settled", you're still absolutely free to state the opposite if that's what you believe (is it? wouldn't surpirse me).

  12. Stronghold Barricade
    January 6, 2010

    Andrew Neil on his BBC daily politics blog has some answers for the weather

    It was predicted, just not by our met office, who's head got a massive rise in salary this year

  13. A.Sedgwick
    January 6, 2010

    Miliband major and minor regularly behave like immature school boys – your experience yesterday is another example.

  14. Sui Juris
    January 6, 2010

    Hear, hear once again to JR. I couldn't disagree with a word.

    What I particularly like about this blog is how we actually get to hear about what is said in Parliament, and how it goes down. The mainstream media seem to have no interest in this, and much of the blogosphere likewise. Bravo JR!

    (I know we can all watch BBC Parliament, of course; it isn't quite the same, though)

    1. brian kelly
      January 6, 2010

      Not quite the same perhaps .. but often very instructive on how parliament carries on day after day – I've been watching quite a bit for 4-5 months and I have been shocked sometimes at the trivialities and sparse attendances – and been very impressed indeed at the serious and intelligent ways of many parliamentarians – most on the conservative benches and quite a few on the labour and liberal benches. The govt ministers are, in my view, utterly woeful to a man [or woman] – virtually the whole lot.

  15. Javelin
    January 6, 2010

    John you're absolutely right to say the science is not settled. The data recording is shoddy and the computer programming is shoddy. The conclusions are therefore shoddy.

    If the cost of rectifying a shoddy theory of man made global warming was peanuts then I wouldn't care, but the cost is enormous. Trillions and trillions. We need transparency, dilgence and professionalism not religious zealots.

  16. JohnOC
    January 6, 2010


    Happy new year and good to hear there is some sense in parliament.

    I have long intended to write a diatribe to my own MP asking why are we being forced to pay for a BBC ranting on about AGW.

    Did anyone see Mr. Benn and his food policy getting top billing on Breakfast yesterday morning in the midst of the current Arctic chaos ?

    1. brian kelly
      January 6, 2010

      'Today' this morning mentioned a number of the debates and bills in parliament yesterday – but not one word [that I heard] on the 'fiscal responsibility bill' [i think it's called]. This was a bill in the Queen's Speech and i would regard as a very important debate – but not a mention. The bill [and labour] were lamentable – and it was ripped to pieces by the conservatives to vast empty spaces on the labour benches – sometimes one minister and one backbencher. Not one labour mp supported the bill.

  17. oldrightie
    January 6, 2010

    I suspect your "Antartic" blast is a slip of the toungue so to speak! That really would kill the AGW science!
    However the fact that a Government Minister, who I consider to be little more than Gromit in diguise, has the gaul to say the science is "settled", in the wake of the ongoing scandals and deep winter freeze, is beyond comprehension. No wonder, with such stupidity and arrogant ignorance, we are in such a mess.

    1. Mike Stallard
      January 6, 2010

      "Gromit" ought to be divided into three perhaps?

    2. David Eyles
      January 7, 2010

      As an enthusiastic follower of Wallace and Gromit, I will point out that the real Gromit reads "Electronics for Dogs" and is far more intelligent than both of the brothers Milliband put together.

  18. Captain Baines
    January 6, 2010

    Milliband and co. dare not admit that their climate theories are wrong as they would have to forgo the tax billions they extort on the back of it.
    Regarding the Deficit the Conservative Party bears a great responsibility. If they loose the next election the economy will crash. Foreign investors will not continue to buy UK debt if the present shower of imbeciles are re-elected. Nor will they if a credible plan is not put forward by the new Tory administration.
    Why is David Cameron not hammering this home instead of making statements then retracting them and generally engaging with Labour's spin games?
    Perhaps he thinks the electorate can't handle the truth.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      "Milliband and co. dare not admit that their climate theories are wrong as they would have to forgo the tax billions they extort on the back of it"

      Do you really believe this rubbish?! The vast majority of Government income is from corporation tax, income tax and VAT, none of which have anything whatesoever to do with climate theories.

      The truth, or otherwise, of global warming would not affect David Milliband's (or John Redwood's) salaries either way.

      1. Captain Baines
        January 6, 2010

        Never mentioned their salaries, what I was in fact refering to was the recent estimate (reported widely) that we pay £20 billion plus more in green taxes than is actually justified. Nor did I say that climate taxes were the majority of government income. I fully accept that there are a vast number of methods of extracting money from us and climate taxation is but one minor (but set to be greatly increased) way. Should that make me happy? Please read what I actually said Ian.

        1. Ian
          January 6, 2010

          You implied that they only believe in global warming because they personally have something to lose, and that they actaully know it is incorrect.

          Not surprisingly you don't state that the £20bn figure was froma report by the well-known right-wing pressure group the TPA, so can hardly be assumed to be impartial. On some very dodgy arguments, their report classes all fuel and excise duty (except the cost of road building) as 'green' taxes, even though they were in existence years before anybody even heard of global warming.

          And even if we were to accept their figures, are we really supposed to believe that £20bn is worth a massive global conspiracy?! Laugable logic I'm afraid.

  19. FatBigot
    January 6, 2010

    I wonder whether Mr Milliband's scientific reading includes material from those who dispute the man-made global warming hypothesis.

    Your point about debating the current cold snap is, I think, at the heart of what is wrong with the way we are governed today. Politics sometimes involves grand ideas but at least 99% of the time it is about everyday life. At the moment the dominant change affecting people in this country is the severe weather. We weren't freezing last week, we are freezing this week.

    Very cold weather has consequences, real consequences for real people and fatal consequences for those unequipped to cope with it. The government should be reporting to Parliament daily on the way national and local government is responding to the problem. It should be showing itself to be a government for (and not just of) the people of the UK.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      "I wonder whether Mr Milliband’s scientific reading includes material from those who dispute the man-made global warming hypothesis" – well of course it does (or more likely, has). But like most sensible people who've investigated it, and like the massive majority of scientists (as opposed to 'Dr Geri Halliwell' et al from the Oregon list), he thinks they're wrong.

      And you seriously think the cold snap is the most important thing the government should be worrying about? And they should be reporting back daily about whether Acacia Avenue has been gritted or not?

  20. Neil Craig
    January 6, 2010

    I would like to, once again, make the point that Parliament's dissociation from reality is largely because we have a corrupt electoral system that limits choice to 2 (& 1/2) parties which are themselves under pressure to be led from the "consensus" position. That means even sceptics cannot publicly say that "catastrophic global warming" is a lie because that would embarass the leadership(& the leadership is in a cleft stick because if they allow you to speak out they must allow everybody & the party looks divided). The answer is a proportional electoral system which wopuld have 2 or 3 parties on the "right" & the same on the "left" which would have disagreements between themselves without being unable to work together. The present position fits all of Britain's politics in a Procrustean bed or straitjacket (depending which analogy you feel more apt) & is imensely harming to us both economically & socially.

    Well done on getting them to say that if the Deficit Reduction Bill hurts they will just repeal it. It shows such non-binding promises on future governments are no more than spin.

  21. Paul
    January 6, 2010

    I would point out Mr Redwood, that if this bill is cancelled things do not look promising for the Government's next bills.

    – Permanent Sunshine (including pretty Rainbows) Act
    – Everyone Happy and Smiling all Day (Laughter) Act

    I think this lot are beyond irony. The government are like a cross between Brave New World and Spitting Image.

    I notice we are going to teach five year olds about debt.

    Presumably this will be "if you run out of money because you've borrowed too much, first steal it from Mummy's purse, then print notes using Letraset. It will work eventually".

    Then of course, there's complaints about a funding black hole from a government which prints money to fill a spending gap six times that.

    (That reminds me. There is talk in the blogosphere of the Govt spending figure being reduced by 60bn on the QT to cover up the predictable losses in received tax income etc. due to the recession. No sign of front bench stuff on this yet ?)

    I despair sometimes that a quarter of the population are stupid enough to vote for this government.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    January 6, 2010

    Parliament missed the mood, but Labour acted as is their style. Or more likely, as is Gordon Brown's style.

    I am told that as Chancellor he gained a reputation within the accountancy profession as a serial fiddler. In other words he kept on changing things to compensate for results turning out differently to that which he had intended. And when even that approach failed he threatened to take action against those who came up with tax avoidance schemes, though perfectly legal and what people have been doing since there was taxation, that sought to achieve an outcome different to that which he had intended. It gives me the impression that the man just can not bear the thought that there may be other people clever than him.

    It seems to me Brown's approach is to govern by legislating outcomes, not to set a framework within which the population can work to bring us to the desired outcome. This shows a lack of understanding of the issues relevant to achieving the outcome, so it is hardly surprising that when the course of travel heads off in the wrong direction new legislation is required.

    So we have a fiddling control freak full of his own self importance who achieves objectives by trial and error. No wonder the government's bill is as you describe it, John; heavy on outcomes and lacking in understanding, with a "get out of jail card" ready to be played for corrective action when it all goes wrong.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      January 6, 2010

      An hour after writing my comment I hear on the one o'clock news that there are two Labour members of parliament who want all their colleagues to give their own opinion on Brown!

  23. Kevin Peat
    January 6, 2010

    Thank you for riling Milliband. He really is a patronising and over-puffed politician. He would never have reached high office at the zenith of this country's history.

  24. Kevin Peat
    January 6, 2010

    I wish also to add:

    I used to live in a cul-de-sac where there were older residents. During cold snaps we'd all be out doing our bit shovelling and gritting.

    I live in a different cul-de-sac now and the people are younger. There is an expectation that it is the job of the council to do everything be it litter picking, grafitti or a build up of snow and I can't motivate them.

    Our values and senses of individual responsibility need changing.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      Perhaps they grew up in an era of unbridled selfishness and don't believe society exists?

      Reply: Are you talking of the Labour MPs? That jibe clearly does not apply to Conservatives as we always thought there is such a thing as society, but oppose top down centralised attempts to control it.

      1. Ian
        January 6, 2010

        Not sure where Labour MPs came into it? Do any of them live in Kevin's cul-de-sacs?

        "And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families."
        Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women's Own magazine, October 31 1987

        And you don't oppose -all- top down centralised attempts to control it, just the ones you don't happen to agree with.

      2. Kevin Peat
        January 7, 2010

        These are 40 somethings. The values were instilled over forty years.

  25. Ex Liverpool rioter
    January 6, 2010

    John looks like the Labour party read your Blog………..They trying to give Gordon the bullet.


  26. David Cognito
    January 6, 2010

    It's terrifying that our representatives are so awfully ignorant of the most basic science – or even the ability to absorb it.

    Reply: I am not at all ignroant of what climate change theorists suggest. I asked a perfectly reasonable question without making any assertions. The Minister was unable or unwilling to answer it, which is probably why the government is finding it so difficult to persuade the country about the settled science as they decline to explain it.

    1. David Price
      January 6, 2010

      Ed Milliband has a background in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, so he is not a scientist by training or vocation. If he wanted to address this matter seriously he would be wheeling out a reputable scientist to address these questions.

      As to a cold snap (or two) does not a climate make …

      Mr Milliband's response typifies the other aspect of the issue which irritates me. We need to understand how changes in climate will impact our weather patterns so we, in the UK, understand how to adapt. So your question was very pertinent and exactly the question that needs to be answered.

      These measures will likely cost money. So why are messrs Brown and Milliband giving that money to other countries so they can either adapt or catch up with their emission levels? Why aren't they sorting out an emergency plan for gas supplies or electricity generation. If the gas is running out why are they promoting new gas boilers rather than switching to heat pumps etc? I have to admit I am concerned that Mr Greg Clark seems to be following the same tack as well.

      Why aren't the pro-AGW community not proposing adaption measures instead of trying to turn us into paupers?

      So, please keep asking Milliband et al those simple but key questions until they actually answer them – though I am not holding my breath.

    2. Sam
      January 7, 2010

      I wasn't aware it was the government's duty to inform the public about matters of science.

      Perhaps you could wheel John Gummer's daughter out and pop her under a sunbed for half an hour in order to prove conclusively that global warming will leave everyone with a nice healthy glow and pearly white teeth.

      1. David Price
        January 7, 2010

        The government is adopting a policy that will cost this country money and resources it doesn't have. They are using a questionable basis for that policy and it is their duty to justify that basis.

        I notice you didn't answer any of my questions…

        1. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          That wasn't addressed to you, but I'm not busy today so fine.

          There is at least some understanding of how climate change could alter weather patterns. I suggest you peruse the website of the MET office, who have got lots of lovely information that you can look over. Large scale climate models cannot predict short term weather such as cold snaps like this, however, although it may be that there will be more extremes in the future. However, if warming should occur as predicted, loads of unexpected things are almost certain to happen. Nature's a complex beast after all.

          The reason that new, efficient, boilers are being touted is probably because at the moment gas heating is still the best way to go for a lot of people. You can't heat a block of flats with heat pumps, they are also much less efficient in cold weather like this.

          And finally there are lots of people proposing adaption measures and stuff for coping with the end of fossil fuels, which will happen with or without global warming. If you're really interested I recommend the excellent and completely unbiased (it's a book about facts and numbers, not opinions) and free ebook by David MacKay of Cambridge University, available at

    3. David Cognito
      January 7, 2010

      > I am not at all ignroant of what climate change theorists suggest.

      This language demonstrates that you are exactly ignorant of the science. Climate change *scientists*, not "theorists", have developed a scientific theory – – not a guess or a stab in the dark, developed over the past 100+ years that demonstrates that humans are heating the planet by release of CO2 and other gases. There is no credible doubt that this is a matter of absolute fact.

      The consequences are already becoming apparent in droughts, disappearing Arctic ice sheets and vanishing glaciers all around the planet. Over the next several decades things will become much, much worse and will result in the death and suffering of many people and the loss of a habitable climate for large swathes of the planet. This is not science fiction, it is fact supported by every national science academy on the planet.

      > I asked a perfectly reasonable question without making any assertions.

      You asked a question which exposed your ignorance of the difference between weather and climate. Here's another explanation:

      > The Minister was unable or unwilling to answer it, …

      I'm not sure the House of Commons is the place for MPs to be explaining basic science to each other when it is available with a few seconds searching on the 'net.

      > …which is probably why the government is finding it so difficult to persuade the country about the settled science as they decline to explain it.

      Three in four UK voters believe climate change is important problem. Survey shows Britons overwhelmingly reject view that Copenhagen conference is panicking about an exaggerated threat.

      Hopefully you will reflect on your position and take some time to see what the *science* is telling us and leave behind the politicisation of the issue, because nature is not concerned about your political views or with lines drawn on a map.

  27. English Pensioner
    January 6, 2010

    I can't believe it! On the Biased BBC Breakfast programme this morning they read ot an e-mail from a listener thanking Gordon for having solved the Global Warming Crisis. Can it be that the BBC simply can't recognise sarcasm!

    And in case it hasn't been noticed, the snow is falling straight down and no major drifts have been reported. The reason (in case the Greens haven't worked it out), is that there is no wind. So at a time of peak electricity consumption when we need maximum generating capacity, their favoured source stops working. Great!

    1. BillyB
      January 6, 2010

      check out for a wider picture of windspeeds – there is currently plenty of wind off Wales and Cornwall and off Norfolk. Don't jump to such conclusions from looking out of your window!

  28. David T
    January 6, 2010

    Why do so many pf these NuLab people look so nasty? (One named person) has a supercilious curl of the lip and sneer, and there was a global warming fanatic (defined to recognise-ed) that had the skinhead and bovver boy body language of a minder from the BNP.
    They really are the nasty party.

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      What a useful contribution to the debate!

  29. Derek W. Buxton
    January 6, 2010

    I would be more reassured if Cameron threw out the "green" agenda that he currently believes in. It is far too expensive for a situation that will probably never happen. One does wonder whether the large sums of money involved are being shared out rather than all going to Gore, Pachuri and their fake charities. To remove the five subsidies which are included in our energy bills would be a good start.

  30. Paul Burton
    January 6, 2010


    As you appear to have a real interest in the science of climate change – can I suggest you take the time to visit two internationally recognised centres of excellence of the fields of climate science and weather forecasting/predicitability which are both very close to you, namely the Walker Institute at Reading Univerisity and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting in Shinfield.

    If you were to visit these institutions, you would get the opportunity to meet the scientists doing the research into the fields of predictability and climate change, and perhaps gain a better understanding to the answers to the questions you posed in the house.

    But perhaps you already know the answers. In which case perhaps you could go to these insititutions to tell them the answers and save them all their time and taxpayers money in researching these fields.

  31. Mike Stallard
    January 6, 2010

    I have read every post on this article and have come to the conclusion that they are all informed, literate (a rare thing!), thoughtful and sensible.
    Your own contribution was excellent and thoughtful etc too. (as ever!)
    Is there any feed back from us, the posters, to the inner Conservative HQ? In the olden days, Harold Macmillan used to take tea as often as he could in the Tea Room and mingle. Does Mr Cameron do this since the huge building next door was constructed? Is there any point anyway? Do any MPs take tea there nowadays? Is there anywhere where people mingle with the leaders of their party?
    The underlying question which we are all, methinks, asking is this: is there any feed back from you and your outstanding blog to the leaders?
    I quite understand that a leader picks his own coterie – that has always been a fact of life. But an excellent leader (and how we need one immediately) is firmly in touch with the grass roots. And that means the MPs.
    How much is this the case?
    Only asking…..

    Reply: yes, there are still plenty of exchanges between interested MPs and the leadership. Mr Greg Clark and I have discussed climate change quite often.

  32. Francis Irving
    January 6, 2010

    "Instead Mr M threw his toys out of the pram, declined to offer a civil answer to a civil question, and told me the science of global warming was settled! "

    No he didn't. He said:

    "I can hardly believe that question, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The weather fluctuates, as anyone knows, and the notion that a cold spell in Britain disproves the science of climate change is something that I believe not even the right hon. Gentleman believes."

    You're right that he hasn't taken your question literally and replied with a model. I think he assumed it was a sarchastic, wind-up question made by a climate change denier.

    i.e. He thought you must be asking a question about climate models, whereas actually clearly you must have been asking a question about weather models.

    You could fix that impression by saying clearly whether or not you think climate change is a risk to Britain.

    I think there is a high risk that climate change will destroy our economy. I'm frankly amazed that a business minded Tory isn't worried about that.

  33. Ian
    January 6, 2010

    Oooh look there's snow in my road – well that proves global warming doesn't exist!

    How stupid can you all be!

    Whatever you believe or don't believe, the weather in one tiny part of the world over a period of a few days is utterly irrelevant.

    If you don't want a stupid answer, don't ask a stupid (and doubtless disingenuous) question.

    Reply: It was not a stupid question. We need to know climate change models can predict and accommodate changes in the weather. Climate is long term weather. The long term comprises a series of short terms. If too many short terms are colder than expected the trend is different from predicted. Why are climate change supporters so touchy about making their case?

    1. Ian
      January 6, 2010

      You seriously think that a theory relating to long-term average tenmperatures across the planet should be able to predict local extremely-short-term weather conditions?

      Reply: I think a theory about climate should be able to accommodate facts like a very severe Northern hemisphere winter. This is not just the UK – have you seen the weather reports from China, the Med etc? Climate, long term and aggregated weather, is the result of a series of winters/summers. Too many bad ones lowers the average temperature.

      1. Ian
        January 6, 2010

        If there were a huge number of significantly lower temperatures across the whole planet for a significant period of time, then of course that would prove that the climate as a whole was not getting warmer. One cold sanp in the UK doesn't prove anything either way.

      2. David Eyles
        January 7, 2010

        Ian, I agree with John's reply to you, which is entirely reasonable. So far this winter, UK weather has been mild compared to many other parts of the northern hemisphere. Edmonton in Canada reported a record low temperature reading of minus 46.1 degrees C on the 13th December. Elsewhere before Christmas there were very low temperatures recorded all over Eastern Europe, Russia and so on. At the moment there is remarkably stable high pressure region over Greenland which means that the "Arctic Blast" will continue for some time. The back end of last winter and early spring was also very dry and cold. For my forecasting, you may expect fewer gloom laden predictions of melting Arctic ice caps this year because the extent of winter ice is increasing after its low point two or three years ago.

        1. Ian
          January 7, 2010

          David, I am pleased to see that in his second reply, John does indded agree with me:

          "I think a theory about climate should be able to accommodate facts like a very severe Northern hemisphere winter."
          They do. Theories of climate change indicate that general warming will cause more severe weather effects, including extreme cold and hot spells.

          "This is not just the UK – have you seen the weather reports from China, the Med etc? Climate, long term and aggregated weather, is the result of a series of winters/summers."
          Exactly. Climate is "long-term", not just a few days. A "series of winters/summers" – not just one.

          "Too many bad ones lowers the average temperature."
          Quite agree. But one cold snap doesn't.

          If we, and the rest of the planet, continue to have cooler summers and winters, for 10 or 20 years, then the warming trend may change to a flat or cooling trend. But at the moment the trend is up, and we can't afford to just ignore it and hope.

          Reply: This cold winter follows a summer which did not live up to its BBQ billing. The summer before was also cool.

        2. BillyB
          January 8, 2010

          It was 18C in Bulgaria the other day. Its normally below zero this time of year. So what do we conclude from that?

      3. David Cognito
        January 7, 2010

        > …have you seen the weather reports from China, the Med etc?

        Have you seen the weather reports from the Alaska, northern Canada and the Arctic? Temperatures are 5C to 10C warmer than expected.

        > I think a theory about climate should be able to accommodate facts like a very severe Northern hemisphere winter.

        Again and again you are demonstrating that you don't understand the difference between short-term chaotic weather and long-term climate trends. Global warming does not suggest there will never be snow or a cold snap in places that regularly have snow and cold weather. It's incredible that so many people think this.

        Did you honestly believe that global warming meant permanent tropical weather across the entire northern hemisphere all year round?!

        Reply: Of course not – calm down and be sensible. But higher average temperatures require a series of warmer winters without too many unusually cold ones, otherwise the average will go in the unpredicted direction as well.

        1. David Cognito
          January 8, 2010

          > …calm down and be sensible.

          I'm entirely calm and clearly the only one between the two of us who has had the good sense to educate himself on what the science tells us.

          Your determined ignorance on this subject should be shameful to you. It's certainly shameful that someone as scientifically illiterate and wilfully ignorant as you is in a position to influence the direction of this country.

    2. AndrewSouthLondon
      January 6, 2010

      "Believers" are touchy because they don't have a case, which is why they have been dodging FOI while cooking to books.

      Every one knows climate and weather are different, and climate change is a fraud whatever the weather happens to be from day to day. It exists only in computer models, whose output is just the sum of its inputs. They prove nothing but their dodgy selective inputs.

      No-one knows whether the climate is changing or how. Anyone who claims to is certainly lying.

      1. Ian
        January 6, 2010

        "climate change is a fraud"

        "No-one knows whether the climate is changing or how. Anyone who claims to is certainly lying."

        That'll be you lying then?

        1. Sebastian Weetabix
          January 7, 2010

          Your relentless ad-hominen attacks are becoming tiresome. Please desist from such trolling.

        2. Ian
          January 7, 2010

          Refuting peoples' incorrect arguments and assumptions in the same tone they use is not ad hominem, or trolling.

          AndrewSouthLondon stated that "No-one knows whether the climate is changing" and "climate change is a fraud". Both these statements cannot be true – he would have to know whether the climate is changing (or not) to be able to state that climate change is a fraud.

          Making untrue statements is commonly known as lying.

  34. […] Redwood was evidently not happy with the “weather fluctuates” response and returned to the issue this morning on his blog: […]

  35. Please grow up.
    January 6, 2010

    "It was meant to be a rational and interesting question."

    A question can be both rational and interesting while still being self-serving, manipulative and disingenuous. Being rational and being interesting are not sufficient reasons, even taken together, to ask a question; these things do not explain *why* you asked the question, or why you felt this question was an appropriate use of Parliament's time. I do not believe it is your job to be interesting, and I dare say it is detrimental to be rational in politics.

    reply: it was clearly a good question as it has aroused so much interest. It is what a large number of people are asking, and it's my job to represent them.

  36. Paulie
    January 6, 2010

    You think that, because it's snowing, that the whole climate change idea is made up, don't you.

    Reply: No. I do not think the fact that it is currently snowing proves climate change is made up. Try reading what I have written and understanding the questions I am asking.

  37. Ed
    January 6, 2010

    Hi John, I was trawling around the web and found your question at PMQs, so I popped along to offer a brief science lesson. The crux of a possibility for a bitter winter in the UK in the model of global warming (anthropogenic or otherwise) lies within the words 'thermohaline circulation'.

    Britain and Northern Europe are kept warm in the winter by the North Atlantic Current. Oceanic flows do not happen by themselves, they need to be pumped at both ends.

    The North Atlantic Current starts life in the Carribean Sea. The Caribbean Sea is a shallow sea, where the tropical sun heats the water, and the prevailing winds in that area blow the water nearer the surface North-Westward (Towards Northern Europe and Britain). The water is replaced in the Carribean sea by cold water coming up from the north coast of South America.

    At the Northern end of the North Atlantic Current we have the waters around Scandinavia, which should freeze. As the Sea water freezes it forms Freshwater Ice, and the remaining sea water is saltier. The saltier water sinks, drawing in more warmer water past the UK. This is how we have very mild winters for our latitude.

    Now if the arctic iswarmer than usual, that says to me that perhaps there's not so much ice forming up on the pole as usual for this time of year. This will weaken the warm water currents being drawn past Northern Europe and will make us colder. The North Atlantic Current is more likely to find itself at the Mediterranean and North Africa, which, surprise surprise, are warmer than usual.

    If Global Warming continues, a severe British Winter is going to be a more common situation. Global Warming will cause more severe winters in Britain and Northern Europe.

    These are basic principles that can be applied to the problem, and I for one learnt them at GCSE level Geography/Science.

    Reply: I am acquainted with ocean currents and how they work, as I too graduated with an O level in geography. We need to explain why most of the Northern hemisphere is having a very cold winter, not just the UK. As I have stated before, it is possible the world is warming up. It appeared to be in 1975-98, just as it appeared to be cooling post war when many scientists were warning of a new ice age. What we need is weather and climate models which can predict the future. There is then the issue of causation.

    1. David Price
      January 6, 2010

      If it is all so simple and straightforward, why did the team at the UEA Climatic Research Unit have to fudge the data?

      Why should I take the word of climate specialists at all now? How can anyone trust them when they have been found to have cooked the books in such an amateurish way?

      Why do pro AGW people become so defensive and insulting when contradicted or questioned?

      It is one thing to suggest we should adapt to a changing climate, it is a different proposition entirely to say it is all our (US, UK, EUR) fault and we should hand over all our money to the developing world, stop eating meat and live in caves. When you make extreme claims don't be surprised if people start to ask questions.

      But the way the pro-AGW people have behaved and how they have treated those who ask questions suggests very strongly we are dealing with a religion or other scam and not a scientific endeavour at all.

      My suggestion to those who flock to pillory and bully people who are sceptical is you need to regain your credibility and perspective. You need to re-establish your data and models in an utterly transparent way that proves no tampering has happened and maximizes completeness. You need to act like scientists and explore what might happen and not act like charlatans trying to push a particular social agenda.

      And, since you want our money, you might be more polite about it.

      1. Ian
        January 6, 2010

        All this faux-outrage and disingenuity! Amazing.

        But to take your pints in order:

        Just because one person cheats in a pub quiz doesn't mean the other people's answers are wrong.

        Show me any insulting statements made by global warming people on here. If you have a problem with people defending themselves, then you may need a little thicker skin. Especially if you're going to throw around words like bully, pillory, charlatans, cooked the books etc!

        Nobody is suggesting we should go and live in caves or give -all- our money to the developing world.

        "the way the pro-AGW people have behaved and how they have treated those who ask questions" yes quite! How dare the pro-AGW people -disagree- with you! How jolly dare they!

        Re your suggestion that the world's scientists should go away and re-do 20 years of work simply because you've decided you don't believe it, well good luck with that.

        And 'we' don't want 'your' money, 'we all' need 'our' money or there won't be much of any of 'us' left. Forgive me if I'm not quite as polite as you'd like when your intransigence threatens my grandchildren's existence!

      2. Sam
        January 7, 2010

        Siiiiigh. Look. They didn't "fudge" the data at all. It was corrected for known sources of bias, in order that the true signal could be better observed. This is common practice in many kinds of science. I'm a geoscientist, and we do lots of absurd things to seismic data. We use lots of neat "tricks" on the data (I'm sure you will have seen that word bandied about in the press somewhere), and mess about with it in all kinds of ways, but at the end the data gives us a much truer picture of what is happening (underground in my case) once other signals have been removed. This is all that the UEA team have done. I do not know what the significance of the data is, as I am not qualified to analyse it.

        Their private emails have since been hacked and then have been horribly misinterpreted by people with a prior agenda. There is no conspiracy of climate scientists, I mean think about it. These guys make rubbish money, work in a largely obscure subject (until recently) and are probably quite boring men. They merely want to understand the climate as best they can, which is important, as the global climate will obviously effect humanity as a whole however it behaves. And they're a nitpicky bunch, they'll pick holes in each others idea more thoroughly than any sceptic ever will. Which is why the whole thing is so robust.

        And yes, there are problems with climate change science and the theories that underly it. There are also problems with the theory of general relativity, but I don't see a load of gravity sceptics running around screaming their heads off that einstein was wrong.

        And I'm not entirely sure what Mr Redwood means when he says he wants climate models that can predict the future? Would you like to know the weather one year hence? I'm afraid that the chaotic nature of the Earth's weather system make that quite impossible, as evidenced by the BBC's incapability of getting the 5 day forecast right. Climate models are exclusively large scale and long term, because otherwise the maths and computing power required become utterly horrendous. The larger scale models can also make simplifications and assumptions which are fairly reasonable. So while it is reasonable for models to offer large scale predictions like global temperature trends over the next 50 years given a certain set of conditions, to expect even a vague idea of what next winter might be like, let alone why it might be that way, is currently an utter pipe dream.

        Perhaps, in his quest for knowledge, the hon member would be willing to campaign for better funding for the physical sciences, which the current government has seen fit to cut?

        1. David Price
          January 7, 2010

          Apparently, they didn't just "adjust" data, they didn't manage or document these adjustments effectively either("HARRY_READ_ME.txt"), they were very selective about which data from a set they used (only one tree from how many?), they were also very selective in who they allowed to review or see the data, they apparently broke the laws on FOI. I don't know how much of the data depended on ground stations but when you have an air-con vent next to a thermometer you shouldn't trust it's readings anymore ( The whole situation does not look very good from a number of aspects.

          From my perspective the major players cannot be trusted now, certainly not the IPCC or the existing band of experts. One way or another I feel the credibility of that area of science, not just the specialists involved, has been very badly damaged.

          I don't know how representative my view is but I believe there needs to be a significant and openly honest effort to re-build that credibility. This won't happen because pro-AGW people pillory and bully those who don't believe in the "A" part. It won't happen just because some politician or lord says he's looked at the situation and everything is OK. It won't even happen because some eminent scientist says it. You see what has happened, the woefull mishandling of the situation has destroyed trust in scientists. If anything this is what should be making people angry.

          The pro-AGW people who are upset at the situation are complaining to the wrong people. Their ire needs to be directed at the people who have been cheating the data, who have brought the science into disrepute and especially those who have hijacked the science to make a lot of money or their political reputation pushing the AGW belief.

          In the meantime some of us will look at issues around adaption, economics and security of energy and resources.

        2. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          I admit that I don't know all the ins and outs of the case having not followed it closely myself. However I largely trust their data. If they had tampered with it I have no doubt it would have been spotted eventually. Scientists usually treat good results more harshly than bad results! One must also remember that the UEA data is just one small piece. There is still a huge amount of other data out there, which has not been shown to be invalid and much of the science is based on this.

          And as for how the people involved behaved, yes I agree that they have tarnished their reputations somewhat, and that it should not be allowed to happen again. However, look at the methods that were used to uncover this in the first place, in what was clearly a deliberate effort to smear scientists. The hacking was a crime, and then the people involved recieved death threats afterwards. Because people don't agree with their views about the weather! How absurd! I don't think either side comes out of this looking good at all.

          The whole area is also currently very fraught. Many sceptic pressure groups are directly or indirectly funded by oil companies who aren't exactly free of motive themselves. And plenty of climate scientists are annoyed at these events here, both in how they have been blown out of all proportion by the media and at how the scientists themselves have acted. It's indicative of societies current attitude towards science, and has troubling echoes of the awful MMR affair and the current furore centred around evolution that's currently raging along in the states.

  38. David Price
    January 6, 2010

    Thank you for your contribution to the bill discussion. I was struck by the enormous amount of thought and consideration from the conservative and liberal benches in their responses compared to the obvious lack of thought put into that unmitigated disaster of a bill. I also continue to be struck by the lack of attendance by the government at debates over the last couple of months I have viewed them.

  39. Yorkshireman
    January 6, 2010

    NASA Scientist Dr Leonard Weinstein wrote the following article which identifies that global cooling is set to be the problem…

    "Limitations on Anthropogenic Global Warming" (March 1, 2009)

    "Previous interglacial periods tended to last 10,000 to 20,000 years, and in fact most did not have temperatures as slow changing as the present one. Since the present interglacial started about 18,000 years age, and reached the plateau about 11,000 years ago, we probably should be more concerned with a possible impending major ice age than a fraction of a degree or so of warming. In fact, the best possible outcome would be that the (relatively modest) contribution from AGW might help delay the onset of a new ice age.

    The magnetic field of the Earth has changed a lot over geological times. There were periods of weakening and then reversal occurring about every 200,000 years until about 780,000 years ago. At the present time, the field is again weakening. If the field weakens too much, the Earth’s magnetosphere would not block cosmic rays and Solar ions as well, and this could greatly affect cloud structure and thus weather. The Solar radiation and magnetic storms could also profoundly affect power transmission and electronics.

    Preparing for the possibility of an impending ice age along with the possible consequences of a reduction in Earth’s magnetic field are real concerns. Concern with relatively small effects of possible anthropogenic caused global warming is a misplaced distraction, and will probably lead to the public losing confidence in scientists, and could weaken the support needed when real problems occur."

    1. Sam
      January 7, 2010

      Leonard Weinstein is an aeronautical engineer. Why the hell does his opinion on anything to do with the weather matter at all.

      The timescale for possible effects of global warming is also much shorter than that for the onset of an ice age. Not to mention the fact that he pretty much just pulls the figure for interglacial periods out of thin air. There is a much, much larger observed spread in their times, and frankly ice ages are hardly metronomes.

      And yes, the earth's magnetosphere is probably going to flip again soon. Soon being within the next few thousand years, maybe. By which time we'll probably be extinct anyway. And there will be much worse problems that too much cloud cover when that happens. Magnetoflips tend to co-incide with mass extinctions of certain types of micro organisms like algae, so god knows what that would do to the biosphere. All our satellites would get fried, and long distance flying would probably irradiate you more than a few chest x-rays.

      1. Sebastian Weetabix
        January 7, 2010

        Engineers are applied scientists. They are excellent mathematicians and fully recognise the difference between theory and practice… and spend their careers involved in measuring things and – dare I say it – using computer models. Since they use computer models to generate designs which are then built & validated, they have a proper scepticism whenever presented with an unvalidated theory which depends on computer modelling outputs for support. They also tend to understand that complex non-linear systems defy simplistic analysis. To suggest the gentleman's opinions are worthless because he is an aeronautical engineer is arguing from authority (not that you actually have any) and playing the man, not the ball. If I were to be cruel I would point to similar deficiencies in Rajendra Pachauri's background. Except of course our aeronautical friend probably isn't making a fortune out of this climate change racket.

        1. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          I'm a geophysicist, I am (I hope) an excellent mathematician and recognise the difference between theory and practice. I'm an able programmer and am familiar with the various pitfalls of computer modelling. I'm also familiar with non-linear dynamics.

          This does not make me an expert in the fallacies of ANY scientific theory, merely because I have a general background in science. The man almost certainly does not have the depth of knowledge of the many highly complex systems that underpin global climate science to make his views in any way trustworthy. In fact to infer, as you have, that these systems have been subjected to a "simplistic analysis" is really laughable. The amount of supercomputer processing time devoted to climate simulations is huge.

          You also seem to be unaware of what the argument from authrority fallacy actually entails. I'm not saying that we should listen to mr weinstein simply because he is an expert, I am saying quite the opposite. The fact that he is unqualified in the field provides no justification for his claim at all. What he says may be true, but the fact that he says it gives me no reason to believe that it is true. After all, it's not like you commit a fallacy by ignoring a madman who insists the earth is flat, is it (extreme example, not calling climate change sceptics madmen)?

          And as I have pointed out elsewhere, Pachauri is the CHAIRMAN of the IPCC. He does not contribute to it's scientific output. In much the same way that humanities graduates can run government scientific departments without impacting on the quality of output.

      2. Yorkshireman
        January 7, 2010

        Maybe you should also try Russia's Chief Scientist who rejects AGW :


        by Habibullo Abdussamatov, Dr. Sc. – Head of Space research laboratory of the Pulkovo Observatory

        "We should fear a deep temperature drop—not catastrophic global warming. Humanity must survive the serious economic, social, demographic and political consequences of a global temperature drop, which will directly affect the national interests of almost all countries and more than 80% of the population of the Earth. A deep temperature drop is a considerably greater threat to humanity than warming. However, a reliable forecast of the time of the onset and of the depth of the global temperature drop will make it possible to adjust in advance the economic activity of humanity, to considerably weaken the crisis. "

        1. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          Yeah, most of what he says has been refuted I believe.
… for starters. I'm sure there's more elsewhere.

          The fact is that the Sun really doesn't fluctuate enough to influence the climate a great deal, at least not in the short term. Most climactic changes in the past have been caused by deviations in the Earth's orbit. Anyway the last decade did show overall warming, which he's wrong about.

          As much as anything, he barely believes in the greenhouse effect at all, which is kind of inconsistent with the fact that there is life on the planet in the first place.

  40. David Eyles
    January 7, 2010

    Putting all the arguments to one side for a moment, What comes out of this debate, for me, is that meteorology and climate science is vital to our better understanding of the world in which we live. It therefore essential that that the climate debate is de-politicised as much as possible. This means that those institutions and their staff have to recognise that things have got thoroughly out of order and that data, raw and adjusted, plus all their calculations relating to that data and their models, need to be absolutely transparent and available on-line for anyone to look at. This has not happened.

    Furthermore, the process of peer review must not be compromised by academic bullying tactics. This has happened.

    Finally, the real complexity of the forces which drive our climate, needs to be acknowledged and the areas of almost complete uncertainty highlighted. This has not happened.

    A Conservative government needs to get to grips with the wrongdoing at UEA CRU and the Hadley Centre and needs to make government funding for such enterprises conditional upon cool objectivity instead of politically motivated attempts to control the world using a model which is so simplistic, that it carries a very grave risk of being utterly and completely wrong.

    1. Number 7
      January 9, 2010

      AT LAST

      No abuse – No ad hominem – Objectivity.

      Science follows a straightforward pinciple:-

      Theorise – experiment – prove – open your proof to sceptics and if necessary reinforce your proof. If unproven re-examine your theory.

      No politics – no abuse – no fiddling of data.

      As an aside, for some of the posters here. Why were the CRU personna non grata at Copenhagen. One would have thought that, as one of the world leaders in climate science, that tey would have been given pride of place.

  41. Eastyorky
    January 7, 2010

    Your question in the house yesterday was willfully childish and does a disservice to the dignity of the house.

    Why waste the energy secretary's time (and that of parliament) with a pathetic attempt to associate a weather event with global warming?

    During the prolonged Indian summer through September and October I doubt you were associating that weather event with global warming.

    This is shameful opportunism pandering to your support. I recommend you study the science behind the facts and recognise the reality of the situation.

    I realise this may result in you losing a great deal of patronage (money) but you should have enough by now to be able to buy a house well above see level before the significant rises begin.

    And if you wanted to ask about gritting the roads, why didn't you? I think it is your toys that are out of the pram Mr Redwood.

    Reply: This is a libel. I make no money out of the views I express in the House, and receive no research money or other funding to do my job. I look forward to your early apology and retraction.
    My question was one which many people want asked. Why was the Climate Secretary unable to give a scientific answer? Why can't he see that climate is long range averaged weather, and people will ask questions if the weather is so at variance with the average long range predictions. He should answer them patiently and sensibly. That is what we pay him to do. He could explain the time scale of his 2 degree climate change and confirm what the models say about this winter.

    1. David Eyles
      January 7, 2010

      Eastyorky, I read your entry with open mouthed amazement. Quite apart from the fact that you clearly feel that holding the government to account "does a disservice to the dignity of the House" I would like to point out something pertinent to your opinion that last years "prolonged Indian Summer" is in some way evidence for AGW:

      Much of the fields I cut for hay are deemed "conservation grassland" and so are not cut before 15th July. Last year, the summer was so wet and miserable after this date, that I did not finish haymaking until nearly the end of September. So it was just as well for that Indian Summer. Even then, the wind was so strong that when we were attempting to bale the hay, I was having to drive my tractor and hay rake only a few yards in front of the chap with baler, because the windrows were being blown away almost as soon as they had been formed by the rake. The previous year, I finally managed to get everything in by the begining of October – after another lousy summer.

      I suggest that instead of patronising John Redwood, you get out there and experience the weather, or climate, for what it really is.

      1. Sam
        January 7, 2010

        Small sample, statistically invalid. We're talking about averages across the entire world, not your experiences in a field for 3 months.

        1. David Eyles
          January 7, 2010

          Wrong on two counts: firstly, a small sample size, correctly gathered, is never "statistically invalid". It just means that the confidence levels that can be attached to that sample, tend to be rather low.

          Secondly, my sample size is based upon twelve years of farming and many years before that doing things in the open air, being exposed to the elements. Eastyorky's is based upon two months observations – the Indian summer of September and October 2009.

        2. Sam
          January 7, 2010

          Of course, you have kept accurate records of the conditionds of every day of your outdoor toil and in no way have a selective memory.

    2. Graham C
      January 7, 2010

      When there are hot and dry periods that is exactly what the AGW proponents, via the MSM, do when they shout that Global Warming has arrived – so prepare for the worst (bring on photos of empty reservoirs).

      Hence the silence when reality brings the opposite.

  42. severn
    January 7, 2010

    I've marked Mr Redwood down in my estimation for asking such a daft question in Parliament – whatever his motives for asking it.

    Before raising any question about anything one should have done some basic homework, like understanding that weather is local, variable and depends on the seasons, whereas 'global warming' is a concept that is – well – global and depends on the long-term radiation balance of the earth. This can be found out from sources written by scientists rather than by asking questions of politicians in a debate.

    There is no simple relationship between climate and a single weather event. As it happens, the Arctic is currently running temperatures well above average, which may have longer term impact (owing to the effect on the extent of ice) than our own related cold spell.

    if Mr Redwood is concerned about gritting, he should ask about it. But it's worth noting that our problems with gritting result from the fact that the weather we are currently experiencing is highly unusual and usually short-lived when it happens.

    Reply: Under the rules of the House you have to ask about the topics the government allows us to debate. The government chose global warming, not snow and ice that day. Why did the Minister find it so difficult to answer if the answer is so obvious? Why are you all so stung by it? There have been many sillier or irrelevant questions asked in the Commons but I don't recall your anger about them.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    January 8, 2010

    I am glad that John Redwood asked his question about climate change models that predict the recent cold snap – and, in all probability, the coldest winter since 1981/82, perhaps even since 1962/63. Why does not Ed Milliband place all the available evidence of climate change, including the raw data, in the public domain? After all, there are over 20 free statistical analysis packages downloadable over the internet, and there is Google Earth and other packages to display the locations of measurements. People with the necessary analytical aptitudes could analyse the raw data and form their own conclusions. However, such people might come to a different conclusion from Mr Milliband AND THAT WOULD NEVER DO.

    I can accept that reducing gross CO2 emissions would be a good idea, and would urge Mr Redwood to advocate policy based on the following axioms:
    (1) Sanity is something that you can enjoy by yourself. There are things that the UK can do without reference to others.
    (2) Reducing power station emissions and related domestic heating emissions is as important as reducing transport emissions.
    (2) Road transport should not be a whipping boy. Levies on fuel consumption should also be applied to air and rail – and that includes the power station CO2 emissions caused by electrified rail. Road transport has made tremendous strides in fuel efficiency and it is high time that air and rail (especially high speed rail) made similar gains.

    1. Sam
      January 8, 2010

      Tax on petrol is nowhere near high enough. It's probably still the most under-valued commodity on the planet. I find it completely absurd that you can get a pint of petrol for less than a pint of beer. The current relatively low cost of petrol encourages huge amounts of waste, and it's one of the resources which we can least afford to waste. I know people, who work within the oil industry, that are of the opinion that fuel tax should probably be double what it is. The fact is that the price of petrol is going to rise very steeply in the next 10-20 years anyway, mainly due to the fact that all the 'easy oil' has already been extracted.

      As for your suggestion more data be released, I completely agree that transparency is a wonderful thing and that as much should be made available as is feasibly possible. However there are large amounts of information available from various resources such as the MET office website. Many of these datasets have already been processed, which is nice because doing statistics on lengthy time series is quite a boring process.

      I would maybe disagree with your final point. Surely one of the better ways to encourage people to use their cars less frequently would be an efficient and cheap public transport network, perhaps in part funded by car taxes?

  44. jim
    January 8, 2010

    But weather is different from climate. Surely people learnt that at school

    1. Number 7
      January 9, 2010

      I totally follow your logic.

      Could you please explain how warm weather is climate but cold weather is just weather?

  45. severn
    January 8, 2010

    Mr Redwood: I agree there are many daft questions asked in parliament. Yours came to my attention (through Joe Romm, if I remember correctly) as I'm interested in climate change from a scientific point of view. My point is that it is best to get information about scientific matters from an appropriate source. Surely questions in the House should be about policy and the conduct of public affairs.

    Lindsay McDougall: the evidence and debate about global warming is in the public domain, in scientific literature and widespread on the web. A good place to start is, where climate scientists answer questions and post information. Most of the data are also available online – real climate has a page of links. However, I don't see how people could apply statistical packages to them without a good understanding of the scientific principles involved.

    1. Number 7
      January 9, 2010

      Aaah – "The Hockey Team"!

      The same 57 "scientists" involved in Climategate.

      What an unbiased source of information.

  46. Chris H
    January 8, 2010

    I'd prefer to support a farmer's viewpoints any day, regarding weather; after all, they're amongst the main ones who have to live by it day after day. Wisdom accumulates over the years and has considerably more value than today's young upstarts would care to give it.
    AGW is most definitely all about the imposition of swingeing taxation on the world's people, and the transference of huge sums of money from developed countries to the third world (many of whom have corrupt governments). Only the sheep-people are unable to see this; those of us more enlightened are already bracing ourselves for a variety of scenarios. I doubt whether anyone will sway the main bunch of politicians…..they have already made their minds up that "this is the way to go" and they will stride on, swiping aside all protests and proofs. It was all decided a long time ago.
    There are clearly a few pro-agw "plants" here, but in the end the truth will come out… always does.

    1. Sam
      January 8, 2010

      I find this slightly odd. You'd actually preferentially take a farmers anecdotes about weather over the collection of 50 or so years of data collected from numerous weather recording stations placed all over the globe? I mean we're talking about changes of a few percent in average conditions over a period of decades here. You might as well ask a fisherman about average sea levels. Try and think rationally, please. What matters most in this debate are facts and logic, not 'wisdom'.

      And, for what it's worth, I'm not trying to foist my opinion on anyone. I try to point people towards sources of relevant facts which they can interptet for themselves. I'm just worried that this whole debate is turning into a mirror of the evolution fiasco in the states and the awful botch that the media made of MMR.

      May I be so brave to ask as to what scemarios the 'enlightened' (amongst whom I clearly do not number) are currently preparing themselves for?

  47. Steve
    January 10, 2010

    I think Miliband's reply to your question was excellent.
    Your question brilliantly displayed how small-minded you are when it comes to global warming. You really need to look into it realistically or your going to look very silly when you finally have to admit its happening, and we've caused it.

  48. severn
    January 10, 2010

    Mr Redwood: I'm not sure that thinking of climate as 'average' weather is very helpful. What I think may be clearer is that weather, seasons and climate are different processes happening in the same system (the atmosphere). We can think of these processes as being separate because they happen over different time and distance scales; weather over hours to days and locally, seasons over months, and climate over longer than a year and controlled on a global scale.

    They operate over different time and distance scales because the causal factors do so. For example, weather is largely due to masses of air of different temperatures sloshing around in the atmosphere. Climate is controlled by the radiation balance of the earth and the factors that influence it (solar input, greenhouse gases, albedo and so on). The different scales enable us to separate out these factors, rather as a radio can separate out broadcasts at different frequencies.

    You can imagine an analogy by thinking of standing on a harbour wall, watching the water level going up and down on the wall. Over a period of seconds the level goes up and down because of wave motions, which have typical lengths of a few metres. But if you stand there for hours, you observe that superimposed on the wave variations is another motion of the water level, called the tides.

    The actual local variation of the level from waves may (on a stormy day) be much greater than the variation due to the tides, but that does not stop us being able to identify two completely different processes: the waves due to such local factors as the wind, which are unpredictable, and the tides which are controlled globally and are highly predictable – the times will likely be given on a poster in the harbour.

  49. Peter Winters
    January 11, 2010

    Mr. Redwood,

    I think your question about climate change is a good one, in my opinion. It addresses what is known about variability in the climate models – and goes beyond temperature averages. It certainly made me think, and I blogged about it here ..

  50. Alan
    January 11, 2010

    As has been said by others 'sooner or later weather does turn into climate, and the weather has, from the AGW point of view, been misbehaving for a decade.'

    To continually repeat the clearly false mantra that 'the science is settled' is thoughtless; real science is never settled, always open to question and review, this is how we progress.

    What is most worrying about the 'settled science of AGW' is how its proponents brook no argument and don't hesitate to attack and insult any other view (just look at these posts). This is not how science is done and simply demonstrates how unsure of their position the AGW community feels.

    Me thinks they protest too much – or something like that.

  51. severn
    January 11, 2010

    I think it is very silly to accuse climate scientists of saying 'the science is settled' when they are actively doing research. There would be no point in doing research if the science was settled.

    However, there are some things we now know, as the result of research, beyond reasonable doubt. One is that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (as we are doing) increases the average global temperature. This is basic physics, going back to the 19th century, and has nothing to do with climate models.

    The other is that average global temperature is increasing. Not year on year, because of short-term variability, but decade on decade, and the last decade is the hottest ever measured with instruments and on overwhelming evidence the hottest that humans have ever experienced.

  52. Simon T
    January 12, 2010

    I think attacking the Govt for a supposedly mistaken view on climate change is barking up the wrong tree. More profitably to go for the woeful lack of preparedness.

    Actually, this cold weather DOES fit a possible model concordant with global warming, in which the UK and Western Europe have considerably harder winters due to diversion of the Gulf Stream.

  53. Tim
    January 12, 2010

    Mr Redwood,

    To claim a *regional* weather event provides proof for the non-existence of *global* warming makes you sound a lot stupider than I thought you were.

    Kind regards,

    Reply: try reading what I write – what you have said is in your imagination. Why are you so rattled?

  54. RG
    January 14, 2010

    Mr Deadwood,

    Your claim that a single winter in one part of the world disproves global warming just proves why politicians with a "please Mail/Express readers" agenda before an election should just keep their mouths shut.

    However fed of the current government I am, its idiotic comments like this that make me unable to switch to a Tory party that is more interested in making headlines than actually looking at real issues (you really have modelled your party on New Labour!!).

    Reply: Your rudeness matches your ignorance. If you read what I said, I at no stage argued that one bad winter disproves the proposition that the earth may be warming up. You appear unable to consider and answer serious questions about both the trend and the cause of the trend of world climate. It would also be a courtesy if you could master my name.

  55. Steve Milesworthy
    January 14, 2010

    As someone who frequents sceptic websites, I can understand Ed Miliband's frustration with your question, as he has probably heard it before in the context of people saying that "If we can't predict the weather, how can we predict the climate?".

    I suppose a direct answer to your question would be that the Met Office climate model originally predicted a 1 in 7 chance of a colder than average winter, and the forecast model predicted a reasonable likelihood of a prolonged very cold spell about 10-15 days ahead.

    More generally, probably the more advanced climate models will periodically demonstrate the blocking state that resulted in the cold weather we have observed. And when global temperatures are on average 3C higher in about 50-100 years time, that will hardly put a dent in the -17C observed in Devon earlier this month when the same weather phenomenon comes around again.

Comments are closed.