Debating with George Monbiot


I have been asked to debate the flooding problems with George Monbiot on Sky tv (10.20am). I thought I would look up some of his views.

In 2006 he wrote a book called “Heat: How to stop the planet burning”. This stated that “our rivers are starting to run  dry.” He forecast global warming, which in turn would lead to more “drought events”.

His book of course was about the world as a whole. It was not confined to the UK. It was about a longer time horizon than a few years.  Clearly it has little relevance to today’s big issue in the UK of the floods. Our rivers are bursting their banks. We are told that it was the middle of the eighteenth century when we last had this much rain. The Environment Agency reminds us that in 1919 more of the Somerset levels were drowned than today. We must assume  that the eighteenth century was not a time of man made global warming and 1919 was well before the big global  build up of CO2. I understand that recent cold snow filled winters in the UK or this year in the USA do not  disprove the global warming theory, but nor do they help give people confidence in its shorter term predictive abiliites.

More recently, in November,  the Met Office told us  there might be “drier than normal conditions across the country” December to February. “The weakening of the prevailing westerly flow means that the normally wetter western or north western parts of the country may see a significant reduction in precipitation compared to average…”  They did preface this by telling us they had low confidence in their forecast, as it is very difficult  to do. It serves to remind us all how difficult it is to forecast weather for a month of two’s time, let alone over a period of decades, even with very powerful computers and plenty of instruments to read conditions.

I hope tomorrow that Mr Monbiot will grasp that many members of the public do not wish people to be ideological about all this. Every sensible person accepts two things. Firstly the climate is often changing. Secondly it is extremely difficult for man to predict and control how it will change, as it is subject to many differing forces. Man has no power over the sun, volcanic activity, the jet stream  or the pattern of water vapour in the atmosphere. It is equally difficult for people in rich countries to tell poorer countries with much larger populations to avoid burning the larger amounts of energy we did to grow richer.

What people do expect in an advanced country like the UK is that their governments and Environment Agency should do all they can to handle surplus water when it does rain too much, and to store enough water for use when it does not rain enough. As our population keeps growing we need to do  more on flood defence, as more people and homes can cause more water problems. We also need to put in more clean water capacity. We have to adjust to the climate as it changes, and to the extra requirements imposed by a rising population.

If Mr Monbiot is right with his theory, he has to persuade China to use less energy and tell Germany to stop burning all that lignite, amongst the larger problems. I somehow do not see him succeeding with that difficult task.  Meanwhile, there are more practical things we in the UK can do to protect homes and farms from flooding.


  1. Lifelogic
    February 11, 2014

    You have it exactly right. What ever the causes the solutions (in as far as there are any) are in engineering and adapting. Even if Monbiot did stop the Chinese burning coal it is very unlikely to stop rain in Somerset. It could just as likely make it worse and it certainly does nothing in the short to medium term.

    Still Monbiot has finally come round to reality on Nuclear power so his views are perhaps not quite so daft and unscientific as those of Lord Porritt, Jenny Jones, Natalie Bennett, Caroline Lucas and the likes.

    Delingpole has him summed up pretty well all over his very amusing blogs. Having said that Mondiot has finally come round to nuclear but at a time when fracking will make it far less competitive (for a while at least). I do not know where he stands on fracking but perhaps he will come round on that in 20 years.

    However many computers, measurements & monitors of say, the initial ball positions and speeds of the balls in national lottery machine you have you will struggle to predict the balls positions a few minutes later. This is just basic maths, logic and physics. The World’s weather is a hugely more chaotic & complex system. Indeed just the suns output, sun spots, geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms is hugely more complex and unpredictable.

    As they say predictions are very difficult, especially predictions about the future.

    As an anti-road protested I assume Monbiot will not be using them to get to the studio a hot air balloon perhaps. Do not expect him to be fair, polite, pleasant or use logic or reason. Lefties rarely do. They are often most unpleasant and rarely let you finish any sentence before distorting what you said in order to rubbish what you did not say.

    I do not know why but, the more these greens are proved wrong on their past predictions, the more they seem to be used as soothsayer sages by lefty organisations like the BBC.

    The BBC seem to do the same with duff economists and politicians like John Major.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      BBC’s Newsnight last night was a typically absurd “BBC think” selection. Trying to defend Lord Smith and his department and even suggesting that Welsh Estuary tidal lagoons “which generate massive amounts of power” have a role to play! Clearly they have simply not got a clue. Cost to build the “lagoons” perhaps 1000+ times the true value of the tiny amount of electricity produced PA and not even the far more valuable “on demand” electricity. Far less in fact than the mere maintenance costs PA – let alone interest, capital costs. insurance …..

      Then going on to say the BBC will now actively discriminate against male comedians and replace them with woman on BBC comedy. The best they seemed to come up with was Jo Brand – is she supposed to be a comedian? Surely we need more Jo Brand types on the BBC like we need a hole in the head. Rhino horn poaching and the death of Stuart Hall the Open University “cultural theorist” to cap it off.

      1. Richard1
        February 11, 2014

        We really have to contrast the petulant self pitying of Labour’s Lord Smith with the ritual apologies and even resignations required of any private sector boss whose organization has failed so manifestly as has the Environment Agency. Even Conservative ministers feel obliged to praise the ‘marvellous’ (or other approved superlative) work of the employees of any public sector organization under fire, even if its the NHS and its responsible for thousands of unnesecary deaths. We do not hear this when private sector organizations, such as banks or G4S, are criticized, though they do doubt also have many diligent and capable employees.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 11, 2014

          Indeed we need easy (and very cheap) fire in the state sector and indeed the private sector too. One gets the impression that in the state sector they almost want to be fired (or rather paid off) & rather too generously. Where is the incentive to deliver anything of value?

          1. Richard1
            February 12, 2014

            An internet campaign is being orchestrated by Greenpeace to fire Owen Paterson as he ‘denies the link between flooding and climate change’. The absurdity of this language when referring to an uncertain theory reveals the intransigent fanaticism of these leftists. Let us call on this site for support for the robust independence of Owen Paterson and his willingness bravely to defy environmental leftism and use his authority to serve the best interests of the people of the UK.

          2. Livelogic
            February 13, 2014

            Indeed no one denies that mankind (along with countless other factor) has an effect on climate – merely that it has a catastrophic effect that can be foreseen accurately by the religious movements like Greenpeace.

            We need more Owen Patersons and far fewer Huhnes, Greenpeace types, green crap and Ed Davies.

      2. stred
        February 11, 2014

        This interview, with no local or expert opinion to challenge was now typical of the BBC defending it’s friends. etc ed
        Smith was allowed to explain that the EA offered money last year for dredging but the amount was not matched because limits on councils and from the Treasury. Paxman could have asked how long the work would have taken and why they scrapped the expensive equipment 14 years ago and whether his predecessor had really called for blowing up of pumping stations.

        Smith explained that dredging was not the whole answer and that the tide flowed in backing up the river levels. But a tidal barrier would have to be a huge lagoon to store the water and this would cost a vast amount. Paxman could have asked why a smaller barrier at the mouth of the rivers and drainage channels could not be used as elsewhere and whether the storage capacity of the iver would be gratly increased if the y had continued to be dredged. He could have pointed out that this regular maintainance would not have needed aa special injection of money and that not it will cost much more to replace the srapped equipment.

        And he could have asked how much sea levels had risen this century since the EA took over. The answer is only 45mm according to the latest sattelite information at 3.2 mm pa.

        But he and Mr Monbiot will now be able to point out that the latest nobled green quango queen has increased the estimate for the next 15 years way beyond even NASA predictions of approx 3mm pa based on their measurements, which do not match others, as in your last blog.

        Good luck in the debate and make sure you note and use all the information contributed over the last few years. I would like to see comment on the adverts about electric cars which put emission at zero, as per the EU method , but ignore the CO2 produced in generation and inefficiecies in charging. This one is a sitting duck.

        1. stred
          February 11, 2014

          Sorry about the typos and spelling errors. Working away on a little computer with no auto check and which cuts out and discards, leaving no time to read and check before sending.

      3. Bob
        February 11, 2014


        Cost to build the “lagoons” perhaps 1000+ times the true value

        Since when did cost ever become an issue to the BBC? When you have a tsunami of cash crashing into your coffers year in year out regardless of economic conditions you become detached from financial reality.

      4. A different Simon
        February 11, 2014

        I’d like to know how the BBC can justify tidal energy at vendor requested guaranteed strike price of 3X that of current prices for much more usable and useful despatchable electricity .

        As you know , the energy generated from hydro is proportional to the “head” i.e. vertical drop .

        People are suggesting these tidal lagoons can become leisure facilities .

        I would question whether they can be safe for such activities when they would have to charge very quickly across the peak of high-tide and discharge almost totally very quickly across low tide if they are to achieve a head of water sufficient to generate anything like their optimum power .

        An absolute maximum of 4 hours generation per day when the tides dictate are no alternative to despatchable power and barely complimentary .

        I have no ideological prejudice against renewables but anything below truly massive tidal(like dam the English Channel but don’t put a road or rail bridge on top) is little more than a token gesture .

        Trust the BBC to fall in love with something which looks good in Powerpoint but falls flat on it’s face in Excel .

        1. Lifelogic
          February 11, 2014

          Exactly – if it work economically without subsidy fine – but they never do.

    2. backofanenvelope
      February 11, 2014

      Lifelogic: “What ever the causes the solutions (in as far as there are any) are in engineering and adapting”

      And who said the answers lay in technology – everyone’s favourite president, George W Bush!

      1. Lifelogic
        February 11, 2014

        A shame Bush did not improve the levees in New Orleans, but then he probably did not have time after his election. Technology is all we have but is will not cure all. Especially as idiotic governments keep subsidising technologies that do not even work yet economically (like wind, lagoons & PV roofs and then taxing Carbon.

    3. Edward2
      February 11, 2014

      You are correct about China Lifelogic.
      It has been reported if the UK reduced its CO2 output to absolute zero, in just one year the growth of China’s CO2 output will have overtaken the UK’s reduction.

    4. uanime5
      February 11, 2014

      However many computers, measurements & monitors of say, the initial ball positions and speeds of the balls in national lottery machine you have you will struggle to predict the balls positions a few minutes later

      Good thing that’s not what scientists are doing. They’re measuring things such as the increase in the average global temperature and then predicting what will happen if this increase continues. So far the evidence shows that increasing global temperatures won’t be good for the planet.

      Indeed just the suns output, sun spots, geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms is hugely more complex and unpredictable.

      According to scientists they’re neither complex nor unpredictable. They’re also not responsible for the increasing temperatures.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 11, 2014

        Fine tell me what sun spots, geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms there will be in this August 2014, on each day please. We will see how accurate these scientist are.

      2. Mark
        February 11, 2014

        It’s turning out to be a lot more unpredictable than the scientists thought. There is now a large and growing discrepancy between the model forecasts and temperatures in the real world. So much so, that the modellers are going back to redesign their models, and are having to alter the key parameter for the degree of temperature sensitivity of climate temperatures to carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration.

      3. Denis Cooper
        February 12, 2014

        So now you’re pretending that according to the selected “scientists” you constantly and uncritically pray in aid, while as I understand having no scientific or technological background yourself which might help you to understand the limitations of scientific research and the reliability of any conclusions drawn, according to those god-like scientists it is now the case that “the suns output, sun spots, geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms” are “neither complex nor unpredictable”.

        Strange then that just within the past few weeks I saw various scientists working in the field saying exactly the opposite on TV, and what’s more it was on the BBC not some obscure channel.

        “Solar activity rises and falls in 11-year cycles and right now we are at the peak, the solar maximum, but this cycle’s maximum is eerily quiet.”

        “I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years. I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

        “The number of sunspots is a fraction of what scientists expected, solar flares are half.”

        You really must stop just making stuff up as you please.

  2. Arschloch
    February 11, 2014

    I am no fan of Georgie but I would not advise quoting from a book published in 2006, the research on climate change has moved on a bit since. Its a bit like asking another little Georgie to stand by his quote from 2006 on how over regulating the banks is making them uncompetitive. I actually live next to a wind farm and despite the claims of one know-all who is a over frequent contributor here, I and my neighbours are not deafened by it. For the sake of scientific research for your blog, I actually committed an act of trespass and took my poodle for a walk across it. I did not find any dead birds either yet alone any that looked as though they had been through a food processor

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 11, 2014

      Of course research on climate change has moved on a bit since 2006; when you find that your model has failed to predict observable outcomes you tweak it and have another go at producing something which you hope will actually have some predictive value. I’ve been there and done that myself, but only in harmless fields of research not one where my unreliable predictions could have led to swathes of the UK economy being shut down if our political leaders had been foolish enough to take them seriously and act upon them.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      The dead birds and bats get eaten quite quickly by the other birds. maggots and other animals also they cover a very large area around the turbine. My main objection to wind is that they are an economic nonsense. They cost up to five+ times the cost of gas electricity and it is less valuable electricity as not even available on demand.

  3. Mike Stallard
    February 11, 2014

    This is the man who appeared on Newsnight and advised that the Environment Agency should plant trees. I am honestly not sure if he is also against dredging and cleaning out the dykes. I do not know whether or not he approves of spending all the drainage money on building a £30,000,000 bird sanctuary – sorry tidal barrage – at the mouth of the rivers which drain the levels. I have no idea whether or not he expects that the Somerset levels ought to be abandoned to Global Warming because the battle to keep them habitable has already been abandoned by Lord Smith and the EA (as hinted on Newsnight last night).
    All I do know is that I live in the Fens and I am getting very worried.
    Good luck in the demolition job!

    1. peter davies
      February 11, 2014


      On trees and scrubland in high ground he is right. You need vegetation to act as a sponge where the heaviest rain comes from so it releases more on a drip drip basis into rivers otherwise with the quick run off you end up with worse droughts if we have a long dry summer without rain (as if)

  4. Denis Cooper
    February 11, 2014

    “I hope tomorrow that Mr Monbiot will grasp that many members of the public do not wish people to be ideological about all this.”

    Good luck with, I guess the chance of that happening is about the same as the chance that him persuading the Chinese to stop increasing their CO2 emissions so that even if we cut ours to zero tomorrow the total flow of CO2 into the air would be restored to its previous level in about eight months, thereafter to continue to increase.

    His belief can be termed “ideological”, but “religious” is also an apt description.

  5. Andyvan
    February 11, 2014

    “Meanwhile, there are more practical things we in the UK can do to protect homes and farms from flooding.”
    Yes, shut the Environment Agency, sack all the staff without compensation, transfer the entire responsibility for flood control and environmental protection to local government and let the people affected by the issues decide what needs to be done and how they are going to pay for it.

    1. Arschloch
      February 11, 2014

      What you like the good citizens of Cockermouth had to do? i.e. pay levels of council tax at a rate you would expect in the South and raise the money for the flood barriers in the town centre by private subscription? Do grow up! There are people at the EA with practical skills and knowledge beyond the likes of Smith and you are suggesting sacking them without compensation? Presumably you would be quite happy for the same to happen to you at your job if you had one?

  6. The PrangWizard
    February 11, 2014

    If you are all fairness, reason and ‘balance’ you will be walked over and stamped on.

    1. The PrangWizard
      February 11, 2014

      The interview was, as you know better than me, a textbook example of how fanatical warmists, and the Left in general, operate. No amount of reasonableness will influence them. When confronted, the are right and are above challenge, they have no reasoned response, and descend immediately into ad hominem attacks.
      They are defending the revolution against ‘reactionaries’, and ‘reactionaries’ must be eliminated; any means are justified.

      I just hope viewers could see this for what it was .

  7. Javelin
    February 11, 2014

    I live in Walton on Thames – you’ve probably seen it flooded on TV. The borough of Elmbridge pays £16k per person. The highest in the country. Next comes St Albans with £9k. Then it drops to £6k and £5k per person. I pay a lot, lot more than £16k.

    Here is a question for you. Elmbridge net takes nothing and gives a huge amount to the Treasury. Most other areas of the country net take a great deal and give very little to the Country.

    So when Elmbridge finally needs its FAIR SHARE of help where is the Government we pay for? Do you keep giving to the rest or are you going to be FAIR and finally give something back to us?

    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      You might get a dozen sand bags but probably a week late, if you are lucky!

    2. Bob
      February 11, 2014

      If Scotland votes for independence, will they then qualify for foreign aid?

  8. zorro
    February 11, 2014

    Agreed for the main part….. There were larger flooding events in 18th and 19th centuries before large scale industrial activity. There can be no doubt that there appears to be an agenda not to defend parts of the country and seemingly to make people move into cities. However, we could control immigration if we wanted to do so. We should not accept that the population has to by default increase in size.

    Interesting that Lord Smith appears to be fighting back. However, the figures are very damning for his department although he appears to be blaming the Treasury.


    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      He damns himself, even when Newsnight and the BBC are clearly trying to help him by pushing their silly AGW exaggeration agenda.

      He has wittered on about the 1953 East coast floods as if we should thank him it was not as bad. He confused high tides & the coastal problems with the lack of maintenance of the waterways in Somerset. He exaggerates the extreme weather and blames it all on others. It is clear the agency and its (100 times better, know it all experts) were largely set against dredging and clearing ditched.

      One assumes they preferred to spend the money on higher wages, pensions and more fun, fee/fine earning activities on the media and with their expensive phone lines.

  9. Ken Adams
    February 11, 2014

    If this is caused by global warming then is it not obvious that the attempt to reduce the effects by taxing C02 have failed. We should therefore immediately stop all that nonsense and start spending the money on preventative measures.

    Of course as it is EU policy to allow certain areas to return to marshland we should either admit that fact and move the people affected out of the soon to be marshes, or leave the EU and change the policy, this being the only way we can protect those areas from flooding without breaking EU laws.

    Monbiot by the way argues we should not bother to dredge rivers to increase the flow but rather stop grazing high grounds and allow then to return to the wild which will according to him allow them to act as sponges. Good luck with your debate if it is on the BBC do not expect a fair chance.

    1. peter davies
      February 11, 2014

      This system has been caused by extreme cold weather on North America giving us the continuous wet fronts being carried by the gulf stream.

      I suppose it shows the gulf stream is still working well despite all the predictions

    2. uanime5
      February 11, 2014

      If this is caused by global warming then is it not obvious that the attempt to reduce the effects by taxing C02 have failed. We should therefore immediately stop all that nonsense and start spending the money on preventative measures.

      Firstly you can’t expect a century of CO2 production to be offset by a few years of lightly taxing CO2 production.

      Secondly attempts to reduce CO2 production is the only preventative measure that will stop the flooding getting worse. As long as the sea temperature continues to rise these storms will only get worse.

      Of course as it is EU policy to allow certain areas to return to marshland we should either admit that fact and move the people affected out of the soon to be marshes, or leave the EU and change the policy, this being the only way we can protect those areas from flooding without breaking EU laws.

      Care to provide some evidence to back up this claim, along with a list of other EU countries that have created these marshlands.

      1. Mark
        February 11, 2014

        Care to provide any evidence to back up your claim that carbon dioxide causes flooding?

        A paper just published explicitly says they can find no link between flooding and anthropogenic climate change.

    3. APL
      February 11, 2014

      Ken Adams: “Of course as it is EU policy to allow certain areas to return to marshland”

      I’d like to nominate the next European Area to be flooded and turned into a bird sanctuary; Brussels.

  10. Lifelogic
    February 11, 2014

    The whole bias of the Environment Agency (against any serious positive engineering intervention) can be seen in their document below. Warning about contaminated silt needing “official” expensive disposal, saying silting is natural (as of course malaria and polio are and the Somerset Levels are not). The document seem to be aimed as usual at about the right level for dim seven year olds.

    They absurdly say:

    The concept of dredging to prevent extreme flooding is equivalent to trying to squeeze the volume of water held by a floodplain within the volume of water held in the
    river channel.

    Complete nonsense: Dredging is to increase the capacity and flow rate of the river so as to get the water into the sea more quickly. This so as to drain the land more effectively before the next rain arrives. Then the land has more capacity when it does.

    We seem to be governed by vastly overpaid, licence fee seeking (people ed).

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 12, 2014

      It says:

      “Fifth issue: Restrictions on silt disposal”

      “The land levels of a floodplain must not be raised as they are part of the river’s natural flood storage area”

      “Any contaminated silt must be sent to a licensed tip for safe disposal”

      One would have thought that in some places the material dredged up could be left on the banks to build up levees, while in other places it should instead be spread thinly over the adjacent fields, from whence much of it has come anyway.

      But it seems that this has been complicated by an EU rule which according to Richard North forbids any “double handling” of the material if it is to escape being treated as “waste”; and according to the person who posts as “itdoesntaddup” here:

      the Environment Agency estimates for the cost of dredging assume a landfill tax of £140 per cubic metre for disposal of the material.

      I suppose it might have been possible for whichever UK government department sets landfill tax in the UK to decide that it would be zero for material dredged from watercourses, in which case the Environment Agency’s cost-benefit analysis would have been more favourable towards dredging and the application of the Treasury rules would also have been more favourable towards dredging – if the Environment Agency had actually wanted to dredge anyway, which seems to be in doubt because of other EU laws and policies …

  11. TGod
    February 11, 2014

    Global warming is just a scientific theory, there is not yet enough evidence to prove it either way. The true scientist will treat this just like any other theory until or unless there is overwhelming evidence to prove it.

    At present too many people are treating this subject like a religion, they either believe in global warming or they do not believe in global warming.

    We should all follow scientific principles – retain an open mind until some real evidence is produced.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    February 11, 2014

    JR: ” Tomorrow I have been asked to debate the flooding problems with George Monbiot”
    I predict that this will very quickly be turned into a climate change ‘debate’ in which you will be the object of a diatribe by Monbiot as a ‘denier’. Don’t expect any support from Sky tv, all the broadcast media is now encouraging the climate change propagandists to preach to the audience. Having done that Monbiot will blame local differences on the deleterious effect of sheep.

  13. Chris
    February 11, 2014

    I am just wondering how we are going to deal with the global warming inspired water shortage that is bound to be declared this summer. The UK as a whole is NOT a water deficit region and we should have been developing facilities for more storage of water and for pipelines. However, this goes counter to EU Directives, which are driven by the global warming ideology which basically instruct Member States to put in place water saving strategies, rationing, meters and other restrictions, and that any major infrastructure projects (which would be sensible and practical) should only be undertaken as a last resort. There seems this mindset in the EU to subject its “citizens” to mass regulation on all aspects of life i.e. a form of control, which demoralises the people, and makes them feel resigned to their fate. It stifles enterprise and freedom and responsibility of the individual. I am as mindful as the next person about sensible usage of water and that it is a precious resource, but imposing third world type policies on us, to satisfy the pen pushers is not the way to go. Perhaps they will not dare to talk about water shortage after all these floods?

    Reply I have just written to the water compnaies that serve my constituency asking them to make sure they store enough of the current plentiful water for future use.

  14. Chris
    February 11, 2014

    Nigel Farage’s idea of revival of the British Civil Defence Corps seems an excellent idea, and would go a long way to countering the apparent lack of personnel on the ground/water who are supposed to be helping people. The radio interview this morning on the Today programme brought up this problem with the interviewee claiming all the officials were there yesterday and then they all disappeared late afternoon and there has been no information or support since e.g. in Chertsey, but the official questioned seemed to be having none of it. Why, by the way, do all these officials have to talk in jargon? I’d far rather have the Eric Pickles approach (I happen to think his views were spot on) where plain English is employed, and the problems actually acknowledged. I was horrified to hear one official saying that his first priority was the safety of his men (no doubt lots of risk assessments before they could go anywhere near the water or put a foot in it), and not the people they were supposed to be rescuing, and there is apparently one stipulation that those not specifically trained for a particular type of task should not go within a meter of the water. I do not have time to resurrect the links to the articles where this appeared, but with our H and S culture it would not surprise me one bit if it were true.

    1. Chris
      February 11, 2014

      When I said I agreed with Eric Pickles I was referring to his comment about the Envt Agency and so called experts, but I totally disagree about his global warming stance and comments on foreign aid.

    2. Anonymous
      February 11, 2014

      They’ll need this Civil Defence Corps for when poverty really bites.

      etc ed

  15. Chris
    February 11, 2014

    The latest article on the eureferendum blog would certainly be helpful before your interview with Monbiot: “Flooding, the trouble with policy”. It again makes crystal clear the link with the EU and the role of Baroness Young in 2008. Interestingly, according to R North, Young was not in the least reticent about the link between the new policies being drafted and the EU (unlike today when all politicians from LibLabCon dare not mention the elephant in the room).:
    “….And, back in 2007, when the policy which dominates current activities was being formulated, Young was in front of the Lords European Union Committee, giving evidence on the EU’s Water Framework Directive, where she was to tell the Committee that, “making it work” was “sort of, ‘Instant wildlife: just add water'” (p10: Minutes of Evidence)…”

    R North also refers to a paper written in 2003 which outlines the difficulties, and the effects on dredging, that the new EU Directives would have.
    Dredging Inland Waterways; The environmental and financial consequences of
    implementing EU Directives into UK Law
    N. A. Smith1 and P.R. Beckwith2
    Abstract: Recent changes to UK legislation, resulting from the implementation of EU Directives, are having a significant impact on inland dredging operations. It is anticipated that these impacts will increase further when the next phase of Regulations come into force during 2004.”

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 12, 2014

      Thanks for that reference.

      So the problems arising from EU interference with dredging operations in our country, probably magnified by overzealous compliance, were being anticipated over a decade ago.

      Actually I said in a recent comment that about then somebody did mention this to me and expressed their concern that it could lead to increased flooding, but I had no spare time to look into it.

      And yet there are still people who believe that this a good system of government, better than having national democratic government; and they will try to defend it by all possible means, starting with standard opening gambits such as “This is nothing whatsoever to do with the EU” and “Some people will blame the EU for every problem in this country”, and then when forced to retreat from that first position by the weight of evidence falling back on “I’m as eurosceptic as the next man, but actually I would agree with the EU on this”, and “It’s the fault of the UK government not the EU”, and so forth, and then finally resorting to accusations of “racism” and “xenophobia”.

      To save JR the trouble of editing my comment I will refrain from saying what I really think about such dyed-in-the-wool advocates for the EU, beyond saying that they seem to have little loyalty to this country and its people.

  16. NickW
    February 11, 2014

    I have a question which needs asking.

    To what extent was the Environment Agency’s decision to abandon drainage infrastructure influenced by the Met office’s global warming agenda and skewed computer modelling?

    It was Monbiot himself who was predicting that all our rivers would run dry in the foreseeable future due to global warming. If there was a prize for being utterly and completely wrong, Monbiot is definitely in the finals.

    Can we afford to keep the Met office? It seems to me that it’s mistakes are now on such a large scale in terms of cost and human suffering, that the Country would be far better off without it.

  17. Richard1
    February 11, 2014

    Please post a link to the debate if you can. Mr Monbiot is a fanatical green, the logical conclusion of most of the policies he espouses is global socialism and much lower living standards. Probably much lower populations as well. He is however prepared to admit when he has been wrong, such as on nuclear. I understand he also sensibly draws attention to one of the main causes of current problems being the past ripping up of trees and hedgerows. If he says this is due to the market you could point out that farming in the UK and EU is a heavily subsidized and protected industry. I do think you should point out how wrong very recent past forecasts of drought have been, and suggest that more humility in forecasting the future is appropriate, especially when it is suggested we should impose huge economic costs on society due to such forecasts. What if for example if turns out that its quite true CO2 causes global warming, just not as much as had been feared?

    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      Clearly other thing being equal Co2 will have a warming influence but so many other factor are in play and anyway warmer within reason is better in general than colder.

      Their is little evidence of their being a real problem, or of C02 being a serious problem.

  18. Bert Young
    February 11, 2014

    I am not sure how your forthcoming debate with George Monbiot will be decided ; if it’s down to persuading viewers to vote , I don’t think you will have much trouble . One of my daughters from a previous marriage was at school with him and , by all accounts , he was not a persuasive character then . I have listened to the chap on several occasions on the radio and have never been convinced by the logic or the power of any of his arguments . Climate change will forever remain disputable as a man made phenomena ; the facts are that the intervention of man inspired engineering will do more than anything else to control the flow of water .

    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      He, like most socialists, rarely works on logic but on raw irrational emotion. Appeals to children and the fearful but rather dim.

  19. alan jutson
    February 11, 2014

    Thank goodness a TV programme has invited someone like yourself to argue the case against the “we have no money due to government cut backs brigade”

    You certainly do not need any of my help or suggestions I am sure to put forward your own sensible arguements, but it would be nice for some of the more uniformed viewers to hear a little about the finances of the DOE and how much they have had to spend on a rising basis each year.

    I do hope you do not get too many interuptions, and are given ample opportunity to outline you points of view.

    Interesting that we now seem to have “MANAGEMENT” used as a term for the do nothing policy for sea/flood defences, rather than the more correct tital of “ABANDONMENT”

  20. Jennifer A
    February 11, 2014

    One wonders what those stupendously generous EA salaries got spent on. CO2 generating luxury holidays and the like no doubt.

    Labour believes we should borrow our way out of financial trouble and yet credit is the worst thing for the environment enabling people to consume more than they’ve earned.

    The flooding isn’t down to a lack of money either. It’s just that the money we do have is being spent in entirely the wrong ways.

  21. Richard1
    February 11, 2014

    There is a useful post on the GWPF’s website showing that this winter is not particularly wet by historic standards. It is clear that the main cause of the current debacle is the abandonment of proper drainage since the creation the Environment Agency. It is incredible that the EA and its hapless chairman, Labour’s Lord Smith,think the right response is defensive self pity rather than an admission that they have been wrong. In a useful post on this below someone draws attention to the background of the last chairman, Labour’s Lady Young. Her whole career in the public sector and including a period as head of the RSPB, a charity in theory there to protect birds, which derives the majority of its income from the state but which is mainly heard in the media proselytizing for global warming.

    Reply I can assure you this winter has been very wet by historic standards in the south and west of the UK

    1. Chris
      February 11, 2014

      October, December and January have been wetter than average, but September and November have not. See monthly, seasonal and annual summaries on this link:

    2. Richard1
      February 11, 2014

      Yes indeed also in the East. What I meant was it is not apparently by far the wetest and out of line with previous very wet winters. The data are on the GWPF website.

    3. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      On Nov 21, the Met office predicted: “For the December-January-February period as a whole, there is a slight signal for below-average precipitation”.

      Thanks for that.

  22. jeffery
    February 11, 2014

    “if Mr.Monbiot is right with his theory,…”

    One evident problem is this ‘theory’ is no longer well formulated. Climate professors deny a plateau in global temperature anomaly, then within a year or so they publish papers seeking to explain what they had denied. Either drought or floods are presented as evidence. Heat or cold is evidence. Extreme events are invoked, but loosely defined. When definitions are imposed, IPCC AR5 reports no significant evidence of an increase in these. Climate models are proclaimed a great success, but there is a whole industry identifying flaws in these models, often in order to demonstrate that the future will really be much worse! Incredibly, GCM outputs are invoked as if they were actual climate data. What temperatures etc. should be (projections so-called) if not for the inconvenient truth of ‘natural/internal variability’.

    Someone has to pin zealots down to specific claims which can be tested against defined sets of data.

  23. Alan Wheatley
    February 11, 2014

    It should be an interesting debate.

    One of the things they may well undermine the quality of this debate, as happens regularly with many debates on diverse subjects, is the sloppy use of language.

    For instance, so called climate change deniers are often castigated for ignoring the evidence. Where as in fact the issue is not whether or not the climate is changing but the cause of that change. We know that the Earth’s climate has changed many times, and most of the changes are long before the the presence of humans; and those natural forces are still with us. But a quick scan of human activity around the Planet suggests that such is the scale of that activity it could have an effect on the climate; the BIG question is – how much?

    When I saw George Monbiot on TV a few days ago debating flooding in the Somerset Levels he spouted generalities, which may be true as simple statements of fact. But his obsession with these “truths” did not help understand the causes and cures for this particular location, which is what the debate was about. So, once again, there were two people arguing at cross-purposes, and with an ineffective Chairman.

    I also recommend that there is a clear distinction drawn between flood plains and land reclaimed from the sea. As I understand it, flood plains fill with water when rivers overtop their banks, and as the river level falls the water in the flood plain drains back into the river. Where as land reclaimed from the sea, which is, at least in part, below sea level is not intended to flood, and once flooded can only be drained by pumping.

    Costal erosion, which seems to have joined the climate change debate, is a further and separate concept.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2014

      “Coastal erosion, which seems to have joined the climate change debate, is a further and separate concept.”


  24. James Matthews
    February 11, 2014

    A a peripheral comment. I watched your appearance on The Daily Politics yesterday. Much edited and abbreviated, one aspect the discussion went something like this:
    “Flooding made more disastrous by building on flood plains”.
    “Yes but we need to build 200,000 houses a year to accommodate our growing population, where else can we put them?.”.

    No discussion, however as to why the population is growing at the rate it does and the impact of immigration thereon (perhaps some of the cost of the floods should go in the debit column on the immigration financial balance sheet). Please do not allow Mr Monbiot to ignore the elephant.

    Off topic entirely, can we have your views on the latest governmental initiative to tyrannise or criminalise otherwise law abiding minorities – the parental smoking ban.
    Nanny seems to be alive and well and thriving in the Conservative party?

    1. The PrangWizard
      February 12, 2014

      If I may comment on your aside about the smoking ban, how long now before the State comes after people in their homes? And of course anyone who speaks out against the ruling will be vilified by the moral crusaders and puritans, that is to say, our Taliban, (etc ed).

  25. JimS
    February 11, 2014

    George Monbiot blamed the ‘crazy rules’ of the EU, yesterday on Radio 2, so maybe you can make common cause?

  26. Man of Kent
    February 11, 2014

    Just watched the ‘debate’.
    What an outrageous ‘ad hominem ‘ attack by Tom Burke.
    Just par for the course on the MSM .
    Would have been worse on BBC.
    You put over the facts extremely well JR.
    Well done !

  27. Ex-expat Colin
    February 11, 2014

    And so it came to pass that Mr Burke had to drop off the personal insult(s). No surprise really, (its done so often with such confidence) when you look at his funding:

    Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism

    So the money taken from us in taxes is gifted to the likes of him to ultimately insult us in a serious debate.

  28. Old Albion
    February 11, 2014

    Go get him JR.

  29. oldtimer
    February 11, 2014

    Sorry I missed the exchanges – too late logging on this morning.

    In passing it seems that Lord Smith has denied, on the Today programme this morning, that it was EA policy to let parts of the Somerset Levels flood. To borrow a phrase originally coined by a former Cabinet Secretary, it seems he may have been “economical with the truth” as is pointed out by reference to EA documents here:
    The relevant EA documents are:

    The first of these is the EA Parrett Catchment Flood Management Plan Consultation Draft (v5) 2008 and the second is the EA Parrett Catchment Flood Management Plan Summary Report 2012.

  30. Atlas
    February 11, 2014


    Full marks for being courageous. I don’t think the BBC does ‘logic’ very well.

  31. margaret brandreth-j
    February 11, 2014

    I believe that global warming is in progress in this inter glacial period as do a majority of scientists. I believe that the seas will eventually rise and the UK will become another Atlantis. I believe that before cooling takes place there will be an overall global flooding . I also believe that there will be alternate warming and cooling until the earth is cold to the core.That is the long term weather forecast.
    In the meantime I hope my offspring move to a Country which is higher and less open to weathers changes, but where is that?
    In a more measured way why can we not follow Hollands expertise?

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      February 11, 2014

      “I believe…I believe…I believe… I also believe…” – Wow you really have found religion.

      1. margaret brandreth-j
        February 11, 2014

        well done! literary device spotted

  32. Mark
    February 11, 2014

    At least you will be able to agree with Monbiot on the stupidity of feed-in tariffs for nearly useless solar power.

  33. Antisthenes
    February 11, 2014

    It appears Gaia may have her own way of dealing with global warming if climate change religionists latest excuse for why the temperature has not gone up in the last 17 years it is being absorbed by the Pacific ocean. Perhaps Monbat aught to be reminded of a few facts:

    1) Predicting the future is a very difficult thing to do with any accuracy regardless of the historic data and the best calculations available and doing it with crystal ball gazing highly imperfect climate modeling is going to be highly inaccurate.
    2) The cost of what we are doing to reduce co2 emissions may not be worth the bother as not doing anything may in the long run cost considerably less.
    3) Adopting policies and practices based on climate models predictions that are based on assumptions not facts and paraded as such more for political than scientific reasons is a very irrational.
    4) Although normally I would suggest that concentrating on causes rather than symptoms is the best way to solve a set of problems in the case of climate change I do not believe that is the best way to tackle it as in this case there is no clear understanding of the cause. Nor is there any clear understanding of the effects as extreme weather conditions are nothing new they happen all too often anyway but perhaps the effects are and are more devastating than they were before but even that is debateable. To my mind tackling the effects of flooding, coastal erosion, deforestation and pollution directly and locally would be money far better spent than on blanket spending on cutting co2 emissions. The Chinese are now waking up to the fact that smoke pollution in their cities is unsustainable but are not looking at banning their coal fired power stations but finding technological ways to solve the problem. It has been suggested that they are close to finding the technology that will do that.
    5)Mobat should be reminded that Europe going all out to reduce co2 emissions without the rest of the world following suite is economic suicide. All it does is export our industries to countries who do not have draconian rules, regulations and energy costs and with it the co2 emissions. It should also be noted that perhaps methane is more of a danger to the climate than co2 but either scientists are not sure (like everything else about climate change) of that or would have to ban flatulence which is somewhat impractical thing to do.
    6)With the right incentive perhaps by keeping a carbon tax and a nudge here and a nudge there but nothing else the private sector will by innovation and advances in technology in the next decade or so come up with the right solutions for causes and effects that by that time should be better understood. The knee jerk reaction that has lead us to our current energy policies will I believe in the end prove to be a costly and ghastly mistake.

  34. Anonymous
    February 11, 2014

    The Greens in charge of our country have gone in totally the wrong direction.

    Anticipating drought they stopped dredging rivers, got rid of snow ploughs, gave us Mediterranean tarmac which breaks up in winter…

    Instead of mitigating real problems on the ground they have sought to tackle climate change by buying Mercedes for tin pot dictators in the third world and by towing the EU line.

    A golden opportunity under the present circumstances for Mr Cameron to start showing us what he’s made of in the run up to 2015.

  35. Peter Stroud
    February 11, 2014

    Mr Redwood, I hope George Monbiot will behave better than the global warming advisor, (whose name did not catch) you met this morning on Sky news. You put the sensible, balanced points you have mentioned in this article. His retort, was a disgusting ad hominem attack, pure and simple. He made no attempt to answer your points: his aim was crude character assassination. I gather he advised government on climate change. No wonder we are suffering from so many warmist MPs in all political parties. These fanatics, and this includes some MPs and cabinet ministers, try to stifle debate rather than logically defend their views. But, these are the people who make the laws. They need to be challenged: and a group of sceptical MPs could ensure that challengers effective.

    Reply That was the debate with Mr Monbiot. Between agreeing it and the event Sky changed the other person, and put back the time without consulting.

    1. forthurst
      February 11, 2014

      “Reply That was the debate with Mr Monbiot. Between agreeing it and the event Sky changed the other person, and put back the time without consulting”

      An uncharateristic tactical error by Gen. JR in publishing his battle plan before the encounter: was Sky worried that their champion would be vanquished and the NWO global warming scam be publicly ridiculed or did Monbiot not relish a public appraisal of his talents as a writer of Science Fiction?

  36. uanime5
    February 11, 2014

    The Environment Agency reminds us that in 1919 more of the Somerset levels were drowned than today. We must assume that the eighteenth century was not a time of man made global warming and 1919 was well before the big global build up of CO2.

    Or we could assume that over a period of nearly nearly 100 years better drainage and defences were built to prevent these floods.

    It serves to remind us all how difficult it is to forecast weather for a month of two’s time, let alone over a period of decades, even with very powerful computers and plenty of instruments to read conditions.

    Predicting what the weather will do in the future is the not same thing as plotting a graph showing that the average global temperature and man made CO2 have both risen over the past century.

    Secondly it is extremely difficult for man to predict and control how it will change, as it is subject to many differing forces.

    Good thing we have expert scientists who can measure all these factors to predict what will happen. For example as the average global temperature is rising because of man made CO2 then there’s strong evidence that continuing to produce more CO2 will continue to cause the average global temperature to rise.

    Man has no power over the sun, volcanic activity, the jet stream or the pattern of water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Though man can measure their activities to determine what effect they’re having on the average global temperature. So far the evidence shows they’re not causing the current rise in the average global temperature.

    It is equally difficult for people in rich countries to tell poorer countries with much larger populations to avoid burning the larger amounts of energy we did to grow richer.

    Good thing that only the richer countries are trying to cut their CO2 emissions and aren’t also forcing the poorer countries to cut their emissions.

    1. oldtimer
      February 11, 2014

      What an astonishing post! You must be making this up as you go along.

      (1) There has been very heavy rainfall before over the past 250 years for which records are available, regardless of atmospheric CO2.
      (2) It has not been established that very heavy rainfall correlates with, let alone is caused by, atmospheric CO2.
      (3) Man made CO2 is a small fraction of naturally occurring CO2.
      (4) No one understands, or has an accurate measure of the natural processes by which CO2 is released into or is sequestered from the atmosphere.
      (5) Global average temperatures, in so far as they can be measured, go up and they go down. They do not follow the rise in CO2 that is measured at only one point on earth for IPCC purposes. Satellite measures of atmospheric CO2 reveal very uneven distributions around the globe. For some reason centres of human industrial activity do not figure as significant concentrations; areas where natural influences occur appear to be much more significant.
      (6) It does appear likely that significant volcanic eruptions (such as Mount Pinatubo) influence global temperatures. No one can predict these, rendering all forecasts meaningless.
      (7) Global temperatures measured by satellites (the most comprehensive record) reveal that they have been flat for the past 17 years – not rising as you assert.
      (8) Man made CO2 emisions from countries like China and India swamp anything emitted by the UK. Their problem is not CO2 per se but the absence of clean air legislation of the kind enforced here.

    2. Old Albion
      February 11, 2014

      You do realise that over the last century, the global temperature has risen by ……..wait for it……….. 0.5 degrees C and for the last eighteen years has not risen at all?

    3. Chris
      February 11, 2014

      Temperatures have not risen for the last 15 years at least, but CO2 levels have continued to rise significantly. This would indicate that there is not a causal relationship between the two.

  37. Denis Cooper
    February 11, 2014

    Off-topic, JR, I hope that at some point soon you’ll be able to write something about the various statements from Viviane Reding:

    “There will be no repatriation of EU powers. It is not our problem, it is not us making the demands. You are either ‘in’ or ‘out’. ”

    “British sovereignty is mainly in their head because they’ve signed the EU treaty and most business is in Europe.”

    “The most powerful parliament in Europe is the European Parliament. Seventy per cent of laws in this country are co-decided there.”

    “Miss Reding said that the UK had signed up to four freedoms, covering the free movements of goods, capital, services and people.”

    Oh, and the headline canard that:

    “European Union migrants work harder than Britons, says Viviane Reding”

    based on the claim that 77 per cent of EU migrants are economically active compared to 72 per cent of British nationals, which appears to entirely ignore the very different age distributions of the two groups being compared.

  38. Chris
    February 11, 2014

    Something worth noting is the Met Office prediction for winter rainfall. Farcical if it didn’t have such serious implications. The Sun picks up the story:
    BUNGLING weather bosses predicted a drier than usual winter, it has emerged. The Met Office’s staggeringly inaccurate forecast was made at the end of November last year – just a month before the record-breaking deluge began. And the agency gave just a one in seven chance the three following months would “fall into the wettest category”.

    On Nov 21, its experts predicted: “For the December-January-February period as a whole, there is a slight signal for below-average precipitation”.

    The calamitous estimate emerged as Downing Street dubbed the devastation caused by the floods as “Biblical”.

  39. Chris
    February 11, 2014

    Worth noting the views of a local from Somerset, posted on The Slog. He makes it quite clear where the problem lies and it is not so much in the rainfall amounts, but rather the lack of drainage capacity. This sort of information is far more valuable than pronouncements/dire warnings about extreme weather events from the global warming brigade.
    February 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm
    We have had plenty of rain down here in Somerset, but I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary. In fact we had quite a dry autumn, and we’ve had many clear days over the past month or so.. Unfortunately the River Parrett is so silted up that the entire drainage system reaches carrying capacity very quickly. All the smaller rivers are very high and at the same time very slowmoving as there is simply nowhere for the water to go. Fields are saturated, again because they cannot drain. So even if we have a few days of clear weather, the next time it rains the fresh rainfall has nowhere to go. The last two days have been relatively clear, but we had a little rain last night and suddenly the roads are flooded again.

    Other parts of the country have had a lot of rainfall, but in the our case, it’s not excessive rain that is causing the problem, but lack of drainage capacity.”

  40. Kenneth R Moore
    February 11, 2014

    Good luck debating with Moonboot tomorrow Dr Redwood..It will be about as easy as nailing jelly to a wall debating with a leftie.

  41. DrJohnGalan
    February 12, 2014

    If human-caused global warming is as catastrophic as the doomsayers have been telling us, why does not every government in the world immediately shut down all its carbon-dioxide-producing power plant? Surely the planet has to be saved. As they tell us with 95% certainty that this problem is real and catastrophic, tinkering around its edges with carbon taxes and the like is not going to do enough to solve it. Nothing short of shutting down all fossil-fuelled power stations, cars, lorries, etc. will suffice. In line with the UK’s current stance, we should be taking the lead. Let’s rely on the windmills, the solar panels, electric cars (if you can charge them up!) and bicycles to run the economy. Very soon we will be leading the world in subsistence living. The population will quickly decline, removing much of the strain from the Health Service. OK, there would be no internet for the people here to contribute to blogs like this, but we could read those old-fashioned books (with pages) by candle light instead.

    Otherwise the planet will fry, children will not see snow again, we will have more hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, the Himalayan glaciers will melt, sea level will rise submerging the water-front properties purchased by Al Gore, Tim Flannery, Julia Gillard et al, the Arctic ice cap will (already!) be gone. And failing all of those to manifest themselves, apparently, the global warming has now disappeared into the deep ocean (where no one can measure it, causing an insignificant temperature change of less than one hundredth of a degree) which will do no harm to anyone.

    Last November, the Met Office predicted a dry winter. Despite the standstill in global temperature for the past 17 years (which they did not foresee) they, and many others like them, predict climate with significantly higher temperatures 86 years hence with astounding certainty.

    For more about how wrong most doomsayers are most of the time, Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist” is well worth a read.

  42. Kenneth R Moore
    February 12, 2014

    George Monbiot wrote “A couple of years ago I decided to stop arguing with climate change deniers”. Hmm I wonder if this moment of recognition coincided with recent extremely cold winters and reports of thickening ice sheets around the polar caps?.
    Now Monbiot is doing the rounds again now that the recent weather fits with his narrative.

    I don’t think Lord Lawson or John Redwood or any other sane person believes that climate change isn’t happening. The point is the climate is ALWAYS changing irrespective of how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere. The CO2 is just a nifty stick for the pro big state and spend elite to beat us with.

    But this is what Monbiot is expert at – misrepresenting his opponents views so that he can attack them more easily. Have you a link to the debate Dr Redwood ?

  43. Kenneth R Moore
    February 13, 2014

    Wise words Lord Redwood in contrast to your opponent.
    So if you disagree with the global warming fanatics that makes us ‘ignorant’ , ‘complacent’ and most laughable of all ‘immoral’.

    Typical leftie using ad hom attacks and misrepresenting a position in order to create a strawman to knock down.

    Very apparent he couldn’t dispute Doctor Redwood’s views with any hard facts.
    If we closed down every power station, banned the burning of petrol and diesel in the uk, shut our airports etc. it wouldn’t make a jot of difference to global temperature.

    Where are these other countries that are doing ‘an enormous amount’ to tackle ‘climate change’.
    Why are these global warming ‘experts’ so quick to denounce anyone who questions their unshakeable belief in CO2 and man made climate change and the need to cut emissions..but have almost nothing to say about the fact that we are heading for a population of 70 millions CO2 emitters in the UK.

    The truth is the arguments are driven by political correctness not reason and logic.

    What strange times we live in. Nobody can have an accident anymore without finding someone to blame. We can’t have a bought of bad weather and just get on with it anymore without some ‘expert’ coming on to tell us all it’s our fault. How did we drift into this punishment culture ?

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