Can scientists predict the weather in 50 years time?


This week global warming theory came back into my life. I write in praise of Professor Bengtsson, whose recent remarks as a respected climate scientist have led to more doubts about what is happening in the scientific community. He has stated

“We do not know when to expect a warming of 2 degrees Celsius…. These high values of climate sensitivity (to CO2) , however, are not supported by observations. In other words global warming has not been a serious problem so far if we rely on observations”

I support him not because he comes from my local university of Reading, though Reading is a very well regarded leading university worldwide for its work on climate and weather. I support him because he is speaking out for scientific method to be applied as sanely and sceptically to climate science as to other parts of science.

As I have explained here before, the science of  climate change is not “settled” as its leading propagandists like to tell us. No science is ever settled. Science proceeds by theory and models, followed by testing against data with continuous attempts to challenge, improve or overturn these models. Just look  at the way human understanding of the sun and planets has evolved. Galileo challenged the settled science of the heavens of his day despite the protests of the academic establishment, Newton improved on it massively, but the twentieth century went far further in altering and adding to the Newtonian consensus.

Professor Bengtsson joined the Advisory Board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. You would have thought most climate scientists would welcome the addition of a respect member of their profession to the Board of a body which likes to challenge and question the academic consensus. He could have made sure the work of the Foundation took proper note of the academic work its is reviewing and challenging. Instead he had to write a letter of resignation shortly after joining the Board complaining  of the McCarthyite pressures exerted on him by the academic world for daring to join such a body at all!

This is not science as it should be conducted. If the scientists are truly confident of their models they should be able to deal with any intellectual challenge from a Policy Foundation without resorting to threats or tantrums. One of the  main reasons so many people do not believe the scientists is they keep putting back the date when their model predictions of rising temperatures will come true. Tomorrow I will look at their 50 year weather forecast, and ask why they cannot also do a 10 year one that works.



  1. margaret brandreth-j
    May 17, 2014

    I don’t think any scientist would say there can be an accurate prediction.The weather predictions from day to day are often wrong.I believe that global warming is a problem , by reading and looking at physical evidence in our geological history. What isn’t obvious is the speed of warming.For the rest of my life I would love to see a more continental climate in GB and would agree willingly with the anti- climate change radicals,but just as the planets orbit around each other in the universe, warming and cooling exists.

    1. mariwarcwm
      May 17, 2014

      When have there been problems with warming during the past 10,000 years?Most of the high temperatures during the Holocene Interglacial were higher than now, but they were always times of plenty, population growth, great civilizations. Cold periods brought on end of empires, crop failures, famine, war. And so it will again. The end of the Holocene Interglacial is much to be feared, is now due, and no one is allowed to think about it for political reasons.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 17, 2014

        Indeed hotter certainly seems rather preferable to colder, it give more crop growth, fewer deserts and more precipitation.

        1. Lifelogic
          May 18, 2014

          As Richard Lindzen perfectly puts it:

          “The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well.”

          The deluded and anti-science BBC alas had one of the bigger drums, it is still beating it madly, almost every day. Hardly any program or news item can get away without some mention of this new religion.

    2. Jennifer A
      May 17, 2014

      Whatever the prediction it will always be given with just enough time to ‘save’ the situation.

      No-one will say “It’s too late. Let’s just carry on as normal.” or “The polar ice caps will all melt into the oceans in 18 months and we’re all doomed.”

      The same people who set our carbon emission targets seek to raise the living standards of the world’s poor by inviting them to live here – the two aims are mutually exclusive.

      Fewer and fewer people are fooled by these things any more.

    3. Anonymous
      May 17, 2014

      It is quite clear that the weather will be warm in Britain. The treatment of Nigel Farage’s UKIP party – in particular the Electoral Independence Commission’s allowing An Independence from Europe Party top billing on the voting slip.

      We will be growing bananas in Britain, I’m sure.

      (The press seems to have been leant on too.)

      In truth I’m shocked.

      1. Bob
        May 18, 2014

        The Electoral Commission is the very definition of the term “not fit for purpose”.

  2. Mike Stallard
    May 17, 2014

    Now look John, the science is simple.
    If you look up at the sky, the sun is going round the earth. You can observe this phenomenon with your naked eye.
    The earth, of course, is not quite flat. It is slightly rounded. Anyone can see that.
    Meanwhile, if you do the simplest of experiments you can see that Co2 is an inhibitor of heat loss (Gompertz 1987: University of Littlehampton). So global warming must be a reality as the Co2 builds up under the ionosphere – the greenhouse effect (veridic domus syndrome).
    Every scientist – or at least 90% of the scientific community – knows this too.
    And I am afraid that if you doubt any of this, I shall have to exterminate you.
    (PS Has anyone read Chicken Licken recently?)

    1. margaret brandreth-j
      May 17, 2014

      Just hoping the sky doesn’t fall down until my off spring are long gone.

      1. margaret brandreth-j
        May 18, 2014

        Brian Cox has just informed me that actually everything we see has fallen down from the universe due to gravity ,including our perception of the sky. Apparently we all bend space .. don’t want to say too much about bending ears and the space between thereof.

  3. Latimer Alder
    May 17, 2014

    This whole affair illustrates yet again how the self-conceit of some ‘scientists’ is leading to their own downfall.

    Climate scientists have nothing to sell the public beyond the vague concept of ‘Trust Our Judgement’. They cannot show rising temperatures – for they are not rising. They cannot show working models – for they do not work. They cannot show ‘the missing heat’- for they cannot find it. There is nothing to show other than apparent sincerity and some vague sort of appeal to ‘higher learning’. Their judgement of the future is their USP.

    And most of them know this. Hence their huge reliance on communicating the supposed 97% agreement (which itself seems to be a pretty shallow number). They cannot directly show the public how good the product is (for ‘good’ it is not), but must instead rely on telling us how good they all think it is…a sort of secondary reference sell.

    And in such circumstances of marketing and intellectual weakness, one might imagine that the more savvy climos would be careful to do nothing to tarnish the illusion of sound judgement, probity and reliability. They have nothing else.

    But nothing of the sort. The more self-regarding (and there are plenty who have this unhappy characteristic) continue to act as they always have – bombastically pronouncing themselves to be the sole judges of right and wrong, attempting to enforce unanimity by any means available and generally making public arses of themselves.

    But the public are not fooled. They see this misbehaviour and its complete fantatstical disconnect from reality. L’affaire Bengtsson has eroded another chunk out of climos public credibility and hastened their descent into ridicule and vituperation.

    When the final history of the collapse of their little climate cult comes to be written. one of the delights will be to see yet again how the Hubristic nature of the participants was a major factor in leading to their Nemesis.

    Rupert Darwall should be preparing ‘The End of Global Warming’ as the successor to his excellent ‘The Age of Global Warming’. The first showed how the seeds were sown.. the second will show how they sprouted and grew. I greatly look forward to reading it soon.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 17, 2014

      Indeed. But why are the Tories on the wrong side of this debate? Only a tiny few voting against the climate change act.

      Needless to say broken compass, PR stunt, wind turbine in Notting Hill (no wind there) Cameron is on the wrong side of this debate too. Just as he is with the EU, high taxes, big government, gender neutral pensions, and insurance, token women and religion here and there, over regulation of virtually everything, the green crap subsidies, the warmongering (fortunately he was held back) ……

      1. APL
        May 18, 2014

        Life logic: “Notting Hill, no wind there.”

        Loads of wind and hot air in Notting Hill, it’s just blowing in all directions at once, it is called incoherent, or chaotic wind. The net result a awful lot of noise but absolutely, no net motive power at all.

  4. Lifelogic
    May 17, 2014

    Indeed the Catastrophic AGW (huge exaggeration of) scientists simply have no clothes, especially after 16 years of no warming. They look more & more stupid by the day. And are thus getting very desperate, it is becoming a new McCarthyism type of witch hunt. The AGW exaggeration belief system is driven by Libdems, Labour and the hug a husky Cameron wing, in schools, the Guardian type press, the exam syllabus, by the appallingly biased BBC, governments in search of new taxes and the greens – largely by total non scientists in fact. The people most vehemently in support usually do not even know the units energy is measured in, or that storing electricity is very wasteful of energy and expensive, nor what positive feed back is, or the cost and efficiencies of energy production. They just have a “belief” in their waters because the BBC has told them.

    Most real scientists know it might get hotter, colder or stay about the same and we just do not know because it is simply unknowable. An event tomorrow a volcano, sun activity change, crop changes, an invention, a meteor impact or countless other things could change things at any stage anyway. We simply cannot predict, with any hope of real accuracy. Hotter on balance is probably preferable to colder anyway.

    As the excellent Freemen Dyson puts it:-

    “What I think is absurd, what I disagree with very strongly, is the idea that climate is predictable, that we can sort of do things 100 years in advance knowing what is going to happen. That is just not… That is just not the way it is.”

    Anyway the solutions they propose the expensive wind farms, PV, bikes, biofuels, electric cars and so called “renewables” do not even work as a solution – even in their CO2 devil gas religion terms. These people are just largely bonkers.

    Spend the money now on things we know work, inoculations, basic medical care, safe building in earth quake and hurricane zones, clean water, malaria, nutrition ……. it is totally immoral to waste it on pointless renewable subsidies and this silly Government &BBC think religion. Much blood is on the hands of these stupid green priests.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 17, 2014

      Perhaps the real question for the greens like Clegg, Cameron, Miliband, Yeo, Huhne, Gummer, Davey, the green party, the the climate change (exaggeration of) scientists is:- Which are just a bit dim and genuinely deluded and which actually know it is a complete load of exaggerated greencrap and are just using it to garner votes and pissing billions of taxpayers money down the drain for the hell of it?

      Surely the latter are far worse than the former as they cannot help being dopey. Can the latter not be prosecuted for obtaining money (or votes) by deception and lies or something similar?

  5. Elliot Kane
    May 17, 2014

    Any ‘science’ that has to keep moving the goal posts and engages in twisting the facts, falsifying evidence and intimidating anyone who dares to disagree with its chosen orthodoxy resembles no science worthy of the name.

    But then, Warmism displays all the hallmarks of a pseudo-religion rather than a science. To be a Warmist is not to trust to proven fact, but rather to have faith in a set of unsubstantiated beliefs.

    I like my science to be genuinely scientific. Probably makes me a bit too old school for the Warmist true believers 😀

  6. Lifelogic
    May 17, 2014

    Oh they like to say predict the “climate” rather than “weather” but as climate is average weather it is largely the same thing.

    They cannot predict the weather on Tuesday week but still want to tell us the climate in 100 years. They should sell their garbage in garbage out very expensive, soothsaying, computers and get a real job. Rather than just trying to scare our children and the more gullible.

  7. Old Albion
    May 17, 2014

    One day humanity will look back and laugh at the hysteria generated by the ‘global warming’ theory.

  8. Lifelogic
    May 17, 2014

    “why they cannot also do a 10 year one that works”

    Because it is simply not possible any more than is predicting the lottery balls, or the outcome or a game of snooker. One particle of dust on a ball, one volcano, a change in the suns output, and countless other things could change it instantly.

    The weather next week affects the weather one week later so how can one predict?

  9. BigD
    May 17, 2014

    Regarded ‘settled’ science, I find the late author Michael Crichton’s 2003 lecture at Caltech & his criticism of ‘consensus science’ to be a very good statement on this issue:

    1. David Price
      May 20, 2014

      Thanks for the pointer, Michael Crichtons offers a very persuasive viewpoint.

  10. John E
    May 17, 2014

    Good to see a calm reasoned response from the Guardian (not). A piece of journalism that deserves to be remembered.

    The trouble starts when the politics or religion is put before the science. Prof Bengtsson has a very distinguished career and deserves better.

  11. sm
    May 17, 2014

    The overwhelming amount of climate scaremongering appears to arise from modelling, not observation. The good Professor has exposed the failings of modelling, but there is too much money tied up in ChickenLicken theories for him to be allowed to get away with it. I read recently that one of the principal reasons for the Roman Empire wanting to invade Britain was because of its then very warm and benign climate, offering plenty of food provision – climates fluctuate, why can’t the great and the good accept that?

    1. Martyn G
      May 17, 2014

      Quite right – in many ways Britain was the food basket of northern Europe in being able to export grain. Not to mention also being able to grow grapes for wine in the south and, I believe, up as far north as what we call these days the midlands.

  12. Richard1
    May 17, 2014

    Well put. The hounding of Prof Bengtsson is a disgrace. It demonstrates at once the extreme politicization of climate science and the lack of intellectual confidence of climate scientists, who do not feel able to defend their theory by reference to data and reasoning, as scientists do in other fields, but instead rely on intimidation, ostracism and shouting down of dissent.

    When we are told that ‘ the vast majority’ or ‘97%’ of scientists agree with the climate consensus, we should remember this episode and the courage of Prof Bengtsson in putting his head above the parapet. It is hardly surprising that very few scientists dare to do the same given the threat to their careers and even the safety of them and their families if they do dissent.

    The Government should take note. Hugely important and expensive policy decisions are being made on the basis of evidence provided by a profession which appears to have been captured by fanatics. The public don’t buy it – neither interestingly does the market, as we see no rise in insurance premia for climate catastrophes – its time for a radical rethink of all those policies coming under the broad heading of Green Crap.

    1. John E
      May 17, 2014

      I’m afraid the underpricing of catastrophe insurance is driven by the flood of cheap money generated by QE.
      Warren Buffet recently said his firm was limiting the amount of reinsurance they are underwriting because the risks are being underpriced. Being a very patient man he will be waiting for the new entrants to lose their shirts before returning to the market.
      Not disagreeing on the main thrust, but I wouldn’t be rushing to put my money in “disaster bonds” . Markets don’t always price risk correctly either.

      1. Richard1
        May 17, 2014

        I agree with your point. The pricing of risk in the insurance market, as in the capital markets (eg the debt of the eurozone garlic belt), is very much affected by monetary policy. But there is no doubt also that the insurance market has been taken by surprise at the lack of catastrophic weather events in recent years, given the forecasts of climate scientists. The last 8 years have been unusually quiet for hurricanes eg. The insurance market has done all it can to promote climate alarmism – the expedition to the Arctic for example – but can’t shift the pricing in the face of the facts.

      2. Mark
        May 18, 2014

        I noted recently that one of the large insurance companies was avidly seizing on the latest climate forecasts and giving it publicity in its advertising. My thought was that they were looking for an excuse to raise premiums. It’s clear they have an interest in convincing us that the risks are bigger than they are.

        The more genuine problem for insurers has been the extent of development in ways that are more susceptible to disaster risk: in this country, building on floodplains for example.

  13. Andyvan
    May 17, 2014

    Predict the weather in 50 years? They can’t predict the weather in 50 days and struggle to manage 50 hours sometimes. Why do we continue to listen to the climate alarmists and fanatics when none of their predictions have come true? The reality is that there is a whole lot of money in being an alarmist. Stop giving them government grants for faking research and making silly computer models.

  14. Edward2
    May 17, 2014

    The reason I am skeptical about the current predictions of the IPCC is that their original predictions have already not come true.
    Furthermore the predictions made by Al Gore in his film have also not come true.
    Sea level rises of several feet with islands submerged by now…not happened.
    Glaciers named melted by now….not happened
    Mountains named to have no snow on their peaks….not happened
    Temperatures rises to accelerate after 2000…not happened
    Like those who predict the end of the world on a specific date who tell us when it fails to happen that it still will happen but at another date sometime further in the future only this time it is going to be even worse.

    But the main question warmists fail to address is about the cure.
    Based on their theory, it would need every nation on the planet to agree to reduce their CO2 output by 50%.
    Then agree to be audited by some powerful supra national body to ensure no cheating with big financial sanctions for failure.
    And this process would need to continue for evermore so man could adjust the global thermometer to some agreed level.
    Once the temperature starts to fall too much, I presume nations will be ordered to increase CO2 output to stop global cooling?

    I do not see this level of international discipline and agreement ever holding together over the many decades needed, which is why adaption is better, far cheaper and more easily achieved.

    All this for a less than one degree rise in average global temperatures since 1900.

  15. petermartin2001
    May 17, 2014

    Oh come on John, you are surely too intelligent to fall for the “predicting the weather in N years time” argument.

    Of course no-one can predict the weather in Wokingham even 10 years into the future. ie 16th May 2024. But the prediction of world climate is slightly easier. It will be slightly warmer than it is now.

    Prediction of weather, on any particular day, is rather like predicting the scores of individual football matches. It’s really not possible to have predicted that Manchester City would have lost 3-2 to Aston Villa in September of last year for example. That’s like predicting the weather. But would it have been possible to have predicted that Manchester City would have won the EPL? Yes of course and many people did just that.

    If they had been wrong, and say Liverpool had won, the predictions wouldn’t have been far out. Manchester City have a good squad of players and will always finish in the top three. That is like predicting climate.

    1. Mark
      May 18, 2014

      The problem for those predicting the climate is that they have been doing the equivalent of predicting a finish in the top 6 (and a place in Europe) while the actual results have been ranging from mid table to just avoiding the relegation zone where cooling occurs. Would you still listen to football pundits who were so far out in their predictions, other than to laugh at them?

      1. petermartin2001
        May 18, 2014

        I can’t see the joke here!

        Reply The scale is important, and there are periods when the average temperature falls.

        1. Mark
          May 21, 2014

          Your chart conveniently ends about 15 years ago, since when temperatures have been broadly static, despite large increases in cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions during the period, which models forecast would result in a continuation of the uptrend of the previous 20 years. The most recent IPCC report shows that over 95% of climate model runs predicted we would have warmer to much warmer temperatures on this timescale. That would normally be regarded as adequate to establish falsification of a hypothesis or model.

  16. English Pensioner
    May 17, 2014

    There was a similar situation this week when the BMJ was forced to “withdraw” a paper about statins. I’m of an age where most of my friends are using statins, and most seem to have had side-effects before their GP found one which suited, and thus the summery of the paper, as reported in the media, seemed reasonable.
    Was the original paper wrong, or was pressure applied to the authors and by whom? Do we have a situation where soon we will be told “the medical science of statins is settled” and no discussion is permitted, with all us oldies being told to take our compulsory daily dose.
    Science, as I was taught at school, which requires the impartial examination of the facts, no longer seems to exist.

    Reply: The author I think in this case agreed a mistake had been made in claiming far more people suffer side effects than research showed was the case. Your sample of friends does not seem to be representative of the research findings. The proportion suffering side effects is very low apparently.

  17. ian wragg
    May 17, 2014

    Of course scientists can’t predict conditions in 50 days let alone 50 years but ther in lies the problem. It’s not science but a religion born out of the collapse of socialism embraced by the LibLabCon as a way of taxing and wasting our money.
    If anyone in a different field did the stupid things that governments are doing in the name of climate change, they would be sectioned and put in a dark room.
    CMD being a big government socialist is all to happy to be a cheerleader for this nonsense and yet another reason why you will lose the next election.
    I see the MSM is out in force to rubbish UKIP. The establishment must be getting very, very worried.
    Who will feature when the chickens come home to roost?

  18. NickW
    May 17, 2014

    You won’t find a pseudoscientist of the anthropogenic warming brigade who is willing to make a prediction capable of being proved wrong within that scientists working life.

    Before Governments throw more money at green energy they need to get the scientific community to make a clear prediction about the weather in ten years time and see if it turns out correct. If it doesn’t, it will be then incumbent on all Governments to restore common sense into their energy policy.

    Last year, Germany paid 20 billion Euros for 2 billion Euros worth of green energy. That is not a recipe for long term commercial success and will result in unsustainable decreases in competitiveness.

    1. sjb
      May 17, 2014

      Just six days ago, renewable sources of energy such as hydro, PV, and wind provided almost 75% of Germany’s electricity … “electricity prices went negative for much of the afternoon.”[1]


  19. Alan Wheatley
    May 17, 2014

    Welcome information.

    I take this opportunity to make a point I have made before, yet as far as I know totally ignored by the media. And that is to do with population growth.

    If, for the sake of argument, it is accepted that undesirable climate change is as a consequence of human activity, then at least a part of the response should be to address the size of the human population. This is predicted to grow to about 9Billion, at which point, it has been argued, the growth will flatten out: though I suspect this prediction is as weak as most predictions as to what people will do in the future.

    So, if people are the problem, more people will only make matters worse. Therefore, I would have thought, at the very least, there ought to be a debate as to the merits of population growth, just like there is a debate about the growth of carbon emissions. But no. It seems there is universal acceptance that the human population will grow, some actively support such a thing, but no thought is given to the consequences. There is only so much space on Earth and there is a might number of other claims for some of it, and if the humans take too much we could be facing a far bigger disaster than a bit of global warming.

    1. A different Simon
      May 17, 2014

      Alan Wheatley ,

      Depopulation is a core policy of both elites and greens .

      Both of them applaud China for it’s brutal one child policy .

      Human population is probably not a major driver of the climate .

      Climate change alarmism is too tempting for the elites not to use it as an excuse for draconian depopulation .

      In the 1960′s Mexico couldn’t feed itself . The political and academic consensus was that these people should be allowed to starve .
      Fortunately Dr Norman Borlaug thought these human lives were valuable and supervised agricultural changes which saved these peoples lives .

      You never hear of Norman Borlaug . He got no thanks from the elites for disobeying them .

      You only have to read the comments in the Guardian to see that for many people the end justifies the means which is a slippery slope indeed .

      1. Alan Wheatley
        May 18, 2014

        The man who substantially improved the yield from wheat, is he not?

        While I tend to agree with you that the human population is not “the” major driver for climate change, I think it plausible that it has an effect, after all there are so many humans doing so much that it is unlike we are having NO impact. My point is to get the AGW enthusiast to address the issue, else their credibility is undermined.

        Also, the issue is not whether it is technically possible for Earth to sustain a very much larger human population but whether such an Earth is what we want. I reiterate my point: space is finite and there is conflict between needs, which we do not want to loose.

        1. A different Simon
          May 18, 2014

          I think for many AGW enthusiasts population is the central issue and AGW is just a mechanism for justifying it .

          Glad I won’t be around to see what measures they will have imposed in 50 years time .

  20. oldtimer
    May 17, 2014

    This is another shameful episode that raises the question “What are Professor Bengtsson`s detractors trying to hide?”

    In the earlier so-called hockey stick affair, exposed by Steve McIntyre, it was all about “hiding the decline”. This latest episode appears to relate to the the SPM (Summary for Policy Makers) not reflecting the results, doubts and uncertainties of the scientific papers that underlie the latest IPCC report. The public is presented with certainty whereas the reality is uncertainty. Once the public at large realise they have been conned and are paying through the nose for a lost cause then the reputation of those (scientists, NGOs, climate alarmists and politicians) who pushed it will be in tatters.

    1. stred
      May 18, 2014

      The latest dire predictions depend on averaging the opinions of scientific experts in sea level change, having given up on computer modelling. A questionaire was sent to a sample of anyone they could find, however only 20% responded. The replies gave their predictions of sea level rise and these were tabulated and graphed, showing the majority were becoming more pessimistic. Their worries arise from observations of melting in Antarctica and Greenland and fears of runaway effects.

      Looking at the graphs, the earlier forcasts- now superseded, show a rise of 0.3m from 1700 to present then a forecast of 0.7 to 0.9m to 2100. However the rise in sea levels does not appear to subtract the rise in level to present time of 0.3m.

      The recent averaging of the 20% of experts who bothered to reply shows opinion varying between a rise of 2m and 0.3m by 2100, a factor of 6.66. See Realclimate site.

      These figures are what the Met Office is using and coalition policy is dependent upon. They are accepted without question by MSM. Yesterday, CNN was certain about the predictions and had a Dutch expert on offering to save New York, or New Amsterdam as it once was.

      As someone said, an expert is a person who gets to know more and more about less and less until in the end he knows everything about nothing.

      Sorry, no sexism on this one, he or she.

  21. Neil Craig
    May 17, 2014

    Having asked 100s of thousands of people (in newspapers, alarmist blogsites etc) to name a single solitary scientist, out of the millions not paid by government, who supports the catastrophic warming scare and is not being paid by the state I can sonfirm that there is not a single one, anywhere.

    Now THAT is consensus.

    I did have a couple of alarmists claiming the title but, on investigation, both were state paid (& one wasn’t even a scientist). Since nobody in the alarmist community was willing even to condemn such blatant lying, we must take this as representing the standard of honesty to which they all aspire.

    The witch hunt against the professor shows why so many scientists keep their heads down. This and the unabashed enthusiasm for the witch hunt displayed on almost every alarmist website, shows how (questionable ed) and free of any trace of scientific principle the entire political parasite alarmist movement is – from the Milibands Clegg, Cameron & BBC to all the pseudo-scientists paid to sell it.

    1. Ian Scott
      May 17, 2014

      Are you looking for a scientist in any specific field? If not I qualify. What do I win?

  22. Atlas
    May 17, 2014

    The situation that Prof. Bengtsson describes concerning peer review can be likened to exam candidates marking their own work.

    Peer review is not a perfect process and the politicisation of the man-made climate change debate has discredited peer review in my eyes. I think I now know how brave the likes of Galileo were back in the 17th Century. There were thousands against him – yet he was right and they were wrong. So much for ‘consensus’. Royal Society hang your head in shame !

    As John is rightly focused on the cost of following these AGW predictions, then I can see why he must despair.

    I believe Economists have a term for this situation of people making claims to keep themselves in a job – rent seeking.

    1. Ian Scott
      May 17, 2014

      Interesting, what do you propose we replace peer review with?

      1. Mark
        May 18, 2014

        We need much more open critique than peer review provides. The reviewers’ identities and opinions remain hidden from public view even after papers have been published: they should be published along with the paper, although there is good justification for not publishing the names beforehand. That would make “mate review” a little more obvious for a start.

        Secondly, space should also be given to subsequent critiques – easy to do in the modern world where journal distribution is largely by internet.

        Thirdly, there needs to be much more transparency about data, its origins and analysis, with links to original sources and methods clearly stated. Many a fault has been found with papers that have abused data to support preconceived conclusions when the original data have been uncovered in all sorts of fields.

        Fourthly, the role of crowd sourced review should not be ignored. Flaws are often identified through this process.

        Transparency is required, not the blessings of a secretive priesthood.

  23. Denis Cooper
    May 17, 2014

    On this topic:

    I continue with my longstanding assessment that as yet there is no climatological theory which can make predictions of sufficient reliability to provide a sound basis for public policy decisions.

    Somewhat off this topic:

    Have you noticed how the media are starting to big up the Green Party as an important player in the EU Parliament elections? It seems to have started when Cameron mooted that he might be prepared to engage in a TV debate with Farage before the next general election, but not in single combat, only if he could have three friends along to help him – Miliband, Clegg, and the leader of the Greens. Having seen her perform on TV twice since then, I’m sure she would be a great help in shouting down Farage.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 17, 2014

      You are exactly right on the greens the BBC do seem to be using them to gang up on UKIP with the other three parties. The greens have a pleasant but (ill informed ed) one Caroline Lucas MP, and a most unpleasant one Natalie Bennett, but neither seem to have a slightest grasp of science or energy issues. Both talk complete nonsense on most subjects.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 17, 2014

        I could say something about Ska Keller, but I won’t because:

        1. I might be accused of sexism; and

        2. Hardly anybody in this country has ever heard of her, even though she is angling to succeed Barroso as President of the EU Commission.

        She is one of five MEPs who have decided that the next President must be one of them, and if the national governments dare to propose anybody else then none of the MEPs will vote to approve their appointment, as required under the EU treaties as amended by the Lisbon Treaty that Brown signed, and Parliament approved without the promised referendum, and Cameron then agreed to swallow whole as a fait accompli.

        This has hardly been mentioned in the mass media, they’ve been far too busy hunting in a pack to bring down Farage and UKIP.

        1. Hope
          May 18, 2014

          What on one day! Well done how about the average throughout the year?the Greens are a different version of Labour, all this roots are socialist. Perhaps a party for Cameron?

      2. Tad Davison
        May 18, 2014

        Too many greens can have a pronounced purgative effect upon the digestive system LL. I’d like to revert to type and put that in rather more prosaic terms, but no doubt everybody will gather what I mean. etc ed

  24. Ian Scott
    May 17, 2014

    Bengtsson won’t specify any of the McCarthyite activities that led him to leave the lobby group. I suppose of he was making it all up he wouldn’t be able to.

    Reply He did give examples and is not making it up

    1. Ian Scott
      May 17, 2014

      I don’t think people saying they don’t want to be named as a co-author with him is an example of McCarthyism; it’s an example of pragmatism.

      If an oncologist went to work for Marlboro do you think his peers would want to be associated with any future publications?

      1. Richard1
        May 17, 2014

        This is a very foolish post and entirely typical of the kind of vituperation Prof Bengtsson was referring to. Those who promote the theory of catastrophic global warming will have to win the argument on the facts, notby denigration of their opponents.

        1. Ian Scott
          May 17, 2014

          I’ll admit to having to look up the archaic term vituperation. That made me smile – if you think my comment is bitter and abusive have you ever made a statement supporting the NHS on the Telegraph blogs?

          Anyway back to the topic. If you looked at the body of scientific evidence instead of newspapers and blogs you’d realise the argument is over. The debate really needs to move onto what the correct response should be.

          That might well be adaptation. We’re a rich country. Nothing catastrophic is going to happen to us in our lifetime and technology may well sort out future ones. Disputing the empirical evidence is just bizarre.

          1. Edward2
            May 18, 2014

            Ian, how can you claim to be a scientist and then say …the argument is over.
            The history of science is littered with embarrassed scientists who have found new research has proved their existing theories totally wrong.
            Keep searching.

          2. Richard1
            May 18, 2014

            The question is what the empirical evidence is. The empirical evidence is that the climate sensitivity of carbon is c 1%. That’s not to dispute the science of global warming. But it does mean there is no evidence to say we face the kind of catastrophic climate change campaigners and some scientists have been saying, its pure conjecture. Adaptation is certainly sensible – the measures will make sense whatever happens. What this argument is about is should we turn the world economy upside down because of the threat of global warming, as the environmental movement argues. The answer based on the empirical evidence is no.

          3. A different Simon
            May 18, 2014

            Empirical evidence suggests no warming in the last 17 years .

            Even if there had/has been warming , all possible causes should be investigated rather than just settling on the one which fits conveniently into a wider social agenda .

            If peer pressure doesn’t silence the dissenters then the term “denier” has paved the way for turning questioning into a crime .

            We already see newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald and a couple in the US stating a policy of censorship on comments which do not support the consensus .

            A consensus is not a proof .

          4. Ian Scott
            May 18, 2014

            Edward2 – Science is based on people making discoveries and others building on this; “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. There’s a point where the evidence is so overwhelming that it has to be accepted as given. The alternative is to start from first principles and ignore any work anyone else has done.

            Richard1 – I agree. The debate needs to move towards the impact assessment and whether we should do anything about it.

            A different Simon – there’s more evidence than surface air temperature records. Have a read around.

            David Price – I don’t find it chilling. I find it a little drama Queenish. I’d like to know the details of the threats to his health and safety as I find it very difficult to believe.

          5. Edward2
            May 18, 2014

            An example you might like to consider Ian is the old settled science that bleeding fevered patients was good for them.
            In those days 97% of scientists believed that was the only way as well.

            Standing on the shoulders of giants is another way of describing the way ” group think” develops.

            Every year the temperature fails to rise, as 97% scientists predict gives me great pleasure.

          6. Ian Scott
            May 18, 2014

            Edward2 – bloodletting isn’t really a great example as it lost favour as medicine moved towards evidence based treatments. Previously treatments were based on ideas or philosophies.

            Does your groupthink comment relate to all spheres of science? Biomedical advances, materials science, physics, sports science etc etc or is it just climate science?

          7. David Price
            May 18, 2014

            If the argument is over why was pressure put on this individual after he joined a think tank that is sceptical about the claims of the AGW proponents?

            If the argument was really over why bother? If the issue is only adaption then why intimidate this person who questions the claims of AGW?

            I’m afraid your attempt to appear reasonable is as false as the claims of catastrophic AGW. The truth is more likely that the game is up and unless the AGW brigade hold the party line their credibility will be in the toilet.

            By the way, have you made the “drama queen” comment to Prof Bengtsson directly?

          8. Edward2
            May 18, 2014

            Its the lack of proper scrutiny and the immediate despising of anyone who dares to criticise the global warming theory which worries me Ian.
            Science requires open minds and inquisitive research begun with a clear open mind not preconceived ideas.

            Still no rise in global temperatures since 2000 as your scientific theory confidently predicted despite atmospheric levels of CO2 still rising during this period.

          9. sjb
            May 18, 2014

            @Ian Scott
            I fear your attempts will fall on deaf ears.

            For instance, whenever the HS2 rail scheme comes up there are contributors who insist it is a ‘diktat’ from Brussels – despite Mr Redwood on many occasions pointing out it is a decision entirely for HMG.

            In the past I have linked to where common climate change myths are rebutted with the science; there is even an opportunity to post questions.

            (suggestion that some companies have a commercial interest in misreporting or using science)

      2. David Price
        May 18, 2014

        The professor states in his resignation letter;

        “If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety.”

        As a scientist you don’t find the last part of that sentence chilling? Science is supposed to be the open and objective search for fact and truth, it can have no place for threats to the extent that someone fears for their safety and still be called science.

      3. Mark
        May 18, 2014

        Your example is a poor one. A good oncologist might very well be able to research tobacco carcinogens in considerable detail, and perhaps contribute to ways to make tobacco less harmful, or to providing acceptable substitutes. You simply ask us to assume that an oncologist who works for a tobacco company would by definition be an apologist for them, rather than working for the public good and the good of its customers. You would probably also attack the scientists and engineers who have worked to provide petrol engines and fuels that don’t rely on tetra-ethyl lead yet are vastly more fuel efficient, simply because you associate them with some mythical “Big Oil” enemy – yet they have done far more to reduce global emissions than all the windmills and solar farms in existence.

        Turning your example on its head, a climate scientist whose research is informed by radical green politics or a gravy train of funding for providing conclusions that support such politics is likely to become (an advocate of the common theory ed). Sensible scientists should shun such people entirely on your criteria. I would rather that the disinfectant of sunlight shine on the the entire process. Instead the track record of the climate industry has been to obstruct access to its data and analyses, so that others are unable to check them easily. Politicians controlling the IPCC ensure that their publications are slanted not to reflect the balance of scientific opinion – we have only to look at the differences between the AR5 drafts and the final SPM to see this process.

        Meanwhile we see the response to the fact that the data do not fit the model projections made previously. It consists of a combination of inventing new factors to add to the models, mostly unverifiable because we lack historic data; denial that falsified projections have in fact been falsified, and claims that the models cannot be falsified on timescales that were previously acknowledged as potentially throwing the models into doubt. It is increasingly clear who is in denial.

        The climate priesthood demands control of the media, and attempts to shout down anyone who criticizes it. Just look at 28-gate (the agreement by the BBC to promote climate propaganda across all its output) to see that. You may argue that we don’t give space to flat-earthers today – but we do. Every generation of children asks “Why?” and we take time to explain to them as their capacity to grasp concepts increases. Sometimes the children grow up to be able to question our understanding and overturn our orthodoxies. Yet the climate priesthood wants none of that. It simply wants children to accept received wisdom, and seeks to punish them for questioning it, even more so as adults. That is how things worked in the Lysenkoist Soviet Union.

        Your approach neglects the advances that can be made precisely because sceptics of the orthodox position find holes in the data and models. Whether it be Einstein questioning Newton, or the debate between Steady State and Big Bang theories of the universe – nicely summarised here:

        it should remain important that questioning voices continue to be heard – in climate studies as well as cosmology.

        1. Ian Scott
          May 19, 2014

          You’re right I shouldn’t have said Tobacco company I should have said lobby group for the tobacco industry who’s sole purpose is to create fear, uncertainty and doubt around the science that shows smoking causes cancer in the popular press.

          Reply Not sure who is lobbying to say smoking not a cause of cancer. No-one has tried to lobby me to that effect in recent years.

          1. Ian Scott
            May 19, 2014

            I doubt any one is lobbying you now. Had you been an MP 30/40/50 years ago however, when operation Berkshire was ongoing, groups similar in activity to the GWPF would have been all over you.

          2. Mark
            May 19, 2014

            Some reading for you:

            The GWPF does not have an official or shared view about the science of global warming – although we are of course aware that this issue is not yet settled.
            On climate science, our members and supporters cover a broad range of different views, from the IPCC position through agnosticism to outright scepticism.
            Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and their economic and other implications. Our aim is to provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice.


  25. Jagman 84
    May 17, 2014

    Mr Redwood, the science is irrelevant. It is all about redistribution of wealth \social ‘justice’. The Climate Change or Global Warming scam is a Socialist construct. The science debate is purely a diversionary tactic while they do their worst.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 17, 2014

      Exactly it just suits certain vested interests to scare out children and the gullible with these silly exaggerations.

    2. John E
      May 17, 2014

      I believe the term is water melon politics – green on the outside and red in the middle.

  26. Ex-expat Colin
    May 17, 2014

    I’ll stay with Lawson and Monckton on this subject and hope the money wasted to date on “research” can be recovered and put into adapt ion.

    To think that people pay for weather info from the Met Office and its super computer.

  27. Rods
    May 17, 2014

    Climate change and economics are both impossible to predict as they are very complex models, have a predictable mathematical component and a big unpredictable part based on chaos theory and of course we cannot know the future, which I think is best summed up by Macmillan, events dear boy, events. You have combinations of known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns.

    I like using economic predictions from 2008 to 2013 as a good example on how bad we are a predicting things using models. In reasonably steady state economic times, economists can get short term growth normally with an accuracy of +/-50 to 100%. Unfortunately in chaotic times when chaos theory is at the fore they can’t make any sensible prediction or even get the plus or minus sign right when it comes to economic growth. In 2008 the flap of the butterflies wing was when a banker realised AAA CDOs were actually subprime, followed by 5 years of turmoil. The best the economists could come up with over 5 years with their growth figures was bad this year, a bit better next year and much better the year after and they were wrong, wrong and wrong.

    So what are a few of the possible chaos theory events with our climate: Earthquakes, volcanos, meteor impacts, orbital forcing (the earth orbit is a varying ellipse, so the distance from the sun varies), earth axis wobbles, magnetic pole flipping for the earth and the sun, water vapour levels, CO2, atmospheric dust levels, heat reflection from the earth (ice age snow), solar wind, and the sun’s output.

    Now a question I have asked, in the past, is what is the optimum temperature for the earth? Is it +0, 1, 2, 5 or even 10degC hotter? To date nobody has been able to give me an answer. The question is hotter as looking at previous warm periods from ice core samples, with peaks in dust, CO2 and temperature, these have been followed by cold periods and this matters to us a lot. For the last 1.6 million years we have been in an ice age with reformed polar ice caps and in the last 100,000 years we have been for most of the time in ice ages. Scientists know that ices ages form quickly normally in a year of two and go on for a long time, typically 10-20,000 years. Temperatures are normally about 8degC colder than we are now. A few degrees warmer are neither here or there to our civilization in the northern hemisphere, but an 8degC drop matters a lot as it is the end of our civilization as we know it. Snow and glaciers as far south as London and most of the northern hemisphere too cold to grow crops. it is the next ice age, which is mainly a northern hemisphere’s problem that we should be worrying about.

    With the global failure of communism as a replacement for capitalism as the world’s wealth creation mechanism, the left wing have had to find other fronts to attack capitalism which is environmental anarchy (greens) and their ‘perfect’ conspiracy theory is climate change, using them to have power and influence over all of our lives and to pile on costs and misery to us all, where socialism is all about eliminating the global movers, shakers and wealth creators, who are generally rich so we have an equality of misery. There are 7 countries that belong to the 20/50 club and they all have common characteristics, multi-party democracies, independent judiciaries, strong property rights and capitalist economic systems. These all matter, so we can have comfortable successful lives.

    1. Mark
      May 17, 2014

      Based on our understanding of the life cycle for stars, I can predict that in the long run (when we are all dead some 5bn years into the future), the climate will get very hot indeed on earth as the sun expands into a red giant. Later, as the universe continue to expand, and long after the planet has been absorbed by the expanding sun, it will continue to shed matter into the surrounding galaxy as a planetary nebula, until it becomes a white dwarf star. The earth will be scattered through the galactic neighbourhood.

      The physics of this forecast is much more reliable than terrestial climate forecasts.

  28. Bill
    May 17, 2014

    Agree with your comments, John. I don’t think Karl Popper’s book, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, has been improved upon. Theory must be tested against observation and, if it is not testable, it is not scientific. This is the boundary between what is science and what is non-science. That which cannot be tested does not fall into the realm of science.

    What we have with the climate change assertions is an extrapolation into the future of a model that is perpetually being modified against the data.

    Those who read the excellent book by Richard Overy, The Morbid Age, will find the preoccupations of intellectuals in the 1930s seem, in many cases, ridiculous today. We only need to think of the confident assertions on the left about the imminent collapse of capitalism and hence civilisation. Climate change seems to me to be a similar expression of middle-class anxiety.

  29. forthurst
    May 17, 2014

    Interesting presentation by Piers Corbyn at EU2014 in Albuquerque on the topic of Long Range Weather Forecasting and Climate, “All about evidence”:

    Piers combines successful long range weather forecasting with extreme AGW denial.

  30. PeterStroud
    May 18, 2014

    An excellent article, Mr Redwood. Now please try to draw it to the the attention of the PM, and other Tory cabinet ministers. The blind acceptance of the IPCC’s consensus science, by the governments of the industrialised world, is a mega example of the emperor’s clothes syndrome. Perhaps if one, industrialised, wealthy country’s government, at least expressed doubts about the CAGW doctrine, sensible scepticism might prevail.

  31. petermartin2001
    May 18, 2014

    I hope everyone should be aware of the difference between weather and climate!

    Since the early part of the 19th century scientists have been aware that the Earth’s climate is warmer than it should be! The cause has been labelled the Greenhouse effect, although that is probably not the best analogy, and is caused by gases such as CO2 and others which are semi-opaque to IR radiation from the Earth’s surface.

    This opaquity partially blocks this radiation and warms the atmosphere in the process. The effect is similar to what is observed on a cloudy night in winter. They are unlikely to be as cold as clear nights.

    “The existence of the greenhouse effect was argued for by Joseph Fourier in 1824. The argument and the evidence was further strengthened by Claude Pouillet in 1827 and 1838, and reasoned from experimental observations by John Tyndall in 1859, and more fully quantified by Svante Arrhenius in 1896”

    So if CO2 is a GH gas will increasing the quantity in the atmosphere warm the planet?

    Yes. If levels double, which they will by the end of the 21st century on present trends, the best estimate is a warming of 3 degC. It could be anywhere between 1.5 and 4.5deg C to 90% confidence levels according to the IPCC.

    Will this warming affect our weather forecasting? Possibly, but only to the extent that it will make weather systems even more dynamic and energetic than previously and so much harder to predict.

    1. Edward2
      May 18, 2014

      For this theory to be proved Peter, you would expect the figures for CO2 levels and global temperatures to follow each other perfectly, but they have not always done so.
      A recent anomoly is the pause in warming since 2000 but the continued rise in CO2 with many other instances in the past.
      You state the current warmist predictions for global temperatures for this century but the fashion in the movement now is to concentrate all talk on climate disruption.
      With temperatures not doing as predicted every weather event can be claimed as a “told you so” event.
      Still only one degree rise since 1900.

      1. petermartin2001
        May 19, 2014

        “Still only one degree rise since 1900.”

        That’s quite a lot and about what would be expected on a climate sensitivity of 3C for a doubling of Co2 levels.

        The current warm period is known as the Holocene. Previous to that, before the last ice age there was a warm period known as the Eemian which was about 2C warmer than now. Fair enough you might think, except seal levels were about 5 mtres higher than now.

        It doesn’t follow that because we don’t know exactly what will happen if CO2 levels double this century that it is therefore a good idea to find out!

  32. lojolondon
    May 18, 2014

    John, your question is key, yet your answer is far gentler than these liars deserve.
    The truth is that in the short term, the Met office has proven themselves totally incapable of predicting the weather. The prediction for tomorrow is often fairly close, but never exact, the weekly predictions fail almost every time, as you can see them adjust the weekend predictions as we get closer to the end of each week.

    Longer term predictions are notoriously incorrect, for example, the period of our recent floods was predicted to be “an exceptionally cold and dry winter”, so their seasonal predictions are clearly not worth anything at all.

    I can understand that the weather changes, etc. and I would be sympathetic except for the constant pretence from the Met and the Biased BBC that they are accurate.

    Against this backdrop, the Met and BBC predicting ‘warmer’ weather a century in advance can only be seen as hocus pocus, wishful thinking and a fraudulent attempt to modify political and economic decisions today on completely unfounded science and calculations proven to be entirely useless in the short and medium term.

  33. hefner
    May 18, 2014

    Very interesting exchange, with an obvious side conclusion (at least to me) that using the same yardstick, neither economics nor politics can qualify as a science.

  34. hefner
    May 18, 2014

    May I remind people that the Hadley Centre (for Climate Prediction and Research,
    that’s its full name) has been created under Margaret Thatcher. Could it be she knew (as a previous scientist) a thing or two more than most of us on this website?

    Reply As a scientist Mrs Thatcher was interested in these issues and clearly thought they needed more detailed study.

  35. hefner
    May 18, 2014

    JR, if you don’t want to go on making a fool of yourself, stop calling the average of a 50 year ensemble of climate simulations a 50-year weather forecast!
    Otherwise it is very tempting to think that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Reply You seem to understand what I am talking about. Climate change theory does indeed seek to forecast long term patterns of temperature – that is the whole point of it! If you are now saying it is not going to be hotter on average in the future than now, what are you saying?

  36. Matt
    May 18, 2014

    They are not predicting the weather they are predicting climate change.

    I find it strange that many are happy to believe economic models and stake their savings on them but question scientific models.

    I’m not qualified to question climate or economic predictions but I do know that the statement “no science is ever settled” is nonsense.

    Reply Economists are rightly sceptical and critical of each other’s models and constantly striving to improve or change them.

  37. hefner
    May 18, 2014

    Between the first IPCC assessment in 1990 and the fifth in 2013-2014, a lot has changed,
    There are now a large number of observations, meteorological, oceanographic, ecological, boogeochemical, being taken into account. They all seem to point out to human effects on the planet components. There is also modelling with what can be thought as fourth generation climate models wrt 1990, helping to define what could/is likely to happen by 2050 and beyond.
    There are also discussions about mitigation and adaptation.
    If one doesn’t want to consider mitigation as contrary to the benefits of the present economic model, it might however make quite a bit of sense to think about adaptation, as economic opportunities in terms of investment are likely to reside there within 5. 10, 20 years. In that respect, the deniers’ discourse doesn’t seem to me particularly clever.

    1. Edward2
      May 18, 2014

      So why no rise since 2000 as predicted despite CO2 levels increasing in this period hugh.
      Your effective policies and the costs of reducing the current predictions in the latest IPCC reoprt would be useful.

      1. uanime5
        May 19, 2014

        So why no rise since 2000 as predicted despite CO2 levels increasing in this period hugh.

        There has been a rise in temperature since 2000, as proven in the latest IPCC report.

        1. Edward2
          May 20, 2014

          Tell us how much Uni because it isn’t seen on the temperature graphs available on line.
          eg Met Office, Hadley Centre or on the site called “wood for the trees” which has numerous examples of data from similar august bodies.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    May 18, 2014

    I doubt if they could even give you a 10 year programme of observations that would improve the quality of their predictions.

  39. Peter Stroud
    May 19, 2014

    Another excellent article on the knotty problem of, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. (CAGW). Of course the science is not settled. In fact the refusal of global temperatures to behave as projected by the models, would have falsified the hypothesis, in any other branch of science. But CAGW has become hopelessly politicised, and too many reputations depend it. I have commented before, that someone on the Conservative back benches needs get the few scientifically sceptic MPs together and form an action group. I am sure there are more potential allies, at least among Conservatives.

    As to the treatment of the good professor from Reading. I am afraid that is absolutely normal. Scientists such as Christy, Spencer and many others in the USA have suffered McCarthyite persecution for years. If the proponents of CAGW were confident in their science, they would not behave so badly.

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