Skip to content

Accuracy And Balance Out Of The Window At The Institute of Civil Engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers has just released a report on UK water security in the 21st century, a splendid opportunity to sound the global warming alarm bell if ever there was one (H/T Peter).

I bet you can’t guess what they had to say about climate change.

You can? Well, alright, yes, you probably can.

Take this for example:

By the 2050s, summer river flows may reduce by 35% in the driest parts of England and by 15% for the wetter river basin regions in Scotland. This will put severe pressure on current abstractions of water.

A bit odd that one, since the IPCC has predicted increased precipitation for this part of the world. However, let’s follow things through. The citation for this claim is to a report by Defra, the Climate Change Risk Assessment for the water sector. Here’s the relevant paragraph:

A large number of national assessments and catchment studies indicate that winter river flows are likely to increase across the UK and summer flows are likely to decrease due to climate change (e.g. Christierson et al., 2011; Lopez et al., 2009; New et al., 2007; UKWIR, 2007; Wilby et al., 2006). However, there is a wide range of results and in the near term (2020s) and medium term (2050s) changes in average seasonal flows may be positive or negative and may also vary significantly across the UK. The CCRA analysis indicates that by the 2050s, summer river flows (characterised by the Q95 flow that is exceeded 95% of the time) may reduce by 35% (-7 to -54%) in the driest parts of England (Anglian river basin region) and by 15% (-2 to -25%) for wetter river basin regions in Scotland (Orkney and Shetland). However, it should be noted that it is difficult to project changes in precipitation (rainfall and snow).

It gives you a rather different impression, doesn’t it?