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Why Does Lord Deben Misreport The Science Of Extreme Weather?

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Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill

The appointment of Lord Deben as the government’s chief adviser on climate change matters was always something of a nonsense. As somebody who knows little or nothing of science, let alone climatology, his appointment was always more about sending out messages to target voters than the provision of meaningful or useful information. As if to underline the point, the noble lord has sent out a tweet today on the subject of extreme weather:

Pity it takes American to tell  truth about Australia. Climate change makes extreme weather worse &  is a cause.

If climate change makes extreme weather worse, then you would think the planet would have experienced more extreme weather, given that we have been experiencing global warming for decades and climate change forever. Unfortunately for Lord D’s case increases in extreme weather are not what the IPCC reported in its most recent assessment report or in the earlier SREX report, for almost any extreme weather phenomenon you care to mention. The best they could come up with was a claim that there were more areas with increases in extreme precipitation than decreases, and the possibility that heatwaves were happening more often. A look at the evidence behind these claims suggests they are decidedly iffy too.

Meanwhile, droughts and hurricanes are refusing to toe the line at all. As if to emphasise the point, a new paper in BAMS has confirmed that tropical cyclones are not increasing.

So when Lord D says climate change makes extreme weather worse, he is not exactly reporting the science. This being the case, you have to wonder about the advice that the government is getting from the CCC. Does anyone in government actually pay it any attention? Or do they know that this is just an expensive way of Cameron buying a few green votes and ignore Lord Deben’s utterances accordingly?

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