Tweet A BBC discussion suggests a pause in confiscation of taxpayer dollars for CO2 induced terror that's not happening. Temperatures have remained flat since 1998, while CO2 has increased globally (though US CO2 emissions have plunged). Billions of taxpayer dollars were diverted based on predictions that didn't happen which "peer reviewed literature regards as established yet unexplained:"
7/22/13, "Andrew Neil on Ed Davey climate change interview critics," BBC, Andrew Neil
Multi-billion dollar "spending decisions, paid for by consumers
and taxpayers...might not have been taken (at least to the same
degree or with the same haste) if global warming was not quite the
imminent threat it has been depicted....The recent standstill in global temperatures is a puzzle. Experts do not know why it is occurring or how long it will last....There is no consensus. Extensive peer-reviewed literature regards it as established
yet unexplained. It is widely accepted that the main climate models
which inform government policy did not predict it."...(subhead, "Reputable evidence")
"The Sunday Politics interview with Energy and
Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey on July 14 provoked widespread
reaction in the twittersphere and elsewhere, which was only to be
expected given the interview was about the latest developments in global
warming and the implications for government policy.
The Sunday Politics remit and interview duration means we are able to
carry out proper forensic interviews on such matters....Many of the
criticisms of the Davey interview seem to misunderstand the purpose of a
Sunday Politics interview.
This was neatly summed up in a Guardian blog by Dana Nuccitelli,
who works for a multi-billion dollar US environmental business (Tetra
Tech) and writes prodigiously about global warming and related matters
from a very distinct perspective.
He finished by saying: "[Andrew] Neil focussed only on the bits of evidence that seemed to support his position".
This is partly right. We did come at Mr Davey with a
particular set of evidence, which was well-sourced from mainstream
climate science. But it was nothing to do with advocating a "position".
First, the Sunday Politics does not have a position on any of the
subjects on which it interrogates people. Second, it is the job of the
interviewer to assemble evidence
from authoritative sources which best challenge the position of the
interviewee. There is hardly any purpose in presenting evidence which
supports the interviewee's position - that is his or her job.
It is for viewers to decide how well the interviewee's
position holds up under scrutiny and the strength of the contrary
evidence or points put to him or her.
It is how the Sunday Politics approaches all the longer
forensic interviews on the programme, no matter the subject or the
interviewee. It is how it will approach any future interview with a
leading light of the global warming sceptic camp. They can expect just
as fair, forensic and robust an interview as Mr Davey.
Taking an opposite or challenging position from the person being
interviewed is pretty much standard practice in long-form broadcast
But the contrary position has to be based on reputable
evidence. The Guardian blog and other critics on Twitter alleged that
the challenges put to Mr Davey were based on errors, false evidence or
parroted the perspective of "deniers". That is untrue.
The main purpose of the interview was to establish if the
government thought the recent and continuing pause in global
temperatures meant it should re-think its policies in response to global
This is a vital policy issue since the strategy of this
government and the previous Labour government to decarbonise the economy
involves multi-billion pound spending decisions, paid for by consumers
and taxpayers, which might not have been taken (at least to the same
degree or with the same haste) if global warming was not quite the
imminent threat it has been depicted.
It might also be argued that challenging interviews on
matters in which there is an overwhelming consensus in Westminster - but
not necessarily among voters who pay for both the licence fee and the
government's energy policies - is a particularly legitimate purpose of
The recent standstill in global temperatures is a puzzle. Experts do not know why it is occurring or how long it will last.
Climate scientists have proffered a variety of possible explanations. But there is no consensus.
Extensive peer-reviewed literature regards it as established
yet unexplained. It is widely accepted that the main climate models
which inform government policy did not predict it (which raises
interesting issues of the models' predictions about the future course of
For many climate scientists the plateau - which may or may
not have long-term significance - has come as something of a surprise.
Recently Nature, which has published extensively on global warming, called it one of climate science's greatest mysteries.
So it is legitimate to ask if the government takes the pause
seriously and if it has any implications for policy ie, if there is a
pause in warming, is there a case for the government to pause or
slowdown its expensive efforts to decarbonise the economy until the
picture becomes clearer?
The graph we presented illustrating the temperature plateau
was not constructed by the Sunday Politics but taken from a website,
produced by Phil Jones, a leading figure at the Climate Research Unit,
University of East Anglia, which works closely with the UK Met Office
and whose work, especially on temperature measurements, has done so much
to inform government policy here and abroad. The basis of the graph can
be found here.
The graph we presented on screen is pretty much identical to the
post-1980 data in the graph created by the CRU. It is based on HadCRUT 3
data rather than HadCRUT 4, but the discrepancy between the two is
We made it clear on air that the graph had been "smoothed" -
not by us but by the CRU - to iron out fluctuations and to highlight the
This is legitimate for TV when viewers only have a view
seconds to take in a visual. We used this graph in the belief that the
CRU would not do the smoothing in a manner that distorted either the
post-1980s rise or the post late-1990s plateau in temperatures.
We chose 1980 as the start date for the graph because that is
roughly when the IPCC says man-made warming became the dominant factor
in global temperature rises.
The IPCC said in 2007: "The rapid warming observed since the
1970s has occurred in a period when the increase in greenhouse gases has
dominated over all other factors."
It said that, prior to then in the 20th century, any man-made
heating was offset by other natural variations in the climate; but that
human-released greenhouse gasses are the dominant explanation of the
rise in temperatures post the 1970s.
Global temperatures between 1940-80 were broadly constant. They started rising in 1980; and especially here.
So it is reasonable to start the graph circa 1980 to show how
temperatures rose thereafter - overwhelmingly as a result of greenhouse
gasses, according to the IPCC - until the late 1990s; and then started
to plateau, albeit at a high level compared with the rest of the 20th
Some have detected a slight decline in temperatures since
circa 2004 but we did not dwell on that since it is statistically
The 2007 IPCC study reported that the likely rise in
equilibrium temperatures in response to a doubling of C02 in the
atmosphere was between 2C and 4.5C, with 3C "most probable" (a slip of
the tongue on air said 3%, but it was clear what was meant).
The plateau has made some climate scientists wonder about the
efficacy of the IPCC central forecast, which has been seminal in
informing official policy, and some are re-considering the IPCC's
measurement of climate sensitivity i.e. the extent to which temperatures
rise in response to any given amount of C02 emissions.
There are reports in the media that the upcoming 2013 IPCC
report might conclude that the climate is indeed more insensitive to
emissions than previous concluded. We have no views on such matters,
other than they are worthy of examination and debate - and have policy
Mr Nuccitelli points out that temperatures have plateaued in the
past, which is true. But since that was before, according to the IPCC,
global warming became the dominant factor in temperature rises, it is
not clear past plateaux are relevant to this debate; and the current
hiatus is one of the longer ones.
It is also not clear from his blog if Mr Nuccitelli denies there is a plateau.
He has been a voluble exponent of a controversial "missing
heat" theory that somehow the extra energy from global warming has
started to bypass the atmosphere (hence the stalling in surface
temperatures) and is storing up in the deep ocean; so perhaps he does
accept the plateau.
Mr Davey said in his interview - and others echoed the point
later - that we should not concentrate just on land temperatures, but
look at what was happening to ocean temperatures and the polar ice melt
for evidence that global warming was continuing unabated.
This is a reasonable point. But in a 15-minute interview we
wanted to stick with the metric that most viewers would understand and
which has been used most to judge the course of global warming in public
debate i.e. surface temperatures, which are central to the science and,
for viewers, the principle point of interest.
At the Sunday Politics we are also used to public figures who try to
change the metric when the one they've put their faith in does not
behave as expected. We try not to let that happen.
Moreover, the purpose of the interview was not to question
all aspects of climate science, just the one metric that has commanded
most attention. Other possible indicators of climate change - ice melt,
ocean temperatures and extreme weather events - are a matter of
widespread debate in which the science most certainly is not "settled".
For example, trends in Arctic ice decline and ocean warming
are not necessarily irrefutable evidence of continued global warming,
though many climate scientists believe they are indeed caused by global
Others point out that satellite observations began in 1979
and caught a decline in Arctic ice already in progress. So the origin of
the decline could be many decades ago, and might not have been started
by man (though global warming could now be exacerbating a previous
"natural" melting trend).
There is evidence of great variability in sea ice in the Arctic from
historical records and old newspaper cuttings from decades ago reporting
the disappearance of the ice.
A new paper by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI)
suggest that Greenland ice sheet melting is related to solar activity
and "a considerable fraction of the current withdrawal could be a
These are fascinating and contested matters and could easily
be pursued in future interviews. The Sunday Politics has no views on
their efficacy; but they are issues worthy of investigation and
The question in the interview which stated that the Arctic
ice melt this year is "normal" should have been qualified: it is normal
in the sense of the much greater normal summer ice melt of recent years
i.e. it has not got worse - but even that cannot be said for sure until
September when the ice melt reaches its greatest extent. This
illustrates that we cannot do justice to the canon of global warming in
15 minutes - and justifies the decision to stick to one well-known and
It is not true to say - though it was said by Mr Davey and
subsequently - that we ignored ocean temperatures altogether. The
HadCRUT data measures surface temperatures across the globe, including
ocean surface temperatures.
There is a huge debate in climate science over the relationship
between global warming and ocean temperatures. As pointed out above some
scientists (and Mr Nuccitelli) believe that global warming is causing
the depths of the oceans to heat up and that one day this heat will be
This is widely contested and even, by some, dismissed. The
data is short-lived and contentious (the "warming" at depths of many
hundreds of metres is being measured in hundredths of a degree C). We
did not have time to go there in the interview.
We stuck to the advice of Professor Judith Curry, chair of
the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of
Technology and a world authority on global warming, that: "… the best
(most mature, highest quality) data set for inferring recent climate
change is the surface temperature data record."
Mr Nuccitelli is also one of the authors of the recent study of
climate science abstracts which concludes that 97% of climate scientists
are part of the global warming consensus.
This survey has been quoted several times by Mr Davey in
interviews to assert that the science is "settled"; he did so again in
our interview. It was reasonable to point out that the methodology and
conclusions of the survey have been fiercely challenged by Prof Richard
Tol, a respected academic quoted extensively in the Stern Report. Other
academics have their misgivings.
There is now an argument underway between critics and authors
about how much raw data they are prepared to make available for
examination; and that neither the academic publication which carried it
nor the Guardian will give Professor Tol a right of reply.
These are matters for academia. We simply wanted to point
out, when Mr Davey called it in aid, that the survey, especially given
the strongly partisan positions of the authors, is not uncontested.
More important, the survey's definition of "global warming
consensus" is so wide as to include most who are regarded as sceptics,
most of whom agree that global warming is happening and that there is a
The survey was recently attacked in testimony to the US
Congress by Dr Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the
University of Alabama Hunstville, which carries out world-renowned and
heavily-relied upon satellite measurements of global temperatures.
He told Congress the definition of consensus in the survey
was so widely drawn as to be "innocuous" and would include him within
the consensus even though he is often depicted by people like Mr
Nuccitelli as being on the sceptical wing of climate science.
The differences that separate climate scientists even within
the "consensus" are over the speed and extent of warming, the
consequences (economic and environmental) and the importance of other
climate factors which are not man-made and which may affect the
climate's sensitivity to the rise in C02 emissions.
Only those who have been dismissed as "deniers" deny that man
is playing any role whatsoever, though the word is often applied to
sceptics too (and even, ridiculously, to the Sunday Politics!).
Contrary to many unfounded claims on Twitter, the research
work behind our interview and the evidence it gathered was not
influenced by any deniers. We relied on Nature magazine, the work of the
Climate Research Unit, Professor Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and
Professor Hans von Storch of Hamburg University among others, all of
whom think man-made global warming is real and some of whom have been at
the very heart of the climate science community. We quoted no deniers
or even sceptics. All our evidence came from mainstream scientists who
do not doubt the fundamental tenets of global warming.
Professor Tol is a climate economist. He has strong views on
the economic impact of climate change. But we are not aware he denies it
At no stage in the interview was it ever claimed that global warming
is not real or that it is not man-made. It is not for the Sunday
Politics to take such positions.
Our focus was on a global temperature plateau which could be a
challenge to the forecasts of climate models which have determined
government policy. The plateau could continue for the foreseeable future
or melt away as temperatures resume their upward trajectory.
The Sunday Politics has no views on such matters. We have put
the existence of this plateau into the broader public domain. It is for
others to determine its significance."
1/18/13, “Climate change: scientists puzzle over halt in global warming,” Der Spiegel, by Axel Bojanowski (translation from German)
"The British Met Office forecast even more recently that the temperature interval could continue at a high level until the end of 2017 - despite the rapidly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. Then global warming would pause 20 years."..."The
exact reasons of the temperature standstill since 1998, are not yet
understood, says climate researcher Doug Smith of the Met Office."...
UK Met Office chart via Der Spiegel