Home Flexcit Impact Assessments Monographs Contact Archive

Climate change: standing on their heads

2012-07-11 09:13:29

climate 876-wjc.jpg

Following on from the wettest summer since the dawn of time and before, the climate change fraternity is throbbing with excitement, their passion spilling over onto the pages of The Guardian

"Scientists attribute extreme weather to man-made climate change", blares this venerable journal. Researchers have for the first time attributed recent floods, droughts and heatwaves, to human-induced climate change.

Now they have it in the bag. All this wet weather is caused by climate change. And never mind scientific objectivity: "Attributing individual weather events, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves, to human-induced climate change rather than natural variation in the planet's complex weather systems has long been a goal of climate change scientists", declares one of the nation's least favourite papers.

Pity the government website compilers though, and all the changes that have to be made to their sites climate change, but not as we know it. They are all going to be hard at work updating the message. 

For instance, in addition to the DECC site, the main Directgov site is still sternly telling us to prepare for climate change, informing us that, "On average, the UK faces hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters as a result of climate change".

Within this century, it says:
average summer temperatures in the UK could rise between three and four degrees Celsius. Heatwaves and torrential rain resulting in floods are likely to become more common. On average, summers will be drier and winters wetter.
They are not alone of course. In 2008, the great climate sage Boris Johnson was telling us: "For London, scientists currently forecast warmer, wetter winters and hotter drier summers, coupled with an increase in the frequency of extreme weather and rising sea levels".

He was backed by the WWF which issued its own Thames Vulnerability Assessment Report report, showing "that climate change is likely to result in hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters".

Friends of the Earth got in earlier. In 2005, noting "the recent trend of hotter drier summers" it told us that there may be shortages in future water supplies and potential adverse environmental impacts.

All is stems from the UK Climate Impact Projection (UKCIP), hosted by the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), University of Oxford.  It tells us that the first "official" UK climate change scenarios were produced in 1991 as part of the work of the Climate Change Impacts Review Group (CCIRG). Its results generally suggested a warmer wetter UK, with the exception of summer precipitation where the five models used did not agree about the direction of change.

Come 1996, the second stab at the predictions had warmer wetter winters for the whole UK, but with dryer summers in the South and wetter summers in the North. The third set of UK climate change scenarios were similar but, by 2002, the legend had firmed up. We were locked into a pattern of warm, wet winters, with a high risk of flooding, and hot dry summers.

In 2002, the river Danube burst its banks and flooded a large area of central Europe. It was the worst flooding for 400 years. The next year, however, the area experienced a heat wave that was the hottest for 250 years. Predictions firmed up that summers would become warmer and drier and winters would tend to be milder and a lot wetter.

In 2007, we were duly warned by Peter Falloon of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, that global warming was already causing the [observed] "dramatic shift" in British seasons. As temperatures rise further in coming decades, he said, "we're going to have hotter, drier summers and wetter, warmer winters".

The BBC in 2009 happily joined "warmer, wetter winters, hotter, drier summers", reporting that the Hadley Centre had produced an "interactive website for consumers, so we can all find out about the likely warmer, wetter winters or hotter, drier summers where we live".

Sadly, Mother Nature didn't oblige. First, we started having cold, snowy winters, despite David Viner's famous projections.  Then came the summer rains. Never mind that we've had them before and the, as WUWT confirms, extreme weather is an integral part of earth's climate.

Forget all that. Cold, snowy winters and cool wet summers are climate change just as warm, wet winters and hot dry summers are climate change. Everything is climate change. You know it makes sense.