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Wednesday 13 June 2012

Rain Blame Game

The recent wet weather has sparked an amount of creative feedback, some of it blatantly dishonest, as with the tedious and unfunny Richard Littlejohn yesterday, while others have tried – and failed – to use the rain for their own political ends. Few, though, have paused to consider that this may be yet another of those exceptional events that are somehow occurring more frequently.

Don't look, it's not happening

And such is the desperation of some groups that there is not even a read-through of their conclusions before being released to the press, this being typified by the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), yet another Astroturf lobby group that declines to say who pays the bills. The GWPF, characteristically for such bodies, has been set up to rubbish anything about global warming.

Their response to the wet weather has been to accuse the Met Office of “Warm Bias”. Think about that for a minute. The weather is wetter than usual, but the accusation levelled is not over the amount of precipitation, but temperature. This is a remarkably stupid line to take: warm does not automatically equal dry. Far from it, dry often means cold, and examples are not hard to find.

And this isn't happening either

December 2010 was, overall, exceptionally cold. But, although there were snowfalls, most days were dry and sunny. It was still cold, and in winter, dry and sunny most commonly means it will be cold. Moreover, during spring and early summer, a northerly or north-easterly component in the wind direction is also likely to bring colder weather, even if there is no rain.

So the idea that more rain proves a “Warm Bias” is ridiculous, and serves only to show the level at which the GWPF operates – that is, without taking on board the most basic grasp of weather patterns and characteristics. And when actual temperature comparisons are made for the period, the GWPF looks even more foolish, which may be why they do not consider this information.

The temperature anomaly for the UK for March, for instance, was +2.5 Celsius relative to the 1971-2000 average – a lot warmer. For April, this switched to -0.6 Celsius, cooler than average, but not by much. The Met Office figures for May are not yet available, but it is reckoned to have been more or less in line with the average. So spring, overall, was warmer than average.

Perhaps the GWPF should take their lead from Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun: rather than bothering with such trivia as kicking the Met Office, they instead characterise the wet weather as the “European Monsoon”. See, the EU did it! Simples!! If you’re going to treat your audience like mugs, you might as well go the whole hog.

Meanwhile, nothing is proven about climate change. No surprise there, then.

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