By Paul Homewood
It is sad to report the passing away of Philip Eden, meteorologist and weather historian.
His weekly columns for the Sunday Telegraph were never less than interesting, in stark contrast to some of the weather reporting we get now from the likes of Peter Stanford.
In particular, Eden, despite being an ardent believer in global warming, regularly challenged the hyping of extreme weather events. He could usually be relied upon to explain that such events were just as bad in the past.
The Telegraph obituary sums him up neatly:
But Eden himself derived the greatest satisfaction from demolishing the various claims of the “never had it like this before” brigade.
“Having spent more than 30 years in the forecasting business,” he wrote in 2008, “I have become rather proprietorial about the weather, and become quite cross when other people blame extreme weather for their own shortcomings … Those we charge with looking after the nation’s infrastructure … routinely blame ‘unprecedented’ weather when they fail to do their job. It provides a handy excuse for government’s failure to maintain adequate flood defences or the water companies’ lack of financial provision for drought.”
Agencies such as the Met Office and the Environment Agency, he claimed, seemed sometimes to be selecting the statistics their political masters wanted to hear. During the summer floods of 2007, for example, much was made of the claim that May, June and July comprised the wettest such three-month period in 242 years of records – a key statistic in the Government’s review of the official response to the floods.
But, Eden pointed out, it was only the wettest May-to-July period: “If you look at all the three-month periods on record, May-July 2007 was merely the 42nd wettest; in other words, such a large total will recur once every six years, on average. In fact, higher rainfall totals occurred in the winter of 2002-3 and the autumn of 2000.” Extreme weather, he maintained, “is part and parcel of our climate and it is wrong to treat it as new every time it happens”.
The full obituary can be read here.
He will be sadly missed.
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January 11, 2018 at 10:36AM