Gove’s Climate Nonsense

By Paul Homewood

 

Michael Gove goes fully mental on climate!

image

I want to begin on a personal note. I am fortunate as Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to work alongside some of the most gifted, dedicated and impressive public servants in the country.

Given the strength in depth of the departmental team, and their willingness to work so hard for the common good, it is invidious to single any one out.

But there is one individual, and one team, to whom I, and we all in this country, owe a special debt.

And that is to Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and his team.

Everything we do at Defra has to be rooted in science. Whether it is reflecting on the future of food, farming or the marine environment, considering what our approach should be to the chemicals we use in agriculture, revising how we should manage our water resources, reviewing how we enhance biodiversity, assessing where the greatest productivity gains from new technologies might accrue or in a countless number of other different areas, policy must be shaped above all by evidence, reason and rigour. And there are few people more adept at assessing the evidence, deploying reason to make sense of it and applying the lessons for public policy with real rigour than Ian and his team. I want to take this opportunity today to put on record how profoundly grateful I am for his leadership.

And there is perhaps no area of public policy where scientific rigour is required in shaping policy making than in dealing with the challenge of climate change.

THE EVIDENCE ALL AROUND US

Today, as we launch the fourth generation of our UK Climate Projections, it is clear that the planet and its weather patterns are changing before our eyes.

Sea levels, for example – which we are becoming more accurate at measuring, thanks to advances in instruments and monitoring systems. In the 20th century the oceans rose around 15cm and the rate of increase has since quickened. Just since 2000, levels have risen around six centimetres, based on a global-average rise of 3.2mm a year. Our seas are storing increasing amounts of heat: around half of all ocean warming has occurred since 1997. Even as we take action to slow carbon dioxide pollution now, physics dictates that the climate will keep heating up for decades to come.

Peer-reviewed scientific research states that the rapid warming is substantially due to the methane, nitrous oxide, and fossil fuel emissions we produce.

The great ice sheets of Greenland and some parts of Antarctica are increasingly unstable. Rising seas are rendering the storm surges not only of hurricanes but also regular high tides more of a threat.

THE IMPACT ON THE EVERYDAY

Food and water security are affected, as is national security. Across the planet, people, plants, animals and also diseases are on the move, searching for habitats in which to thrive, escaping erratic and extreme weather events which deliver too much rain, too little rain, searing summer temperatures, colder winters.

Science is clear that there will be changes in ecosystems caused by the climate. WWF’s recent Living Planet report revealed a 60% fall in global wildlife populations in just over 40 years. One of the main causes of this devastating decline is climate change.

We cannot predict the net effects to ecosystems, but the likelihood is that many will be negative. Some native flora and fauna will struggle. Marine ecosystems will experience warmer and more acidic seas. New pests and diseases could thrive. Deteriorating soil quality and moisture, coupled with less reliable water supply, will reduce agricultural yields, as we have already seen this summer.

Around the world, fears are growing for the existence of some low-lying countries – most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, covering 29 slender coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level – and the future of a great number of coastal cities, including Miami, New York and Venice.

And while climate change cannot be blamed for growing wealth inequality, it is the case that it disproportionately affects nations with the least resources to cope – nations which have also contributed least to emissions in the first place. In the coming years, they will expect the developed world to deliver what Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and environmental campaigner, calls ‘climate justice’ – sharing fairly the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts.

Still Time to Act

In all, 91 authors from 40 countries, including the UK, spent two years developing the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change into the impact it is having on the natural world. They assessed over 6,000 scientific papers and received 42,000 expert comments.

The final report – an impressive display of international collaboration – makes clear that the 1.5˚C warming limit is still within reach – if nations can act together. Panel members argue that in order to stay within the limit, global net greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity need to be zero by the middle of the century.

By 2050, we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80%, compared to 1990 levels. Since 1990 we have cut emissions by 42% – faster than any other G7 nation – and our economy has grown by two-thirds. Tackling climate change is not a binary process which requires us to champion the planet over national prosperity. Indeed market mechanisms, like reverse auctions for new clean energy capacity and the carbon price on electricity generation, have been hugely successful in delivering these cuts in emissions.

You will know that reducing emissions in order to mitigate climate change in the UK is the responsibility of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under the excellent leadership of my colleagues Greg Clark, the Secretary of State, and Claire Perry, the cabinet minister with responsibility for climate change. Their Clean Growth Strategy, published last year, set out a comprehensive suite of policies to meet our climate targets and to capture the industrial opportunities from clean growth. I also welcomed Claire’s letter to the Committee on Climate Change last month requesting advice on a net zero emissions target.

Defra’s particular brief is to help adapt to a warming planet, supporting the developing world to do the same, and contributing to global diplomatic and scientific initiatives to understand climate change’s effects.

But because we are also responsible for sectors of our waste policy, agriculture, landscapes and f-gases – Defra necessarily has a significant role in mitigation as well.

In a moment, I will go into greater detail about the opportunities we have identified – within domestic agriculture and wider land use, our approach to storing and managing water, our reforms of resources and waste cycles plus international action to support other countries cope with climate change – to ensure that we are even better placed to manage future risks, adapt to threats and increase resilience and preparedness.

First, however, I want to look at how climate change is reshaping our environment in slightly greater detail.

FACTS ON THE GROUND

Insurance data shows that between 1980 and 2016, the number of climate-related natural catastrophes, like flooding, rose several times faster than disasters with a geological source: erupting volcanoes, tsunamis, or severe earthquakes.

In Africa, the Sahara Desert has grown in size by 10 per cent since 1920. Scientists believe that about two-thirds of the change might be down to natural cycles, and the rest to climate change. The Desert’s edges – defined by rainfall, or the lack of it – have crept northward and southward, reducing some countries’ ability to grow food. The Sahara has encroached 500miles into Libya for example, in winter months.

Just recently in America, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle in October with winds of around 155mph, making this the strongest storm to hit the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. At least 32 people died as the hurricane tore through Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, and more than a million people were left without power. Barely a month later and California’s wildfires are the deadliest in the history of the state, which in the past five years has experienced four of the five warmest summers on record. Towering ‘firenadoes’ engulfed brush, trees and scrub which was bone-dry because autumn rainfall again arrived late – and there has been up to 30% less rain than average. Tragically, for those who lost their lives and homes, the season of strong offshore winds began on schedule – fanning flames that would have spread less easily in damper conditions.

It’s not only in typically hot, dry countries where extremes of weather are felt. Climate change is warming polar regions twice as fast as other parts of the world. In July this year, wildfires spread across Arctic regions in Sweden. While not unprecedented, the fires have become bigger over the past 15 years as boreal forests, tundra and peatlands dry up, meaning the fires are harder to put out.

In the UK, we have experienced our own share of extremes. Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002 and the mean sea level around the UK, corrected for land movement, has risen by about 16cm since the start of the 20th century.

Already, the winter of 2013-2014 was the wettest on record for the UK. And then, between November 2015 and January 2016, we experienced the most rain ever in that period, saturating the ground and causing some of the most severe floods in a century.

It will take a long time for people in Northumberland, Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire to forget the devastation caused by Storms Desmond and Eva. Around 16,000 houses were inundated and some river levels were up to a metre higher than previous records. Communities were devastated, infrastructure was damaged, and for many families and businesses the financial hardship and emotional distress lasted long after the floodwaters had receded.

As for 2018, during a six-week spell in summer, daytime temperatures consistently topped 30C. Wildfires burned for weeks on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill as well as other areas, damaging precious peat bogs and harming nesting birds such as curlews, the golden plover and lapwings. Crops wilted in parched fields and farmers had to dig into their winter silage to feed livestock struggling in poor grazing conditions.

Now it is, of course, impossible for anyone to predict the future with absolute certainty. But we are in the UK fortunate to have climate scientists whose knowledge and experience are world-leading. In producing this first major update of climate projections for nearly 10 years, they have given governments, local authorities, land managers, national infrastructure bodies and other businesses an invaluable set of tools with which to assess the nature and scale of challenges, and take decisions accordingly. The projections – based on a range of emissions scenarios – will enable them to make sensible, practical choices based on scientific evidence that will save time, hardship and money when the storms do come.

For the first time, there are international projections as well as regional projections. This means other nations will be able to use the data – to gauge the risks for food supply chains, perhaps, or check rainfall projections for the likelihood of localised flooding.

The projections show quite clearly the benefit of limiting emissions.

Under the highest emission scenario, warming by 2070 is in the range 0.9˚C to 5.4°C in summer, compared to the recent past (1981-2000).

Sea levels are projected to continue to rise around the UK to the year 2100 – and reach higher levels than were forecast in the 2009 data. For London, under the high emissions scenario, levels are likely to be at least 53cm higher, and could be as much as 1.15m. That was not unexpected, however, and I can confirm that it has already been factored into our flooding adaptation planning.

It is because we know further climate changes are inevitable – notwithstanding strenuous international efforts to limit their extent – that we are planning for a wide range of possible futures. It would be irresponsible in the circumstances to do otherwise. This is why we are aiming to limit warming to well below 2 degrees – but the environment agency is preparing for 4 degrees when planning flood defences. We know that every half a degree makes an enormous difference to outcomes. Keeping warming to 1.5˚C rather than 2˚C, as the Paris Agreement urges us to attempt, spares up to 10million people from being exposed to the risks of rising seas, according to the IPCC.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/michael-gove-speech-on-uk-climate-change-projections

So let’s examine his main claims:

1) Sea levels, for example – which we are becoming more accurate at measuring, thanks to advances in instruments and monitoring systems. In the 20th century the oceans rose around 15cm and the rate of increase has since quickened. Just since 2000, levels have risen around six centimetres, based on a global-average rise of 3.2mm a year

This is a grossly misleading statement. Sea levels have been steadily rising since the mid 19thC, when glaciers worldwide, which had grown enormously during the Little Ice Age, began to recede.

And as the IPCC have admitted, sea level rise in recent years has been no higher than between 1920 and 1950.

In short, sea level rise has not “quickened” at all.

https://i1.wp.com/www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Sea-level-data-since-1855.jpg

http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Sea-level-data-since-1855.jpg

 

2) The great ice sheets of Greenland and some parts of Antarctica are increasingly unstable.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Greenland’s climate is warmer than it has been for most of the time since the Ice Age. Nor that its ice sheet is smaller.

What we do know is that the Little Ice Age was the coldest time in Greenland in the last 10,000 years.

As for Antarctica, the ice sheet there has actually been growing in the last two decades.

 

3) Across the planet, people, plants, animals and also diseases are on the move, searching for habitats in which to thrive, escaping erratic and extreme weather events

These plants (triffids?), critters and iffy diseases who are migrating to escape extreme weather must be might clever! They must know more than the IPCC, which has already had to admit that there is little evidence to support the claim that global warming has made extreme weather worse.

 

4) WWF’s recent Living Planet report revealed a 60% fall in global wildlife populations in just over 40 years. One of the main causes of this devastating decline is climate change

I am not sure why Mr Gove feels he can rely on “scientific” evidence from a left wing, activist group.

There are many reasons for the decline in wildlife populations, such as habitat loss. But every time claims about climate change are examined in detail, they fall apart.

 

5) Deteriorating soil quality and moisture, coupled with less reliable water supply, will reduce agricultural yields, as we have already seen this summer.

The facts show that there is no long term trend in summer rainfall in the UK, and that there have been many drier summers than this year’s.

 

UK Rainfall - Summer

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/actualmonthly

 

6) Around the world, fears are growing for the existence of some low-lying countries – most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, covering 29 slender coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level – and the future of a great number of coastal cities, including Miami, New York and Venice.

Leaving aside the fact already mentioned that sea levels have been rising for largely natural reasons since the 19thC, experts have shown that most global atolls are either stable or growing.

As for Miami, New York and Venice, they all show that sea levels were rising at their peak rate around 1950. Sea levels have been rising since the 19thC , and the rate is not accelerating. At current rates of sea level rise, it is simply not true to say that the future of cities like New York and Miami are threatened.

 

270-054_meantrend

270-054_50yr

 8518750_meantrend

8518750_50yr

8720030_50yr8720030_meantrend

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global.html 

7) Tackling climate change is not a binary process which requires us to champion the planet over national prosperity.

Has he forgotten that, according to the OBR, the cost of green subsidies will amount to £66bn over the next five years, equating to about £2500 per household?

image

https://obr.uk/efo/economic-fiscal-outlook-october-2018/ 

8) Insurance data shows that between 1980 and 2016, the number of climate-related natural catastrophes, like flooding, rose several times faster than disasters with a geological source: erupting volcanoes, tsunamis, or severe earthquakes.

Surely he knows that you cannot use insurance claims data to evaluate trends in weather disasters? Since 1980, the cost of claims has risen in leaps and bounds, not because the disasters are worse than before, but because many more things are insured these days, areas prone to floods, storms etc have grown rapidly in population, and as individuals and societies have grown richer the value of goods and infrastructure at risk has increased.

Analysis of the cost of weather disasters has shown that it has actually declined over the years as a proportion of GDP.

 

9) In Africa, the Sahara Desert has grown in size by 10 per cent since 1920. Scientists believe that about two-thirds of the change might be down to natural cycles, and the rest to climate change. The Desert’s edges – defined by rainfall, or the lack of it – have crept northward and southward.

It is true that the northern edge of the Sahara has moved north. However, it is not true that it has also expanded south.

On the contrary, the Sahel at the southern edge of the Sahara has actually been regreening in the last three decades, as the tropical rain belts spread northwards from the Equator.

 

10) Just recently in America, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle in October with winds of around 155mph, making this the strongest storm to hit the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Gove claims that this is an example of how climate change is reshaping our environment.

If he bothered to check the actual data with the US Hurricane Research Division of NOAA, he would know that the number of major hurricane strikes on the US has been declining over the years:

image

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/All_U.S._Hurricanes.html

 

Only three Cat 5 hurricanes have hit the US:

  • Labor Day – 1935
  • Camille – 1969
  • Andrew – 1992

The most powerful was the Labor Day storm.

 

11) California’s wildfires are the deadliest in the history of the state, which in the past five years has experienced four of the five warmest summers on record. Towering ‘firenadoes’ engulfed brush, trees and scrub which was bone-dry because autumn rainfall again arrived late – and there has been up to 30% less rain than average

The wildfires may be the deadliest, but that is solely because the population now living in areas at risk of fire has risen dramatically over the years. For instance, the population of Paradise, the epicentre of the latest fire, has exploded from 8000 in 1960, to 26000 now.

He claims that autumn rainfall has been late and below average, but this is actually a very common event in California:

canvas

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/statewide/time-series/4/pcp/2/10/1895-2018?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000

It is in any event a myth that wildfires in the US are worse now than in the past.

image_thumb25

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/wildfires-were-much-worse-in-past/ 

 

12) In the UK, we have experienced our own share of extremes. Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002 and the mean sea level around the UK, corrected for land movement, has risen by about 16cm since the start of the 20th century.

Gove fails to explain why a slightly warmer climate has been a bad thing for the UK.

As for sea levels, as with other locations around the world, the rate peaked during the 1940s.

170-053_meantrend

170-053_50yr

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global_country.html?gid=1222

 

13) In the UK, we have experienced our own share of extremes. The winter of 2013-2014 was the wettest on record for the UK

He confuses weather with climate.

Long term data shows no evidence that winter rainfall has become more extreme, certainly not since the 1870s:

 

image

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadukp/data/seasonal/HadEWP_ssn.dat

 

I might just as well point out that the wettest month on record was October 1903, and the wettest year 1872. And then argued that our weather is becoming less extreme.

 

14) As for 2018, during a six-week spell in summer, daytime temperatures consistently topped 30C. Wildfires burned for weeks on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill as well as other areas, damaging precious peat bogs and harming nesting birds such as curlews, the golden plover and lapwings

Again, this is just weather.

The hottest summer on record in the UK is still 1976, which remains by far the most intense heatwave experienced in recent history in the UK:

 

UK Mean daily maximum temp - Summer

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/actualmonthly

Indeed, until this summer, there has been a succession of unremarkable summers since 2006.

15) Now it is, of course, impossible for anyone to predict the future with absolute certainty. But we are in the UK fortunate to have climate scientists whose knowledge and experience are world-leading. In producing this first major update of climate projections for nearly 10 years, they have given governments, local authorities, land managers, national infrastructure bodies and other businesses an invaluable set of tools with which to assess the nature and scale of challenges, and take decisions accordingly. The projections – based on a range of emissions scenarios – will enable them to make sensible, practical choices based on scientific evidence that will save time, hardship and money when the storms do come.

For the first time, there are international projections as well as regional projections. This means other nations will be able to use the data – to gauge the risks for food supply chains, perhaps, or check rainfall projections for the likelihood of localised flooding.

The projections show quite clearly the benefit of limiting emissions.

Under the highest emission scenario, warming by 2070 is in the range 0.9˚C to 5.4°C in summer, compared to the recent past (1981-2000).

Sea levels are projected to continue to rise around the UK to the year 2100 – and reach higher levels than were forecast in the 2009 data. For London, under the high emissions scenario, levels are likely to be at least 53cm higher, and could be as much as 1.15m. That was not unexpected, however, and I can confirm that it has already been factored into our flooding adaptation planning.

Here, Gove, not to mention all of those world leading climate scientists enter La La Land.

As noted in a recent GWPF report, such ridiculous projections have absolutely no basis in reality.

Gove boasts about his Chief Scientific Adviser and team. But if this is the best advice they can give him, heaven help all of us!

via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

https://ift.tt/2FFQYpS

November 26, 2018 at 01:10PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: