UK climate panel shreds Mail on Sunday ‘great green con’ story

By John Parnell

The UK government’s climate change advisors have shredded a recent report in the Mail on Sunday claiming that the science now showed efforts to tackle climate change are unwarranted.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins and Dr Steve Smith from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) say an article by David Rose that offered ‘hard proof‘ global warming forecasts are wrong is “simply incorrect” and demonstrated a “misunderstanding” of the facts.

Rose claimed that the UK Met Office’s observed temperature record, which has been flat in recent years, was set to move outside the boundaries of predictions by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and that CO2 levels had a lower effect on temperatures.

But as Hoskins and Smith observe, air temperatures alone do not tell the full story of a warming earth: “Even during the last 15 years of negligible temperature increase, observations have remained within the predicted range,” they write.

“At the same time, other climate indicators (e.g. ocean heat, sea level, sea ice cover and mountain glaciers) demonstrate that the Earth system as a whole is continuing to heat up.

Analysis suggests that the underlying temperature trend is still rising once the known, shorter-term factors such as El Niño, volcanic aerosols and solar variability are filtered out.”

The original graph that was used in the Mail on Sunday article (Source: Climate Lab Book)

Hoskins and Smith also offer a clarification on what is known as climate sensitivity – effectively the estimated increase in temperature if CO2 levels are doubled.

“The Mail article moves from the lack of recent temperature increase to arguing that climate sensitivity has been significantly overstated,” acknowledge Hoskins and Smith.

“But while it is true that recent studies based on temperature observations question the very highest model projections of warming, even if confirmed, these would not justify a wholesale downward revision of the range as argued in the article. Other lines of evidence continue to support the high end of the range for climate sensitivity.”

Rose’s article argued that new data means there is no longer any reason for the UK to cut the levels of carbon in its energy system and invest in renewable energy.

“The graph on this page blows apart the ‘scientific basis’ for Britain reshaping its entire economy and spending billions in taxes and subsidies in order to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. These measures have already added £100 a year to household energy bills,” he wrote.

In contrast, figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change released today suggest green policies will help cut £166 from bills by 2020.

The chart of observed global temperatures against climate model outputs was taken from University of Reading’s Ed Hawkins, who rejected the Mail’s interpretation of the data.

Three climate scientists quoted (Myles Allen, James Annan and Piers Forster) have since objected to being quoted out of context in the story.

The one that did not complain, Dr David Whitehouse, is an astrophysicist and advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic lobby group based in the UK.

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