Global warming dogma and faulty computer models led the Met Office to forecast a 'barbecue summer' for 2009.
Most people are aware that the UK Met Office has in recent years become something of a laughing stock. Its much-derided forecast that Britain would enjoy a "barbecue summer" this year was only the latest of a string of predictions that proved wildly off-target. Three years ago it announced that 2007 would be "the warmest year ever", just before global temperatures plunged by 0.7 degrees Celsius, more than the world's entire net warming in the 20th century. Last winter, it forecast, would be "milder and drier than average", just before we enjoyed one of our coldest and snowiest winters for years. And in 2009 it promised us one of the "five warmest years ever", complete with that "barbecue summer", when temperatures have been struggling to reach their average of the past three decades.
What should be rather better known, not least since it helps to explain these relentlessly optimistic forecasts, has been the leading part played by our Met Office in promoting the worldwide obsession with global warming, notably through its Hadley Centre for research into climate change. In 1988 the then-head of the Met Office, Dr (now Sir) John Houghton, was one of the two men chiefly responsible for setting up the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, founded on their belief that rising CO2 would inevitably lead to higher temperatures.
In 1990, thanks to lavish funding from Mrs Thatcher, Houghton set up the Hadley Centre, which has continued to play a central role in shaping the IPCC's increasingly alarmist reports ever since. Not least, it chooses many of the scientists who write those reports, most of whom are sure to be "on message". In conjunction with the Climate Research Unit run by Professor Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia, equally firmly on side, the Hadley Centre also controls the most influential of the world's four official sources of global temperature data.
Nothing more tellingly reflects the Met Office's partisanship, however, than the fact that its present chairman is Robert Napier, a green activist who previously ran WWF UK, one of the most vociferous of the climate change lobby groups. Mr Napier now helps run not only the Met Office (which has been part of the Ministry of Defence ever since its forecasts came "from the Air Ministry roof") but also an array of other bodies centrally involved in driving the political climate-change agenda.
He is, for instance, chairman of the Green Fiscal Commission, charged with "greening the UK tax system" by shifting 20 per cent of government revenues to green taxes by 2020. He is a director of the Climate Change Group, an international lobby group involving "a coalition of governments and the world's most influential businesses", "helping to set the targets, create the policies, build the confidence and generate the political willpower needed to make the changes the world requires". He is chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency, which seeks to buy up land for "eco-towns" and dictates the need of new housing to comply with strict "green standards".
Mr Napier is a director of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which claims to hold the largest database in the world on corporate carbon footprints, so that companies that fail to support the green agenda can be vilified for their part in destroying the planet. He is also a director of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a pressure group dedicated to using the world's religions to push the same agenda. (I am indebted to a paper on the buythetruth.wordpress.com website – "Eco-Imperialism: Every Environmentalist's Dream" – for pointing the way to all this.)
It might seem extraordinary that such a political activist should now be in charge of the government body responsible for providing our daily weather forecasts. But what makes it even more remarkable is that one reason why those short-term forecasts are often so comically wrong is that, as the Met Office likes to boast, they are produced with the aid of the same super-computer used to provide the IPCC with its predictions of what the world's climate will be like in 100 years' time.
The Met Office's computer is programmed to believe that the chief driver of climate change is the rising level of CO2 – hence its predilection for forecasting barbecue summers and warmest-ever years. But in recent years, as we all know, while CO2 levels continue to rise, the trend of global temperatures has failed to follow suit. This might suggest that the basic assumption on which the computer models are programmed cannot be entirely correct. Is it not perhaps time we pensioned off all those "activists", scrapped their expensive computers and went back to putting some proper "Met men" in charge of forecasting our weather?
Global warming is much too cosy a name
The warmists want us to start talking about 'global burning'
THE omens for agreement on a meaningful climate treaty at Copenhagen look increasingly dim, and a sign of the frustration this causes among certain journalists is that they are scrabbling for yet more alarmist terms to convey the apocalypse bearing down on us. "Global warming", complains one, sound far too cosy: shouldn't we be talking instead about "global burning"?
Similarly, some time back they began to replace "CO2", the innocuous-sounding gas we all exhale and which all plants need to live, with "carbon", preferably teaming it up with "pollution". Now it is suggested we should refer instead to "black carbon", implying something altogether nastier, dirtier and more threatening. When "carbon" causes "global burning", the end result can only be lots more "black carbon"… Where will all this silly wordplay end?