Weather eye

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From Fred Wakelam.

YOUR columnist Peter Rhodes’ witty scepticism concerning climate change phobia and long-range weather guessology is a welcome change from the usual uncritical acceptance.

There is ample reason for disbelief in two recent reports. A doom-laden computer modelled climatology effort from University College, London, contains the giveaway phrase ‘worst case scenario’, which in real speak means ‘we haven’t got a clue as to what is going to actually happen’. Whereas, the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, though supposed to study climate change, has inadvisably ventured into seasonal weather forecasting, with apparently firm prediction of a long, hot summer for us.

However, in this case there is a cunning caveat attached which refers to changing ocean currents, which are notoriously erratic. This factor combined with shifting jet streams could mean, in the middle of a sodden June, that we are in for a hat trick of years with a cool, wet four months of summer – or maybe not.

Perhaps Honest Nev could quote some odds, because we are in that area of speculation, well beyond Bayes’ Theorem of Probability.

The climate change industry is apparently in a similar dubiously ethical position as global finance – make big enough mistakes and gullible governments will fund yet more error. It has not always been so, as the case of the founder of modern applied meteorology shows.

Robert Fitzroy had commanded HMS Beagle on the famous 1830s evolution voyage with Charles Darwin aboard. In 1853, Fitzroy, now admiral, was appointed to develop the Board of Trade’s marine meteorological service and in short order ports and coastal stations around the British Isles had his observation, recording and forecasting gear operational.

In a stroke of inventive genius he also devised the cone system of visually broadcasting impending weather change, as on the mast above Fort Regent and around the empire.

From 1858 correspondence between the admiral and Jersey’s Colonel John Le Couteur we learn that, in modified form, Fitzroy’s work was proving to be of great benefit to the progressive agriculturist. In fact it formed the basis for the later excellent work of the agro-meteorologists Penham, Fisher and Gindel.

Unfortunately, Fitzroy strayed into seasonal and yearly long-range forecasting which was naturally wildly inaccurate and drew widespread scorn and eventually official condemnation so that, in 1858, the board stopped this activity. After suffering years of humiliation, frustration and deep depression Robert Fitzroy committed suicide in 1865.

In the 150 years since then much knowledge has been gained about biospheric factors which affect and/or indicate climate change, from plate tectonics to isotope fractionation.

However, there has been little monitoring and quantification, and therefore poor understanding of the complex interactions involved.

Consequently, climate change scenarios and long-range weather forecasting can best be described as nothing more than ill-informed computerised opinion, with ‘carbon neutral’ its most ridiculous expression.

3 Oak Farm Cottages,

Mont de l’Ecole,

St Peter.

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