This is a potentially huge story with a nasty smell of conspiracy about it. There appears to be a concerted effort to whitewash serious failings at the Met Office, with the assistance of a senior climate change propagandist at the BBC who is fully bought in to the Met Office’s warmist agenda.
The Telegraph reports today that: ‘The Met Office knew that Britain was facing an early and exceptionally cold winter but failed to warn the public, hampering preparations for some of the coldest weather on record.’ The article goes on to say:
In October the forecaster privately warned the Government – with whom it has a contract – that Britain was likely to face an extremely cold winter.
It kept the prediction secret, however, after facing severe criticism over the accuracy of its long-term forecasts.
October? That is the same month that this temperature probability map was published – for public consumption:
There is absolutely no logical or rational basis for the Met Office publishing the probability map above, yet ‘secretly’ telling the government a completely different story. The Met Office not only published the map, it had meterologists speaking publicly about the map and setting an expectation of a very high probability of warmer than average winter, as I will explain…
It is bad enough that this story is being spun at all because it completely torpedos any remaining credibility the Met Office has. But there is another important dimension to this that raises serious question marks about the story, and that is the involvement of the Met Office’s fellow warmist traveller, Roger Harrabin, environment analyst at the BBC and far from impartial commentator on climate change matters. The language used by Harrabin, who is quoted in the Telegraph article from comments he made to the Radio Times, smacks of a concerted attempt to muddy the water, shift attention from the central issue and prepare the way for the BBC to give the Met Office a clean bill of health at a future date. Consider:
The trouble is that we simply don’t know how much to trust the Met Office. How often does it get the weather right and wrong. And we don’t know how it compares with other, independent forecasters.
Can we rely on them if we are planning a garden party at the weekend? Or want to know if we should take a brolly with us tomorrow? Or planning a holiday next week?
In a few year’s time hopefully we’ll all have a better idea of whom to trust. By then the Met Office might have recovered enough confidence to share with us its winter prediction of whether to buy a plane ticket or a toboggan.
In the first paragraph Harrabin is paving the way for a BBC comparison of the Met Office with independent forecasters. This despite Piers Corbyn being banned from placing bets on long range weather forecasts because he kept beating the bookie with odds set by the Met Office itself. There is also substantial evidence of independent forecasters such as Corbyn, Joe Bastardi and others winning business from clients who had dispensed with the Met Office offering due to poor accuracy.
The language in the second paragraph is telling. The central issue has been the Met Office failings in seasonal and long range forecasting. Harrabin however selects examples of short range forecasting, where the Met Office is not as weak simply because the weather patterns are already upon us and therefore much easier to forecast. However, there is even a question mark over that ‘nowcasting’ as Bournemouth would happily testify.
The third paragraph is exactly what I would write if I was trying to buy the Met Office some breathing space. This is a standard defensive communications technique.
- Give people the false impression there is no existing evidence with which to make a comparison and so suspend the onslaught
- Give people the false impression that forming a judgement now would be unreasonable
- Set an expectation that it will take a few years to establish whether or not there is actually an issue with the Met Office’s forecasting
Harrabin’s words are not what one would hear from an impartial and unbiased observer. They are the words of someone who is trying to head off a critical appraisal. This assessment is validated by the next section of Harrabin’s comments:
Why didn’t the Met Office tell us that Greenland was about to swap weather with Godalming? The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren’t let in on the secret. “The reason? The Met Office no longer publishes its seasonal forecasts because of the ridicule it suffered for predicting a barbecue summer in 2009 – the summer that campers floated around in their tents.
This is a masterclass in the selective use of language. Harrabin is not saying ‘the Met Office claims’ or ‘people suggest’. He actually declares that it is the ‘truth’ that the Met Office suspected we would have an exceptionally cold early winter. This is almost subliminal. Believe. It’s true. Harrabin seems to be reverting to Neurolinguistic programming in order to assist the Met Office.
Nowhere is there any proper examination of the startling claim that the Met Office correctly predicted the cold winter and kept it ‘secret’. The reader is enjoined to accept it because Harrabin says it is so. Is this what a journalist should be doing and does this stand up to scrutiny?
If the government was truly in receipt of this secret forecast, why was no action taken to increase the stock of spreading salt, given local authorities had stockpiled less salt than last year? Is the Met Office actually saying the government was so determined to keep a weather forecast to shield the Met Office from ridicule that it deliberately withheld information needed by the local authorities? The implications are huge. It would be a national scandal that would undermine the government.
By way of further evidence about the lack of preparation following the Met Office’s ‘secret’ forecast to government, we need look only at the budget for the Winter Front allowance. If the government knew that the cold snap was coming as per the Met Office line, why were no steps taken to adjust the budget? The budget for the whole 2010-11 winter has already been exhausted and we are only just into January. In addition, the £40m Winter Fuel Payment budget has also been wiped out with over £100m of extra benefit payments made. Again, why no pre-adjustment to the budget? The point here? Is the government guilty of a dereliction of its duty to the UK’s most vulnerable citizens despite being in receipt of ‘secret’ information from its own meterological department stating that it would be exceptionally cold?
Another question to ask yourself is this: Does it seem reasonable or probable that the publicly funded meterology department of the UK provided the government with a secret forecast about exceptional cold, at the same time it was publishing the opposite forecast to the public, but did so because it was previously ridiculed for getting seasonal forecasts wrong? And that the government conspired to keep it secret, took no action to prepare to keep the highways clear and maintain a safe driving environment and let its Winter Fuel Allowance budget be used up with only a fraction of the winter gone?
Where is the logic in the Met Office thinking it would avoid ridicule by telling the public on its own website that there was a circa 80% probability of a warmer than average winter if it was actually predicting the exceptional cold as it claims to have told the government? This nonsensical merry-go-round is compounded by the final word in the Telegraph piece where a Met Office spokesman says:
In late October we informed the Cabinet office that there were early indications of a cold start to winter. Following public research we were told that a monthly outlook would be of more use which is why we now have the 6-15 day and 16-30 day forecast on our website.
Is it not curious that there is no mention of the temperature map above which was (and still is) on the Met Office website? Or that there is no acknowledgment that:
Helen Chivers, Met Office forecaster, insisted the temperature map [now not referred to] takes into account the influence of climate factors such as El Nino and La Nina – five-yearly climatic patterns that affect the weather – but admits this is only a “start point” for a seasonal forecast. She said: “The map shows probabilities of temperatures in months ahead compared to average temperatures over a 30-year period.
The stench of deceit surrounding the Met Office, it’s disgraceful self serving effort to mislead the public and apparent attempt by a publicly funded BBC journalist to distort the facts is overpowering. There now needs to be an independent inquiry into this whole matter. A Freedom of Information request is being submitted to ask for this secret October forecast.