A Freedom of Information request submitted to the Met Office by Autonomous Mind reveals the Met Office did not tell the truth when it said it had scrapped its seasonal forecast.
Despite repeatedly trailing the line that the Met Office no longer issues seasonal forecasts because the public says they are not of use (a separate blog post on that public view later today, with some new information that has come to light… Update: part two can now be read here), the reality is that the department’s Chief Executive, John Hirst, engaged in a smoke and mirrors exercise in an attempt at reputation management.
At a Board meeting of the Met Office on 26 January 2010, (original Minutes extract received under FOI: 0012014 AM Attachment) a recommendation was tabled by Hirst to rename the forecasts and locate them in a different part of the department’s website, and that Hirst:
‘… proposed to the board the changes the Met Office was considering to manage the presentation of these longer range forecasts.’
This is clearly not a decision to stop seasonal forecasting, merely a tweek to its presentation – presumably to allow the Met Office the ability to deny a forecast when weather events show it to be inaccurate. It is equivalent to the EU’s renaming of its proposed constitution without changing the substance of the content so it could be ratified as a treaty without referenda being held. A change in presentation does not change the substance of the content.
The Met Office logic is that although it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it is actually a horse. This explains the weak attempt to disown the seasonal temperature probability map that the department published in October. But Hirst’s actions now reveal the map is a forecast after all, in everything but name. The details from the Minutes are shown in the blue highlighted section in the screenshot below (click to enlarge):
The words ‘forecast’ and ‘forecasts’ appear seven times in that section, which seems quote a lot when talking about something the Met Office deny is a forecast. The FOI response comes just one day after the Met Office was seemingly caught out in another lie, when it told Andrew Orlowski of The Register this week that it:
‘… never suggested that we warned cabinet office of an ‘exceptionally cold early winter’
although a Met Office spokeswoman was quoted in the Daily Mail on 4 January as saying:
‘We did brief the Cabinet Office in October on what we believed would be an exceptionally cold and long winter,’
The Met Office employs a large number of very good, honest and dedicated people. This and my other blog posts on the subject are no criticism of them.
But the department is being run by an unreliable group of executives who have been exposed as dishonest in the course of their efforts to underpin and further a politicised agenda (climate change) and secure even more public money for additional supercomputing power. At the head of this group is John Hirst. Suspiciously his executives remained silent about the story published by Roger Harrabin, only denying they had warned of an ‘exceptionally cold early winter’ after Katabasis‘ FOI request revealed the claim was not true.
The unpleasant whiff of deceit and clumsy spin continues to emanate from the Met Office and there now absolutely must be a formal investigation into its management and its executive. The public deserves and is entitled to much better for its money.
Update: The excellent Katabasis is on the case and builds on this post over at his place. Definitely a must read.
Part two of this blog post is now live…