Setting the record straight in the Daily Mail

In response to our complaint to an article by James Delingpole in the Daily Mail on 10 January 2013 the Daily Mail has now published a response from the Met Office Chairman on its letters page.

Met Office mettle

James Delingpole’s views misrepresent the Met Office’s reputation for world-class weather and climate forecasting and research (Mail). The UK can be rightly proud that the Met Office is among the world’s top two national weather forecasting services.

We’re proud that, in independent surveys, more than 90 per cent of the public regard our warnings as useful and more than 80 per cent of the UK public trust our forecasts and warnings. This respect for our professionalism and impartiality has been built over 150 years of forecasting for the nation.

We aim to use our world leading scientific expertise to protect life and property and increase prosperity and wellbeing right across the UK. We provide impartial services ranging from forecasts and warnings to the public, services to transport operators, so we can fly, drive or sail safely, and advice to the energy, retail and health sectors so we can all go about our daily lives safely and efficiently.

Our forecasts on radio, TV, mobile phone apps and newspapers are a source of daily interest as well as essential advice to the public.

Whatever a journalist’s views are about climate change – and they have a right to air them – let’s not degrade the institutions on which the public rely.


Met Office chairman, Exeter, Devon.

Although this does not fully address all the issues we had with the original article we do accept that a published letter recognises our concerns and has taken steps to resolve some of them. The Daily Mail has also offered to append this letter to the original article.

We are grateful to the Daily Mail for dealing with our objections to the inaccuracies in the original article and the efforts made to find a constructive resolution. We are, as ever, grateful for the role the Daily Mail, and other print, online and broadcast media have in bringing key forecasts, warnings, and science to the attention of the public.

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10 Responses to Setting the record straight in the Daily Mail

  1. Barry Woods says:

    James Delingpoles criticism was with your long term and medium term forecasting: (yet the Met responds with public perceptions of its short term forecasting )

    James wrote:
    “And the Met Office’s obsession with climate change has wreaked havoc with its medium to long-term forecasting. That infamous ‘barbecue summer’ and its inability to foresee last November’s floods were the result of the same major flaw in its system:”

    thus his criticism was based on reports in April, widely reported in the media at the time, that their would be a drought, with a high chance of lasting to the winter, and of water shortages (I can find no attempts by the Met Office to correct this, if this misrepresented the Met Office at the time.)

    Thus, when the Met Office defends itself, with its short term forecasts in November, a few days or even hours before heavy rainfall in November, it hardly answers his criticism of the Met Office’s long term and medium term forecasting, does it?

    Nor has the public’s or business trust, in short term forecasting have anything to do with Jame’s criticism.. does it?

    IN FACT, in the article, James makes it plain (as well as by stating medium and long term), that his issue is NOT with the short term forecasting, quoting Dr David Whitehouse, who concern is also with longer term forecasting that when it comes to short term forecasting, the Met Office is the BEST in the world.

    James Delingpole wrote:

    “Dr Whitehouse notes that this is a sad betrayal of the Met Office’s traditional role: ‘When it comes to four or five-day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world,’

    I think the Met Office has not addressed James’ argument and criticism, but just built a strawman.

  2. leonard dawson says:

    Dear Met Office,

    Thanks for this-I didn’t see the original article because I don’t read newspapers.Having read it now-yes- it was a miserable piece of “journalism” and you were quite correct to respond.

    Actually-the Daily Express is by far the worst for ridiculous weather headlines (it’s defence is that it sells the paper). You should equally get on to that paper.Many of its weather headlines unnecessarity worry vulnerable people.


  3. nuwurld says:

    Look, my views on this issue are many and varied. Personally I feel that many employees at the Met are tied with political ‘red tape’.

    I want to free our Met Office of this problem.

    I openly invite them to engage with conjecture over this physical issue with their science.

    I am personally offended by their official statement,

    Which has NO physical grounding.

    I have a physical background, so in light of which I am sensitive to both procedure and adhesion to physical reason.

    I remind the Met Office of the ‘adiabatic’ which correctly describes the rest state of any atmosphere.

    If you don’t agree then search ‘Lapse rate’ in any encyclopaedia.

    All atmospheres that are gravitationally bound exhibit a thermal profile that is warmer towards the centre. This is the same physics that ignites the nuclear core of a protostar. It stops the solidification of surface within a gas giant. The same thermodynamic process regulates the nuclear production of ‘our’, or any other star. It’s a function of gravity, and thermodynamics.

    Everyone in the western world is taught at early levels that an object thrown aloft competes with gravity and freely exchanges its kinetic energy until all is potential, then this is returned back to kinetic as the object is returned to ground.

    Any objections to this?

    Now all that needs to be added is that kinetic energy in a gas is thermal. The sum of all separate energy states is it’s heat capacity.

    The total energy in any height of atmosphere is the sum of potential and kinetic (thermal) energy.

    The number of collisions per second normalises any new energy added or subtracted from the thermal energy due to equipartition. Therefore any vertical displacement exhibits a new thermal component due to work done or gravitational potential energy released becoming thermal.

    Every adjacent vertical state has to tend towards a state if equal ‘total’ energy with adjacent vertical states. This is an isentropic, or reversible adiabatic equilibrium state. But every higher state has greater potential.

    Therefore every lower state, at equilibrium, has greater thermal energy.

    The mathematical depiction of this is the lapse rate,

    dT/dh= -g/Cp

    (I can provide a simple derivation of this from first principles if required)

    This is a categorical, indisputable fact.

    This is the atmospheric rest state. Disturbed everyday by the Sun. The response to being disturbed is ‘weather’. It is the atmospheric response to restore the adiabatic. The thermal gradient set by gravity.

    There is no greenhouse effect impressed or implied.

    There are therefore no greenhouse gases.

    The western worlds adhesion to the delusion of a greenhouse effect is iconic. This will go down in history as one of the greatest misuses of human intellect.

    • nebakhet says:

      The only way gravity could create heat is if the Earth was collapsing. This is how the gas giants generate heat. But the Earth isn’t collapsing in on itself. The lapse rate is an effect of heat in the system, not a cause.

  4. Reblogged this on SoAnyway and commented:
    I had to reblog this…James Delingpole is one of the poorest journalists covering climate change, and his article appears in one of the worst newspapers in this country. He writes ferverent opinion as fact, and I’m glad that the Met Office have put him back in his place.

  5. The facts are that the UK has cooled for the last 10 years and so far in 2013, it’s been colder than when daily temperatures were first taken in the 1770s:-

    Globally, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1994 i.e. no warming where the 2-sigma range doesn’t go below zero.

    There is no evidence that this plateauing in global surface temperature is due to the ocean absorbing more heat. If it was then there would be an acceleration in the increase in ocean temperature (which has been much smaller than surface temperature). The observable increase in ocean temperature decreases with depth as you would expect and far from there being an acceleration in ocean temperature, there’s evidence of a deceleration from 2004 onwards:-

    If you look at graph 7, using the pentadal (5 year) average, you’ll see that the first 100m of ocean has warmed by 0.2C since NOAA first started measuring ocean temperature in 1959.

    Graph 8 shows that the first 700m of ocean has warmed by just 0.1C during the same period. You’ll notice how wide the error bars are during the early years on this graph, indicating the lack of confidence in the measurements that you can actually have.

    Graph 9 shows that the first 2000m of ocean has warmed by just 0.05C during the same period.

    Throughout the periods mentioned above CO2 levels have continued to climb:-

    Despite the overwhelming evidence observable in all temperature records of a pause in global warming, the MetOffice continues to deny the data, including it’s own.

    What James Delingpole is doing is exposing the scientific fraud that is taking place in an organisation that cannot forecast the weather accurately for longer than 2 days in advance.

    • nebakhet says:

      Also you can’t directly compare ocean heat content in C with surface temperature in C. There is far more heat involved in raising OHC 1C than surface temperature, so we wouldn’t expect an acceleration in OHC increase if the heat that was going into the surface changed to go into the ocean.

  6. Brian Catt says:

    The Met Office misrepresented its own Hadcrut3 data to try to say that global warming is continuing rather like David Cameron says the budget deficit is decreasing , except the Met Office is supposed to be a professional scientific organisation where lying to reinforce a political assertion that cannot be corroborated by independent measurement, and in fact the opposite is demonstated by their own data should have them banned from practice.

    Many truly independent observers of global climate includng NASA now agree the data shows no increase for around 15 years. Temperature change is neither accelerating, nor in fact is it happening, while CO2 has risen by around 20 parts in 400ppm from memory.

    The Chairman’s letter is laughably wide of any target, nothing to do with the point at issue, and he overtly has no proper understanding of the issue. Wonder if he even wrote the letter. Not worth his salary – and should be ashamed if he did.

  7. nebakhet says:

    You can’t claim there’s a plateau just because the 2-sigma range doesn’t go below zero.

    A plateau means no warming or 0C/decade. If the 2 sigma of the trend is 0.12C/decade +-0.14C that range covers upwards of 0.26C/decade.

    Warming in that case is more statistically significant than plateau, considering most of the range is far above 0.

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