If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Met Office Uncovered

There's an interesting article on the BBC website about the Met Office, and an FOI request made by the BBC over material related to the Met Office's famous prediction of a 'barbecue summer' in 2009 and their apparent inability to predict the current unusually cold spell.

It seems as if the MO has two conflicting operating arms: the scientists (who, we may assume, have normal levels of astuteness and scientific caution) and the PR and Communications arm, who appear to be the MO's propaganda wing. This quotation is revealing:
"The strapline 'odds on for a barbeque summer' was created by the operations and communications teams to reflect the probability of a good summer. Concern over the use of the strapline and its relationship to the scientific information available was expressed by the scientific community, who were not consulted prior to the media release."
And the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) have an observation:
The GWPF is drawing attention to a map published on the Met Office website in October which indicated that the UK was likely to experience above-normal temperatures in the ensuing three-month period.

For the GPWF, which is sceptical of the Met Office and other mainstream analysis of global warming, this is evidence of a Met Office tendency to under-predict cold weather and over-predict mild winters.
A picture emerges: scientists working in the background, trying to provide a reliable outlook for the weather, based on probabilities which no-one else understands, and a PR wing, who are determined to turn the scientific advice into catchy, black-and-white memorable phrases which follow the required political agenda.

I liked this comment:
Of course, when it's hotter than average, it's 'climate' - when it's colder than average, it's 'weather.'


  1. PR and spin taking over from unbiased scientific analysis and balanced intelligence reports - surely not. The cultural corruption that New Labour ushered in by pushing the spin doctors to the top and their output to the centre of policy making will be with us for many many years I fear. Every time I hear a hospital/local authority/Whitehall department is 'unavailable for comment' but had time to 'issue the following statement' I see true accountability gently sinking. Dodgy dossiers rule OK.


    Nice photos of the beach and an excellent piece - I liked it.

  2. As yes, the 'unavailable for comment, but plenty of time to get the entire Board of Management together to cobble up a statement that a) says a lot of good stuff about the organisation but nothing about the issue involved, and b) says that 'lessons have been learned' and we don't do it that way any more, so nerr.

    Thought you might like the pics :)


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