Dear Met Office

July 26, 2013


Dear Met Office

Your new post “The Recent Pause in Warming”

shows zero understanding of the basic framing issues that have
so damaged climate science communication over the last 2 decades.

Using the word “pause” reinforces the idea in the average person’s mind that
the planet has stopped heating up – and just about completely nullifies
the paper you are promoting,
which shows a ” wide range of observed climate indicators continue to show
changes that are consistent with a globally warming world”.

Almost nobody will read the paper. Those that read anything
will only see the headline.

I’m really surprised that the Met Office is still so
unsophisticated at this late date.

Peter Sinclair
Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Here’s a Communication tip.

Another way to say “A wide range of observed climate indicators continue to show changes that are consistent with a globally warming world, ” would be “the world is still warming”.

One could say, the Met Office continues to exhibit behaviors that are consistent with a tin ear for common language and communication, and a failure to understand that words mean things.

I am available for trainings and seminars.

In the meantime, refer to this audio of James Hansen as a model for the future.

46 Responses to “Dear Met Office”

  1. Won’t take long till this is misrepresented.

  2. “I am available for trainings and seminars.” I love that!!

  3. MorinMoss Says:

    Have to give them credit to have the cojones to post this during the longest heatwave in the UK in almost a decade, with temps ranging from 28 – 32 degC for 19 consecutive days and hundreds of reported deaths due to a lack of air conditioning.

    • omnologos Says:

      …having announced a decade of cool summers just a month before.

      The MO feels institutionally obliged to speak on climate stuff even and especially when they’re clueless about it.

      • daryan12 Says:

        Cool summers? where are you living? we’ve just had a heat wave of sorts in the UK, we’ve had a run of unusually hot (and wet) summers and I understand the midwest has just had a drought for the 2nd time in as many years.

        Now while tying any particular weather event to climate (or AGW) is a risky strategy (that said, we had someone on BBC Radio a few weeks ago who was talking about how these recent trends could be linked to AGW), equally you trying to argue the opposite is equally inappropriate.

        Met office is “clueless” on climate change? Let see who should we trust for climate info, a couple of thousand academics with PhD’s and supercomputers at their disposal or a bunch of nutty deniers with no relevant qualifications, living in a rundown shack in Oregon?

          • daryan12 Says:

            The article discusses “wet” summers not cool ones. You do understand that when these big fluffy things called “clouds” are in the sky this stuff call “rain” falls out of them and when it does the “real feel” temperature (i.e. how warm it feels to us as opposed to that actual temperature recorded in our weather station) drops?

            Oh, and the article also discusses possible causes of this and lists “loading of the dice” by climate change of one of those!

            Do you read everything thro this prism that filters out anything that might seem to support an idea you don’t believe in?

          • omnologos Says:

            they met mere weeks before heatwave, were totally clueless about it. Therefore useless.

            I can tell you in 23 years’ time you better be driving generally forward your car within the boundaries of roads and assorted driving regulations. It’s a pretty accurate statement but provides you zero information.

        • Oregon, obviously. Sheesh.

      • The Met Office actually anounced that it is more likely that in the next decade we will have *wet* summers. Of course they seem clueless when people misrepresent their science on blog comments…

        As for the main article, “pause” reinforces the idea that global temperatures have not risen as fast as expected recently, but as it is only a pause, they will soon start rising again… I think I will book someone else for science communication training…

        • omnologos Says:

          apart from it being much cooler in the shade:

          1. they couldn’t see the Incoming heatwave

          2. they couldn’t see the Incoming lack of rain

          3. they’re still unable to produce robust, scientifically sound (not just sounding) press releases

          Add their terrible seasonal track record and the first climate-related catastrophe is the MetO’s

          • daryan12 Says:


            Indeed, the Met office were pretty spot on with the “heat wave”. We’ve been doing some experiments the last few weeks taking advantage of the “high ambient” temperatures to test a few theories.

            And of course Omno proves merely that he is clueless as to the difference between “climate” and “weather”. He seems to know nothing about everything (and not too much about that!).

          • omnologos Says:

            wow! So in a 50-50 situation, they got it right, until they got it wrong (we’ve been waiting for things to cool down for almost a week now – it’s always two days away).

            And today’s 4PM rain meant sunshine really. Perhaps it was a practical joke on their side.

            I guess they’re really helped when people forget the string of BBQ summers we’ve had, all announced by the Met-O. BBQ for walruses, but still BBQ.

          • ontspan Says:

            Omno says:
            “1. they couldn’t see the Incoming heatwave
            2. they couldn’t see the Incoming lack of rain”

            On Tuesday July 2nd we read in the newspaper:
            “Forecasters, who normally only give a five-day weather report, have predicted the heatwave will last for most of the month.

            A Met Office spokesman told the Daily Mail: “Normally we can’t give much detail beyond the five-day forecast period, but with the current situation we can give a forecast beyond that with a higher than usual level of confidence. ”

            3. you’re still full of it Omno :)

      • The irony you bring to any conversation is pure gold.

  4. It’s a real shame. See it repeatedly with university press programs regarding clean energy matters, but probably never to such an extreme extent. I didn’t see this MET Office release, but must have seen some coverage of it somewhere (or simply the same general mistake), because I saw a similar headline from a respectable outlet and wanted to do a facepalm (maybe I actually did).

    Good on you to write a letter and post this article! :D

  5. mpcraig Says:

    “…shows zero understanding of the basic framing issues that have
    so damaged climate science communication over the last 2 decades.”

    No, what’s damaging climate science communication is a constant changing of the framing, e.g. Global Warming out, Climate Change in. That one was very well done because now extreme weather events can become part of the discussion.

    Now we have another new framing where “warming” doesn’t mean just surface temperatures, it means the whole “system”. Believe it or not, there are people who notice these things.

    • That’s really interesting. When did the framing change from global warming to climate change? I mean, like, what year? I heard it was Al Gore who was responsible for that sometime around 2003. Would that be right?

      • mpcraig Says:

        You are correct to point out that there was typically no definitive change and I was being more abstract. However, the terms are used interchangeably and usually to provide the author support for whatever they are claiming.

        My main point was that there is no real clear use of either term and this can muddy climate science communications greatly, especially among people with no climate science expertise.

        My other point was that there is no “basic framing”. There is only variable framing to suit the communicator. That’s why this issue is so controversial. Anyone on either side has a whole suite of tools to present a one-sided argument.

        • Wrong. The proponent has a whole suite of peer reviewed scientific papers from a wide range of disciplines that represent the inherent complexity of the climate system, the sum of which demonstrates that the globe as a whole is warming which is affecting the climate in a number of ways. The denied has a whole suite of blogs to chose from where the aforementioned science has been misrepresented and /or misinterpreted or where blatant dishonesty is dished out like dogfood at an animal shelter. The “global warming / climate change ” canard is one such thing. The problem with framing rests entirely in the denied camp because they lack the intellect to fully grasp what scientists are saying.

          • mpcraig Says:

            Another hindrance to communication is having a completely one sided view.

          • The science is one-sided because that is where the evidence is. “Views” don’t come into it. There are “views” out there that vaccines cause autism, that people can speak to spirits, that you can determine a person’s personality by the bumps on their heads, that placing furniture in a certain way can bring good luck and that the Earth is flat but none of those “views” are backed by the weight of scientific evidence and so are invalid. However, a person has the right to hold these views, afterall it’s a free country, but that doesn’t automatically mean their views should be given equal weight in a scientific discussion. To argue that the contrarian position on anthropogenic climate change requires equal weight when the evidence is so heavily stacked against it surely requires those people to argue that all those other things I just mentioned be given equal weight too? Perhaps they don’t because they don’t see those other positions as some sort of threat but on a purely philosophical level and in principle they should agree. To not agree would be a very strange position to hold indeed. So, mpcraig, where do you stand on vaccines, clairvoyance, phrenology, feng shui and a flat Earth? I am genuinely interested.

          • mpcraig Says:

            “So, mpcraig, where do you stand on vaccines, clairvoyance, phrenology, feng shui and a flat Earth? I am genuinely interested.”

            Vaccines are good, clairvoyance, phrenology, feng shui are poppycock, perhaps good for entertainment purposes and flat Earth doesn’t warrant a response.

            Now a question for you. What do you believe represents “the contrarian position on climate change”?

          • How do you justify such an extraordinarily bizarre philosophical position? You are holding two opposing positions. One of them must be wrong. I am guessing it would be due to your scientific illiteracy. If you had an understanding of scientific conventions you would understand why you are wrong. Your rejection of the overwhelming evidence for the consensual position stems from ignorance, ideology or both.

          • The contrarian view is:

            The atmosphere may not be warming; but if it is, this is probably due to natural variation; but if it isn’t, the amount of warming is probably not significant; but if it is, the benefits should outweigh the disadvantages; but if they don’t, technology should be able to solve problems as they arise; but if it can’t, we shouldn’t wreck the economy to fix the problem; but if the economy wouldn’t be wrecked then “Al Gore!”

            Or anything but CO2.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            the default Al Gore-rhythm

          • MorinMoss Says:

            OOOOWWWW, that was cruel and unusual pun-ishment.

    • Let me ask you two questions:

      1) When was the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) founded?

      2) What do you think term global warming means and what the meaning is of the term climate change?

      • greenman3610 Says:

      • mpcraig Says:

        Question 1 is obviously trivial but question 2 is really quite interesting. The only way to answer it would be to survey the numerous different definitions which exist and pick your favorite.

        So I did a quick scan for question 2 and this is what I choose (from Roger Pielke Snr.):

        Global Warming is an increase in the global annual average heat content measured in Joules.

        Climate Change is any multi-decadal or longer alteration in one or more physical, chemical and/or biological components of the climate system.

        Judging solely based on your response to me (i.e. thin information), I predict that your choice of definitions would include an anthropogenic component in them.

        And again I’ll point out; different definitions means that different framing is possible and is thus a major hindrance to climate science communications and discussion.

  6. toby52 Says:

    For deniers, “pause” means “the pause that lasts forever”, like the last property boom.

    Some are even hailing the start of global cooling and the new Ice Age, not that they are being alarmist or anything. :)

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Once the anti-AGW crowd started casting about for alternate explanations and counterpoints, they were almost doomed to become alarmist.

      However a few, like Eschenbach, are trying to advance a cloud governor thermostat theory that the temps will not stray outside a healthy-for-humans range.

      Of course, the Ice Ages do give a bit of trouble for that bit of speculation.

      • omnologos Says:

        I don’t think we should count on things remaining the same. Like with infections it’d be nice we could eliminate the risk, but first and foremost we should lessen our vulnerabilities.

        I blame Schneider for not having enough faith in that. Things would’ve been very different already.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          Schneider? Stephen Schneider? Why is he to blame? Wasn’t he the author of a book on climate adaptation?

  7. toby52 Says:

    I live in the Republic of Ireland, and we had one of our wettest Junes ever, followed by a pretty rare 3-week heat wave. Now we are into a hot humid phase of sun AND intermittent rain. The UK is getting much the same – except we are more oceanically affected than it is.

    Not what we are used to, but the UK Met Office seems to have got it right.

  8. Are we not currently in a transition period as the Arctic melts and the Jet Stream wavers unpredictably? How can well-meaning people point fingers about cluelessness about weather prediction during such a phase? Answer – they don’t, assholes do.

  9. […] add Met Office to your denier list TJ .. Met Office is Climate Denial Crock of the Week Dear Met Office | Climate Denial Crock of the Week Sign in or Register Now to […]

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