More misleading alarmism from BBC and Met Office

The BBC Radio 4 headline at 7am this morning opened with

“The Met Office says Britain’s weather is becoming more extreme”

Yes, this was top of the headline news. The news bulletin then started with

“A new Met Office report says the UK has experienced more weather extremes over the past ten years than in previous decades.”

But where was this new report? Some people seemed puzzled, such as climate scientist Tim Osborn. Bob Ward was unable to find it.

At some stage it did emerge, hidden away in an obscure link on the Met Office website. But despite this, the media somehow seemed to find the report very easily, and as usual, massively over-hyped its findings.  So it looks as though the report was pushed out by the Met Office to the usual suspects in the media.  Yet report author Mark McCarthy claims to be surprised that the report got so much coverage.

The BBC’s Matt McGrath wrote an article with headline “Rise in UK weather extremes in last decade”, but that has now been changed (click the link in that BBC tweet) to the somewhat less terrifying statement that the UK is experiencing hotter days. Just a few days ago, as noted by Ben Pile, McGrath’s article on the IPCC report had its headline changed twice.

The actual report itself says very little except that it’s got a bit warmer recently. It seems that the Met Office regards this as “extreme weather”. But the Met Office and the BBC must be congratulating themselves on a job well done — the British public misled again. They can ignore any complaints and go ahead and do the same thing again in a couple of weeks.






  1. Time series are of different lengths. I wonder if you could find a 10 year period within
    the baseline which showed the opposite.

    However, my first and usual response to these headlines is always “so what?”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. From the news release at

    By documenting temperature and rainfall climate extremes, including periods of warmth, cold and spells of wet or dry weather, the report reveals changes in some types of extreme weather. By comparing different meteorological reference periods, a number of interesting trends can be observed. For example, the hottest day of each year over the most recent decade (2008-2017) in the UK has been on average 0.8 °C warmer than the hottest day of each year over the period 1961-1990. Conversely, the lowest temperature of the year has shown an even greater increase, becoming 1.7 °C milder between the two periods in the UK.

    A quick reading suggests that they’re saying that temperatures in the past decade are 0.8C hotter than in an arbitrarily chosen thirty year period ending 28 years ago. But they’re not of course. They’re comparing hottest days in ten years with some other hottest days in thirty years in the past. A total of forty data points out of millions available. Why not the hottest hours while they’re about it? Some insects don’t live long enough to experience a whole sweltering 24 hours, and some mammals get cruelly slowed crossing the road by sticky tarmac.

    Imagine an economics correspondent announcing that we’re all 8% richer than we were in some arbitrarily chosen period in the past, and it turning out he was only talking about the richest 365th part of the population. Would he get away with it?


  3. Commenting on the tropical nights measure, Dr McCarthy added: “Minimum overnight temperatures of over 20.0 °C in the UK are rare currently and even during this summer this threshold was only exceeded on a few occasions.”

    So not much going on there. And earlier this year, relatively nearby Iceland was having its worst summer for 100 years. The nearest weather to the 2018 UK summer was probably in 1976 – hardly a trend.


  4. Jona
    “However, my first and usual response to these headlines is always “so what?” ”
    Mine tends to be “oh good”.


  5. Paul,

    I had already seen the midday BBC news before reading this post. Upon seeing it, I turned to my partner and said, “And why is this news?”.

    It’s a bit like the response I experienced when reading in SR15 that, “2K warming is more than 1.5K warming (High Confidence)”.

    I may be simplifying SR15 somewhat, but not by much.


  6. John, yes, good question. It was discussed on World at One as well by the way.

    Why is this news? Why did the Met Office feel the need to write a report saying that it’s not quite as miserably cold in this country as it used to be? And why now? And why call it ‘extreme weather’?


  7. Paul, I’ve been reading a lot recently about the Brexit referendum and the things that the two campaigns got up to ensure that their messages were showcased by the BBC. Nothing mattered more than getting an eye-catcher ‘news’ item on a flagship programme, and there was a lot of bitching when one of the groups thought that the BBC were not playing the game. I was very much reminded of this as I was watching today’s news. Obviously someone has a deal with the BBC and today was one of the days allotted by the BBC for them to pull a publicity stunt. It’s just naked politicking and nothing to do with newsworthiness.


  8. Does this report say anything more than “towns and cities are bigger than they were fifty years ago”? No doubt the top readings at Heathrow would have gone up in that period, with or without CO2.

    @Geoff, even Ephemeroptera (“day-winged”) live for more than 24 hours… /pedantry


  9. JIT (02 Nov 18 at 3:55 pm)
    Sorry about getting the lifespan of ephemeroptera wrong. I remember reading as a kid that mayfly only lived for four hours or so, probably in the “Just Fancy That” column in my granny’s popular weekly magazine, which is where the Met Office’s press handouts belong.


  10. The idea of extreme mildness reminds me of the ideological disease I was once accused of suffering: “centrist leanings.”


  11. There are hundreds of different species of mayfly, some with adult lifespans of only minutes. The matter is complicated because not all winged forms are adults. I remember as a boy fishing in East London; arriving early in the morning with no mayflies present, watching them hatch in enormous numbers during the early morning and then filling the sky. But when we turned for home in the evening, none were flying and their carcasses covered the river surface, being gobbled by fish we had failed to catch. Certainly that mayfly species lived less than a day.


  12. Strictly, I think you’re meant to say the adult/winged morph of the mayfly has but a matter of hours left on the clock. I was taught that when it attains maturity, it loses its mouth. Starvation soon ensues, after a good shag if it’s lucky.


  13. Brad, actually no. Mayflies are unique amongst insects in that they have a winged stage – the subimago – that undergoes a final moult to the sexually mature, and also winged, adult (or imago). So the hatching I watched as a boy was of subimagos, but they and the later adults probably all died before the day was out.


  14. Alan,

    “Brad, actually no.”


    I didn’t say that my characterization of mayfly life was *correct*, I said it was *what I was taught.* If you want to dispute this you need to show evidence of what my Biology teacher Mr Fallows said—you can drone on about how mayflies *actually* work until the cows come home, but it won’t change the fact that I was taught something different, and that I subsequently thought what I claimed (above) I thought.

    /Yes, I actually endured an argument like this once. LOL 🙂

    PS please don’t subimagine for a split-second that your subtext about subimagos eluded my litcritical scalpel! I’m a word/picture cognitator par excellence. Not very subtle, Alan, must try subtler next time!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Brad I was commenting upon your first sentence that, you felt an unnecessary urge to highlight, not the second. I have no dispute with the person who taught you. I would add to your knowledge by telling you that, not only may the mouth be vestigial, but their gut is air-filled which makes them very buoyant when they die. Amazing what you remember (sometimes topped up by friend Wiki).


  16. From the Met Office briefing

    For example, the hottest day of each year over the most recent decade (2008-2017) in the UK has been on average 0.8 °C warmer than the hottest day of each year over the period 1961-1990. Conversely, the lowest temperature of the year has shown an even greater increase, becoming 1.7 °C milder between the two periods in the UK.

    From the Executive Summary of the Report

    The hottest day of the year for the most recent decade (2008-2017) has been on average 0.1 °C above the 1981-2010 average and 0.8 °C above the 1961-1990 reference.

    From Page 21 – Low temperature indices

    The lowest minimum temperature has increased significantly, rising from a 1961-1990 average of -8.5 oC to -7.6 oC for 1981-2010 and -6.8 oC for the most recent decade, an increase of 1.7 oC.

    The largest increase in hottest days was between the thirty year period 1961-1990 and 1981-2010. There has been barely any increase from 1981-2010 and 2008-2017.  This is consistent with a pause in warming.

    The lowest minimum temperature has increased by more than the hottest day of the year. This is either through comparing different things, or an indication that with rising average temperatures, the typical temperature range between lowest and highest is decreasing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. “period 1961-1990”

    This is their favourite “anomaly” period, because it had some of the coldest years in the 20th century and some indifferent summers. When temperatures improved, it was a slam dunk to get positive anomalies. Phil Jones never wanted this period to be changed, at least until after he retired, as he said in one of the Climategate e-mails. From 1961-1990 atmospheric CO2 increased by 37.28ppm, yet the period average CET was 0.13 °C lower than 1931-1960, with only winter and autumn showing slight increases.

    At one time CRU acknowledged earlier warm periods: Climatic Research Unit: Information sheets: 3: UK Weather and Climate (CET/EWP) “…seasonal and annual temperatures for the entire CET series…. show unprecedented warmth during the 1990s, but earlier decades such as the 1730s and 1820s are comparable.” I cannot find this now.

    There is quite a bit of negative Paris stuff at the moment and in spite of its public pronouncements, the government is perceived by the “greens” to be backsliding a little on its climate agenda. It is necessary to keep up the rhetoric, as described in a working paper from the Tyndall Centre in 2004, with the lovely title:

    “The Social Simulation of the Public Perception of Weather Events and their Effect upon the Development of Belief in Anthropogenic Climate Change” Dennis Bray and Simon Shackley, September 2004. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

    We suggest that, in the realm of the public, forces act to maintain or denounce a perceived reality which has already been constructed. That is, an issue introduced by science (or media for that matter) needs continual expression of confirmation if it is to be maintained as an issue.

    Science, of course, has framed the issue of climate change/global warming. In this paper, we explore under what conditions belief in global warming or climate change, as identified and defined by experience, science and the media, can be maintained in the public’s perception.

    As the science itself is contested, needless to say, so are the potential policy changes. So how then do people make sense or construct a reality of something that they can never experience in its totality (climate) and a reality that has not yet manifest (i.e. climate change)?

    To endorse policy change people must ‘believe’ that global warming will become a reality some time in the future. [We now have to believe it’s here already].

    In 2006, Labour’s favourite think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, produced a document called “Warm Words: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?”

    They had the following advice for public agencies interfacing with the public: “…it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if man-made climate change is real, and that individual actions to prevent further change will be effective. The UK Government’s new climate-change slogan—‘Together this generation will tackle climate change’ (Defra 2006)—is but an example of this approach. It constructs…its own factuality.”

    It seems clear that this approach has been successful, with constant re-inforcement via the media, (science by Press Release), especially with politicians and green groups.

    There is more on this at, prompted by the Tyndall paper quoted above.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Alan,

    I know, I was having a bit of fun. Apparently I’ve forgotten how to signal facetious intent to readers. For further light reading, I’ve responded at the other place to your critique. Stay well


  19. Brad Keyes

    You are a self obsessed egotist. Even allowing for your pitiful grasp of the English language and it’s subtle humour, your attempts at logic are distressing.

    You personify the concept that an ignorant man with a higher education is still an ignorant man. Rote learning accompanied by flights of fancy don’t qualify as scientific reasoning, neither does making inane statements then having to hastily backtrack using any excuse you can find within your statements.

    Your approach to science and politics is infantile illustrated by your blog which, again, can’t be excused because you struggle with the English language. Were it not for your ego you would admit that you struggle to communicate to yourself in German, never mind anyone else in English.

    Please take some time out, learn to understand how a coherent argument is formed, then spend at least half your remaining lifetime studying English on the streets of England before attempting to use the language as a means of communication.

    Alas, half your remaining lifetime is simply not sufficient for you to grasp British humour, please don’t continue to attempt it, it’s truly distressing to witness. Even we British don’t understand our humour but we are happy to admit that and not embark on a futile attempt, like you, to impress others with our knowledge of it.


  20. I like to look at the data and reach my own conclusions.
    In the main document “State of the UK Climate 2017: Supplementary report on Climate Extremes” there are graphs for “Highest Value of Daily Maximum Temperature” and “Lowest Value of Daily Minimum Temperature”. See below.

    Some observations.
    1. Highs have increased since 1960, but at a decreasing rate, with a pause since 2000.
    2. Lows seemed to have paused since 1998.
    3. For Lowest temperatures, with the exception of two cold years, post 1990 there appears to be a lot less variability year-on-year that the period up to 1990.

    Highest value on page 13 & lowest value on page 22.

    Click to access soc_supplement-002.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  21. BBC is merely cranking up the climat-o-hype meter to 11.
    People were deafened and bored at 7.


  22. McGrath’s BBC news article quotes the author of the report, Mark McCarthy thus:

    So what’s been driving all this change? Met Office scientists say that natural variability may be impacting the rainfall situation across the UK – but when it comes to temperatures, the researchers say it is warming driven by humans.

    “The temperature indicators are all consistent with the warming of the UK climate that we have observed over the last 50 years or so,” said Dr McCarthy.

    “Certainly for the temperature-based indices such as the warm spell duration and the cold and high temperature indices, they are consistent with that well known warming, and for the UK it’s about the same rate of warming as has been seen globally.”

    So, the ‘extreme’ temperature indices in particular are evidence of man-made global warming affecting the British Isles. This is interesting, because in the actual report itself the author says:

    The impact of averaging is particularly apparent for indices relating to spells. For example the warm or cold spell indices are based on 6 consecutive days. If a 6 day warm spell were to affect exactly half of the country, then the UK average warm spell day count would be 3 days. The climatological averages and national statistics presented in this report are for monitoring indices of change but additional analysis of the underlying data would be required to determine whether that change is reflecting a change in extent, frequency, or severity of the given indices.

    So, in one alarmist BBC article we’ve gone from ‘monitoring indices of change’ which do not provide additional information on the ‘extent, frequency, or severity of the given indices’ to ‘consistent with man-made global warming’. No wonder the Met Office was keen for the media to get hold of the report ahead of sceptical bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. On the whole I reckon the UK climate would be much improved by a 2-3C annual average increase in temperature. It is worth remembering that each day temperatures change by 5-10C every 24 hours.


  24. extreme weather events “jargon” seems to be the new normal (from some media outlets) for terrifying the public (or at least those under a certain age – 30ish?).

    at about midday today the BBC had some guy/expert giving his response to this Met office study/statement.
    never heard of the guy before & didn’t get his name unfortunately.

    but the gist was – we need to look at mediterranean countries for answers to our upcoming new hot climate in the UK.
    wonder where & when I’ve heard that before!!.
    but just to cover himself he also added we will still get weather events like the “beast from the east”.
    but that is not climate, just local weather.
    and old people will die because of the night time heat expected (in the present/future).

    then you had someone from “didn’t get her name/charity unfortunately” explaining why old people will die because of the night time heat expected (BBC bandwagoning at it’s best).

    sorry for the rabbling Paul


  25. Good catch, dfhunter.
    This “dying from nighttime heat exhaustion” mini meme is apparently spreading like wildfire as a way to refresh the tired laughable idea that the UK will be like the Mediterranean in a few decades.
    I first saw it used on another blog by a troll wannabe who was raising the specter of old folks sweating out their lives at night in the stifling heat of a European heat wave.
    As if heat waves never happened before the late 20th century.
    As if CO2 not only is the control knob for climate, but is also the thermostat for weather.
    And of course we see the Grantham Institute’s head fear mongering trying to find out if the fear noise vooume setting has a “12” setting.


  26. DFHunter, why what’s the “rabbling Paul” done now?

    Seems like the BBC did its job with you, got the scary messages across while causing you to forget the messengers. Unattributable, unbelievable and untouched by truth.


  27. The time frame quoted by the BBC was from the 1960s which was the coldest decade of the 20th century. If you took the 1960s back to the 1930s you would have again seen warming, the 1930s being the warmest decade of the 20th century. Grossly misleading by the BBC but what would you expect.


  28. @Alan

    nothing wrong with rabbling, its the Scottish version off picking the fruit from brabbles while rambling (honest, or it maybe picking up rabbits poo).
    you’ve got me wondering!!!, should I put an M in some where?

    “got the scary messages across while causing you to forget the messengers”
    tried to find out who the people in the piece where from the BBC website with no luck.

    maybe someone with more access/savy than me can fill in the name blanks?


  29. DFHUNTER (02 Nov 18 at 11:49 pm)

    at about midday today the BBC had some guy/expert giving his response to this Met office study/statement.
.. the gist was – we need to look at mediterranean countries for answers to our upcoming new hot climate in the UK.

    Well of course. When he was speaking at midday the temperature had already risen five degrees or more since the original 7am report. By late afternoon he was probably in an ephemeropteral coma with an airfilled gut and a faint post-coital smile playing round his pursed lips.


  30. The BBC news tweet

    linked in the article shows a dried out river bed with cracked mud – one of the favourite cliches of climate alarmism.

    This ironic, since the Met Office web page about “extreme” weather says that “the longest dry spells have decreased”. The report itself says “There has been a general decline in the longest sequence of consecutive dry days.”


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