London = Barcelona by 2050?

The latest piece of alarmist climate pseudoscience is Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues, published in PLOS ONE by a large team from Thomas Crowther’s lab in Zürich. His name may be familiar, as he was one the authors of what Geoff described as the World’s Worst Scientific Paper, the feeble smear job on Susan Crockford. Here’s the abstract, kicking off with a blatant call for political action:

Combating climate change requires unified action across all sectors of society. However, this collective action is precluded by the ‘consensus gap’ between scientific knowledge and public opinion. Here, we test the extent to which the iconic cities around the world are likely to shift in response to climate change. By analyzing city pairs for 520 major cities of the world, we test if their climate in 2050 will resemble more closely to their own current climate conditions or to the current conditions of other cities in different bioclimatic regions. Even under an optimistic climate scenario (RCP 4.5), we found that 77% of future cities are very likely to experience a climate that is closer to that of another existing city than to its own current climate. In addition, 22% of cities will experience climate conditions that are not currently experienced by any existing major cities. As a general trend, we found that all the cities tend to shift towards the sub-tropics, with cities from the Northern hemisphere shifting to warmer conditions, on average ~1000 km south (velocity ~20 km.year-1), and cities from the tropics shifting to drier conditions. We notably predict that Madrid’s climate in 2050 will resemble Marrakech’s climate today, Stockholm will resemble Budapest, London to Barcelona, Moscow to Sofia, Seattle to San Francisco, Tokyo to Changsha. Our approach illustrates how complex climate data can be packaged to provide tangible information. The global assessment of city analogues can facilitate the understanding of climate change at a global level but also help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, which can facilitate effective decision-making in response to on-going climate change.

So these people are making the ridiculous claim that the climate in London in 2050 will be like that in Barcelona today. A quick google check show that summer max/min in London is about 23/15°C while Barcelona is 29/23°C, so these charlatans are claiming that we are going to have 6 or 8 degrees of warming in the next 30 years. Worse still, they claim that this is under the moderate RCP 4.5 scenario. RCP 4.5, according the IPCC, gives a warming of 1.1°C to 2.6°C over a century, but Crowther and his team are claiming three times that in 30 years, in other words they seem to be exaggerating by a factor of about 10.

But what does “today” mean? Well, you might think it means today, but apparently not. In parentheses inside the paper, “today” is defined as meaning an average over the period 1970-2000, centred on 1985. So the “today” that they are talking about is 34 years in the past, further away than the 30 years into the future that they are trying to predict!  The same people have a glossy web site promoting their alarmist bullshit, presumably aimed at the public, which uses “today” without explaining what that means. This has fooled the Guardian’s useful idiot Fiona Harvey, who starts her article with “London will have a similar climate in three decades’ time to that of Barcelona today, according to research”.

To see what a dishonest pack of lies this paper is, it’s interesting to look at what has happened over the last 30 years. Coincidentally, Paul Homewood has a blog post today that does just that, pointing out that “temperatures in Britain have been stable for the last three decades”.  I checked the Central England Temperature data over the last 30 years and it looks like this:

Nothing at all has happened over the last 30 years, as Paul Homewood says. Of course, Central England is not the same thing as London, but London isn’t greatly different. The only London weather station in the GISTEMP system is Heathrow – climate scientists love measuring historical temperatures at expanding airports – which shows a warming of roughly half a degree.

So whether “today” means today or 30 years ago, Thomas Crowther and his fellow con-artists are claiming that we are going to see about 6 degrees of warming over the next 30 years, when we’ve seen virtually none in the last 30. That’s 0.2 degrees per year, about 10 times the current global rate of warming.

This is also how the Guardian article interprets it. A graphic labelled “London’s climate in 2050 could be similar to Barcelona’s climate now” has London marked with an absurdly precise +5.9. As usual, anyone hoping that there might be an honest climate scientist prepared to call out this bullshit would be very disappointed. In fact it’s worse than that. Richard Betts (currently in Kathmandu at an IPCC meeting), who I used to regard as an honest man, at least by the standards of climate scientists, is quoted in the article wondering whether we will be able to adapt. No Richard, the question doesn’t even arise, because the claim of 6 degrees of warming over the next 30 years is total crap, as you know perfectly well, but don’t have the integrity to admit.  Worse still, he is promoting the Guardian article via his pinned tweet. He doesn’t seem at all concerned that the article misleads the public from its first sentence.



  1. Richard Betts (currently in Kathmandu at an IPCC meeting), who I used to regard as an honest man, at least by the standards of climate scientists…

    Betts sometimes comes here. He once claimed on a thread at BishopHill that he never let his scientific claims be used by catastrophists. It took me thirty seconds of research at Guardian Environment to prove him wrong and he apologised. Betts is a gentleman. He is quite right in wondering whether we (in London) would be able to adapt to a temperature rise of 5.9°. Of course we wouldn’t. We’d moan. And then there’d be air conditioning for all. We’re natural socialists since Queen Elisabeth the First. Look up the Speenhamland system.
    On the other hand: Betts says in his tweet:

    “London to have climate similar to Barcelona” – we can probably adapt “Singapore to have climate not seen in any city in the world so far” – adaptation much less certain

    I lived in Singapore 60 years ago. Nice place. Same temperature now as then. 30°C all the time. You get used to it. Helsinki is nice too, according to my daughter who’s been there.


  2. It really has reached a tipping point for me. As science and journalism become less and less honest and objective, one must wonder if defunding the entire project and starting over is needed.


  3. I suppose our focus was always going to be upon the London – Barcelona pairing, but my interest was peeked by the Seattle – San Francisco matchup. Do they really mean to suggest that Seattle summers will cool? After all Mark Twain is commonly (but probably falsely) asserted to have quipped “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”


  4. Richard’s fall from grace should be a source of concern. If even he can be drawn into publicly promoting such alarmist hype based upon pseudoscience, this is the signal that the entire ship has sailed and no more shall reason prevail upon its slippery decks.

    Just a word about the ‘science’ behind this nonsense. What they did is collect data from various cities using a very high resolution weather database created in 2017, with a resolution of 1km2, as recorded by weather stations over the period 1970-2000. This is their ‘today’ climate. They then generated the climate in 30 years by running 3 climate models using RCP4.5 over the period in question and statistically downscaling the output to the required resolution (1km2). I checked the spatial resolution of one of the models they used, HadGEM2, which Richard should be very familiar with:

    “This is equivalent to a surface resolution of about 208 km x 139 km at the Equator, reducing to 120 km x 139 km at 55 degrees of latitude.”

    So they statistically enhanced the resolution of the models by as much as 200 times in order to get their city climates of the future. As we know, climate models are currently running too hot predicting global climate, their projections of regional climate (<1000km) are limited, so using their output to generate projections at the 1km level purely for propaganda purposes, leaving out all mention of caveats and uncertainties, is pseudoscience at best, deliberate deception of the public at worst.

    Their own reference for the method used to downscale makes this observation:

    "Statistical downscaling, on the other hand, provides an easy-to-apply and much more rapid method for developing high resolution climate change surfaces for high resolution regional climate change impact assessment studies. However, climatologists have lambasted the procedure for degrading data, since downscaling tends to reduce variances (and thus alter uncertainties) and to give off a false sense of increased accuracy, when in actuality, it only provides a smoothed surface of future climates."

    I bet none of the press releases mentioned this. It's even worse though. By using the downscaled output and translating it into climates of geographically distant locations subject to very different local climate drivers, they are deliberately engaging in pseudoscience for the sole purpose of trying to convince a gullible public just how different their home city will be in 30 years time supposedly because of climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Paul. San Francisco’s cool summers are the result of the city being shrouded by Pacific fogs that are drawn inland each afternoon and evening by uprising air, especially in the hot Central Valley. So if climate change increases inland temperatures, more and earlier fogs will afflict eastern parts of San Franciso, and, in all likelihood, summer temperatures would decrease. Odd that!
    I spent three summers in San Francisco watching the afternoon fog roll through the entrance to San Francisco Bay. I lived the other side of the Bay, where the evening and night fogs provided our own natural air conditioning. Much as I adored access to San Francisco, I wouldn’t live there.


  6. They make it quite clear how they paired up the cities for comparison:

    “When compared pairwise, we saw that only four out of 19 bioclimatic components are predominant, accounting for more than 85% of the total variation in climate: the temperate seasonality, the minimum temperature in the coldest month, the maximum temperature in the warmest month, the precipitation seasonality, the precipitation of the driest and the wettest month, as well as the temperature diurnal range. Subsequently, all other variables were dropped for the comparison.”

    Isn’t that more than four or am I having problems with my addition? Anyway, basically what they’re saying is that the projected maximum daytime temperature in summer, in London, in 30 years time, will be the same as the ‘current’ (1970-2000) maximum daytime temperature in Barcelona and the same for minimum winter temperature. It should be easy to check the record maximum and minimum temperatures which occurred in Barcelona during 1970-2000.

    Then they use a few precipitation parameters to make comparisons, but whereas statistically downscaling model output temperatures is (only just) acceptable in the absence of anything better, doing the same for precipitation patterns is asking for trouble. It just cannot be done, with the expectation that the results will be in any way representative of reality. Richard Betts, an expert, especially on agricultural/land use impacts where these downscaling methods are frequently used, must know this.


  7. Alan: My best friend lives in SF and I’ve spent much time there over the years. Even when it’s real warm in the summer you have to have a jacket to hand or one might end up unexpectedly freezing. People in the lower floors of tall office blocks sometimes used to ring people on the upper floors to ask if they could they see above the mist, if so where the edge was and what the weather was like. I guess they use the internet now instead.


  8. It looks like Barcelona is about to touch down at London Heathrow airport, on the tarmac, somewhere near a jet engine exhaust, in the next few days, so prepare for the latest round of climate change hysteria! LOL.


  9. Andy. I worked on the 20th floor of one of the Embarcadero Buildings and was one who was phoned for a weather update.


  10. Jaime, as you say, they talk about precipitation, particularly precipitation in the driest month.

    The driest month in Barcelona is June with 11mm of rain and 2 rainy days.

    For London it’s actually March with 35 mm and 16 rainy days.

    So again, with a quick check on google, anyone can see that their claim is completely ridiculous. Anyone that is other than an ideologically motivated Met Office scientist who is paid to promote climate alarmism [“He leads the EU Framework 7 Project HELIX (High-End cLimate Impacts and eXtremes)”].

    You can check at this Met Office site that virtually nothing is happening to rainfall in England –

    Liked by 1 person

  11. EU funded. That means the EU gives us our money back after deciding how to allocate it. Climate alarmism is obviously high priority.


  12. When observing the behavior of the catastrophist consensus, Orwellian metaphors seemed best for many years. Now, after considering the trajectories of the catastrophists, it seems that the catastrophists are more in line with Faustus. They have been granted great power via the climate consensus, but at the cost of their souls.
    Here is a bit of trash posing as journalism that manages to avoid the most obvious answer.


  13. Richard on Twitter was trying to emphasise the point that some cities (like Singapore) had no analogue for their future climate because there was no city on the planet currently that nightmarishly hot and humid. This assumes that the tropics will warm along with the rest of the planet, but as Geoff points out, Singapore has the same climate it had 60 years ago. Scientists are keen to point out that there is no evidence for a ‘tropical thermostat’ and that tropical oceans will also warm inexorably as CO2 rises, creating conditions effectively beyond the thermal stress limit of human beings. More nightmares to scare the gullible with.


  14. As with Alan’s reference to San Francisco summer temperatures, another thought has occurred to me.

    It always struck me that one of the scary aspects of potential CAGW for those of us living in the UK was the prospect of the world warming while we in the UK cooled, because of all the melting Greenland ice, cooling the north Atlantic, and pushing the gulf stream away to the south.

    If they’re now saying that London’s temperatures will become like Barcelona’s, are they also now saying that the gulf stream won’t be pushed south? And, if so, does that mean they’re saying that the north Atlantic won’t be cooled by melting Greenland ice? Does that mean they’re saying the Greenland ice won’t melt?

    What in fact ARE they saying?


  15. Mark, it’s summer, it’s hot (except when it’s unusually cold). AGW alarmism is in full on ‘scary heatwave’ mode, and has been since June 2018. When we get a cold winter, it will switch back to ‘OMG, the Gulf Stream’s shutting down!’ mode.

    Liked by 1 person

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