This is not so much an article as a hastily thrown together note that provides the flimsy pretext for starting a discussion regarding the role of the Met Office in the climate debate. It started as a comment posted by myself on Open Mic, drawing attention to a Daily Mail article that leads with the headline: “The Met Office warns of armed militias roaming a UK ravaged by climate change in doomsday report.”
According to the Daily Mail, the Met Office study predicts:
“… a surge in ‘Right-wing populism’, resulting in the collapse of ‘political and governance systems’. After that ‘a tipping point is reached when the police and justice system (as known in the past) cease to exist’.”
The newspaper says of the same study that:
“It advances the thesis that the most ‘sustainable’ scenario for surviving global warming would be the ‘establishment of a federal UK, with citizens’ assemblies becoming the “primary” decision-making mode’ and the UK re-entering ‘a progressive and expanded European Union’.”
It should be obvious to all that an agency tasked with a primary role of providing weather forecasts should not be in the business of offering socio-political or socio-economic predictions.
Thanks to some sterling work from dfhunter (alias Dougie, alias dfhunter) the source of the Daily Mail report was identified and brought to my attention. It is actually a study produced by UK-SCAPE as part of their Project SPEED (Spatially explicit Projections of EnvironmEntal Drivers). The output comprises five sub-studies, each speculating upon a so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP). On its website, UK-SCAPE explains that:
“The UK-SSPs products have been jointly developed with Cambridge Econometrics, University of Edinburgh and University of Exeter through co-funding from the Met Office as part of the UK Climate Resilience Programme (DN420214 – CR19-3).”
If anything, this makes the Met Office’s involvement look all the more inappropriate. The real concerns, however, materialize upon reading the detail in the study. As explained:
“Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) describe a set of alternative plausible trajectories of societal development, which are based on hypotheses about which societal elements are the most important determinants of challenges to climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
The five supposedly ‘plausible’ developments are:
- SSP 1 Sustainability: “Taking the Green Road” (in which the UK chooses to fully adopt green politics)
- SSP 2 Middle of the road (in which there are intermediate levels of challenge for both mitigation and adaptation)
- SSP 3 Regional Rivalry: “A Rocky Road” (for which climate change is not taken seriously and many nightmare outcomes are duly predicted)
- SSP 4 Inequality: “A Road Divided” (for which adaption challenges dominate)
- SSP 5 Fossil-fuelled Development: “Taking the Highway” (for which mitigation challenges dominate)
You need to look at the scenario reports yourself to fully appreciate them. Suffice it to say that the words ‘plausible’ and ‘hypotheses’ are being egregiously abused here by the architects of the SSPs, and that only by taking the ‘Green Road’ do things turn out well for society come 2100.
So rather than a serious study undertaken by serious academics, the whole thing comes across as a puerile, political exercise – nothing more than fanciful contrivances created on behalf of the Green Party and dressed up to look like serious futurology. However, I don’t want to say much more for fear of putting you off reading the study for yourself. What I actually want is for as many people as possible to do so and to comment below. The more that this sort of naked and simplistic politicking is exposed for what it is, the better.
I’m sure that the Met Office believes it is flying a high kite on this one but, from where I am standing, it looks more like what an aviation accident expert would refer to as ‘CFIT’ – Controlled Flight Into Terrain.