Met Office Science Chief Attacked For Climate Claim

  • Date: 18/02/14
  • Oliver Moody, The Times

The chief scientist of the Met Office has been criticised for claiming that “all the evidence” indicated climate change had played a role in the recent storms and flooding.

At the launch of a report on the extreme weather, Dame Julia Slingo said: “In a nutshell, while there is no definitive answer for the current weather patterns that we have seen, all the evidence suggests that climate change has a role to play in it.”

Some scientists are said to be concerned that the remark has been interpreted as drawing a strong connection between climate change and the exceptional winter weather when the evidence is incomplete. Her speech came after the Prime Minister said he “very much suspected” that there was a link.

“What Dame Julia says goes, at least by implication, beyond what most climate scientists are willing to say,” one academic said. “I find it very hard to look inside her mind as to what made her think that was a sensible thing to say.”

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP, who was formerly a member of Friends of the Earth but is now sceptical on climate change, said: “She’s a very senior official. She ought to have the experience, the judgment, to know that if she’s going to make comments like that it can be taken out of context.”

Lord May of Oxford, a former government chief scientific adviser who now sits on the Committee on Climate Change, said that while it was possible that Dame Julia’s words “may have been expressed in a slightly extreme form”, it was a minor slip in comparison with the “fallacies” propagated by some climate sceptics. “I would be reluctant to go out and say any one instance is primarily attributable to climate change, but we are going to see adverse effects,” he said.

Lord Krebs, the chairman of the CCC’s sub-committee on adaptation, agreed that no single storm could be put down to climate change. “I think what we can say is that it is likely or highly likely that the increase in extreme weather events is linked to climate change,” he said.

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