Number of the Month

October  2009

Ill Met

In April we drew attention to the UK Met Office long term forecast for the coming summer season just finished. Now why would we do that if there were no reason to doubt it? It was because there is no scientific means to predict such events over such a time-scale. As it turns out, the forecast was as dramatically wrong as it possibly could be. Instead of the “barbeque summer” that had been predicted we had one of the coolest and gloomiest summers in living memory. The same agency is now telling us that it was a warmer summer than usual because of warm nights. That claim is hard to believe for those of us who regularly consult our max/min external thermometers. There was not one night that was uncomfortably warm; a rare year indeed. Perhaps it is time for volunteers to make a survey of Met Office weather stations, as has happened in the USA.

It is left to the lone journalistic voice of Christopher Booker to explain what has happened at the Met Office. Like most major scientific institutions it has been occupied by fanatical greenies, who have seized control. In this particular case it is under the leadership of one of the most rabid of all, a serial alarmist who has his fingers in many pies. If there are any genuine meteorologists left in that organisation, the must find it all very embarrassing.


 Footnote (from Frank Upton): The Met Office's 'warm summer' may arise from their 'average' temperatures being based on the years 1971 to 2000, thus including the colder (if 'uncool') 1970s. They used to use the years 1961-1990, but stopped about a year ago, coincidentally after I had emailed them to suggest that this was inappropriate.  If they now used a 30-year average of 1979 to 2008, they might not be able to keep telling us that each year was warmer than average.  I cannot think of any good reason for using out-of-date figures.

(WT)2 du jour

Watch out for a plague of (WT)2 during the coming weeks as we approach a new international convention on economic suicide. It is shorthand for Worse Than Was Thought. Today’s (WT)2 is that old favourite of alarmists, ocean acidification (see our list). This time it is occurring in the Arctic. Suddenly, it is urgent. We have only ten years to save the shellfish. Strange how such things always become urgent just before one of these international jollies. No doubt infidels will come up with various quibbles, such as the dreaded gas being less soluble in the supposedly warming waters or the negligible proportion of it that is being produced by humans or the relatively smallness of the  change in the partial pressure of said terror gas. More to come, no doubt.

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Tree rings and all that

I talk to the trees.
That's why they put me away.
Spike Milligan

There is much discussion at the moment about tree rings, including in our Forum. Over the years this is a topic we have addressed frequently. In case there is any doubt about the conclusions Number Watch has drawn, here is a brief summary:

  1. The input data are appallingly crude (have you actually looked at a tree ring?)
  2. Anyone who thinks they can separate temperature information from all the many other factors that control plant growth is crazed.
  3. Anyone who thinks they can make such a separation by applying methods of linear algebra to a grossly non-linear system such as plant growth is doubly crazed.

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Just another turn of the Orwellian screw

It has become evident that people are not happy about ever increasing energy bills at a time when that resource is relatively cheap and plentiful. What does the New Labour Government do about it? They turn to their guide book, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and as a result produce an advertisement from The Ministry of Truth, directed at the Prole population by insertion within one of those interminable soaps beloved of the lower orders, namely Coronation Street.

So now we have child abuse in the form of telling them horror stories at bedtime, based on imaginary terrors that have no basis in science. As stated in the opening sentence of our essay on carbon “Children are having nightmares about their carbon footprint.”

Frightening children has long been one of the greater evils of rule by religion. That it should re-emerge in this new post-scientific age is a pointer to the moral decline of our society. What next? Two minutes hate sessions against sceptics?

Incidentally, the exercise has added another six million pounds to the out-of-control national debt. A drop in the ocean, but that ocean is made up of drops.

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AWOL again Your bending author is busy hosting a new culture of bacteria.


Still AWOL but thought that some regular number watchers would appreciate this:

Fudge, anyone?

Here is a nice example of a genre. It includes little subtleties such as getting a name wrong that you have previously used correctly, but mainly relies on the hoary old technique of attaching a reply to a question different from the one originally posed.

First, here is the correspondence (in reversed order) as it appears in “Outlook”:


I did not mean fudged according to your definition. I meant it according to the definition of the transitive verb form in my copy of Chambers dictionary. I cite, for example, the continuous rewriting of the past as demonstrated in one of the links in the reference I gave you.


John Brignell

[email protected]


-----Original Message-----

From: David Appell [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: 19 October 2009 00:03

To: [email protected]

Subject: Re: "James Hansen, notorious among global warming critics as a ruthless fudger of data"


Mr. Brignell,


If you did not mean that Hansen "fudged" data, why did you write that he "fudged" data?


What exactly did you mean by that? The suggestion that I do a Google search hardly suffices -- I am more than familiar with Hansen's work, and am not about to investigate every Google link out there when it's you that is making the claim.


What did you mean by writing that Hansen "fudged" data?




David Appell, freelance science journalist

e: [email protected]

p: 503-975-5614



m: St. Helens , OR





jeb wrote:

> No, I did not mean that. It should not be difficult to find links to the

> critiques on the web via Google, but if you want somewhere to start you can

> try:




> Best wishes


> John Brignell

> [email protected]



> -----Original Message-----

> From: David Appell [mailto:[email protected]]

> Sent: 14 October 2009 23:48

> To: [email protected]

> Subject: "James Hansen, notorious among global warming critics as a ruthless

> fudger of data"


> Mr. Brignell,


> On your Web page "How we know they know they are lying" at



> you write:


> "James Hansen, notorious among global warming critics as a ruthless

> fudger of data...."


> I'd be interested in what evidence you have that Hansen "fudged" data --

> which I take to mean not that calculational mistakes might have been

> made -- which all scientists invariably make -- but that he wrote down

> and published "6" (say) when he knew full-well the answer was (say) "3".


> Thank you,

> David


And here is the use that was made of it in a web site.


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Still not firing on all cylinders. It appears that the latest bug is resistant to the prescribed anti-biotic, but as the NHS contrived to lose the sputum sample, who knows? However, here are a couple of bits that could not wait:

Lament for an old friend

Our mothers would pack us some sandwiches and give us our tube fare and a few pennies for drinks. We would spend the whole day in the museums of London ’s Exhibition row. Our favourite was The Science Museum and especially its Children’s Gallery with all its push button working displays. Oddly enough, the one that stands out in memory is the demonstration of the triple-point of carbon dioxide, in which you could make a liquid appear and disappear like magic. At that time Karl Popper was still actively writing and exploring the philosophy of science, having made the great breakthrough with the statement of the principle of falsifiability.

But that was all in the middle of the last century. In recent times science has received a number of damaging blows at the hands of the New Believers. It was thus almost routine that the appointment of a well-known Global Warming fanatic had been made to the Directorship of the Science Museum . It was only a matter of time before he delivered and the coming Copenhagen Junkfest was the trigger.

The museum has now officially declared Popper to be a non-person, with a new campaign called Prove It. The very title is not just junk science or pseudo-science, it is anti-science. They might as well have an exhibition proving that all swans are white.

They appear, however, to have made a strategic error in allowing people a free vote. It seems that you still cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Almost half a century after those days of sandwiches and wonder, your bending author made a return visit to the Museum to receive the Callendar Silver Medal for contributions to scientific measurement. The completion of a circle. There is no incentive to go back and witness the corruption of an ideal. Something that is now common throughout the world of scientific institutions. How could it all go so wrong, so quickly?

Link to this piece

And more corruption in high places

Christopher Booker gives details of two cases of legal cases involving political parties

In "Case A", in 2005, a small political party received donations amounting to £363,607 from a legitimate businessman, who had for years been on the electoral register where he lives. Due to an oversight, however, his name had not been included on the register for the year when he gave the money. In 2007, when the Electoral Commission tracked this down, a district judge ruled that the party should pay £18,000 as a penalty for failing to check whether the name was on the register. This was not good enough for the Commission, which appealed, demanding that all his donations must be confiscated. When the Appeal Court supported the Commission, this left the party with a legal bill amounting to £750,000 which it hasn't got, thus facing it with bankruptcy.

"Case B", concerned a donor to a much larger party, whose donation of £2.4 million was the largest ever enjoyed by that party. The gift was made through a highly dodgy company called 5th Avenue Partners. In 2008, before being found guilty on £10 million fraud charges, he changed his name, grew a beard, skipped bail and moved to Spain . The Electoral Commission, having investigated this murky story, found that the party had accepted the donation in "good faith" (even though it came from a company built on fraud), and seems unwilling to take further action.

The first party mentioned was outside the Political Establishment, being against the surrender of our democracy to the Brussels Soviet. The second is part of that establishment and enthusiastically pro-Brussels. The legislation involved was an early action by the New Labour Government in an attempt to cut off the flow of funds to its opponents.

Corrupt or what?

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Feed the birds

October 25th was “Feed the birds day” according to the RSPB.

Why is it important to feed the birds? Well, thanks to the RSPB and related bodies, farmers, gamekeepers and other people of evil disposition are now being prevented from controlling predatory birds, so their numbers are rising splendidly. This thrilling fact means that they require adequate food resources, i.e. songbirds. One family of sparrow hawks requires two or three songbirds a day to survive. There is nothing to cheer a true birder’s heart than the sight of a sparrow hawk tearing into the plump breast of a song thrush to feed its young.

Unfortunately, the rise of predators has coincided with a decrease in their food supply; to the extent that, where some predators have settled, species such as song thrushes have virtually become extinct. This scarcity is, of course, caused by bad farming practices and global warming, but as always the sufferers are those at the end of the food chain.

Thus it is imperative upon us to ensure that adequate supplies of songbirds survive the winter. Even in this globally-warmed world it is possible to have the occasional harsh winter, in which much of the avian food stock fails to make it. Supplying food supplements during the winter enables these valuable resources to be available in the spring. Some people even enjoy the sight and sound of them before they are consumed.

So get out there and get feeding.

Footnote: In private correspondence The Englishman has drawn attention to The Songbird Survival Trust.

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Back at the Science Museum ’s opinion poll referred to above, correspondents have noted strange goings on. On Friday The Englishman noted that voting was about four to one against. Derek Reynolds in correspondence noted that by Sunday morning it was approaching six to one against, which corresponds to your bending author’s recollection. Quite suddenly the votes have become almost even. Far be it for us to suggest that there is anything of an ichthyoid malodour about this, or that it is in any way comparable to any recent election in an Islamic republic, but Sunday night is a very unusual time for such intense activity on the internet. If such movement occurred in a publicly quoted share price the regulatory authorities would be sniffing around in no uncertain manner.


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(WT)2 du jour and it’s a cracker

This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a cow fart

Well, we warned about the outbreak of worse than was thought that would result from the spread of Copenhagen fever. Now the big one has arrived. It concerns the surprise new celebrity molecule of methane (but, my dear, carbon dioxide is so passé).

It was adumbrated by LORD Stern, who even for an economist has an appreciation of relative magnitudes of numbers that is remarkably poor, or even absent. Now, a few days later, we have this headline in The Times:

Methane’s impact on global warming far higher than previously thought

Here is a table of proportions of gas by volume in the atmosphere

Gas Name

Chemical Formula

Percent Volume









0 to 4%




*Carbon Dioxide















*Nitrous Oxide






* variable gases

Various figures have been bandied about on the relative greenhouse gas potential of methane compared with carbon dioxide, ranging from 23 times to 75 times, but there is about one 200th of the amount. Both gases are negligible in effect compared with water vapour.

We are now told that methane is responsible for one fifth of the human contribution to global warming (that is, if there is any global warming or any human contribution).  Nifty ploy this, just when the opposition is poised to squash the carbon dioxide chimera on both theoretical and experimental grounds they simply switch the campaign and say "Now for something completely different". The famous Mencken quote can never be repeated too often:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Number of the month 0.0000017

This is the proportion by volume of methane in the atmosphere. To all intents and purposes there isn’t any. It is all eventually oxidised into carbon dioxide and water, with a half life of about seven years.

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A sort of appeal: This is the time of year when the bigger bills come in for the services used by Number Watch. If any regular reader feels tempted to make a modest contribution to the begging bowl, now would be a good time.



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