Sydney Morning Herald fails

You know, we used to be able to laugh at the Poms for electing a gullible fool like Boris Johnson Lord Mayor of London, but then The Sydney Morning Herald goes and republishes Johnson’s stupidity:

Allow me to introduce readers to Piers Corbyn, meteorologist and brother of my old chum, bearded leftie MP Jeremy. Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street. He has no telescope or supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again.

Well, no
he doesn’t. Corbyn says he gets it right again and again, but he doesn’t seem to much better than tossing a coin would.

Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its “mild winter” schtick, Corbyn said it would be the coldest for 100 years.

Except that the Met office did not make any “mild winter” prediction.


I have not a clue whether his methods are sound or not. But when so many of his forecasts seem to come true, and when he seems to be so consistently ahead of the Met Office, I feel I want to know more.

At last Johnson gets something right — he really does not have a clue. And so many of Corbyn’s forecasts seem to come true because he makes lots of them and talks loudly about the ones that come true. And then talks about the Met Office ones that were wrong.

Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue.

I don’t think record high global temperatures during a solar minimum are a harbinger of an ice age.

Londoners should keep any eye on Boris Johnson in case he sells City Hall for some magic beans or something.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    December 21, 2010

    Londoners should keep any eye on Boris Johnson in case he sells City Hall for some magic beans or something.

    They elected the fucker in the first place, remember?

  2. #2 lord_sidcup
    December 21, 2010

    BJ is a compete fool, but somehow people here find his distinctive brand of bumbling idiocy “endearing”. As a Londoner, I am embarrassed.

  3. #3 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    December 21, 2010

    My friends, my friends, my friends, we have here a genius weatherman Piers Corbyn, who with his super-duper top secret formulae is able to beat the those so-called ‘supercomputers’ at the leftist UK Met Office!

    Look! He doesn’t need a supercomputer! All he needs is a laptop!

    So how does he do it? Well, I don’t care! I don’t know and I don’t care what secret formula he uses! Look, I’m a mayor, not an elitist scientist! I don’t have to learn about these things! I just need to know how to parrot what other people say!

    > Is he barmy?

    Well, maybe Corbyn’s completely wrong! Or maybe he’s completely right! But I don’t care! I’m a mayor, not a scientist! I don’t know anything, I don’t care about anything! I’m a mayor!

  4. #4 Adam
    December 21, 2010

    “Corbyn’s forecasts seem to come true because he makes lots of them and talks loudly about the ones that come true.”

    His forecasts very, very rarely come true – and are never completely correct. However he will always claim that his forecast is true – eg if he forecasts intense gales over Southern UK, then he will claim success if a storm passes somewhere near the Faroes.

  5. #5 Betula
    December 21, 2010

    This from the Met Office link….

    “These media reports have based their interpretation for the coming winter on probability maps on our website. However, they have been selective about the information they have used and you should not take these interpretations as a guide to the coming winter.”

    So we don’t want to use probability maps as a guide to interpret the coming winter, however, we do want to use probability maps as a guide to interpret future climate change….got it.

    Here’s an idea, let’ use the Mets News Release Archives to predict the following:

    In January it will be cold…”Very cold weather continues”

    In February it will still be cold… “More snow as cold weather continues”

    In May we may get an “Early taste of summer”

    In July it will be hot…”Hot weather triggers Heat-Health alert”

    In September there may be Hurricanes…”Hurricane season gets active”

    In November it we’ll start to get “Colder weather” with “Colder weather on the way”

    December will be cold…”Arctic blast heads for the UK”

    And “Snow and ice continue” until sometime into Spring.

    Fascinating how this works!

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2010

  6. #6 Philip S
    December 21, 2010

    As a Londoner I rather like Boris J, and much prefer him to his predecessor. He has also made public his desire to ‘green’ London and reduce its carbon footprint, beginning with the mass bicycling scheme. That he seems prepared to give credence to Corbyn’s nonsense is disappointing. We can only hope it does not presage a general slide into the lazy pseudoscience of climate denialism. If so, this is one vote he’s lost.

  7. #7 t_p_hamilton
    December 21, 2010

    Shorter Betula: If I replace interpretation of probabilibty maps with probability maps, nobody will notice.

  8. #8 cbp
    December 21, 2010

    @Betula:

    Read your quote again – you don’t understand it. It’s not the probability maps that are the problem, it’s the media reports that “have been selective about the information they have used”.

  9. #9 Tom Curtis
    December 21, 2010

    It would probably help to read the press releases. The forecast of Hurricanes was for the tropical atlantic, for example. Twenty tropical storms where predicted, and 19 occured.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2010/hurricane-prediction
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Atlantic_hurricane_season

  10. #10 James Haughton
    December 21, 2010

    To quote Spike Milligan: “As is traditional in our great island nation, I move that this man, who is so obviously unsuited for the job, should be given the position!” (cheers, assembled MPs sing “Land of Hope and Glory”, etc).

  11. #11 MikeH
    December 21, 2010

    Unfortunately SMH’s reporting of climate change is not likely to improve if [Gina Rinehart is able to leverage her $50 million stake in Fairfax.](http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Rinehart-Fairfax-Media-Ten-Network-MRRT-mining-pd20101222-CCQYQ?OpenDocument&src=sph)

  12. #12 ginckgo
    December 21, 2010

    These people are no better than some villager who’s never gone further than the next town, and thinks that’s all there is to the world. Maybe they should have a look at what the average temperatures have been for other regions. Melbourne feels like summer hasn’t started yet, and people think we’ve been exceptionally cold. But looking at the actual temperatures, [we've been consistently above average for months now](http://www.eldersweather.com.au/dailysummary.jsp?lt=site&lc=86071&dt=0). Don’t let reality get in the way. As someone said “the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data”

  13. #13 Chris O'Neill
    December 21, 2010

    Melbourne feels like summer hasn’t started yet, and people think we’ve been exceptionally cold. But looking at the actual temperatures, we’ve been consistently above average for months now.

    Or even just the last month. Perhaps people’s memories don’t last longer than two weeks. And they’re sound asleep when the minimums occur so they get completely ignored anyway.

  14. #14 MapleLeaf
    December 22, 2010

    Apparently Dolt has been at it again too. This was posted on a CBC thread frequented by Betula types.

    “Australian newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt recently observed that there’s an embarrassing gap between what the experts have long said the symptoms of global warming would look like and the bitter winters much of the world has experienced over the past few years. Bolt assures us we haven’t imagined this disconnect. He points to the 2007 climate bible written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It told us that winters would be warmer and less extreme. I invite you to take a look for yourself. This table is titled Temperature-Related Phenomenon and appears on a page titled: Some Unifying Themes. The table contains phrases such as:

    more frequent heat waves / hot spells in summer;
    more warm and fewer cold nights;
    fewer frost days;
    fewer cold outbreaks;
    fewer, shorter, less intense cold spells / cold extremes in winter.”

    Oh where to start refuting all the BS….

  15. #15 jakerman
    December 22, 2010

    >*Oh where to start refuting all the BS….*

    [Here](http://www.skepticalscience.com/Record-high-temperatures-versus-record-lows.html).

  16. #16 barry
    December 22, 2010

    The Met Office makes week-long forecasts. Here was the view a month ago.

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2010/big-chill

  17. #17 MapleLeaf
    December 22, 2010

    Barry @16,

    The UK Met Office forecasts go out as far as 30 days.

    They fairly recently moved to this system, and I think that they are doing a fine job.
    The correctly predicted this cold spell and snow well in advance.

  18. #18 hd
    December 22, 2010

    Philip S – the ‘Boris bikes’ were proposed by Red Ken; with Boris supportive. They would have happened with or without his election, as they have in many cities around Europe.

  19. #19 Lars Karlsson
    December 22, 2010

    Of course, Piers Corbyn must send us all his code and all the data he used (even if it is publicly available). And he shouldn’t try to hide behind “commercial use” and other lame excuses!

    We want the code, we want the code!

  20. #20 Neil
    December 22, 2010

    Lars – I think you’ll find, in proper Denialese, it’s “show us the codeS”, plural.

  21. #21 Think Big
    December 22, 2010

    The level of reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald has been on a long-term decline IMO. Any publication that until recently had Miranda Devine and still has regular articles by the author of this rubbish is extremely suspect.

    Given the outrageous material coming from News Ltd I guess some of the focus is off the other publications. I can’t see it improving under the influence of Gina Rinehart either.

  22. #22 Didactylos
    December 22, 2010

    Piers Corbyn, the Weather Astrologer.

  23. #23 ChrisC
    December 22, 2010

    Betula sez:

    So we don’t want to use probability maps as a guide to interpret the coming winter…

    Geeeeeeeeezzzzzzz… what part of “probability” don’t you understand?

    Does anyone still know if James Annan is still collating stats on how well Corbyn does? I took a brief look at his blog, and didn’t find anything recent (you’d think the guy has a real job or something).

    For those interested, here [are](http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2005/11/piers-corbyns-latest-forecast.html) a [few](http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2009/01/corbynwatch-2008-verdict.html) of his [greatest hits](http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2008/06/corbyns-may-forecast.html)… in no particular order.

  24. #24 https://me.yahoo.com/a/3m7DJ5IDuekRrDecB7fQFVvUILuLjxgy#f34f3
    December 22, 2010

    I realise the distinction is probably not apparent from the other side of the planet, however Boris is in fact the Mayor of London, a democratically elected position, created in the year 2000 to lead the London Assembly in running Greater London.

    The Lord Mayor of London is a much older post (12th Century I think) and relates to the area known as the City of London (basically the old Roman city). It is also an elected position, but you need to be a liveryman to have a vote.

    … and yes, we know he’s a terrible arse; but as local politicians go he’s not so bad (or at least, he is pretty much indistinguishable from his predecessor).

  25. #25 Robert Murphy
    December 22, 2010

    “Of course, Piers Corbyn must send us all his code and all the data he used (even if it is publicly available)… We want the code, we want the code!”

    Since he more than likely cleans the teacup after each reading, none of his raw data is available for scrutiny.

  26. #26 Lars Karlsson
    December 22, 2010

    “Since he more than likely cleans the teacup after each reading, none of his raw data is available for scrutiny”

    But they were publicly available! Maybe he used a cup at some café or something. One were they don’t have tea in bags.

  27. #27 Berbalang
    December 22, 2010

    Is Boris Johnson the basis for the Discworld character Bloody Stupid Johnson?

  28. #28 Betula
    December 22, 2010

    “Except that the Met office did not make any “mild winter” prediction”…

    Really?

    25 February 2009:

    “Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future.”

    “The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20090225.html

  29. #29 MapleLeaf
    December 22, 2010

    The claim:

    “Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its “mild winter” schtick”

    The date of the article you provided 25 Febuary 2009.

    Also, the meteorological winter runs from December though the end of February. Don’t count your chickens yet, still over two months to go.

    You are cherry picking two clear outliers to try and make a case in a game in which it is the long-term trends which count. Don’t dismiss Stott so glibly.

  30. #30 Betula
    December 22, 2010

    “Don’t count your chickens yet, still over two months to go.”

    MapleLeaf, you seem disappointed. Are you hoping for a warmer winter?

  31. #31 MaplLeaf
    December 22, 2010

    Betula @29,

    So without acknowledging that you were wrong, you start arguing a strawman. Stop trolling.

  32. #32 guthrie
    December 22, 2010

    Regarding the UK:
    If the NAO stays as negative as it is just now I expect unusually snowy and wintry weather into March in the UK. On the other hand if it switches back to positive then things will warm up rather rapidly.
    I’m sure some betting could take place.

  33. #33 John
    December 22, 2010

    I thought the denialist line was that the MET Office’s predictions were wrong? Using denialist reasoning, when the MET Offic esay it’s going to be the coldest winter for 100 years, surely that means it’s going to be the warmest?

  34. #34 Bernard J.
    December 22, 2010

    [Betula](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/12/sydney_morning_herald_fails.php#comment-3038135).

    Australia certainly had a [mild winter](http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/season/aus/archive/201008.summary.shtml). The national maximum temperature anomaly was -0.01°C, whilst the national minimum temperature anomaly was +0.56°C.

    In my corner of the world it was so mild that fruit trees and acacias flowered weeks earlier than ususal, and the gloves, scarves, and jackets that I usually wear remained packed away the whole winter.

    So what is your point?

  35. #35 hazfrank
    December 23, 2010

    In October 2010 the Met Office predicted a 60-80% chance of above average winter 2010 temps. in England, and a 80-100% chance of the same in Scotland. Here’s a screenshot http://bit.ly/hvc3am

  36. #36 ScaredAmoeba
    December 23, 2010

    Philip S @ 6

    As a Londoner I rather like Boris J, and much prefer him to his predecessor. He has also made public his desire to ‘green’ London and reduce its carbon footprint, beginning with the mass bicycling scheme.

    I quite like Boris too, and I didn’t like his predecessor, but BJ is an Eton-educated bungling idiot & TV personality utterly unsuited to Public Office, which is of course why he was elected.
    However the “mass bicycling scheme”, is nothing of the sort. It is a “cycling scheme”, but it’s horrendously expensive and never was going to be a “mass” cycling scheme.

    It was horrendously expensive:
    £140 million for 6000 bikes = ~£23,000 per bike

    In reality, from the specification, the bikes probably cost ~£500 each, which leaves ~£22,500 for overheads like the docking stations and the BS – er I mean PR & advertising. That means the bikes account for only ~2% of the cost of the scheme, with ~98% overheads!

    It never was a mass cycling scheme:
    There are over ~1.2 million bicycle owners and ~1.4 million bicycles in London*. The Bike Hire bikes have increased the number of bikes in London by less than ~0.4% [2005].

    The reason why many of the ~99.6% aren’t cycling isn’t because of access to bikes, or Boris bikes. Primarily, London’s a hostile place for cyclists – cyclists feel unsafe, most cycling infrastructure is hugely substandard and there are high theft rates, so the overwhelming majority of these cyclists use alternate transport modes.

    *Page 16 Transport for London – Feasibility study for a central London cycle hire scheme

    H/T David Hembrow

  37. #37 Betula
    December 23, 2010

    MapleLeaf,

    My apologies, I thought that when Stott predicted “the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future”…..that future included this winter.

    Stay warm.

  38. #38 Betula
    December 23, 2010

    Bernard,
    My apologies, I didn’t realize the Met Office was in Australia.

    Stay cool.

  39. #39 Michael
    December 23, 2010

    Betula doesn’t understand what “trend” means.

  40. #40 Bernard J.
    December 23, 2010

    So [what you're saying, Betula](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/12/sydney_morning_herald_fails.php#comment-3040379), is that if winters are milder in places other than in the jurisdiction where the prediction of milder winter trends wasmade, and in spite of whatever weather noise is superimposed upon those predicted trends, then they don’t count in the global picture?

    Cherry pick, much?

    You really need to consider a Stats 101 course.

  41. #41 Dean Morrison
    December 23, 2010

    We’ve been poking fun at Corbyn for ages at Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ forum:

    http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19285

    Corbyn has placed a bet that there will be a ‘White Christmas’ at three towns in England – Newcastle, Leeds and Norwich. Thing is, he placed the bets when the country was covered in snow, but the current Met Office forecast ain’t looking too good for him.

    He claims he’s refining his ‘solar technique’ to take into account the influence of the ‘Moon’s magnetic field’ – yet for an astrophysicist seems surprisingly ignorant of the fact the the Moon doesn’t have a magnetic field.

    His laughable ‘climate model’ really does seem to be made of sellotape, some bundled up shopping bags and some string:

    http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/3991/corbynsuncopy.jpg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qi8oZ2vG0c&feature=related

  42. #42 Betula
    December 23, 2010

    Bernard…

    Since the name of your game is “what you’re saying”, I too would like to play.

    Let’s take this sentence of yours…

    “In my corner of the world it was so mild that fruit trees and acacias flowered weeks earlier than ususal, and the gloves, scarves, and jackets that I usually wear remained packed away the whole winter.”

    “So what you’re saying” is the growing season appears to be getting longer, meaning more crops to feed more people and more green to take in more C02. In addition, you will be saving money on winter clothes.

    You’re quite the optimist!

  43. #43 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    December 23, 2010

    Shorter Betula:

    Maybe we’re headed for an ice age, maybe we’re not, but if we’re headed for an ice age then it means the UK Met Office is a gigantic scam and therefore everything’s fine and dandy, and if we’re not headed for an ice age then it means we can save money on winter cllothes and therefore everything’s fine and dandy! Therefore, I’m not an idiot!

  44. #44 Betula
    December 23, 2010

    Frank…

    “So what you’re saying” is that you too are playing the game, only you call it “Shorter what you’re saying”.

    The only problem is, your sentence is actually longer,not shorter, than what I didn’t say.

    C’mon, learn how to play.

  45. #45 Neil
    December 23, 2010

    Shorter Betula:

    “I don’t get irony, either.”

  46. #46 Betula
    December 23, 2010

    Neil @45

    You have the shorter part of the game down, but I believe you missed the irony in a sentence being longer than “what I didn’t say”

    IRONY – A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

  47. #47 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    December 23, 2010

    Shorter Betula:

    HOAX HOAX HOAX GALILEO GALILEO HOAX HOAX GALILEO HOAX GALILEO GALILEO GALILEO HOAX GALILEO GALILEO …

  48. #48 Stu N
    December 23, 2010

    Dean @41

    That was a pretty interesting thread to read. On a forum I frequent there’s a Corbynite called breezy who keeps pointing me towards verification hosted on Corbyn’s website, which I don’t trust any further than I can throw it (and since I can’t throw a website at all, well you can do the maths). Luckily he was totally busted on a claim of a ‘successful’ forecast by a poster called Essan.

    Which just highlights the problems you might have pointing out Corbyn’s lack of forecasting accuracy. How inaccurate is wrong? There’s a myth that he once validated a forecast of a severe storm in the UK with an observation of strong winds on some exposed Scottish island, but I’ve yet to track down concrete evidence of this.

  49. #49 chek
    December 23, 2010

    What it is, Stu N, is that denialists are credulous to the nth degree of anything – even (I wouldn’t be surprised) chicken entrails – of anything contrary to supporters of the scientific consensus (read: “the team”).

    But they’ll willingly believe any old mumbo-jumbo instead. Wrong may be wrong, but it’s anti-warmist and therefore kosher.

  50. #50 Dean Morrison
    December 23, 2010

    Quite simply you can’t verify any of Corbyn’s claims because of the deliberately ambiguous way he makes them, and because they aren’t consistently posted anywhere before the event. He also employs a scattergun approach where he makes a large number of often contradictory claims, and then ‘draws a target’ around any hits.

    There’s a good post on the ‘More Grumbine Science’blog about what you need to do in order to make verifyable forecasts:

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2010/11/verifying-forecasts-2.html

    You have to be clear what you’re forecasting
    what variable
    at what time (or time span)
    for what place or area
    You have to be clear how the forecast is going to be evaluated
    You should evaluate all forecasts
    Forecast must be public
    Forecasts must be verifiable

    and desirably:

    Forecasts should specify their degree/nature of confidence
    It’s a good idea to compare the quality of your prediction against an null forecast method (not a personal comment, means any method that doesn’t know any of the science — like straight line regression, or persistence; also goes by the principle of ‘check how wrong you could be’, which I’ll illustrate later this week).
    A trivial matter (except that it comes up in Watts’ Nov 23 2010 response to greenman3610) is that all predictions depend on what really happens. Of course if it’s colder, there’ll be more ice, and if it’s warmer there’ll be less. That’s what you’re supposed to be predicting!

    Corbyn does none of these things of course – although announcement of his bet that there will be a white Christmas in Newcastle, Norwich and Leeds is a bit of an aberration. Even then he’ll he’ll crow about if he’s right and quietly bury a negative result if he’s wrong.

  51. #51 Stu N
    December 23, 2010

    Well Corbyn will probably be wrong about a white Christmas, as it looks like being cold but dry. However I think there is already snow lying at those three locations so he’ll probably claim victory anyway. Yes, that or just quietly ignore it.

  52. #52 Bernard J.
    December 23, 2010

    [Betula](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/12/sydney_morning_herald_fails.php#comment-3040669)

    Let’s take this sentence of yours…

    “In my corner of the world it was so mild that fruit trees and acacias flowered weeks earlier than ususal, and the gloves, scarves, and jackets that I usually wear remained packed away the whole winter.”

    “So what you’re saying” is the growing season appears to be getting longer, meaning more crops to feed more people and more green to take in more C02. In addition, you will be saving money on winter clothes.

    With respect to growing seasons, you have made several unsubstantiated assumptions.

    The first is that having a temperature that will induce earlier flowering directly correlates with having sufficiently warm temperatures to result in greater fruit production. In my corner early warmth does not necessarily correlate with increased warmth in a pattern that ensures increased productivity.

    Your second error is to assume that the varieties grown here actually require more warmth for increased productivity. The major foods grown here are pomes, stonefruit, and summer berries. They do not require more warmth than they already receive, and indeed the earlier flowering and the drier winters and springs in the recent past spell disaster for some growers – one I know of had to rip up his orchard and plant with a different variety in anticipation of simply maintaining his productivity.

    Tied in with the last is the requirement for most of the abovementioned crops for winter chilling. Winter chilling hours are decreasing appreciably here, with the consequence of the necessity for future replacement of varieties. Given the cost of ripping up orchards, and planting new trees, and losing markets for premium high-chill varieties, and the fact that warming is unlikely to deliver any significant overall productivity increase, none of the orchardists in my area are thrilled with the prospect of AGW – over their lifetimes, and indeed of their children and grandchildren, there will be a net loss of productivity.

    If the current economic trends in horticultural ‘productivity’ continue, the remaining orchards here will be subdivided for suburban and medium-density development, and the fruit-growing history of the region will become just that – history.

    Yeah, productivity increase indeed…

    Your fourth error of logic is to presume that cool-climate trees growing in a warmer environment will always sequester more carbon. As the above paragraphs indicate, such an assumption is invalid: if the plants are not able to grow to their optima in order to best produce fruit, the likelihood of laying down more overall biomass is low, and indeed if my own developing orchard is any indication, the recent drying seasons are no friend to high biomass production.

    As to saving on winter clothes, even here your logic is flawed. I am not getting any appreciable service from my winter clothing, so in economic terms I have little return on my investment. As I am wearing my summer clothes more, they are wearing out more quickly, and because summer activity is more wearing on summer clothing than winter activity is on winter clothing (you should see what blackberries, barbed wire, and bladey grass do to clothing during property maintenance), my overall clothing costs increase.

    Before you enrole in Stats 101, scramble for a crash course of Logic 101.

  53. #53 gallopingcamel
    December 26, 2010

    Anyone who remembers Ken Livingstone will realize that Boris Johnson is a huge improvement.

    Boris has been called the “Thinking Man’s Idiot”. Praise indeed!

  54. #54 David Duff
    December 26, 2010

    Apparently this was issued by the Met Office in October:

    The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

    The eastern half of England, Cornwall, Scotland and Northern Ireland is in for temperatures above the 3.7C (38.6F) average, more than 2C warmer than last winter.

    The map also shows a 40 per cent to 60 per cent probability that western England and Wales will be warmer than 3.7C (38.6F), with a much smaller chance of average or below-average temperatures.

    http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/met-office-memory-or-honesty-deficiency/

    I am currently freezing my arse off in SW England and have been doing so for over 3 weeks. Can someone tell me when a ‘probabality map’ becomes a ‘forecast’, or a ‘forecast’ a ‘probabality map’. Nah! On second thoughts, can anyone give me one good reason why we shouldn’t all ski or skate our way to the Met Office and set fire to it so that at least we could be warm for a few minutes?

    I know you lot treat this AGW lark as a religion but you are fast approaching a cathartic moment, a sort of Reformation, and it is important that you turn to another ‘end of the world’ scenario – meteorites colliding with earth! Come on, get with it, it’s no different really from changing from Catholic to Protestant, and the ‘colliding meteorites’ theory should give you all decades of fun misery whilst this global warming tripe freezes away and leaves you looking like Eskimos!

  55. #55 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    December 26, 2010

    Shorter David Duff:

    I use the same weather forecasting technique as Piers Corbyn: I whine loudly about Met Office forecasts that turn out wrong, and keep quiet about those forecasts that turn out right. Victory!

  56. #56 dhogaza
    December 26, 2010

    “I know you lot treat this AGW lark as a religion but you are fast approaching a cathartic moment, a sort of Reformation”

    Rain in Greenland while it snows in the UK disproves AGW how, exactly?

  57. #57 jakerman
    December 26, 2010

    Every time it snows somewhere out come the denialist. Every time the temperature anomally sets record high ([twice as often as for cold](http://www.skepticalscience.com/Record-high-temperatures-versus-record-lows.html)) they [turn away and look for snow](http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/).

  58. #58 David Duff
    December 26, 2010

    Shorter everyone on this site:

    If it gets colder change working title from Global Warming to Climate Change.

  59. #59 jakerman
    December 26, 2010

    Shorter David Duff:

    >*The world is Europe.*

  60. #60 jakerman
    December 26, 2010

    Another shorter Duff:

    >*Two months of cold in a fraction of the globle is more important than warming over the entire globe for decade upon decade.*

    Poor Duffy.

  61. #61 Dave R
    December 26, 2010

    >change working title from Global Warming to Climate Change.

    < http://climatecrocks.com/2010/12/22/orwellian-language-of-the-new-world-order-or-just-silly/>

  62. #62 Fran Barlow
    December 26, 2010

    The world is Europe.

    Well some of the not too northern and not too southern or Eastern parts of it anyhow. As everyone knows, what affects me personally or is in my face is all that is salient. Doesn’t everyone know that the plural of anecdote is anecdata?

  63. #63 Bernard J.
    December 27, 2010

    [David Duff](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/12/sydney_morning_herald_fails.php#comment-3047701):

    Can someone tell me when a ‘probabality map’ becomes a ‘forecast’, or a ‘forecast’ a ‘probabality map’.

    Can you tell us what you believe is actually meant by a “probability map”? What are some of the implications of the actual definition?

    Show working, and refer to credible primary literature.

  64. #64 zoot
    December 27, 2010

    Maybe if David Duff realised that AGW is adding energy to a system he would have a better idea of why his arguments are tosh.

    Nahh .. he’s beyond help.

  65. #65 Chris O'Neill
    December 27, 2010

    Today’s metaphor:

    David Duff can’t see the forest for the trees.

  66. #66 pough
    December 27, 2010

    If it gets colder change working title from Global Warming to Climate Change.

    I fully expect the International Panel on Global Warming to change their name to International Panel on Climate Change very soon now to avoid embarrassment.

  67. #67 Fran Barlow
    December 27, 2010

    Or even the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change …

  68. #68 Marion Delgado
    December 28, 2010

    I lived in london the first time around for ken livingstone and i’ve never ceased to admire him and his dedication.

  69. #69 jakerman
    December 28, 2010

    I admired Livingstone [for this](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Jones_(engineer)):

    >*In 2004, Ken Livingston, the then Mayor of London, recruited Jones to head up the London Climate Change Agency Ltd. Jones set up the organisation and was its chief executive officer until 2008. Established as a municipal company, the Climate Change Agency developed and implemented projects in the sectors that impact on climate change the most – energy, water, waste and transport.
    As well as steamrolling decentralised energy and renewable energy projects in London, Jones contributed the energy and climate change elements of the London Plan, the Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan and the Mayoral Climate Change Statutory Duty.*

  70. #70 pough
    December 28, 2010

    Or even the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change …

    Splitters!

  71. #71 Billy Goats Gruff
    December 28, 2010

    Pier’s technique has been verified in peer reviewed literature:

    Early Weather Action (Solar Weather Technique) skill was independently verified in a peer-reviewed paper by Dr Dennis Wheeler, University of Sunderland, in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Vol 63 (2001) p29-34.

    Summary:

    Essentially he assessed Corbyn’s predictions of gales in the UK over a two year period. He used a chi-squared test to work the probability that Corbyn’s results might have occurred by chance and found …

    “the all year forecast success rates have only a 1 in 1000 probability of occurring by chance. It must be recalled however that this figure is derived by inclusion of the summer season data when ‘success’ rates are inflated as a result of the marked seasonality in the incidence of gales [ie its easy to predict 'no gales' in the summer]. In comparison the more informative forecast success rates for the September to April period have a random probability of 1 in 125. The corresponding figure for the winter only period (October to March) is much lower at approximately 1 in 5.

    Then in the conclusion, he mentions this
    Yet more compelling is the finding that the system successfully forecast, several months in advance, the four (arguably five) most active and damaging of the storms that occurred in the survey period.

  72. #72 Stu N
    December 28, 2010

    Regarding that paper by Dr. Wheeler, see:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/06/piers_corbyn.php

  73. #73 Neil
    December 29, 2010

    The temperature in southern England is now up in the double figures (I only mention it because the resident trolls don’t seem so eager with their weather reports these last couple of days).

  74. #74 Billy Goats Gruff
    December 30, 2010

    Thanks Stu,

    Can’t trust peer review then can you?…. ;o)

  75. #75 Stu N
    January 2, 2011

    BGG, William Connolley doesn’t doubt the statistics, which are the middle step of the verification process. You will note however that he raises good points about the verification criteria (step one) and the significance of the statistics (step three).

    If Corbyn had a well organised forecast catalogue then anyone could see for themselves whether he’s any good or not. Anyway, as a taster, here’s his latest news item:

    http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews10No38.pdf

    While claiming he successfully forecast the very cold December back in May, I can’t find that original forecast. He does have a couple of points for the major dates in December though.

    “Christmas: Widespread blizzards and snow deluges, probably snow in all parts of Britain & Ireland over Christmas/Boxing day.”

    Christmas was cold but dry. Boxing day saw temperatures rising several degrees above freezing over Ireland and Scotland with a band of rain moving in from the west. The rest of the country was cold and cloudy.

    Not a great forecast. More from Piers:

    “New Year’s eve probably dry, bright and bitterly cold. Snow returns on New Year’s Day.”

    NYE had about average temperatures and was cloudy/murky in the south. A weak cold front gave drizzly rain further north with snow flurries on high ground. Yesterday remained cloudy with drizzle in the south but cooler. There was a dusting of snow on the pennines and one or two snow showers in Scotland, but on the whole cloudy, cool and dry.

    That forecast is also a bust as far as I’m concerned. They also demonstrate Piers’ tendancy towards sensationalism. Colour me unimpressed.

  76. #76 Dave R
    January 5, 2011

    >Except that the Met office did not make any “mild winter” prediction.

    Not only that, but they [apparantly](http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/04/met-office-delayed-big-freeze-forecast) predicted December’s cold weather back in October:

    >The Met Office warned the government that the pre-Christmas weather would be “exceptionally cold” [...]. It advised Cabinet Office planners in early October that Britain was likely to be in for freezing conditions.