Setting the record straight in the Daily Mail

8 03 2013

In response to our complaint to an article by James Delingpole in the Daily Mail on 10 January 2013 the Daily Mail has now published a response from the Met Office Chairman on its letters page.

Met Office mettle

James Delingpole’s views misrepresent the Met Office’s reputation for world-class weather and climate forecasting and research (Mail). The UK can be rightly proud that the Met Office is among the world’s top two national weather forecasting services.

We’re proud that, in independent surveys, more than 90 per cent of the public regard our warnings as useful and more than 80 per cent of the UK public trust our forecasts and warnings. This respect for our professionalism and impartiality has been built over 150 years of forecasting for the nation.

We aim to use our world leading scientific expertise to protect life and property and increase prosperity and wellbeing right across the UK. We provide impartial services ranging from forecasts and warnings to the public, services to transport operators, so we can fly, drive or sail safely, and advice to the energy, retail and health sectors so we can all go about our daily lives safely and efficiently.

Our forecasts on radio, TV, mobile phone apps and newspapers are a source of daily interest as well as essential advice to the public.

Whatever a journalist’s views are about climate change – and they have a right to air them – let’s not degrade the institutions on which the public rely.

GREG CLARKE,

Met Office chairman, Exeter, Devon.

Although this does not fully address all the issues we had with the original article we do accept that a published letter recognises our concerns and has taken steps to resolve some of them. The Daily Mail has also offered to append this letter to the original article.

We are grateful to the Daily Mail for dealing with our objections to the inaccuracies in the original article and the efforts made to find a constructive resolution. We are, as ever, grateful for the role the Daily Mail, and other print, online and broadcast media have in bringing key forecasts, warnings, and science to the attention of the public.





Addressing the Daily Mail and James Delingpole’s ‘crazy climate change obsession’ article

10 01 2013

An article by James Delingpole appears in the Daily Mail today under the headline The crazy climate change obsession that’s made the Met Office a menace’.

This article contains a series of factual inaccuracies about the Met Office and its science, as outlined below.

Firstly, he claims the Met Office failed to predict snow in 2010, but our 5-day forecasts accurately forecast 12 out of 13 snowfall events – as you can see in this article. In addition the Press Complaints Commission has also already addressed this fallacy with the Daily Telegraph in February of last year. As a result the newspaper published a clarification that highlighted that “the Met Office did warn the public of last winter’s [2010/11] cold weather from early November 2010.” 

Mr Delingpole also says we failed to predict flooding in November last year. Once again, our 5-day forecasts gave accurate guidance and warnings throughout the period. In just one example of feedback the Met Office has received for highly accurate forecasting and guidance throughout 2012, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton, Chair for the Local Resilience Forum for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (which was one of the areas most affected by flooding in November), said: “[I] would like to formally thank and recognise the hard work of the Met Office over the past week. The information you provided was invaluable and enabled the responders in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to prepare and respond effectively to assist our communities.”

Mr Delingpole then inaccurately states that the Met Office has conceded ‘there is no evidence that ‘global warming’ is happening’. We have not said this at any point.

In fact, we explicitly say this was not the case in an article, posted on the home page of our website and widely circulated, which was written in response to articles about updates to our decadal forecast. Professor Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist, has also provided a more in depth feature on ‘Decadal Forecasting – What is it and what does it tell us?’.

Further on in the print version of the article (although amended online), Mr Delingpole says “According to the Met, Britain is apparently experiencing more rain by volume and intensity than at any time since records began.” Although he is right in saying the Met Office has published preliminary observations which show an increase in the intensity and volume of rain, we are clear that this relates to a period from 1960 onwards – not ‘since records began’ as he claims.

He also states that the Met Office was trying to defend a narrative that the “the past ten years have been the ‘wettest decade ever’”. Again, this is not something the Met Office has ever said.

Also he quotes David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation saying that the Met Office ‘thinks weather forecasting is beneath it’ and that ‘climate change… brings in more money’.

A cursory glance at our annual report and accounts (pdf) would reveal weather forecasting represents the vast majority of the Met Office’s contractual work on behalf of the public.

There are also a number of other accusations which cannot be substantiated.

Mr Delingpole does quote Dr Whitehouse saying “when it comes to four or five day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world.”

This supports the view of the World Meterological Organization (WMO) which consistently ranks the Met Office in the top two operational forecasters in the world.

Our reputation for forecasting accuracy is based on our commitment to provide the world’s best weather and climate service which helps protect lives and property here in the UK and around the world.








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