IN A long-winded report, the Met Office have attempted to present Storm Babet as virtually unprecedented. It’s the usual case of cherry-picking, for instance claiming it was Sheffield’s wettest October day on record. (Clue: there are twelve months in a year, and hundreds of other towns in Britain!)
In fact the Met Office’s own data shows it was not exceptional at all, as I suspected at the time.
The rainfall on October 19, the wettest day of Babet, was 22.76mm (0.9in) averaged across England and Wales. There have been 44 wetter days since 1931, when daily data became available. In Scotland it was even less remarkable, ranking only 253rd.
Even in Eastern Scotland, which took the brunt of the storm, October 19 was only the 34th wettest day since 1931.
As sometimes happens, Babet stalled when it came up against an anti-cyclone over Scandinavia, meaning that rain continued to fall, particularly over NE Scotland. This, of course, is a WEATHER phenomenon, not CLIMATE!
Even over the full four days of the storm, cumulative rainfall was not unprecedented. Seven other four-day periods have recorded higher rainfall totals since 1931:
Inevitably, some areas were worse affected than others: that’s weather. But there is no evidence that Babet brought unprecedented amounts of rain overall.
The England and Wales Rainfall series has daily data only back to 1931, and we know there were many severe floods prior to then. We do have daily data from Durham dating back to 1900 – the North East was said to be one of the worst affected areas during Babet.
According to the Met Office, rainfall was between around 50 to 60mm (2-2.4in) in the Durham area in the four days of the storm. This level of rainfall is perfectly common in Durham.
The wettest five-day period occurred there in September 1976, with 140.7mm (5.5in). Most of that rain fell on just two days, September 10and 11, amounting to more than 120mm (4.7in).
As the Met Office explained at the time, September 1976 as a whole was exceptionally wet across the country, with some areas receiving up to 400 per cent of their usual rain.
The Met Office’s report about Babet claims ‘these statistics in the observations are illustrative of the expected increases in rainfall extremes as the UK’s climate continues to warm’. This is simply nonsense, as their own data shows nothing unusual happening at all.
Attenborough’s at it again
DAVID Attenborough’s new BBC series, Planet Earth III, has been slammed by the Telegraph, which wrote:
‘BBC Planet Earth III left viewers in tears on Sunday evening with scenes of soggy flamingo chicks struggling to survive storm surges and turtle hatchlings battling sea level rises. “The planet has changed beyond recognition,” warned Sir David Attenborough gravely, “Transformed by a powerful force. Us.” Yet despite the gloomy tone set by the programme, many of the animals featured in the episode are faring surprisingly well, thanks to global conservation efforts.’
The Telegraph went on to list some of the misinformation being peddled by Attenborough:
Claim: On Raine Island, at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest turtle rookery is facing annihilation through a double threat of warming sands and sea-level rise.
Fact: Raine Island has been growing in recent years, and turtle populations are thriving there.
Claim: Flamingo chicks are dying because of stormy weather in the Yucatan, Mexico.
Fact: Caribbean flamingos are booming, with numbers rising from 21,500 in 1956 to around 850,000 today.
Claim: Cape fur seals in South Africa are endangered by climate change.
Fact: Their population has risen from fewer than 300 in 2000 to around 6,000 today.
Claim: Southern right whales are also at risk.
Fact: Since the ban on commercial whaling in 1986, the species has rebounded. The last count by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in 2009 estimates that there are now 13,611, with the species listed as ‘of least concern’ by the IUCN.
This new series follows the usual Attenborough format, using manipulative language and emotive images of drowning chicks and the like to make viewers feel guilty about their lifestyles. The simple truth, of course, is that most chicks and hatchlings die before they reach adulthood – if they did not, populations would explode. It’s what happens in nature.
This is not the first time Attenborough has been accused of wilful disinformation over climate change. In April 2019, he presented the BBC’s programme Climate Change: The Facts, which contained several erroneous claims about extreme weather and sea level rise. Attenborough was, to all intents and purposes, accused of lying in a Daily Mail article by David Rose.
And in his Netflix series Our Planet, Attenborough claimed that lack of sea ice was forcing walruses ashore where they fall from cliffs, something which was quickly debunked by Arctic experts.
Attenborough has never made a secret of his real agenda. As he told the Express a few years ago, humans are ‘intruders’, and the natural world would do much better ‘if we weren’t there at all’. He is a patron of the Malthusian group Population Matters, who want to see the world’s population slashed. Attenborough’s goal has nothing to do with climate change. It is to control our lives and make us all poorer.