Press Complaints Commission – email of 4 Aug 12

From: robin russell-jones
Date: 4 August 2012 08:30:18 GMT+01:00
To: Sean Goldstein
Subject: Re: PCC Complaint 122487

Dear Mr Goldstein,
I was surprised to receive yet another communication from the Sunday Telegraph as you informed me that my complaint has now been referred to the PCC for a formal judgement.. Are you phoning them for clarification or are they contacting you because Chris Booker thinks he has found something to support his position.  I will take his contentious rubbish in turn:

“The great ‘heatwave scare’ originated with the European heatwave of 2003, which supposedly killed 35,000 people. Scaremongers immediately piled in to predict that such heatwaves would soon become commonplace, The number of deaths attributed to the heatwave were significantly fewer than can normally be expected in an abormally cold winter.”

Booker seems completely unaware of the paper by Robine JM et al. “Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003. Les Comptes Rendus/Série Biologies, 2008, 331:171–78”.

However this is typical of people who are trying to argue a scientific case but are themselves scientifically illiterate They only read what they want to read and ignore everything that doesn’t suit their case.

Booker also claims that “genuine experts pointed out that there was nothing un-natural about the heat-wave” but doesn’t say who these “genuine experts ” might be. Presumably other commentators who are as ignorant and deluded as he is !!

Booker then discusses the Russian heat-wave of 2010 and comes up with the following statement:

Among those who produced studies to confirm this were the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association which produced the paper linked to below, finding that, as in 2003,there was nothing to suggest that the 2010 heatwave was anything but a natural phenomenon,

It is worth comparing this conclusion with the actual link provided by Booker as this includes a summary of the WUWT (Bookers nutty fellow-sceptics) and what the US NOAA actually said:

NOAA finds”climate change” blameless in 2010 Russian heat wave
Posted on March 9, 2011 by Anthony Watts
We mentioned this previously on WUWT, now it is officially peer reviewed and accepted. Maybe this will be a lesson to those in the MSM and eco blogland who immediately jump on every newsworthy weather event, and with no supporting evidence, attribute it to “global warming”, “climate change”, or “climate disruption” or whatever the marketing phrase of the day is. The factual science is in, and the answer that we knew all along? To paraphrase James Carville; It’s the weather, not climate, stupid.

What the researchers actually concluded:
“The researchers cautioned that this extreme event provides a glimpse into the region’s future as greenhouse gases continue to increase, and the signal of a warming climate, even at this regional scale, begins to emerge more clearly from natural variability in coming decades. Climate models evaluated for the new study show a rapidly increasing risk of such heat waves in western Russia, from less than one percent in 2010, to 10 percent or more by the end of this century.”

Incidentally WUWT stands for “Whats Up With That” and claims to be the world’s most visited web-site on global warming. It is small wonder that annual emissions of CO2 have increased globally by 49% since 1990 as the lunatics appear to have taken over the asylum ! Anyway back to Booker:

Again, on droughts, despite excitable predictions, there is plenty of evidence to show that droughts have in recent decades become not more frequent but less common. I will merely here link to the paper by Narisma et al (2007) which shows that of the 20th century’s 30 major drought episodes, 22 were in the first six decades of the century, only five between 1061 and 1980, and in the last two decades of the century there were only two,

Again it is always worth looking at what the paper actually says rather than Bookers personal interpretation of it. I have taken extracts from the abstract, introduction and conclusion of the paper by Narisma et al :
Abrupt changes in rainfall during the twentieth century
Gemma T. Narisma,1 Jonathan A. Foley,1 Rachel Licker,1 and Navin Ramankutty1,2 Received 30 October 2006; revised 6 February 2007; accepted 26 February 2007; published 30 March 2007.

Complex interactions in the climate system can give rise to strong positive feedback mechanisms that may lead to sudden climatic changes. The prolonged Sahel drought and the Dust Bowl are examples of 20th century abrupt climatic changes that had serious effects on ecosystems and societies. Here we analyze global historical rainfall observations to detect regions that have undergone large, sudden decreases in rainfall. Our results show that in the 20th century about 30 regions in the world have experienced such changes. These events are statistically significant at the 99% level, are persistent for at least ten years, and most have magnitudes of change that are 10% lower than the climatological normal (1901 – 2000 rainfall average). This analysis illustrates the extent and magnitude of abrupt climate changes across the globe during the 20th century and may be used for studying the dynamics of and the mechanisms behind these abrupt changes.
Citation: Narisma, G. T., J. A. Foley, R. Licker, and N. Ramankutty (2007), Abrupt changes in rainfall during the twentieth century, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L06710, doi:10.1029/2006GL028628.

Given the potential cost of these abrupt changes to both the environment and society [Alley et al., 2003; Hulme, 2003; NRC, 2002], the need for investigating historical records for evidence of other sudden climatic changes in the more recent past in different regions of the world has been highlighted in recent literature [Alley et al., 2003; Foley et al., 2003; Hulme, 2003; Stocker, 1999]. Here we examine global climate records for large, sudden decreases in rainfall during the 20th century. In this study, we define abrupt climate changes as large, sudden, rainfall decreases that are persistent and deviate significantly from the normal historical level (defined here as the average over 1901–2000). These abrupt changes may be indicative of a transition into another climatic/rainfall regime because of the sudden and persistent nature of these drought events [Alley et al., 2003; Higgins et al., 2002; Scheffer et al., 2001].

We have identified large and abrupt rainfall decreases in different regions of the world by analyzing historical precipitation data from the 20th century. The Sahelian droughts and the North American Dust Bowl are two abrupt changes in climate during the last century that have been analyzed in depth [Schubert et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2004; Foley et al., 2003; Taylor et al., 2002; Nicholson et al., 1998]. However, despite the large impacts of these events, there has been no systematic survey of recent climate history to determine the prevalence of abrupt climatic changes. This study shows that, in addition to these two events, large and sudden changes in rainfall have occurred in about 30 other regions of the world (Table 1). This includes persistent droughts in Mexico and southwest United States, southern Africa, the former Soviet Union, east India and Bangladesh, northeast China, and eastern Europe. Our analysis also indicates that these sudden decreases in rainfall are most likely to occur in arid and semi-arid regions, a result that is consistent with climate modeling studies [Scheffer et al., 2005; Foley et al., 2003; Kleidon et al., 2000; Claussen, 1998]. The susceptibility of dry regions to abrupt climate changes has been linked to a strong positive feedback between vegetation and climate interactions [Wang and Eltahir, 2000a; Wang and Eltahir, 2000b; Zeng et al., 1999; Claussen, 1998].
[12] We recognize that the significance of these events may be dependent on geographical characteristics and location. A three to five year decrease in rainfall, although sudden, may not affect Southern Africa as much as it would affect the central region of the United States. We also note that semi-arid and arid regions are areas of high rainfall variability and hence are naturally prone to large fluctuations. The average persistence, however, of the detected abrupt drought events is at least ten years. This can be seen in Table 1 and in Figure S4 where we show the regions of abrupt rainfall changes at different persistence cutoffs. Further, Table 1 also shows that the magnitude of change in rainfall in most regions is about 10% lower than the normal. The decrease in precipitation in these regions is abrupt, persistent, and significant. Our analysis depicts the extent and magnitude of sudden climate changes across the globe in the 20th century and is indicative of what could also happen in the future. Further analysis is needed to understand the mechanisms behind these changes, their predictability, as well as their impacts on the Earth system and human societies.
Of particular relevance are the quotes from the introduction and conclusion highlighted:

“These abrupt changes may be indicative of a transition into another climatic/rainfall regime because of the sudden and persistent nature of these drought events” AND “Our analysis also indicates that these sudden decreases in rainfall are most likely to occur in arid and semi-arid regions, a result that is consistent with climate modeling studies” AND ” Our analysis depicts the extent and magnitude of sudden climate changes across the globe in the 20th century and is indicative of what could also happen in the future.”

So essentially what Booker has done is to extract one fact from the paper that he thinks supports his case whilst ignoring the rest of the paper and thereby misrepresents the paper the authors and the scientific case that underpins climate change.
Finally Liz Allen repeats the same fatuous argument used in previous correspondence by the Deputy Editor of the Sunday Telegraph; namely that ” When Mr Booker became interested in the global warming issue, he spent several years reading through thousands of scientific papers on all sides of the argument, to come to a considered view.”
The problem is that Mr Booker is not a scientist He holds no scientific qualifications of any sort and has never had anything published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The world is full of people who claim to be self-taught experts but are completely deluded and C Booker is a prime example. Yours Sincerely
Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath


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