‘There has been no global warming since 1995’

(Daily Mail) – THE ACADEMIC at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

The admissions will be seized on by sceptics as fresh evidence that there are serious flaws at the heart of the science of climate change and the orthodoxy that recent rises in temperature are largely man-made.

Professor Jones has been in the spotlight since he stepped down as director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit after the leaking of emails that sceptics claim show scientists were manipulating data.

The raw data, collected from hundreds of weather stations around the world and analysed by his unit, has been used for years to bolster efforts by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to press governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Following the leak of the emails, Professor Jones has been accused of ‘scientific fraud’ for allegedly deliberately suppressing information and refusing to share vital data with critics.

Discussing the interview, the BBC’s environmental analyst Roger Harrabin said he had spoken to colleagues of Professor Jones who had told him that his strengths included integrity and doggedness but not record-keeping and office tidying.

Mr Harrabin, who conducted the interview for the BBC’s website, said the professor had been collating tens of thousands of pieces of data from around the world to produce a coherent record of temperature change.

That material has been used to produce the ‘hockey stick graph’ which is relatively flat for centuries before rising steeply in recent decades.

According to Mr Harrabin, colleagues of Professor Jones said ‘his office is piled high with paper, fragments from over the years, tens of thousands of pieces of paper, and they suspect what happened was he took in the raw data to a central database and then let the pieces of paper go because he never realised that 20 years later he would be held to account over them’.

Asked by Mr Harrabin about these issues, Professor Jones admitted the lack of organisation in the system had contributed to his reluctance to share data with critics, which he regretted.

But he denied he had cheated over the data or unfairly influenced the scientific process, and said he still believed recent temperature rises were predominantly man-made.

Asked about whether he lost track of data, Professor Jones said: ‘There is some truth in that. We do have a trail of where the weather stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be.

‘There’s a continual updating of the dataset. Keeping track of everything is difficult. Some countries will do lots of checking on their data then issue improved data, so it can be very difficult. We have improved but we have to improve more.’

He also agreed that there had been two periods which experienced similar warming, from 1910 to 1940 and from 1975 to 1998, but said these could be explained by natural phenomena whereas more recent warming could not.

He further admitted that in the last 15 years there had been no ‘statistically significant’ warming, although he argued this was a blip rather than the long-term trend.

And he said that the debate over whether the world could have been even warmer than now during the medieval period, when there is evidence of high temperatures in northern countries, was far from settled.

Sceptics believe there is strong evidence that the world was warmer between about 800 and 1300 AD than now because of evidence of high temperatures in northern countries.

But climate change advocates have dismissed this as false or only applying to the northern part of the world.

Professor Jones departed from this consensus when he said: ‘There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia.

‘For it to be global in extent, the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

‘Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today, then obviously the late 20th Century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm than today, then the current warmth would be unprecedented.’

Sceptics said this was the first time a senior scientist working with the IPCC had admitted to the possibility that the Medieval Warming Period could have been global, and therefore the world could have been hotter then than now.

Professor Jones criticised those who complained he had not shared his data with them, saying they could always collate their own from publicly available material in the US. And he said the climate had not cooled ‘until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend’.

Mr Harrabin told Radio 4’s Today programme that, despite the controversies, there still appeared to be no fundamental flaws in the majority scientific view that climate change was largely man-made.

But Dr Benny Pieser, director of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, said Professor Jones’s ‘excuses’ for his failure to share data were hollow as he had shared it with colleagues and ‘mates’.

He said that until all the data was released, sceptics could not test it to see if it supported the conclusions claimed by climate change advocates.

He added that the professor’s concessions over medieval warming were ‘significant’ because they were his first public admission that the science was not settled.

Battery Recycling Law In Force

(Independent) – SHOPPERS will be able to recycle old batteries in thousands of shops across the country from today.

Under a European directive, every shop selling more than a pack of batteries a day will be forced to accept old batteries for recycling and most are expected to set up in-store collection points.

The change will bring Britain into line with many EU states. Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Robert Dyas, Dixons, Currys and PC World are among those offering recycling. Britons use 600 million batteries a year; just 3 per cent are recycled.

The Batteries Directive applies to all portable batteries – from those in electrical goods such as torches and radios to rechargeable batteries in mobile phones and digital music players.

An estimated 30,000 tonnes of portable batteries go on to the market in the UK each year, of which 97 per cent end up in landfill when they are finished with.

Under the new regulations, collection and recycling of batteries must rise from the current level of just 3 per cent to 10 per cent by the end of the year, 25 per cent by 2012 and 45 per cent by 2016, with manufacturers responsible for the targets being met.

The directive aims to cut the amount of batteries going to landfill, where they can leak harmful chemicals into the soil, and to save carbon emissions by reducing the need for using new materials. It comes into force in the UK today.

But battery maker Varta warned a lack of awareness among consumers and retailers – who will have to provide collection points for customers to return old batteries if they sell more than a small amount – could make the goals impossible to meet.

The British Retail Consortium said the required facilities in stores are in place but added that there is a need for wider action, including more recycling collections from homes.

Vince Armitage, divisional vice president at Varta Consumer Batteries UK, said the company has concerns about how the directive is going to work in practice.

“The directive places the responsibility of meeting its stringent collection and recycling targets on the manufacturer, but it relies on the co-operation of consumers and retailers to make it work.

“However, a lack of promotion means that awareness of the directive among these key groups is low.

“This gives us great concern that, as a nation, we are setting ourselves up to fail before we even begin.”

Collection and recycling will cost manufacturers around £1,000 a tonne, making the price tag of meeting the 10% goal £3 million, Varta estimates.

The company believes meeting the targets will become increasingly difficult as the “low-hanging fruit” of cheaper and easier options are used up.

British Retail Consortium head of environment Bob Gordon said retailers are ready with the collection facilities for old batteries, but that will not be enough on its own. It will then be up to manufacturers to collect and deal with the batteries.

He said informing customers should not just be left to shops, and called for a “comprehensive and continuing” information campaign on recycling batteries.

He added: “Shops can’t be the only route for collection. We need an infrastructure to develop which includes workplaces, schools, community centres and kerbside collection.

“All the evidence shows home collections of recyclables are easiest for customers and produce the best results. Developing these mustn’t be ignored.

“We need more local authorities to take used batteries from homes and a more consistent recycling regime for all materials.”

But Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “This new legislation will make it easier for consumers to do the right thing whilst ensuring retailers fulfil their part of the bargain.

“Old batteries can cause harm to the environment when they are not recycled.

“The new approach to disposal of batteries will help to reduce the number of batteries that now end up in landfill.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that recycling batteries will save 12,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2016.

A Perfect Storm

John Vidal (John Vidal, The Guardian) – IN THE NEXT FORTNIGHT 5,000 journalists from 180 countries will go to Copenhagen to cover the world climate summit. There might have been far more, but two weeks ago the UN had to close its accreditation list ahead of a meeting for the first time, saying that the giant Bella venue could only hold 15,000 people. Cop 15, as it is formally known, will therefore be one of the biggest-ever international media occasions outside the 2008 Olympics and the last US conventions.

It’s a measure of how the environment has risen up the global agenda that the last great UN green show attracted a modest 1,000 press and TV to the more hospitable venue of Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In those days, when climate change was a mere infant in world politics and angry science deniers hardly existed, newspapers and television mostly sent one person to the earth summit. The Guardian was considered reckless for sending two specialists from Britain, and co-opted its local Brazilian correspondent. A US-based writer later flew in with President George Bush Sr, and the Guardian newsdesk, which barely understood what emissions were, bravely ran four or five pieces a day until collective incomprehension set in about Day 7.

This year’s summit, widely hyped as the most important meeting in the last 30 years, is a multimedia affair. The BBC is sending 35 people and the Guardian a team of eight, including environment correspondents from Beijing and Washington (emissions duly offset). And every newspaper is sending online journalists, bloggers, video and audio journalists, producers, analysts and Twitterers.

For the first time, too, many developing countries will send journalists in force. Normally barred from media fests such as this by the sheer cost, governments, media foundations, Commonwealth organisations and development groups such as Panos have funded several hundred writers and filmmakers from countries on the frontline of climate change to follow the talks. China, India and Brazil, the three great emerging nations, will be sending nearly 300 journalists.

In the UN list of 5,000, however, mainstream media representatives are outnumbered by people representing the publications of charities, pressure groups, business interests and non-government organisations. Churches, financiers, wind farm operators, fossil fuel industries, even carbon traders have all gained media accreditation to further their lobbying. New on the block are legions of youth activists from around the world who will be blogging on a scale never experienced at an international political meeting.

Yet pity the mainstream press. Their choice is stark: stay outside the Bella centre, pay £6 for a cup of tea and cover rallies, demonstrations and fringe meetings in the freezing cold; or keep warm inside, pay £7 for tea and asphyxiate in the hot, poisonous air generated by armies of diplomats and non-government groups.

What all first-timers to the UN climate process may find hard to grasp at Copenhagen is that this could be the only mass media event in history without a proper beginning or an end, which has no genuine celebrities, no fixed agenda, no guaranteed outcome and is unlikely to throw up clear winners or losers. It’s like a cricket Test match in that the rules of the diplomacy game are complex, most meetings are supremely boring, very little may happen for many days and it is all conducted in incomprehensible UN-speak language.

The problem is getting anywhere near the truth. Most countries do their diplomacy in private and do not want anyone – let alone the press – to know what goes on in the negotiations. Beyond that, the talks are so technical that few can understand them even if they are explained. Moreover, meetings are closed, all decisions are dependent on others and are made in secret, the UN secretariat is opaque, the diplomats and negotiators are unaccountable and speak in code, and because of the insane complexity of the negotiations, there is probably only a handful of people who actually understand what is happening at any moment. The drama at the very end when world leaders start their horse-trading will be genuinely dramatic, but no one will actually see it take place.

The UN is partly to blame for this opacity and the paucity of genuine information. Press conferences where blocs of countries assess the proceedings are infrequent and kept to a few short questions; many countries have no experience with the media; everyone briefs against everyone else and because diplomats are famously partial and are paid to lie for their countries, and objective facts are in short supply.

None of this will stop tonnes of copy being sent back. There will be set pieces, sideshows and photo opportunities galore, such as Obama flying in for a few hours to give an inspirational speech tomorrow then heading on to collect the Nobel peace prize. When the 100 world leaders come in a week later, they are likely to be met with profound weariness if they try to compete with each other to be seen as the greenest.

But there could still be drama. The poorest countries in the world could walk out in protest if the talks do not go to plan; the Danish model Helena Christensen could strip off and swim in the Baltic. Climate activists are also plotting.

More likely, climate deniers from Britain and the US will gain a rare platform to attack the science of climate change. Nick Griffin of the BNP will be there, as will several contrarian US senators.

However, the vast majority of bloggers and delegates believe in man-made climate change and any deniers will be very much on the fringes outside the hall. Against them will stand the scientific community, sherpas testifying to profound change in the Himalayas the young and President Nasheed from the Maldives explaining that his country will soon not exist, and activists intent on grabbing the stage.

Environment journalism has come a long way since 1975 when Geoffrey Lean – then of the Observer, now of the Telegraph – became the first dedicated correspondent. Before that, the brief was mostly given to correspondents who shadowed the government’s rural affairs or farming department. The beat still covers traditional areas such as floods, spuds and trees, but it is now centred on science writing, international development and politics, energy, technology, economics, celebrity and lifestyle, as well as business, trade and protest. And because it crosses so many traditional journalistic boundaries, it has become a specialist area that suits generalists. Equally, there is no specialist political, business or feature writer who does not now regularly report on the environment. To paraphrase Al Gore, we are all environment journalists now.

Few Think Climate Change Will Effect Them

(Reuters) – LESS THAN HALF OF BRITONS believe climate change will affect them during their lifetime; and fewer than a fifth think it will disturb their children, a government survey showed Friday.

In the YouGov poll for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 69% of respondents said flooding would be the most likely consequence in Britain, but only 26% believed the country was already feeling the impact of climate change.

‘Recent research shows the public are unclear on what causes climate change and what the effects are,’ the department said.

Scientists say rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by burning fossil fuels through greater energy usage, mass deforestation and increased transportation, will lead not only to flooding, but widespread drought, famine and disease, especially in poor countries.

People displaced by climate change, or ‘climate refugees’, was another consequence of a warmer world, and could weigh on Britain’s economy and social services.

‘The survey results show that people don’t realise that climate change is already under way and could have very severe consequences for their children’s lives,’ UK Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said in a statement.

‘With over 40% of the UK’s CO2 emissions a result of personal choices, there is huge potential for individual behaviour change to lower emissions.’

To raise public awareness, the department is launching its first ever advertising campaign today’confirming the existence of climate change and its man-made origin.’

To see the DECC television adverts, click here

New Wetland Reserve For Bowers Marsh

(BBC) – PART OF SOUTH ESSEX MARSHES will be protected as a new 667 acre (270 hectare) nature wetland reserve.

RSPB and waste firm Veolia Environmental Services have signed a 150-year lease to rent land on Bowers Marsh in Pitsea at a peppercorn rent.

Bowers Marsh is next to Veolia’s Pitsea reclaimed landfill site and will form part of the 9.3 sq mile (15 sq km) ‘green lung’ of south Essex marshes.

A public consultation will now take place for people to see the plans.

An RSPB spokesman said: ‘It shows how waste management and nature conservation organisations can work together for our environment, our wildlife, and our communities.’

Carrier Bag Usage Down 50%

(Reuters) – BRITONS ARE USING half as many carrier bags as they were three years ago following campaigns by leading retailers to reduce waste damaging to the environment, a survey showed on Friday.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said shoppers used 452 million bags at seven major supermarket groups in May, down from 870 million in May 2006.

The seven firms — Asda, Co-operative Group (now including Somerfield), Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose — pledged at the end of 2008 to cut the number of single-use carrier bags used by customers by 50% by the end of May versus May 2006.

‘These figures send a clear message: the voluntary approach is very successful and can lead to better informed customers and lasting change,’ the BRC said in a statement.