John Hirst is the head of the British Met Office, UK’s equivalent to the U.S.’s National Weather Service. Mr. Hirst firmly believes in human-caused global warming.
Prior to Climategate he proclaimed,
“But actually there’s massive certainty about global warming. The evidence is overwhelming, irrefutable.”
In response to Climategate, he said,
Met Office chief executive John Hirst and chief scientist Professor Julia Slingo organised the petition. They said: “This tremendous response affirms our confidence in the science, and reinforces the immediacy of the challenge and the critical nature of the discussions at Copenhagen.”
The petition said: “We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities.”
Here is an amazing interview from the BBC about the Met Office’s failure (like the U.S.’s Climate Prediction Center’s) to predict the cold wave the month before it occurred. The interviewer was well-prepared, knew the facts, and did a great job.
The takeaway from this is not to attack Hirst. I’m sure he is sincere in his beliefs. The two things I would like you to consider are, “How can the Met Office be ‘certain’ about man-caused global warming 30 years in the future when the organization cannot forecast a cold wave 30 days in advance?” The second is how refreshing it was to see an interview that did not follow the coached template I wrote about Thursday.
UPDATE: What was the interviewer referring to when he said “Bar-B-Que Summer”? Answer: the British Met Office used that phrase in late-spring 2009 when it forecast a record hot summer for the UK, as in “we’ll all be roasting” (my words). Instead, it was one of the coldest summers in UK history.
UPDATE II, January 13th: I wasn’t the only one struck by this interview. Roger Pielke, Sr. blogged on it today. His bottom line? ”To claim that the UK Met Office can provide skillful forecasts of the likelihood of such extreme events decades from now based just on the knowledge of a subset of human climate forcings (i.e. primarily added atmospheric carbon dioxide) is a very significant misrepresentation of the science.”