cc: <e.hedderwickatXYZxyzi.ac.uk>, "Christopher Baker" <CKBatXYZxyz.nerc.ac.uk>, "Philip Newton" <PPNatXYZxyz.nerc.ac.uk>
date: Tue Feb 5 13:48:10 2002
from: Mike Hulme <m.hulmeatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: Re: Science Museum text
to: "Sheila Anderson" <sandatXYZxyzc.ac.uk>
Sheila and others,
Just to clarify my meaning ........ the statement we (Hadley scientists and us) have agreed
for the new UK climate scenarios - Hadley and Tyndall are producing these for DEFRA and
UKCIP - is the following (cf. with IPCC TAR statement):
"Although the strength of the Gulf Stream may weaken in future, it is very unlikely that
this would lead to a cooling of UK climate over the next century".
Note what this does *not* say:
- what happens after 2100, longer-term
- further weakening will not happen
- any changes due to THC would not offset *some* of the 1.5 to 5degC of warming due to
enhanced GHGs, through THC changes slowing down the rate of warming in the N.Atlantic
Also, the full text of our report makes clear the major uncertainties outstanding and the
need for more research, actually mentioning I think RAPID specifically.
The above headline statement has gone back a few times between UEA and Hadley and has
agreement of all parties. The previous quote from SOC in Emma's original gives a *very*
misleading impression to stakeholders that we have to plan as though warming and cooling
were equal possibilities. Newspaper headline writers love it of course, but I don't think
the Science Museum should give this impression.
At 13:32 05/02/02 +0000, Sheila Anderson wrote:
I would like to comment on Mike's paragraph 5 on the heating up/cooling issue. We need
to firm up on the issue of rapid climate change. Sure, we cannot say there is a 50-50
chance of it happening, but there is uncertainty about the continuation of the warm
currents that keep NW Europe warm. If there was a rapid change, UK temperatures could
plunge in the space of a few decades. If that doesn't happen, it will indeed get warmer
As we are sufficiently concerned about the uncertainties to invest �20m in rapid climate
change, NERC is keen to see it covered appropriately.
Head of Communications
Tel: 01793 411646
Fax: 01793 411510
NERC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1EU
>>> Mike Hulme <m.hulmeatXYZxyz.ac.uk> 02/05/02 12:49pm >>>
Apologies for my late reply but I hope you can incorporate my suggestions
into the panel text.
In general, I should point out that I am not entirely comfortable with the
sensationalist language used. I would state things differently, but I do
understand that the role of this text is to draw people in with striking
The one part of text that I feel is too sensational is under 'How will
climate change affect the world'. Antenna states that six billion people
are at mortal risk: this is certainly not the case. While a percentage of
the world's population will be in danger, it is not 100% of the population.
In addition, this implies that there will be no positive impacts of climate
This leads to my next point: that the panel text does not mention that some
people (and countries) may experience benefits as a result of climate
change. I think this needs to be mentioned somewhere as it is one of the
reasons that the problem of taking action is so difficult to solve - there
are competing views on just how important and rapid effective action needs
I would also like to see the SOC Ocean Mooring quote changed: it implies
that there is a 50/50 chance of being either hot or cold in Britain as a
result of climate change. This is certainly *not* the case!! Warmer weather
is pretty much guaranteed here: it is certainly highly unlikely to cool
down in Britain over the next 100 years (our forthcoming UK climate
scenarios will say this). To discuss cooling gives the wrong message.
I feel that opening the panel with a comment like 'You can't escape it' is
also the wrong message. I don't know what punchy line you could use, but
the message should be that we *can* influence the climate (we can't stop
climate change happening but we can effect the rate and adapt to the
consequences), that if we get involved our actions can make a difference,
and that we need to do something about it to avoid the most dangerous
consequences of climate change. You bring this in at the end, but surely
it should be up-front that this is an issue where we must not be defeatist.
Finally, I would like to agree with Simon Torok's comments sent to you
already (particularly his suggestion for my quote), to emphasise the points
he has raised. In particular, I feel a mention of surprises in the system
needs to be made to highlight the high-risk nature of playing with a
complex system that we do not completely understand, which could lead to
large changes that we cannot predict.