Confirmation that Labour cannot win a General Election

My previous post looked at the implications of the May European Election Results for a future General Election. At Capx Matt Singh takes a similar approach in Does first past the post still favour Labour and the Tories? https://capx.co/does-first-past-the-post-still-favour-labour-and-the-tories/
The conclusions are slightly different to my own but it is worth comparing and contrasting Singh’s analysis and my own.

Matt Singh just looks at the May results, whereas I also look at the 2014 European Election results and the following General Elections in 2015 and 2017. This is my Figure 1

Fig 1 : Vote share of major parties in four recent UK elections

Matt Singh concentrates on the current polling data showing the four parties on roughly equal voter share. I agree with his statement

(O)n current vote shares, no party would be anywhere near an overall majority. If we put all four main parties on 21 per cent, the assumptions detailed above would put Labour on around 180 seats, the Brexit Party on around 160 seats, the Lib Dems on roughly 130, the Conservatives down to about 100 and the SNP in the 50s.

That is on equal vote shares the Labour Party would gain the most seats, with the Conservatives the least. Further, I agree that for the two major parties …..

…. dropping too far into the teens could see Labour or Tories being decimated, with seat numbers dropping into the double digits. Labour would have a degree of protection, because its enormous majorities in its safest seats would save it in many cases. But the Tories really would be staring into the abyss.

I also looked at the council area results by four or five regions of Great Britain. That is Northern England, Midlands/Wales, Southern England, London, and Scotland. The latter two I lumped together as they had stood as out as sharing opinions on Brexit different from the other regions.

Matt Singh used data from Professor Chris Hanretty, who has estimated the European election results by constituency from the results by council. The two key tables, (under the banner of Number Cruncher Politics) are as follows

Fig 2 : From the Capx.co article
Fig 3 : From the Capx.co article

These two charts show why the Tories are more vulnerable to a complete meltdown than Labour, as the latter have much stronger support in the ninth and tenth deciles. Singh does not draw the corollary conclusion. That is, based in even swings, to form a majority Government the Tories need to achieve a lower national vote share than Labour to achieve an overall Parliamentary majority. This is important. Hanretty’s charts are with 2019 UK vote shares of 9.1% for Conservative and 14.1% for Labour. To win a General election majority it is important to be ahead of the major opposition in the 5th and 6th deciles. In these areas, Labour were behind the Conservatives in the EU elections despite the 5 point lead overall. In addition, I attempted to go beyond the numbers to look at the impact of positions on Brexit. Both the Conservatives and Labour were punished in the Euro Elections for their vague positions on Brexit. The Conservatives for failing to exit the EU due to the failure to obtain anywhere near majority on the Withdrawl Agreement. Labour for being nominally pro-Brexit, but putting on onerous conditions that would see Britain end up remaining in the EU. Both parties lost out to those Parties with much more strident positions on Brexit. The Conservatives lost out mostly to the Brexit Party. Labour lost out to the Pro-Remain Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, along with the Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SNP in Scotland. The Conservatives lost out to Remain parties less than Labour lost out to the Brexit Party. In the last week, Boris Johnson – likely the next Prime Minister – has come out with a strong pro-Leave position that would grab votes from the Brexit Party in a General Election. Conversely, the Labour Party leadership is divided over whether to make Labour a Pro-Remain Party. If it did, Labour might gain some votes from a number of Remain parties but would lose votes to the Brexit Party, or the Conservatives. The Tories are thus in a much better position to achieve the 30% vote share / 10 point lead to win an election than Labour.

Kevin Marshall

How the Tories can win a General Election and why Labour cannot win

Summary 

In the May 2019 European Elections the Brexit Party were clear winners, with the Liberal Democrats a respectable second with near 20% of the vote. The two major parties were both punished by the voters – the Conservatives for failing to deliver Brexit and Labour for sitting on the fence. Analysis of the results by council area indicate

  • Labour Party support is more concentrated that the Conservative support and has huge divides in terms of support for Brexit.
  • Conservative support is more thinly spread and concides with both Brexit Party and Lib Dem areas.
  • Strong anti-Brexit vote split between Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru, whilst pro-Brexit support concentrated in the Brexit Party.
  • Change UK and UKIP had low support and have faded since.

The data strongly suggests that the Conservative Party are the most vulnerable to complete annihilation as a major player, but are the one’s who will be the net gainers with a clear Brexit policy. A No-Deal Brexit platform could see the Tories win a landslide, even with little over a third of the popular vote. A clear Remain platform for Labour could improve their current poll ratings, but is both unlikely under the current policy and would be insufficient overtake a Tory Party with a clear Brexit Policy.

Introduction

The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland is anything but united. The country as a whole and Parliament is deeply divided over Brexit, with a majority unable to be reached for any outcome. Prime Minister Theresa May has resigned the leadership of the Conservative Party with a large field of candidates vying to replace her. 

The Prime Minster, and others, have tried to patch together a majority through some compromise formula. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the European Union will does not satisfy either the majority who voted to Leave the European Union, nor those who want to cancel the Brexit process. The new Conservative Leader will have a form a majority around a position, with a large highly disatified minority. In my view that will only happen after another General Election where one of the two major parties establishes a clear Parliamentary majority either on their own or in coalition. From my analysis of the data – mostly from the EU Elections in May – the only stable Parliamentary outcome is for the Conservatives to win on a platform of a no-deal Brexit. Under the current circumstances, the Labour Party cannot come close to a majority, primarily due to a revived Liberal Democrats, but also from the Green Party and the nationalists in Scotland and Wales.

Four recent UK elections & Failing to Deliver Brexit

The current context should be understood in the light of four recent UK-wide elections. 

Fig 1 : Vote share of major parties in four recent UK elections

The European Election in 2014 resulted in the United Kindom Indpendance Party (UKIP) achieving 26.6% of the vote and almost a third of the 73 UK seats in the European Parliament. The Conservative Party under David Cameron won the General Election in the following year with a promise of a referendum. Compared with the European Election of the previous year, the Conservative vote share increased 13.7% and the UKIP vote share decreased 14.0%.

The resultant European Union Referendum Act 2015 was supported by all major parties with the exception of the SNP. In the subsequent referendum on 23rd June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union, despite the vast majority of politicians and the greater financial resources being devoted to remain. Early the following day Prime Minister David Cameron accepted the result and resigned. Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn called on the Government to trigger Article 50 immediately. A few days later, Theresa May launched her leadership campaign with a key statement on Brexit.

 Brexit means Brexit. And we’re going to make a success of it. There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, and no second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union, and as Prime Minister I will make sure that we leave the European Union.

On 7th December 2016, the House of Commons vote on respecting the
outcome of the referendum is passed 448 votes to 75.

On 29th March 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May notifys the EU of the UK’s intention to leave. The time period is two years, implicitly making the withdrawal date 29th March 2019.

On 18th April 2017 the Prime Minister calls a snap General Election to
for 8th June, to capitalise on the Tories clear lead in the opinion polls. The outcome is the Tories lose their majority. Yet compared to the 2015 General Election, the Conservatives vote share increases 5.6% to 42.4% and the UKIP vote share is down 10.8% to just 1.8%.

A House of Commons Timeline extracted the commitments of the two major parties in their 2017 manifestos. The Conservative manifesto stated

As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the
single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special
partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.

The final agreement will be subject to a vote in both houses of parliament. To agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses, as will the devolved legislatures, where they have the
power to do so.

The Labour Party Party Manifesto stated

Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.
We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental
standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role
to Parliament throughout negotiations.
To scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh
negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union.
A Labour government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.

Both parties have commitments to leave the EU, but have quite different intepretations. The Conservatives guaranteed to leave on 29th March 2019, whilst Labour makes leaving conditional on obtaining certain guarantees. Neither Party has changed these commitments. It can be argued that neither Party respects the perception of leaving as exiting the single market and other institutions, as projected by both the Leave campaign and the Government’s Pro-Remain booklet sent to every household as part of the referendum campaign. 

The EU withdrawal agreement does not contradict the Conservatives manifesto, but does contradict the perception of what leaving the EU means.

On 15th January 2019 the EU Withdrawal Agreement is defeated “by a majority of 230 (with 202 voting in favour of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and 432 against).” Despite this, the Government won a no confidence vote the next day by 325 to 302. In a second “meaningful vote” on 12th March, the Government loses by 149 votes.

On the 13th March, “Dame Caroline Spelman’s amendment (moved by Yvette Cooper) – ruling out a ‘no-deal Brexit’ at any time – is passed by 312 votes to 308.” On the same day a motion “to seek permission from the EU to delay Brexit beyond 29 March 2019” is passed by 413 votes to 202.

On 14th March “Dr Sarah Wollaston’s amendment – requesting an extension of Article 50 in order for a second referendum to take place – is rejected by 335 votes to 85.” This is delayed first to 12th April, then to 31st October. 

It is interesting to note that during March the Conservatives were mostly leading in the opinion polls, but after 29th March Labour were leading. In April, after the launch of the Brexit Party and the announcement of European Parlimentary elections, both parties lost support. 

In the European elections the Brexit Party was the clear winner. The Brexit Party and UKIP combined reached 33.7% of the vote (30.5% and 3.2%), up 31.9% on GE 2019, whilst the Tories had 8.8% of the vote, down 33.6%. The Liberal Democrats and the Green, with their clear policies to stop Brexit,improved by 12.2% and 11.0% to 19.6 and 12.6%, whilst the Labour Party’s vote share declined 26.3% to 13.7%. Whilst not all the vote movement from the Tories to no-deal Brexit parties, or from Labour to the stop Brexit parties, a massive poll published by Lord Ashcroft on 27th May confirms that this was the majority case. The Tories saw greater losses to the Brexit Party, whilst Labour saw losses to both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. The poll also showed that the Labour Party of who retained more supporters from the General Election 2017.

The EU Election 2017 as a General Election opinion poll 

Although there are clear differences in voting patterns between the European Elections and the General Elections, it is clear that from the above analysis for either the Conservative or Labour Parties to stand a chance of getting a majority, they must regain voters lost to other parties in the European Elections. Some voters will move back anyway, and much higher turnout in General Elections will have a role to play. But opionion polls in the last two weeks show that we may have four UK-wide parties in play, with the Greens making up a significant fifth. Fig 2, extracted from Britain Elects, summarizes these polls.

Fig 2 : Westminster Opinion polls in the three weeks following the European Elections 2019. Source Britain Elects

Britain Elects also summarized the EU Election Results 2019 by council area, with the change on 2014. For Great Britain (i.e. the UK excluding Northern Ireland) I have summarized these results by the YouGov opinion poll regions. That is (with number of MEPs) England North (17), England South (16), Midlands + Wales (23), London (8) and Scotland (6). This is only indicative as council areas vary considerably in number of voters. In the EU Referendum of 2016, the electorates for the Isles of Scilly, Orkneys and Shetlands were respectively 1,800, 16,700 and 17,400. At the other end of the scale Leeds had 543,000 voters and Birmingham 707,000. Also I have only covered just over 90% of councils. Due to re-organisations in areas like Suffolk and Dorest comparisons between 2014 and 2019 are not available.

Independence Parties Vote increase from 2014 to 2019

If the May European Elections had been a General Election I estimate the Brexit Party would have won a parliamentary majority of around 170 seats with just under one third of the vote. Combined with the UKIP vote, the two Independance Parties achieved a considerably higher share of the vote than UKIP did on its own in 2014. This is common across virtually every council area, as shown in Fig 3

Fig 3 : UKIP vote share by council in European Elections 2014 compared to Brexit Party plus UKIP vote share in European Elections 2019. Black line denotes no change.

There are very few council areas where the Independence vote did not increase. The variation by YouGov region is noticeable.

Fig 4 : Regional split of UKIP vote share by council in European Elections 2014 compared to Brexit Party plus UKIP vote share in European Elections 2019. Black line denotes no change.

It is in the North of England, the Midlands and Wales where some of the largest increases in the Indpendence party votes have occured. In the South of England the increase is more moderate. In both London and Scotland support for Independance parties is generally less than in the rest of the UK, with the outliers being in outer London. In 2014 the call was for a Referendum on the European Union. In 2019 the failure to implement the result of that referendum resulted in an even greater vote for the Independence Parties. In the sample councils in 2014 the unweighted average for UKIP was 29% of the vote. In 2019 the Brexit Party had an unweighted average of 33.9%. The Lib-Dems on a “block Brexit” platform achieved a more substantial gain, from 7.2% in 2014 to 19.9% in 2019. The Conservatives lost ground, from 25.0% average vote share in 2014 to 9.0% in 2019. The Labour Party also lost ground from 22.9% to 12.6%. 

Countering the Lib-Dems and the Brexit Party in a GE2019

In the 2014 Euro Elections both Labour (under Ed Miliband) and the Conservatives (under David Cameron) lost votes to UKIP, but both maybe gained votes from the Liberal Democrats. In 2019 the Conservatives and Labour Parties both lost more ground, this time to the Brexit Party, the Lib Dems, and to lesser parties like the Greens. In this section I look at the vote shares of the two major parties in 2014 Euro Elections with those of the Brexit Party in 2019.

Fig 5 : Labour and Conservative vote share by council in European Elections 2014 compared to Brexit Party vote share in European Elections 2019. Black line denotes equal share. To the lower left is where Brexit Party has larger share in 2019 than Labour or Conservative Parties in 2014.

In Figure 5 in the vast majority of councils the Brexit Party achieved a greater share of the vote in 2019 than either the Labour or Conservative Parties did in 2014. The scatter is somewhat different. The Labour party has a fair number of councils where their 2014 vote share far outstripped the Brexit Party’s 2019 vote share, but a far greater number of councils where they did badly in 2014 (i.e. much less than 20% vote share) and where the Brexit Party achieved over 30% vote share in 2019. For the Conservatives the biggest cluster is where they achieved greater than 20% vote share in 2014 and the Brexit Party achieved greater than 30% vote share in 2019. This indicates that the Conservatives have far more to gain from adopting the Brexit Party’s no deal Brexit position than Labour.  The regional split largely confirms this. 

Fig 6 : Regional split of Labour Party vote share by council in European Elections 2014 compared to Brexit Party vote share in European Elections 2019. Black line denotes equal share. To the lower left is where Brexit Party has larger share in 2019 than Labour Party in 2014.

Figure 6 looks at the regional fight between the Labour Party and the Brexity Party. Given that the current Labour leadership is dominated by London-based MPs (Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott) the perspective could be that there is little to be gained electorally from adopting a strong “Leave” position. Labour are strong where the hardline Brexiteers are weak. There are also councils in other parts of England (e.g. Liverpool, City of Manchester, Oxford, Bristol) where this pattern also applies. Conversely there are many councils in the Midlands and the South where the Labour Party has a very weak presence, but the Brexit Party gained over 30% of the vote in 2019. There are also quite a few councils where the Labour Party has considerable competition from the Brexit Party. This includes many marginal areas in the Midlands and North that Labour would need to win to form a Government. These include Barrow-in-Furness, Broxtowe, Bolsover, Dudley and Wrexham.

Fig 7 : Regional split of Conservative Party vote share by council in European Elections 2014 compared to Brexit Party vote share in European Elections 2019. Black line denotes equal share. To the lower left is where Brexit Party has larger share in 2019 than the Conservative Party in 2014.

Figure 7 shows a quite different position for the Conservative Party compared to Labour. They are strongest in the South and much of the Midlands. In these key areas the Tories have strong competition from the Brexit Party. 

Lib Dems and Brexit Party Head-to-Head 2019

In the Euro Elections the Liberal Democrats also made a strong showing, achieving second place behind the Brexit Party. Their “Stop Brexit” policy is the antithesis of the Brexit Party’s “No Deal Brexit” stance. There were other Parties with similar hardline positionsin the May elections. In Figure 1 the Green Party made a strong showing, as did the nationalist parties in Sotland and Wales. Change UK had a similar small share of the vote to UKIP. It is unlikely either will figure in a General Election.

The problem for both Labour and the Tories is that winning votes from either the Lib-Dems or the Brexit Party will mean losing votes to the other. Their attempts at straddling the polar opposites last month meant losing to both sides. In this context it is worth examining the vote shares of the Lib-Dems and the Brexit Party by council. 

Fig 8: Liberal Democrat and Brexit Party vote shares in European Elections 2019 for Great Britain. The black line denotes equal share. London and Scotland combined.

Of the 365 councils covered, the Brexit Party had a greater share of the vote in 297. The regional split gives more information.

Fig 9: Regional split of Liberal Democrat and Brexit Party vote shares in European Elections 2019. The black line denotes an equal share. London and Scotland combined.

In Figure 9 I have combined London and Scotland as they show a similar picture that is quite different from the rest of Great Britain. The North of England has a less widespread Lib-Dem support than in the combined South East and South West Regions. In the central belt from Wales to East Anglia there is quite strong Lib Dem support in a minority of places. In a good proportion of that minority Brexit Party support is stronger. In London and Scotland it is the Lib-Dems that are stronger. Scotland has most of the instances where combined Lib Dem and Brexit Party Support was less than 40% due to the SNP being the leading party.

Lord Ashcroft Polls

Lord Ashcroft published a massive Euro-election post-vote poll on 27th May looking the shift in vote from the General Election 2017 and the Euro Elections. With respect to the loss of votes from the two major parties the article states

More than half (53%) of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party. Only just over one in five (21%) stayed with the Tories. Around one in eight (12%) switched to the Liberal Democrats. Labour voters from 2017 were more likely to stay with their party, but only a minority (38%) did so. More than one in five (22%) went to the Lib Dems, 17% switched to the Greens, and 13% went to the Brexit Party.

That is, for every one of the 2017 Conservative voters who voted Liberal Democrat last month, more than four voted for the Brexit Party. For the Labour it is the other way round. For every one of the 2017 Labour voters who voted for the Brexit Party, three voted for the either the Liberal Democrats or the Greens.

If this is cast into the above analysis, a no-deal Brexit strategy for the Tories will draw back votes from the Brexit Party, but not lose them a whole lot more votes to the Liberal Democrats. On the other hand for Labour, a clear Remain strategy to win back voter share is less pronounced, as in May they retained a larger share of the 2017 voters, and have a less one-sided loss parties with a clear Brexit standpoint. From today’s announcement, the adoption of a clear Pro-Remain strategy is not likely to happen whilst Jeremy Corbyn is the leader.

Conclusions

In the South of England, much of Central England and in parts of Northern England and Wales the Conservatives were the strongest party in 2017 and where the Brexit Party support is considerably stronger than the Liberal Democrats. A clear No-Deal Brexit policy as the way of respecting democracy would, therefore, win more votes than it lost. It would mean losses of a number of constituencies such as Winchester and Richmond-on-Thames. On the other hand, it could mean winning constituencies from the Labour Party, particularly where the Liberal Democrat and Green share increased on 2017. For the Conservatives, it means a will to win a majority in the knowledge that fair number of existing seats would be lost in the process.

The Labour Party is unlikely to clarify its position on Brexit, despite many in the party such as Emily Thornberry and Tom Watson wanting this change. The reason is the danger of losing seats through betraying the Leave voters in the North, Midlands and Wales, with substantial numbers of Labour MPs being against the move. Yet sitting on the fence will lose votes to four parties, or for traditional Labour voters to stay at home. The Conservatives will the biggest winners here.

Kevin Marshall

Forecast for the UK EU elections 2019

I know that it is only a few hours before we know the results of the elections to the European Parliament, but I have devised a forecast based on the last published YouGov poll, commissioned by the Times and published the day before polling and based on fieldwork on 19th – 21st May 2019. This gave the following results

Basing a forecast on one poll is risky. In favour is the large sample size of 3864, YouGov’s reputation and the D’Hondt system which approximates to proportional representation. Against is the rapidly-changing political opinion; unknown relative turnout of different opinion groups; and the need to split YouGov’s five regions into eleven regions.  This I did by (a) Using an ITV / Cardiff University / Yougov poll published on Monday 20th May for Wales (b) apportioning the Brexit Party and LD vote within a YouGov Region by the relative Leave percentage in the EU Referendum.  

My forecast is below. 

 

Discussion

My forecast might give too many seats to the Brexit Party. The Europe Elects projection, based on the last 5 opinion polls, only predicts 30 seats for the Brexit Party, and 6 seats for the Conservatives. For the Conservatives, this might be very optimistic. In my forecast, the sole seat in the South-East is the last of ten seats to be allocated. 

 

My forecast might overstate the Brexit Party for another reason. In his weekly email Iain Dale states

Everyone expects the Brexit Party to wipe the floor, but some of the turnout figures show that turnout in Remain areas seems to be higher than that in Brexit areas. It seems the LibDems could come second, with the Tories and Change UK getting no seats at all. 

Turnout might be an issue. It depends on the relative anger over the Brexit issue. However, it also appears that the Remain vote will be split between the Lib-Dems, Green Party and Change UK. Further the Conservative Party will be the biggest losers, but the Labour Party can at best hope to be a distant second to the Brexit Party.

Kevin Marshall

Reconciling recent ice mass balance estimates for Antarctica

This post is a slight modification and extention of a comment made at the cliscep post The Latest Antarctic Ice Sheet Alarmist Con

As a (slightly manic) beancounter I like to reconcile data sets. The differing estimates behind the claims of accelerating ice mass loss in Antarctica do not reconcile, nor with sea level rise data.
The problem of ice loss needs to be looked at in terms of the net of ice losses (e.g. glacier retreat) and ice gains (snow accumulation). Any estimate then needs to be related to other estimates. The Guardian article referred in the  cliscep post states

Separate research published in January found that ice loss from the entire Antarctic continent had increased six-fold since the 1980s, with the biggest losses in the west. The new study indicates West Antarctica has caused 5mm of sea level rise since 1992, consistent with the January study’s findings.

The paper is Rignot et al 2018 “Four decades of Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance from 1979–2017“. The abstract states

The total mass loss increased from 40 ±
9 Gt/y in 1979–1990 to 50 ± 14 Gt/y in 1989–2000, 166 ± 18 Gt/y
in 1999–2009, and 252 ± 26 Gt/y in 2009–2017. In 2009–2017,
the mass loss was dominated by the Amundsen/Bellingshausen
Sea sectors, in West Antarctica (159 ± 8 Gt/y), Wilkes Land, in
East Antarctica (51 ± 13 Gt/y), and West and Northeast Peninsula
(42 ± 5 Gt/y). The contribution to sea-level rise from Antarctica
averaged 3.6 ± 0.5 mm per decade with a cumulative 14.0 ±
2.0 mm since 1979, including 6.9 ± 0.6 mm from West Antarctica,
4.4 ± 0.9 mm from East Antarctica, and 2.5 ± 0.4 mm from the
Peninsula (i.e., East Antarctica is a major participant in the mass
loss).

Jaime @ 19 May 19 at 7:56 am points to a New Scientist article in January claiming that Antartica ice loss has trebled. The underlying article is from Nature – The IMBIE Team – Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017. The abstract states

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimeters (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain.

The key problem is in the contribution to sea level rise. The Rignot study from 1979-2017 gives 3.6 mm a decade from 1989-2017, about 4.1 mm and from 1999-2017 about 5.6 mm. The IMBIE team estimates over the period 1992-2017 7.9 mm sea level rise, or 3 mm per decade. The Rignot study estimate is over 50% greater than the IMBIE team. Even worse, neither the satellite data for sea level rise from 1992, nor the longer record of tide gauges, show an acceleration in sea level rise.

For instance from NOAA, the satellite data shows a fairly steady 2.9mm a year. rise in sea levels from 1992.

Using the same data, the University of Colorado estimates the average sea level rise to be 3.1 mm a year.

Note that in both the much greater variability in the Jason 2 data, and the slowdown in rise after 2016 when Jason 3 started operating.

The tide gauges show a lesser rate of rise. A calculation from 155 of the best tide gauges around the world found the mean and median rate of sea level rise to be 1.48 mm/yr. 

Yet, if Rignot is correct in recent years Antarctic ice loss must now account for around 22-25% of the sea level rise (satellite record) or almost 50% (tide gauges) of the measured sea level rise. Both show no accleration. What factors have a diminishing contribution to sea level rise over the last 25 years? It cannot be less thermal expansion, as heat uptake is meant to have increased post 2000, more than offsetting the slowdown in surface temperature rise when emissions accelerated. 

Kevin Marshall

Postscript

This is not the first time I have covered rather extreme claims in one of Prof Eric Rignot’s estimates of accleration in ice melt. Six years ago I looked at Rignot et al 2011 – Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise

I compared the 12 monthly rise in sea surface temperatures with the corressponding chart of ice mass balance loss for Greenland and Antarctica. The peaks and troughs corressponded nicely, with about 18 months between ice loss and sea level rise. This is quite remarkable considering that from Rignot et 2011 in the 1990s ice loss would have had very little influence on sea level rise. It is almost as though the modelling has taken the sea level data, multiplied by 360, flipped it, moved it back a few months then tilted to result show acceleration. 

Yet the acceleration of 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr2 for Antarctica results in decadal increases not too dismillar from those in the abstract of Rignot et al 2018. This would validate the earlier results except for another paper. Shepherd et al Nov 2012 – Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance had a long list of authors including Rignot and three of the four co-authors of the Rignot et al 2011. It set the standard for the time, and was  the key article on the subject in IPCC AR5 WG1. Shepherd et al Nov 2012 has the following Table 1.

For Antartica as  experienced no significant acceleration in ice mass loss in the period 1992-2011. 

Monopoly Water Company campaigns to control its customers

At Guido Fawkes this morning I was confronted with a bright green and yellow advert.

It is an appeal for increased regulation. The reason for the regulation is political.

Water is not part of the climate change debate
It is treated like an add on when it is critical to life. We need to change this now.

Water might be critical to life, but that does not mean the supply is critical. Provision of food and healthcare are also critical to life, and successful provision of both is much more complex and challanging than the supply of the most basic and plentiful of commodities.

If we don’t act now we face a £40 billion water crisis
Sign our petition at change.org

Clicking on the link takes us to a Change.org petition headed

Water efficiency is critical to climate change. Act now to prevent a water crisis.

The petition starts with the statement

We need to mobilise support and act now. The conservation of water can no longer wait.
Water efficiency is critical to the debate on climate change – an issue pushed to the forefront by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. If we do not act now, we will suffer a water crisis, not only our generation, but for future generations to come. This needs to change now – join our campaign #WhyNotWater.

The heading states “Water efficiency is critical to climate change” implying that changes in water efficiency will affect the actual course of the climate. But the text is “Water efficiency is critical to the debate on climate change”, where some activists claim water efficiency should be part of a debate. The heading implies backing empirical evidence, whereas the text is about beliefs.
Further, a superficial reading of the statement would give the impression that climate change is causing water shortages, and will cause a water crisis. But clicking on the Affinity Water link takes us to a press release on 10th May

Affinity Water warns of water shortages unless government acts now

The UK’s largest water only company, Affinity Water has warned that within the next 25 years and beyond, there may not be enough water due to climate change, population growth and increases in demand.

….

Unlike the advert and the petition there are mentions of other factors that might affect climate change, but no data on the relative magnitudes.

Note that Affinity Water is a limited company, with gross revenues in year to 31 March 2018 of £306.3m, operating profit of £72.3m and profit after tax of £29.6m (Page 107).

The piece finishes with

To find out more about the manifesto visit www.whynotwater.co.ukand to sign a petition to demand the legislation needed for water efficient labelling and water efficient goods and housing visit www.affinitywater.co.uk/ourpetition

The whynotwater website is a bit more forthcoming with the data.

Why should we act?

  • Climate change is likely to reduce our supply of water in our area by 39 million litres of water per day by 2080.
  • The population is growing and is expected to increase 51% by 2080. This is equivalent to approximately 1.8 million more people in our supply area, putting further strain on our resources.
  • Using water wisely is critical in the South East – a severely water-stressed area; did you know there was less rainfall than other parts of the country? Between July 2016 and April 2017 the area received 33% less rainfall than the national average.
  • Customers in the South East also use more water daily – 152 litres per person per day, which is higher than the national average of 141 litres per person per day.

From the above population in the supply area is projected to increase from 3.53 to 5.33 million. With unchanged average water usage of 152 litres, this is implies an increase in consumption of 274 million litres. Population change is projected to have seven times the influence on water demand than climate change on supply. It should be noted that these figures is domestic consumption. Currently Affinity Water supplies around 900 million litres per day, implying over 350 litres per day is from other sources. Based on total average supply, climate change ove 60 years is projected to reduce supply by just 4.3%.

But which projection is more robust, that of population increase, or of falls in water availability? With population it is possible to extrapolate from existing data. From the World Bank data, the population of the UK increased by 11% from 2001 to 2016. At this rate, in 2076 the population will be 52% higher than 2016. Within the South East using national data might be unreliable, as population shifts between regions. But it is likely that by 2080 population in Affinity’s supply areas will be significantly higher than today.

Water availability is not so precise, yet the fall due to climate change of 39 million litres per day is just 7% of existing domestic demand, or 4.3% of total water usage. There are some records at the Met Office of rainfall. In particular in the South East are records for Heathrow Airport and Manston in Kent. I have graphed annual rainfall data, with averages of the last 10 years.

In the past twenty years rainfall has increased in both Manston and Heathrow. Compared to 1979-1998, average annual rainfall in 1999-2018 was 17% higher in Manston and 9% higher in Heathrow. In 60 years from now it might be higher or lower due to random natural climate variability. Any projection of a 4-7% reduction in rainfall is guesswork. If this is still a scientific estimate of unmitigated human-induced climate change, then Affinity better pass the message onto Greta Thurnberg and Extinction Rebellion. From the XR! Website.

THE TRUTH

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.

This may seem sensationalist even by the the worst tabloid standards, but is the group have toned down a bit. When launched XR! were proclaiminghuman-caused (anthropogenic) climate breakdown alone is enough to wipe out the human species by the end of this century.

As there was no real water crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, why should there be in 2080? The only way there will be a water crisis is if water supply does not increase in line with the projections of rising population. Even then it will hardly contribute to the mass deaths of people in Britain as part of a species extinction. Meeting long-term changing demands should be within the control of the British Government and the regulated water companies. Instead a monopoly water company appears to be falsely attributing the whole problem to an issue outside of its control, campaigning to introduce regulations that are aimed at controlling consumer demand. Rather than serving their client base by additional investment, Affinity Water looks to be deriving fixed demand by controlling them. That investment in new reservoirs, wells, water recycling plants, pipelines from wetter places (Scotland has on average twice the rainfall of the South-East) and even desalination plants could cost billions of pounds. In so doing Affinity Water is listening to a bunch of revolutionaries rather than serving their customers. This must be especially galling for the Affinity Water customers who commute into London and have been inconvenienced by Extinction Rebellion’s blockades over recent months.

Kevin Marshall

Postscript at 4.00pm

The screenshot of the petition petition was taken at around 9.30 this morning, with 594 signatures. It now has 622 signatures. That is less than 5 signatures per hour. In that time Guido Fawkes has likely had over 10,000 unique visitors, based on last weeks figures,

Update 16/05/19 at 23.50

Another day of advertising a Guido Fawkes (and maybe elsewhere) has seen the number of signatures rise to 678. The petition was raised two weeks ago. 

Warming in Canada is making temperatures less extreme

Yesterday the BBC broadcast “Climate Change – The Facts”. Jaime Jessop has already posted the first of a promised number of critical commentaries. Alex Cull has already started a transcript. Another here.

At the start the narrator says

What we’re doing right now is we’re so rapidly changing the climate, for the first time in the world’s history people can see the impact of climate change.

Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise.

This reminds me of Jaime’s article of 4th April – Canada’s Burning and it’s Mostly Because of Humans Says Federal Government Report 

The true headline claim from the Canada’s Climate Change Report 2019 was

Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming.

This observation is since 1948. This is partly because land has warmed faster than the oceans and partly because the greatest warming is in the Arctic. See two graphics I produced last year from the HADCRUT4 data. Note that much of the Canada-US border is at 49N, though Toronto is at 44N.

Canada is land based and much of its area is in the in the Arctic. Being part of a continental land mass, Canada also has extremely cold winters and fairly hot summers. But overall it is cold. Average Canadian temperatures from Berkeley Earth in 2013 were still -3.5C, up from -5.5C in 1900. BE graphic reproduced below.

The question is, does this mean that climate is becoming more extreme? The report on page 127 has a useful table

In Canada as a whole, and in four of the six areas, Winter average temperatures have warmed faster than those in the Summer. The other two have coastal influences, where I would expect the difference between  summer and winter to be less extreme than Canada as a whole. Climate has generally become less extreme.
However, if climate is becoming more extreme as a result of general warming then it this would result in more warm temperature records than cold temperature records to be set in recent decades. From Wikipedia has Lists of extreme temperatures in Canada.

Of the 13 Provinces and Territories, only two have heat records more recent than 1950. That is Nunavut in 1989 and Yukon in 2004. For extreme cold, records are more spread out, with the two most recent in 1972 & 1973.

Wikipedia also has lists of highest & lowest temperatures ever recorded in Canada as a whole. The hottest has duplicates in terms of adjacent places, or the same places on adjacent days. Not surprisingly nearly all are located well inland and close to the US border. The record highest is 45.0 °C on July 5, 1937. The bottom half of the list is of records of 43.3 °C or 110 °F. The three most recent were set in 1949, 1960 and 1961.
The coldest ever recorded in Canada was -63.0 °C on February 3, 1947 at Snag Yukon. The third lowest was −59.4 °C in 1975. On the list are three from this century. −49.8 °C on January 11, 2018, −48.6 °C on December 30, 2017 and −42 °C on December 17, 2013. Eleven of the thirteen provinces and territories are represented in the 31 records on the coldest list, and there is 21.9 °C difference between the top and bottom of the list. Seventy years of Winter warming in Canada have raised average temperatures by 3.3 °C, but the extreme low temperatures are 13 °C higher.

It would seem that the biggest news is of winter warming of 3.3 °C in 70 years has resulted in far less extreme cold, and considerably lower extreme cold temperatures. The more moderate summer warming has not resulted in record heatwaves. The evidence is that Canada’s warming has made temperatures less extreme, contradicting the consensus claims that warming leads to more extremes. In Canada, global warming appears to be causing climate changing for the better. So why is the Canadian Government trying to stop it?

Kevin Marshall

How climate damage costings from EPA Scientists are misleading and how to correct

The Los Angeles Times earlier this month had an article

From ruined bridges to dirty air, EPA scientists price out the cost of climate change. (Hattip Climate Etc.)

By the end of the century, the manifold consequences of unchecked climate change will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year, according to a new study by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency.
…..
However, they also found that cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and proactively adapting to a warming world, would prevent a lot of the damage, reducing the annual economic toll in some sectors by more than half.

The article is based on the paper
Climate damages and adaptation potential across diverse sectors of the United States – Jeremy Martinich & Allison Crimmins – Nature Climate Change 2019

The main problem is with the cost alternatives, contained within Figure 2 of the article.

Annual economic damages from climate change under two RCP scenarios. RCP8.5 has no mitigation and RCP4.5 massive mitigation. Source Martinich & Crimmins 2019 Figure 2

I have a lot of issues with the cost estimates. But the fundamental issue centers around costs that are missing from the RCP4.5 costs to enable a proper analysis to be made.

The LA Times puts forward the 2006 Stern Review – The Economics of Climate Change – as an earlier attempt at calculating “the costs of global warming and the benefits of curtailing emissions.
The major policy headline from the Stern Review (4.7MB pdf)

Using the results from formal economic models, the Review estimates that if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more. In contrast, the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.

The Stern Review implies a straight alternative. There are either the costs of unmitigated climate change OR the costs of mitigation policy. The RCP4.5 is the residual climate damage costs after costly policies have been successfully applied. The Stern Review quotation only looked at the policy costs, not the residual climate damage costs after policy has been applied, whereas Martinich & Crimmins 2019 only looks at the residual climate damage costs and not the policy costs.

The costs of any mitigation policy to combat climate change must include both the policy costs and the damage costs. But this is not the most fundamental problem.

The fundamental flaw in climate mitigation policy justifications

The estimated damage costs of climate change result from global emissions of greenhouse gases, which raise the average levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases which in turn raise global average temperatures. This rise in global average temperatures is what is supposed to create the damage costs.
By implication, the success of mitigation policies in reducing climate damage costs is measured in relation to the reduction in global emissions. But 24 annual COP meetings have failed to even get vague policy intentions will collectively stabilize emissions at the current levels. From the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018 is Figure ES.3 showing the gap between intentions and the required emissions to constrain global warming to 1.5°C and 2.0°C.

Current mitigation policies in the aggregate will achieve very little. If a country were to impose additional policies, the marginal impact would be very small in reducing global emissions. By implication, any climate mitigation policy costs imposed by a country, or sub-division of that country, will only result in very minor reductions in the future economic damage costs to that country. This is even if the climate mitigation policies are the most economically efficient, getting the biggest reductions for a given amount of expenditure. As climate mitigation is net costly, under current climate mitigation policies will necessarily impose burdens on the current generation, whilst doing far less in reducing the climate impacts on future generations in the policy area. Conversely, elimination of costly policies will be net beneficial to that country. Given the global demands for climate mitigation, politically best policy is to do as little possible, whilst appearing to be as virtuous as possible.

Is there a way forward for climate policy?

A basic principle in considering climate mitigation is derived from Ralph Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

An emended prayer (or mantra) for policy-makers would be to change things for the better. I would propose not having perfect knowledge of the future, but having a reasonable expectation that it will change the world for the better. If policy is costly, the benefits should exceed the costs. If policy-makers are aiming to serve their own group, or humanity as a whole, then they should have the serenity accept that there are the costs and harms of policy. In this light consider a quote by Nobel Laureate Prof William Nordhaus from an article in the American Economic Review last year.

The reality is that most countries are on a business-as-usual (BAU) trajectory of minimal policies to reduce their emissions; they are taking noncooperative policies that are in their national interest, but far from ones which would represent a global cooperative policy.

Nordhaus agrees with the UNEP emissions gap report. Based on the evidence of COP24 Katowice it is highly unlikely most countries will not do a sudden about-face, implementing policies that are clearly against their national interest. If this is incorrect, maybe someone can start by demonstrating to countries that rely on fossil fuel production for a major part of their national income – such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries – how leaving fossil fuels in the ground and embracing renewables is in their national interests. In the meantime, how many politicians will public accept that it is not in their power to reduce global emissions, but continue implementing policies whose success requires that they are part of policies that collectively will reduce global emissions?

If climate change is going to cause future damages what are the other options?

Martinich & Crimmins 2019 have done some of the work in estimating the future costs of climate change for the United States. Insofar as these are accurate forecasts, actions can be taken to reduce those future risks. But those future costs are contingent on a whole series of assumptions. Mostly crucially, the large magnitude of the damage costs are usually contingent  on dumb economic actor assumptions. That is, people have zero behavioral response to changing conditions over many decades. Two examples I looked at last year illustrate the dumb economic actor assumptions.

A Government Report last Summer claimed that unmitigated climate change would result in 7000 excess heat deaths in the UK by the 2050s. The amount of warming was small. The underlying report was based on the coldest region of England and Wales only experiencing average summer temperatures in the 2050s on a par with those of London (the warmest region) today. Most of the excess deaths would be in the over 75s in hospitals and care homes. The “dumb actors” in this case are the health professionals caring for patients in extreme heatwave in the 2050s in exactly the same way as they do today, even though the temperatures would be slightly higher. Nobody would think to try adapt practices through learning from places with hotter summers than the UK at present. That is from the vast majority of countries in the world.

Last year a paper in Nature Plants went by the title “Decreases in global beer supply due to extreme drought and heat”. I noted the paper made a whole serious of dubious assumptions, including two “dumb actor” assumptions,  to arrive at the conclusion that beer prices in some places could double due to global warming. One was that although in the agriculture models barley yields would shrink globally by 16% by 2100 compared to today contingent on a rise of global average temperatures of over 3.0°C , in Montana and North Dakota yields could double. The lucky farmers in these areas would not try to increase output, nor would farmers faced with shrinking yields reduce output. Another was that large price discrepancies in a bottle of beer would open up over the next 80 years between adjacent countries. This includes between Britain and Ireland, despite most of the beer sold being produced by large brewing companies, often in plants in third countries. No one would have the wit to buy a few thousand bottles of beer in Britain and re-sell it at a huge profit in higher-priced Ireland.

If the prospective climate damage costs in Martinich & Crimmins 2019 are based on similar “dumb actor” assumptions then any costly adaptation policies derived from the report might be largely unnecessary. People on the ground will have more effective localized, efficient, adaptation strategies. Generalized regulations and investments based on the models will fail on a benefit cost basis.

Concluding comments

Martinich & Crimmins 2019 look at US climate damage costs under two scenarios, one with little or no climate mitigation policies, the other with considerable successful climate mitigation. In the climate mitigation scenario they fail to add in the costs of climate mitigation policies. More importantly, actual climate mitigation policies have only been enacted by a small minority of countries, so costs expended on mitigation will not be met by significant reductions in future climate costs. Whilst in reality any climate mitigation policies is likely to lead to worse outcomes than doing nothing at all, the paper implies the opposite.
Further, the assumptions behind Martinich & Crimmins 2019 need to be carefully checked. If it includes “dumb economic actor” assumptions then on this alone the long-term economic damage costs might be grossly over-estimated. There is a real risk that adaptation policies based on these climate damage projections will lead to worse outcomes than doing nothing.
Overall, if policy-makers want to make a positive difference to the world in combating climate change, they should acquire the wisdom to identify areas where they can only do net harms. In the current environment, that will take an extreme level of courage. However, these justifications are far less onerous than the rigorous testing and approval process that new medical treatments need to go through before being allowed in general circulation.

Kevin Marshall

Moon Hoax data suggests Climate Sceptics are sceptical and Climate Alarmists are more dogmatic

It is now nearly seven years since the in-press release of the notorious “Lewandowsky, Oberauer & Gignac – NASA faked the moon landing:Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” and the 26 March is the sixth anniversary of its final publication in amended form. Last month I was prompted to look again at the underlying survey data a short article at Medium by Jose Duarte. I fully agree with the differences in between the “published” and “extended” data files, now both archived on a Bristol University server, and have found some others. However, the subject of post is very different.

Main Thesis

Based on the “Moon Hoax” survey data, when confronted with a unknown conspiracy theory, the more sceptical a person is of climate “science” the more likely they are to mildly disagree with the conspiracy, whilst the more accepting a person is of “climate science” the more likely they are to strongly reject the conspiracy. Climate sceptics tend to be more sceptical of statements new to them, whilst those believing in climate science to roundly reject such statements.  Presented with a conspiracy theory that at least a strong minority agree with, then the degree of acceptance shows that sceptics tend to be more conservative or neo-liberal, whilst climate alarmists are more to socialist / progressive / (US) liberal.

The Iraq War Question

One of the first things I found in the “extended” file on the Bristol University server was responses to the missing Iraq question, located at the start of the conspiracy theory questions. The question was

The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove WMD from Iraq.

To look at the results, like in my September 2012 analysis, I produced a pivot table of the Iraq War responses against the average of the four “CO2 Science” questions. I did the same for the 14 conspiracy theory questions.

Figure 1 : Comparison of responses to the 14 Conspiracy Theory statements and the IraqNot4WMD with the average response band to the four CO2 Science questions. Note that the “average response” is the raw average response, and not the average of the response bands. For instance if a response had 8 “1” and 6 “2” the raw average response would be 1.43 and the response band would be “1”.

The first thing to note from figure 1 is that the vast majority all responses on average reject all 14 conspiracy theories. The conclusion from these figures is that, with few exceptions, those who reject climate science (skeptics/deniers/contrarians) also reject conspiracy theories, just like those who accept climate “science”. Two notable exceptions are responses 860 and 889 who answered 1 to all four CO2 Science questions and who strongly agreed with nearly all the conspiracy theories. Whether scam responses, or clearly held beliefs, they are outliers in the data sets.
Also of note is that the average response score for both the 14 conspiracy theories and the Iraq War question increases with increasing acceptance of climate science. Thus average responses suggests the opposite to what the paper claims.

Why the difference?

The average score suggests the opposite of far more sophisticated findings of the published paper. To understand more we need to look at the average response counts for the 14 conspiracy theories in more detail.

Figure 2: The count of average 14 conspiracy theory scores and the percentage of total responses, split by conspiracy theory band and by acceptance of CO2 science

The average score this time is on the conspiracy theory bands. It now gives the opposite of the conclusion in Figure 1. This time conspiracy theory average score decreases with increasing acceptance of CO2 Science.
The detail suggests why this is the case. % Score 1 – the strong rejection of conspiracy theories – there is an increase in percentage of respondents with increase in belief in climate change. But for score 2 it is the reverse direction. This should be an interesting result in itself. The dogmatic rejection of conspiracy theories appears to be related to belief in climate alarmism, but a less strong rejection – or a more sceptical stance – appears to be related to degree of climate scepticism. I have produced a similar table for the Iraq War question.

Figure 3: Count of responses to “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove WMD from Iraq” by beliefs in climate science.

An interesting point about the IraqNot4WMD is acceptance by the vast majority, not rejection like for the other conspiracy theories. Strong acceptance of “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove WMD from Iraq” appears to be related to belief in CO2 Science, but lesser acceptance is strongest with those of more moderate views. Less than 10% of responses rejected the statement. Amongst this small minority of responses, disagreement with the statement is related to the rejection of CO2 Science.

Looking at the breakdown of the 14 conspiracy theories gives some further insights.

Figure 4 : Analysis of 14 published conspiracy theories using the “published” data

The full title of the “Moon Hoax” paper is

NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

The title is ill-chosen given that the average score of 1.08 is the lowest of all conspiracy theories, with just 10 out of 1145 expressing any agreement and 93.2% expressing strong disagreement. Even worse, the title infers a chain of thought by a small minority of 3 from among hundreds of other potential combinations, without asking any questions of the respondents. Five years ago I looked at this in detail in “Lewandowsky’s false inference from an absurd correlation”.
There are just two conspiracy theories where acceptance is over one fifth of the total responses – the JFK Assassination and the Oklahoma Bombing.

Figure 5: Analysis of the results from CYJFK and CYOKL.

The questions were

The assassination of John F Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, but was rather a detailed, organized conspiracy to kill the President.
The Oklahoma City Bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nicols did not act alone but rather received assistance from Neo Nazi groups.

From Figure 5 both of these, better known, conspiracy theories, strong rejection is related to the rejection of CO2 Science, whilst weaker rejections is related to rejection of CO2 Science. That is the very opposite of the average of 14 conspiracy theories. The dogmatic rejection of conspiracy theories appears to be related to the degree of climate scepticism, but a less strong rejection (i.e. a more sceptical stance) appears to be related to degree of belief in climate alarmism.

With a larger sample of those expressing belief in conspiracy theories there are contradictory results. For moderate acceptance, belief is related to degree of climate scepticism, for CYJFK and degree of belief in climate alarmism for CYOKL. Although the responses are much smaller in number, similar results are present for strong acceptance of the conspiracies if the two scam responses 860 & 889 are removed. This is consistent with the JFK conspiracy being more appealing to conservatives, whilst the Oklahoma Bombing conspiracy being more appealing to (US) liberals.

The 12 Less Popular Conspiracy Theories

Figure 6 : The Average Response of the 12 less popular conspiracy theories
The element that has not changed is the average conspiracy score.

Compared to the “Ave of 14 CY” in figure 2 there is very little difference with the “Ave of 12CY” end column in Figure 6. But the impact of removing the two most popular conspiracy theories amplifies the features in Figure 2. The stronger the acceptance of climate “science” the greater the propensity to strongly reject a conspiracy theory, whilst the stronger the rejection of climate “science” the greater the propensity to less strongly reject – or to be sceptical about – a conspiracy theory,

Conclusions and further thoughts

There are three major findings.

First is in the analysis of the Iraq War conspiracy theory question. This conspiracy theory was not included in either the pre-publication or final published versions of the paper. Nor were the responses included in the “published” data file that has been available since August 2012. There are mixed messages in the responses when related to the belief in CO2 science. The stand out finding is that strong acceptance of “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove WMD from Iraq” appears to be related to belief in CO2 Science. This should not be a surprise, as the Iraq War was the responsibility of Republican President George W Bush, whilst the survey, conducted on very climate alarmist blogs, shows strong belief in CO2 Science is very closely related to extreme socialist-environmentalist ideation.

Second is a new finding from reanalysis of the data using pivot tables. There is no significant linear relationship between belief in conspiracy theories and degree of acceptance or rejection of CO2 science.

Third, and deriving from the second point, the “Moon Hoax” data indicates about important differences in handling new controversial claims between acceptors and rejecters of climate science. The greater propensity of the rejecters of climate science to only moderately reject conspiracy theories, in the “Moon Hoax” paper was put down to conspiracy ideation, a form of faulty thinking. The data indicates something radically different. When confronted with conspiracy theories for which there is little prior knowledge, the degree to which CO2 science is rejected indicates the likelihood of expressing moderate disagreement with the conspiracy theory. Conversely, the degree of expressed belief in CO2 science indicates the likelihood of immediately rejecting the conspiracy theory. But when confronted with conspiracy theories where there is broad knowledge, the likelihood of some agreement appears to be related to ideological views.
This finding can be put in slightly different language. The degree to which respondents “deny” CO2 science indicates the degree to which they will be sceptical of unfamiliar dogmatic proclamations thrust at them. Conversely, the degree to which respondents express belief in CO2 science indicates the degree to which they will be reject out of hand unfamiliar dogmatic proclamations thrust at them that do not accord with their world view.

Traditionally academic study in the quasi-sciences, along with non-sciences such as history and theology, involved carefully evaluation of the evidence and the differing arguments to reach conclusions. In climate “science” such a sceptical approach is evidence of climate denial. It follows from this consensus science logic that “correct” thinking is achieved by filtering experience through the dominant dogmas or mantras.

As a final point, the conclusions I derive are through analysing the data in different ways using pivot tables. It suggests that responses are not linear, but based on different approaches to processing data. The “Moon Hoax” paper takes a view analogous to that taken by the authorities in Soviet Union. Lack of complete agreement with authority is evidence of denial. Not accepting consensus dogma due to it conflicting with one’s perceptions is inconceivable to members of that consensus, so must be the consequence of receiving misinformation, or being psychologically deficient.

Kevin Marshall

Bogus linking of Cyclone Idai Mozambique to climate change

The news last week was full of reports of the impacts of Cyclone Idai on South-East Africa, particularly on Mozambique. This has inevitably been linked to climate change. Jaime Jessop brings attention to a “Climate Justice” article at the Conversation “Cyclone Idai: rich countries are to blame for disasters like this – here’s how they can make amends“. The article states

It is inevitable that people will connect Idai and climate change. It is always tricky to establish a direct causal link, but thanks to the evidence provided by a number of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including this most recent one from October 2018, we know that climate change is bound to increase the intensity and frequency of storms like Idai. At the very least, this crisis is a harbinger of what is coming.

As Jessop points out, the most recent IPCC SR15 has low confidence in any increase in trends in global cyclone activity, nor in the severity. In term low confidence I interpret to mean that evidence, if available, is highly speculative and/or is contradicted by better evidence. The Conversation article fails to read the evidence. Climate change is not “bound to increase the intensity and frequency of storms like Idai“. Even if that were, Idai is not caused by climate change.

At the BBC Matt McGarth tries to make the climate connection,

While Cyclone Idai is the seventh such major storm of the Indian Ocean season – more than double the average for this time of year – the long-term trend does not support the idea that these type of events are now more frequent.
The interesting thing for the area is that the frequency of tropical cyclones has decreased ever so slightly over the last 70 years,” said Dr Jennifer Fitchett from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa who has studied the question.
Instead, we are getting a much higher frequency of high-intensity storms.
Climate change is also changing a number of factors in the background that are contributing to making the impact of these storms worse.

There is absolutely no doubt that when there is a tropical cyclone like this, then because of climate change the rainfall intensities are higher,” said Dr Friederike Otto, from the University of Oxford, who has carried a number of studies looking at the influence of warming on specific events.
And also because of sea-level rise, the resulting flooding is more intense than it would be without human-induced climate change.

Evidence of more high frequency storms

Dr Jennifer Fitchett enlarges on the change in cyclone activity at the Conversation. In Tropical cyclone Idai: The storm that knew no boundaries she states

Historically, nine storms that had reached tropical cyclone intensity made landfall on Mozambique. A larger number of weaker tropical systems, including tropical storms and depressions affect the region, with a total landfall of all tropical systems of 1.1 per annum.

The link is to an open access article.

Fitchett and Grab 2014 : A 66‐year tropical cyclone record for south‐east Africa: temporal trends in a global context – International Journal of Climatology

Table 1 contains details of historical records for Madagascar and Mozambique. I have summarized the numbers of deaths by year.

The claim of  an increase in severe storms over the last 70 years by Dr Fitchett is evidenced by a glance at this graph. But there are issues. For Mozambique there are no recorded major cyclones between 1956 and 1994, nor for Madagascar between 1959 and 1994. Does this mean that there was major cyclone drought for over thirty-five years?
The history of the two countries suggests reasons for the lack of records other than lack of events to be observed. Historically Mozambique was a lightly-administered Portuguese Colony. There was a War of Independence covering 1964-1974 and following Independence a Civil War 1977-1992. Madagascar became Independent of France in 1960. There was increasing strife, culminating in a socialist-Marxist dictatorship from 1975 to 1993. The dictatorship was largely cut-off from the outside world. 1994 was the first year both countries were clear of the major strife that afflicted them for  decades, so it is hardly surprising this was the first year in decades when the severe impacts of cyclones was reported.
A BBC Report gives colloquial evidence to support the storms being nothing unusual. A video report of Cyclone Idai says it is the strongest winds Mozambique has had in the last ten years.

The evidence of less cyclones, but a claim more high-intensity ones looks like a rejection of objective evidence in favour of sensationalist reporting.

Evidence of Sea Level Rise

The desperation is indicated by mentioning sea level rise, which has risen by a few centimetres in the 50 years. Although centered on the coastal town of Beira, Mozambique, the vast areas impacted also include parts of the land-locked countries of Zimbabwe and Malawi. The nearest point to the sea of either country’s borders appear to be much greater than 150 kilometres. For some perspective, in Britain, the furthest point from the sea is Coton in the Elms at 70 miles or 113km distance.
Singling out one person is maybe unfair. Climate alarmism is a consensus enterprise, which gives primacy to mantras, rather than verification of conjectures with evidence of the natural world. However, the false attribution of sea level rise in the article is by Dr Friederike Otto. One profile I found states:-

Friederike (Fredi) is the Acting Director of the Environmental Change institute and an Associate Professor in the Global Climate Science Programme where she leads several projects understanding the impacts of man-made climate change on natural and social systems with a particular focus on Africa and India.
Her main research interest is on extreme weather events (droughts, heat waves, extreme precipitation), improving and developing methodologies to answer the question ‘whether and to what extent external climate drivers alter the likelihood of extreme weather’. She furthermore investigates the policy implication of this emerging scientific field.
Fredi is co-investigator on the international project World Weather Attribution which aims to provide an assessment of the human-influence on extreme weather in the immediate aftermath of the event occurring.

Dr Otto also featured in Nature last year, for attributing the 2018 Northern European heatwave to climate change. As Jaime Jessop found out, the selective evidence and modelling assumptions to support this attribution was contradicted by looking at the wider data.

Policy Implications

If the real desire is to look at making rational policy decisions to ameliorate the impact of emerging extreme weather events, then it is necessary properly assess the type, severity and geographical extent and likelihood of these impacts. Otherwise resources will be wasted on projects that do not address the issues. That includes only accepting claims made about an emerging impact when they are properly verified by the evidence. Otherwise, climate alarmism will ensure that resources are directed away from making a real difference to the lives of the poorest people.

Not only is the “Climate Justice” movement singling out a few countries to pay compensation for damages without evidence of damage caused, they are also helping to ensure that resources are directed away from making a real difference to the lives of the poorest people.

Kevin Marshall

Revoke Article 50 Petition being dominated by London Labour

There is currently an on-line petition

Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU

The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people’. We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU. A People’s Vote may not happen – so vote now.

As of noon today it has reached 4.18 million signatures, up from 3 million yesterday morning and just a million two days ago. Guido Fawkes noted that there are a number of foreign signatures, some likely to be fake. A massive EU Second Referendum petition in July 2016 had large numbers of fake signatures created by bots, including large numbers from the Vatican and Antarctica, with at least 77,000 being removed. This might be happening with the current petition. This could be by bots, or by individuals making multiple signatures through using multiple email addresses. I have downloaded the data at around 8am this morning, when there were 3.78 listed signatures, of which 3.64 million were against the 650 UK constituencies.

Analysis By Constituency

I ran the 8am signatures by constituency against data from the General Election 2017, including for the sitting MP, the Political Party in 2017, the electorate and the valid votes cast. I have also used estimated Leave Vote figures by constituency from Politics Professor Chris Hanretty. Although they are estimates, I do believe it is very unlikely that they are more than a few percentage out. An estimated extreme Remain constituency would have been unlikely to have voted Leave. The Constituencies with the top 20 signatures are as follows.

Note that most of consituencies are Labour-held and in London. The constituencies of three key members of the Shadow Cabinet are included. Islington South and Finsbury (Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP) is number 21 on the list.

Chuka Umunna MP has left the Labour Party. But alongside Caroline Lucas MP and Rt Hon Vince Cable MP, is a non-Labour MP with an extreme pro-Remain stance. All constituencies voted very strongly to Remain in the EU.

I suspect that there is some multiple voting going on. In every single constituency the signatures on an online petition are over a quarter of the number of valid votes in the 2017 General Election. Cities of London & Westminster Constituency exceeds 40%. This is the prime target if you want to send a scam message to the occupants of the Palace of Westminster.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the bottom 20 constituencies for signatures.

None of the constituencies are in London or South of England. Note that 15 of the constituencies have Labour MPs and are located in the traditional Labour heartlands of the North of England, the Midlands and Wales. Na h-Eileanan an Iar is an exception in that it voted remain. But it is also by far the smallest constituency, so is an anomaly. On average there was a 67% Leave vote.

The dominance of the top 20 metropolitan constituencies had 358,560 signatures at 8am, or 10% of the UK total, compared to 355,526 of the bottom 156 constituencies. Yet in terms of a voice these top 3% of constituencies get represented in the media far more than the bottom 24%. That is a major reason a majority voted to Leave the EU. In many areas people were sick of being controlled by outsiders who have different perspectives, and will not listen to them. The EU Referendum was a big up-yours to the London-based Metropolitans.

Finally, here is a little pivot table of the bottom 156 constituencies by Region and by Party of the MP.

The constituencies represented are just 24% of the total, but around half those in the forgotten regions of Wales, North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humber.

Kevin Marshall