UK Shale Gas Potential and Perspectives

  • In order to place some perspectives on social and environmental impacts of shale gas developments I have built a gas model for the UK.
  • The model is based on a type shale well with 3 million cubic feet per day initial production declining 33% in year 1. This is an optimistic  guess based on production history data for more productive shale plays in the USA.
  • Drilling 100 such wells / year for 10 years may employ 17 drilling rigs and would stabilise UK gas production at around today’s levels.
  • Drilling 200 such wells / year for 10 years would see production growing to 2.7 tcf per annum and the UK may once again become self sufficient in natural gas.
  • There are huge uncertainties in these estimates. The Bowland shale where most hopes are pinned may turn out to be a dud. Productivity could be higher or lower than my assumptions. If productivity was 25% of my guesstimate and declines higher, 1000 wells over a decade could easily rise to 5000 wells for the same production. It is extremely important that the UK gets some real test data from exploration wells to delineate what the real prospects are.

Figure 1 The distribution of the Bowland-Hodder shale in England. The areas in red delineate land where the shale is present at depth in the sub-surface [1].

The British Geological Survey have published a detailed and competent report on the potential of the Bowland-Hodder shale, the highlights of which are summarised below [1]. It needs to be stressed that without test data from at least 10 to 20 exploration wells it is impossible to assess the potential with any certainty. It may turn out that Bowland is a super rich shale to rival the Marcellus of the USA, or it may turn out to be a dud like the recent Polish experience. Shale plays are also non-uniform and tend to have sweet spots that can only be identified through quite extensive exploration drilling. The main focus of this post is to try and place the uncertain potential into a perspective for what this may mean for the UK in terms or providing energy security and the potential for environmental and social disruption.

What is shale gas?

Gas shales are fine grained, tight rocks that contain mature organic matter that has been converted to gas (or oil in the case of shale oil). Not all so-called gas shales are shales; some are limestones and some are tight (impermeable) sandstones. The lack of permeability means that gas or oil is trapped in the rock that needs to be hydraulically fractured (fracked) to liberate its prize. Organic matter may comprise plant material or marine organisms that when buried and subject to pressure, elevated temperatures and time, is slowly converted to oil and gas. This process is called maturation and very generally the hydrocarbon window may occur at depth of 10,000 ft at temperatures around 100˚C.

Potential of the Bowland-Hodder Shale

This account of the Bowland-Hodder Shale (Bolland Shale from here on) is based on the BGS report [1] that has a quite readable two page summary (link at end of this post).

The Bowland is a deep marine Carboniferous shale (318 to 347 million years old) that underlies much of northern England (Figure 1). It is extremely thick, locally up to 16,000 ft, which is much thicker than many of the N American shale plays. But the organic matter content is relatively lean at 1 to 3%, it would have been better had the thickness been half and the organic content double. Organic matter ranges up to 8% and it will be sweet spots like this that companies will look for.

The BGS estimate that the Bowland shale will be in the “gas window” below 9,500 ft. That is, once it has been buried to this depth, some of the organic matter may have been converted to gas. But the picture is made more complex by the fact that some areas have been uplifted, hence gas bearing shales may be encountered at shallower levels.

There was also a natural build-up of methane in the Wyresdale Tunnel, Lancashire, which lead to the fatal Abbeystead explosion in May 1984.

The Bowland Shale has Upper and Lower units. There is more data for the Upper, but the Lower potentially contains a lot more gas. The RESOURCE estimates are shown in Figure 2. With a range of numbers, the one to focus on is the P50 estimated total resource of 1329 tcf (trillion cubic feet; that is the mid range estimate). Compare that with the total production from the North Sea to 2012 of 86 tcf. The shale gas estimated resource is vast. The resource is the amount of gas believed to be in place. The reserve is that part of the resource that can be developed commercially and the numbers here are much smaller with a guesstimate of 4.7 tcf. As we shall see below, that sort of recovery level will make little difference to the UK’s lamentable energy status.

Figure 2 Resource estimates for the Upper and Lower Units of the Bowland-Hodder shale [1].

UK shale gas production perspectives

I wanted to try and place “the hype” around UK shale gas into some form of perspective. Without test data from exploration wells, this is quite impossible to do with any meaningful certainty. But here goes…

Based on US production experience (Figure 3) I have modelled what a  UK shale gas well production profile might look like if the Bowland shale is as productive as the good US shale plays (Figure 4).  I have then assumed that armed with successful test data like this, the UK goes on to drill 100 shale wells per year for 10 years. How much would this contribute to national gas production?

Figure 3 Average production profiles for shale gas wells in the USA [2]. Note units are million cubic feet per year.

Figure 4 Based on the data in Figure 3, if the UK gets lucky, a well may produce 1000 million cubic feet per year in its first year translating to about 3 million cubic feet per day at the beginning of year 1. Modelled decline rates are shown as percentage values. Shale wells decline extremely fast in the first years of operation and then decline slows in the tail. I’ve been advised that the rather steep declines I have used here could even prove to be optimistic. This is all guess work and reality may turn out to be very different.

Figure 5 Assuming that 100 wells are drilled per year, the production stack after 10 years, when 1000 wells will have been drilled, takes on this shark fin shape that is characteristic of shale provinces. Each slice represents production from 100 model wells as depicted in Figure 4.

The result is shown in Figure 6. Drilling 1000 shale wells between 2016 and 2025 would stabilise declines from conventional gas creating a production plateau of about 1.5 tcf / annum, compared with current consumption of around 2.8 tcf / annum. This outcome would significantly reduce UK future dependency on imported gas (Figure 6) but would still leave us importing about 50%.

Figure 6 Historic UK conventional North Sea gas production (BP) amounts to 86 tcf, 1970 – 2012. The projection includes a 10% decline which is the historic average. Without shale gas, conventional gas will have declined to near zero come 2025. The 100 well / year model (Figure 5) would stabilise UK production at about today’s levels. The 8.2 tcf production estimate is more than double the BGS guess for reserves but is still tiny compared with the size of the resource.

Being reasonably impressed by the outcome of drilling 100 shale wells / year I built a second model simply doubling the number of wells to 200 / year. This lifts UK production to about 2.6 tcf / annum by 2025 in which case we would once again achieve self sufficiency – a very big prize worth going for!

Figure 7 Doubling the drilling rate to 200 wells / year would see UK gas production growing significantly, potentially towards a point where we were once again self-sufficient. 

The catch

If this sounds too good to be true then there has to be a catch. The 100 well / year model contains 8.2 tcf of production, roughly double BGS reserves guesstimate. The 200 well / year model contains 16.5 tcf of production. The bottom line, without exploration and production history data this is all guess work. Zero production by 2025 is probably just as likely as 16.5 tcf and vice versa.

Social perspectives

While the USA is turning out shale gas wells faster than Henry Ford turned out Model Ts the pace is likely to be more sedate in rural England. Let’s imagine it takes a rig 2 months to drill a well, this will dictate the pace of development. That would mean 17 drilling rigs operating round the clock to turn out 100 wells per year. Most of the population living in cities would notice nothing. Many rural populations would notice something once in a while and may grumble when there was a drilling operation near by, but then after a short while, the drilling and fracking crews move on. Landlords would celebrate as highly payed drill and fracking crews moved around the country.

17 operational rigs doesn’t sound a lot spread over a large area. To move up to 200 wells / year would mean 34 rigs. If the production results are lower than my model well, expect more rigs and less profits, if the production results are higher, proportionally less. Uncivil unrest that disrupts drilling operations and slows them down will increase the number of rigs required that would add to the social impact. One final point, the Bowland Shale is so thick, a single vertical well could potentially have several horizontal laterals off it meaning that the number of drill sites could be substantially reduced.

Environmental impact

One concern with shale gas and fracking operations is the contamination of sub-surface drinking water supplies by drilling fluids, fracking fluids and gas. A study of drinking water wells in Pennsylvania did find a correlation between methane levels in drinking water and proximity to shale gas wells [3]. About a dozen wells were found to have gas concentrations above 30 ppm, the threshold to take action to mitigate the problem.

I believe it is the case in northern England that most drinking water supplies are drawn from surface reservoirs. Society as a whole needs to weigh small and manageable environmental risks against the potential strategic importance of shale gas to the UK economy and national energy security. There are environmental risks associated with all forms of energy “production”. We either accept these risks or sit at home shivering in the dark.


It is vitally important that companies are encouraged and enabled to conduct comprehensive exploration of shale gas resources in the UK in order to evaluate potential contribution of this energy source to the future UK economy and energy security.

If the UK gets lucky and the Bowland shale turns out to be as productive as the good US plays, then 2000 wells by 2025 may once again see the UK achieve self sufficiency in natural gas supplies.

Other shale gas posts

What is the real cost of shale gas?
Marcellus shale gas Bradford Co Pennsylvania: production history and declines
Shale gas myths and reality – part 1


1. Andrews, I.J. 2013. The Carboniferous Bowland Shale gas study: geology and resource estimation. British Geological Survey for Department of Energy and Climate Change, London, UK. Link here.

2. EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2012

3. Robert B. Jackson et al 2013, Increased Stray Gas Abundance in a Subset of Drinking Water Wells Near Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction: Link here.

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28 Responses to UK Shale Gas Potential and Perspectives

  1. Hi Euan,

    Excellent summary.

    “But the organic matter content is relatively lean at 1 to 3%, it would have been better had the thickness been half and the organic content double.”

    I did not realize that the organic material content was that low. It would be understandable if companies were looking elsewhere.


  2. Joe Public says:

    “If the UK England gets lucky and the Bowland shale turns out to be as productive as the good US plays, then 2000 wells by 2025 may once again see the UK England achieve self sufficiency in natural gas supplies.”

    And, be less concerned if Scotland declares UDI.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Scottish minister Nicola Sturgeon hits back over sterling threat

      The debate is suddenly heating up!

      In his most definitive statement on the subject to date, the chancellor will rule out sharing the pound if Scotland votes “yes” in September, the first in a cross-party attempt to remove a central plank of the SNP’s policy platform.

      Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy Scottish first minister, said on Wednesday that she expected the British government to change its mind if Scots do vote yes. But she also warned that if UK ministers stick to their guns, their Scottish counterparts could retaliate by refusing to take on their share of UK debt.

      I expect the next salvo will include something about Scotland getting its banks back.

  3. Euan Mearns says:

    I sent the post to Oil Drum friend and colleague and shale gas critic Arthur Berman before posting and he felt my assumptions were rather optimistic. I pointed out that I was trying to be optimistic and positive with this post, but it is worth looking at the consequences of applying less optimistic, perhaps more realistic criteria.

    The alternative model well has 1 mcf / day initial production and more aggressive decline of 50% in the first year. Drilling 300 of these wells per year produces less than 900 mcf / day in the 10th year from 3000 wells that would require a drilling fleet of 51 rigs drilling around the clock. This produces an outcome less favourable than shown in Figure 6.

    • John Eardley says:

      Many thanks for your article on shale gas. A while back I dug out the 2001 DECC report into the use of Underground Gasification of Coal which concluded that five coal fields could provide all the gas we need to run all of our power stations for the next 50 years. Have you looked at this as an alternative to shale gas as the coal resources are mind boggling in comparison to shale?

      • Euan Mearns says:

        John, I don’t know a huge amount about the in situ gasification of coal but am instinctively sceptical about it. Its a dirty process akin to making “town gas” where coal and steam are reacted to make CO2, CO, CH4 and H2. In situ, the coal seam is basically set on fire with air and steam pumped through to keep the combustion going.

        For electricity production I favour the French model and my 2050 pathway contains 30*3 GW nukes – job done for the next 50 to 80 years.

  4. wadosy says:

    meanwhile, the polakistanians are objecting to expansion of gazprom’s yamal pipeline, so gazprom decides to expand the nord stream, targetting the UK

    (you may remember that polakistania and ukraine are intended to block russian access to ekuropean markets, thus causing economic hardship in russia that will, in turn, lead to regime change… …on the misbegotten assumption that neocon-friendly oligarchs regain control of russia, and will repossess the gas, oil, and pipeline assets that putin repossessed from them)

    also meanwhile, brit energy poohbahs are saying that it’s gonna be quite a while –five or ten years– before the brits find out if fracking in england is worth the effort

  5. Roger Andrews says:

    Just about every sedimentary sequence in the geologic column is present somewhere in the US and despite its much smaller size just about every sedimentary sequence in the geologic column is present somewhere in the UK too. As far as I know there are no fundamental geologic differences between these sequences (Europe and North America were joined together not too long ago after all) so I’m going to assume that the chances of finding shale gas in any given square mile is the same in the UK as it is in the US.

    And if this assumption is valid we can estimate what UK technically recoverable shale gas resources might turn out to be by simple proportion:

    Area US lower 48 = 3,119,885 sq miles.
    Technically recoverable resources, US lower 48 = 750.38 Tcf (EIA 2011 estimate)

    Area UK 94,060 sq mi
    Technically recoverable resources, UK = 94,060/3,119,885 * 750.38 = 22.62 Tcf

    Sound reasonable?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roger, that is as good a way as any to get an order of magnitude handle on technically recoverable resources with the caveat that you do not apply same methodology to a country like Finland that does not have any shale. The USA seems to have got lucky with having a number of productive shale plays and so your estimate is likely to be at the optimistic end of the spectrum. Reality will likely lie somewhere between 22 and the more conservative 5 tcf estimated by BGS. Compare that with the 86 tcf we have already produced to get the perspective – nice to have for a while but not transformational.

  6. Presumably the 200 wells a year (or whatever it turns out to be) would need to be maintained indefinitely past the 10 year ramp up you suggest, just to keep production more or less flat? At least until all the sweet spots had been drilled, at which point the wells/year would need to increase to maintain production?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      The way I’ve modelled this is to use the same type well throughout the decade. If successful there will be a learning process where better and better wells are drilled but then once all the sweet spots are drilled, a decline in well quality and as you say more wells required to stand still.

      What has been happening in the USA is that after a few years, wells are re-fracked – different spots in the same horizontal lateral. What I imagine may happen in Bowland is that several laterals are drilled from a single vertical and that each of these may be re-fracked over time. So a single well head locality may be the site of quite a lot of activity over the years. Once the wells are done they will be plugged and abandoned – filled with cement and the well head removed, land returned to cow pasture.

      • Phil Harris says:

        Meanwhile British North Sea ‘conventional’ gas continues steep decline below present lrate of production? I have not got a handle on how Bowland might catch up with that decline and stabilise it for the rather short time before a heavily exploited Bowland declines forever. Even with an optimistic assumption or two turning out to be true, it cannot, as you say, be transformational. And this is not (this is my other question) cheap gas, even allowing for British / European relatively high prices, even when it has a legacy distribution network to plug into?

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Phil, for Bowland to catch up with the conventional decline, UK needs to hit the ground running with 17 rigs in 2 years time. It ain’t going to happen, is it? And going the shale route, you are committed to drill forever more wells to stand still. But then again, bits of Bowland may turn out to be very rich and thick. When we get some real data I will return to update this post with some reality.

          If you check out my other shale posts I go into price in some detail. Some folks in Europe look west and see what were rock bottom gas prices but fail to understand or accept that most of that gas was being produced at a loss. But UK needs to do something, and I believe that shale gas exploration should be enabled and placed high up the agenda.

  7. Bernard Durand says:

    I read the BGS study some time ago. As you may know, I am a petroleum geochemist, specialist of oil and gas formation mechanisms, and as such I was not convinced by this report:
    1- organic content measurements are scarce and it seems hasardous to extrapolate these measurements to the whole formation, either vertically or laterally.
    2- no large gas conventionnal accumulation was discovered in this basin, although a number of wells have already been drilled. The reason could be that most of the gas has been kept in the source-rock, but if so , the formation should be overpressured, and there is no indication of that.
    3- I did’not found any burial history reconstitution in this report. Now, the burial history is very important to assess a gas or a petroleum potential: you have to convert it in thermal history to model the formation of petroleum and gas through geological times, but also burial history may include periods of uplift, when oil and gas accumulations have be destroyed by erosion. This is often the case for the Carboniferous in Europe.
    4- there is no gas analysis in this report. In Poland, it is said that the discovered shale gas contains a lot of nitrogen, which is of no value.
    I am not saying that there is no recoverable shale gas in the Bowland Basin, but that there is no convincing argument in this report. On this basis, it is only a bet.
    Surprisingly, this is the case for all the ” official”reports I have seen on European prospects so far. Maybe Companies have better data?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Bernard, thanks for this insightful comment. I agree entirely and that is why I stress a number of times in my post the need to acquire some real data from wells. Currently the prospectivity spans zero to 20 tcf recoverable.

      The report does mention local inversions and I’m not sure what happens to shale gas in that situation – possible dilation, fracturing and loss? But I think different parts of the basin have different burial histories, its a question of whether or not sweet spots exist, and if so, can they be found.

  8. Biff Vernon says:

    Very useful information, Euan, but the elephant in the room in your ‘If the UK gets lucky’ scenario is that it blows our carbon emission reduction hopes. To avoid catastrophic global warming we have to stop burning fossil carbon, not look for more of the damn stuff.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Biff, I got to walk my dogs. I’ll get back to you later.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      I just did some calculations based on the IPCC SRES A1B scenario. They show that in the highly unlikely event that the UK is able to fulfill its “carbon emission reduction hopes” – i.e. achieve an 80% reduction by 2050 – without wrecking the economy it will cut the amount of global warming that would otherwise have occurred by only about a hundredth of a degree C. And that’s if you believe the IPCC’s voodoo science.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Biff, I need to start by taking issue with this statement:

      To avoid catastrophic global warming we have to stop burning fossil carbon

      IPCC AR5 has a range of “climate sensitivities” from 1.5 to 4˚C reflecting a vast range in respected scientific opinion. And so while I imagine you “believe” in the higher number you cannot state this as a matter of fact. My own view lies closer to the low end of this range and therefore lies within / close to the IPCC range. Your friends over at Powerswitch may want to make note of this when they refer to me as a “denier” since if that were true, so are many associated with the IPCC.

      And so to your main point. You will be familiar with the argument that gas is “cleaner” than coal derived from the fact that in burning coal it is C-C bonds that are broken while burning gas it is C-H bonds, meaning that gas produces about 50% of the CO2 of coal. This “clean” argument has been used to justify shale gas. But as you will also know attacking this wedge of the resource pyramid brings into play a lot more fossil carbon which if burned will ultimately lead to higher not lower CO2. Any government genuinely committed to reducing emissions would avoid shale development. The UK government gets around this by sticking CCS into the equation. I am extremely sceptical about CCS.

      I am actually sceptical about shale development in the UK. I think we must absolutely appraise the resource. But at the end of the day, most shale gas would be burned in a CCGT to make electricity and my preferred route there is nuclear. A point of common ground I believe with Chris.

  9. McKenzie says:

    Euan: Thank you for a balanced appraisal of the possible, shale gas scenarios. All too often, shale gas is either demonised or lauded as our energy saviour. The truth probably lies somewhere between those extremes.

    Btw, I’m one of those AGW ‘deniers’…wasn’t always one, but 4-5 years of researching the subject has led me to hae ma doobts. In fact, I’m now pretty much convinced the AGW tail is wagging the political and scientific doggies.

    My hunch is AGW is an accidental agenda, if that isn’t oxymoronic. In short, a lot of people bought into a flawed theory after the theory of global warming started to gain traction. The theory has since generated a self-sustaining momentum, one that has increased over the years. The political system and the scientific community have assisted AGW theory gain momentum. They have also been caught up in something that wasn’t easy to stop, once it gained that initial traction.

    Governments and much of the scientific community now have far too much invested in pushing AGW, to allow them to volte face. This is why I use the term, ‘accidental agenda’. On the government side, there is a credibility factor associated with admitting the claims about the effects of AGW have been hyped. Imagine the policy implications if the current government said, ‘oops…sorry folks… We were wrong about global warming’. Energy policy would require a major rethink. Public trust would be undermined. In Scotland, Salmond has nailed his colours firmly to the mast of HMS Renewable. So the SNP can’t volte face on AGW without sustaining a lot of damage to their credibility. At the political level AGW theory does seem to generate its own momentum.

    What is driving the scientific community? AGW is their ‘business model’. The forces that influence climate are both poorly understood and very complex: it’s this uncertainty that creates the business model. Political support helps to sustain the business model through requesting guidance to inform policy and through funding streams.

    None of this requires any hidden agenda, or NWO types cackling away as they try to enslave humanity. The prominence and status of AGW theory is probably an accident. The overlap between the political and scientific communities created a synergistic relationship. AGW theory arose and it simply gathered a momentum that no single person or organisation could stop. Besides…what was there to oppose? Who can doubt ‘scientists’? (the scientific driver) Who isn’t in favour of ‘saving the planet’? (the political driver propelled by imprecise scientific advice)

    My own view is our climate is probably influenced by cyclical/non-anthropogenic factors that are a) poorly understood as yet and b) studiously ignored by the AGW priesthood (harms the business model). Humans must have some influence on climatic patterns but these effects are probably swamped by forces that are awesome in their power. I mean ‘awesome’ in the context that the word should be used, not in the way it is popularly applied.

    Sadly, we ‘deniers’ suffer from accusations of our scepticism being a corollary to our presumed political leanings. Time and time again, I read about AGW being a left wing conspiracy blah blah blah. Daft idea. Last time I looked David Cameron was leader of the Conservative Party.

    Best wishes fae Farfar.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      McKenzie, I pretty much agree with this evaluation. But still don’t fully understand how this state of affairs has come about. I first became interested in “the science” in 2007 following the “first” big melt back of the Arctic Sea ice. At that time I was a warmest, alarmed and concerned. But then I started reading the literature and quickly reached the conclusion that something was wrong. Decent papers, making good observations reaching conclusions about AGW that were not supported by the data etc. The absence of warming one would think would be several nails in the coffin, but no, it seems to have provided new impetus to exaggerate the lie. The ocean heat argument I think is a load of nonsense since the instrumentation does not exist to measure the minuscule alleged warming of the oceans. Roy Spencer has a good article on this that I will be linking to tomorrow.

      I have long felt that Europe needs a serious cold weather event to bring society to its senses and it looks like we may benefit from that experience in a couple of weeks. But the recent experience in the US suggests that the Thames freezing over will also be attributed to AGW. Falling sea level and glaciers on Ben Nevis will all be blamed on global warming.

      I grew up in Kirrie 🙂


      • McKenzie says:

        I knew about your Kirrie origins Euan, hence the Farfar reference. Fine places both of them.

        Official climate change policy may well change once enough pressure is put on governments, particularly if that pressure is economic. Germany is a current case in point. By the way, there are tentative proposals for a 10MW, PV array in Angus that will cover 50 acres. The proposed location is on the west side of the A90, around the junction with the Coupar Angus road and north-west of West Ingliston. Angus Council recently issued a policy document which rules out further wind farms in much of the county. Maybe the PV array is a response to the Council’s policy shift. Who knows? You’ll find the story in today’s Courier if you haven’t seen it already.

        I know you are steeped (sorry) in Peak Oil. I’ve known about PO for 12-13 years and I actually thought the 2008 crash was PO writ large. Not so convinced these days. I suspect the 2008 debacle grew out of the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999. But I still believe oil supply is an issue that has major economic – and also geo-strategic – implications.

        There seems to be enough oil left to keep enough people in the UK employed, provided a lot of people are consigned to perpetual doledom. For example, the route of the proposed HS2 hints at government taking steps to concentrate much of the UK’s future growth in an area from the Midlands to London. There have been dark mutterings about the north of England having been consigned to the economic scrapheap. That’s enough conspiracy theorising for now…

        I read your blog because sane commentaries on energy policy and climate change are of great interest to me. Good analyses of PO, population and related issues have also been written by Andrew McKillop. Many of the other commentators seem to peddle the the dogma of ‘we are all up the creek sans paddle, the end is nigh, climate change will do us in’ and so on. And I always keep a weather eye on the geo-political situation too – currently watching the bun fight over Ukraine which I think Russia will win. Pepe Escobar (Mr Pipelineistan)has written an excellent piece on the subject in the current edition of the Asia Times Online.

        Keep up the good work. I’ll chip in from time to time.

      • Roger Andrews says:

        Euan: If by “this state of affairs” you’re referring to the current mad scramble to link every weather event that exceeds the norm by more than one standard deviation to climate change then I think it came about mostly because of a lack of viable alternatives. Consider:

        * The Earth hasn’t warmed for 16 or 17 years despite a large increase in CO2 emissions. The warmists are desperately trying to come up with a plausible explanation for this that leaves AGW theory intact, but failing. So they don’t want to go there.

        * Sea level continues to rise at the non-threatening rate of about seven inches a century and obstinately refuses to accelerate. Pacific islands aren’t disappearing beneath the waves and the long-predicted flood of climate refugees has yet to materialize. Not much propaganda value left there.

        * In the AR5 the IPCC finally admitted that there are no detectable long-term trends in genuinely extreme weather events like hurricanes, major floods and extended droughts. A major setback, that.

        * Arctic sea ice is staging a comeback and Antarctic sea ice extent is at an all-time high. Again, not what’s supposed to be happening.

        * There’s still no malaria in Minneapolis or dengue in Denmark, but that was always a long shot.

        * The Polar Bear obstinately refuses to go extinct, but the polar bear, along with the vanishing Kilimanjaro ice cap, is passé anyway.

        Blaming climate change for non-extreme weather events is actually a smart move because a) weather is something that the public can relate to, b) the public tends to think the weather is weird even when it isn’t and c) there’s no way of proving that non-extreme weather events aren’t somehow related to climate change. So what we need now isn’t more cold and snow but a long period of average weather, with no heatwaves, cold waves, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, ground fogs, hailstorms, ice storms, dust storms, sandstorms or droughts to speak of. Blaming that on climate change really would be difficult.

        • Roger Andrews says:

          Another bullet point. I just came across this statement buried in the text (Section of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, published in 2001:

          “In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”


  10. Luís says:

    Thanks Euan, nice to have all these figures in perspective.

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