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UK media: 'Met Office computer will destroy the world'

Oh for f*ck's sake

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The Tate Modern - source of more than one kind of pollution

Care to guess which building, according to the government energy rating scheme, is the very worst environmental damager in the land?

It's Littlehampton Community School in West Sussex, actually, a rather ordinary secondary school just now celebrating excellent exam results. Maybe the school could stand to get some new insulation or something, but it seems a bit extreme to say it's the worst place ecologically in a country which contains the Drax power station. Other notables in the top 100 enviro-villainy ratings include a police station in Romford, a primary school in Worksop, Durham Uni's science labs, several buildings at Nokia UK's research campus - and yes, some of those evil hospitals again. Best of all perhaps: number 98, far more eco-evil than the Met Office, is the Tate Modern.

Why, it's almost as though energy usage per square metre is also a pretty stupid way to decide how wasteful a building is. Particularly when some people choose to get a DEC for every building, and others get one for a whole campus or complex. And when some buildings have supercomputers in them, or massive dinosaur skeletons, or large amounts of books or modern art, and others don't.

So it's absolutely plain that it's stupid to point the finger at the Met Office in particular here. How did that happen?

Well, it looks rather as though the Telegraph might be responsible. They were first to go mainstream with the story, apparently lifting Rosenbaum's information without crediting him, and they seem to have come up with the Met Office angle. If carbon-warming sceptics have a voice in the British broadsheets it's the Telegraph, and such sceptics are often a bit down on the Met Office these days.

That's because the Met Office has taken up carbon-driven warming not only as its position, but as a key revenue source. In recent times the office has lost a lot of its traditional revenue (from the Ministry of Defence) and opened the Hadley Centre for Climate Change. A lot of people at the Met Office nowadays stand to lose their jobs if global warming turns out not to be as serious as it's painted. As there's actually been a slight dip in world temperatures lately - causing the Met people to angrily reaffirm that carbopocalypse is still definitely on - and this year's forecast of a baking UK summer has also turned out wrong, some people might wonder whether the Office is maintaining strict scientific rigour.

Frankly, there would be a certain amount of irony here if a) one could be sure that the Met Office were definitely allowing their eco-hippy stance to affect their science and b) they actually were being really eco-naughty in some meaningful way.

But the first isn't in any way provable, and the second is evidently not true. You might just as well say that hospitals are destroying the planet, or universities, or the British Library, or the Tate Modern, based on this data - and that would still be wrong because it's a limited and foolishly-organised data set.

The people who're really wasting energy in this (apart from the media) would seem to be those who set up the DEC scheme with its senseless kilowatt-hours per year per square metre rankings. ®

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