Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Apologies again for the late discovery of today's column by Polly; I could not find it through www.guardian.co.uk's search feautre, and actually still can't as at the time of writing. It does, however, appear on CommentisFree here. She starts by saying:

Here global warming is measured by how often the steel gates are closed; in 1987, it was only once every two years: now it's four times a year, eight times more often.

You can see the detail here -- the figures are a lot noisier than you might think from this description. In fact, the barrier had to close six times in 1990, and not at all in 1991. Nine times in 1993 and only once in 1994. Only twice in 2004 and 2005, though this comes after 18 times in 2003.

Later on she says:
If in 1987 the prudent designers of the Thames barrier built in expectation of global warming...
Actually, if the designers of the Thames Barrier were building anything in 1987, I hope it was a time machine. According to the Environment Agency, "it becomae operational in 1982" (source). The Thames Barrier, I mean, not the time machine.

Of Thames Water, Polly says:

targets for fixing leaks have all been missed.
Strangely, when we look at Ofwat's "Security of supply, leakage and the efficient use of water 2004/5" report (pdf link here), and the section on Thames Water (pages 39-40), we find quotes like:
The other positive aspect of the company’s performance in 2004-05 was that its area outside London had leakage performance in line with targets and at a level comparable to other companies in England and Wales.
and
Thames’ quarterly progress reports actually showed it to be on target until a late winter leakage spike at the end of February 2005...
and
This was the first objective achieved.
I am not a big fan of Thames Water and their performance in finding and fixing leaks, but the picture is a little more nuanced than we are led to believe.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even if the frequency of closures of the barrier has become more frequent I believe it is more to do with something called 'post-glacial rebound' - see Wikipedia - than global warming.

maria said...

See Wikipedia? More fact mangling ahoy!

fido said...

Hurrah for Polly getting so many facts wrong, keep up the good work on Polly.

Neil Harding said...

The noisiness of the figures is to do with tides.

Polly's figures are a simplification but not wrong.

The point of the article is that sea levels are rising and the Thames Barrier is having to close more often. Does anyone disagree with this?

All this pedantic rubbish on this site is just a distraction from the fact that Polly is right.

You don't like this fact so you copy the tactics of Murdoch and try and discredit the messenger.

I can see through your right-wing tactics.

Can you imagine what fun could be had checking the the inaccuracies of Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn and all the masses of right wing liars that write for the press.

The press is overwhelmingly right-wing. Try being a bit more unbiased and check these facts as well. I'm sure you wouldn't have to be so pedantic with them.

Serf said...

The press is overwhelmingly right-wing.

Which still doesn't make up for the BBC.

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Neil --

I hadn't realised tides varied so much from year to year, I thought they more a daily sort of a thing. Would be grateful of a reference to this.

My objection is with the "four times a year" type figure, which I think is meaningless given such noisy data.

For the umpteenth time, I am not trying here to discredit Polly's message, only her slapdash use of facts. I beleive that we are much better off with her point of view expressed than not, but that we would be even better off if it were buttressed by a sound set of facts.

And we're back to the "right-wing" stuff, are we?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Post glacial rebound is so apologies if I am repeating.

I thought the Thames barrier was built because London (and the SE) was sinking not because the sea was rising. This is clearly visible from the current situation of Traitors gate. That means that regardless of global warming, the Thames barrier will tend to close more frequently per annum as the years go by.