NHS care watchdog accused of covering up barbaric patient treatment and misleading the Government
The watchdog responsible for NHS hospitals and care homes has been accused of failing to halt barbaric treatment of patients and of misleading the Government. The Care Quality Commission is now being investigated by the Department of Health.
It has already admitted an ‘unforgivable’ lapse of judgment after shocking scenes of cruelty were uncovered at a centre for adults with learning disabilities. Now it has emerged that it drastically reduced the number of inspections carried out while claiming in official figures to be completing twice the number it really was.
An investigation for the BBC’s Panorama this year claimed that the CQC failed to stop the routine physical and verbal abuse of patients at Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol, despite a former senior nurse reporting it to staff.
An inspector at the time said: ‘CQC is more interested in spending millions on IT systems and admin skills at the expense of actually ensuring that social care is up to scratch.’ Whistleblowers have said that the body has become ineffective and is ‘completely hampered by red tape’.
The CQC is also accused of misleading parliament in its annual report when it claimed to have carried out 15,220 inspections and reviews in the year ending March 2011, when the correct figure was actually 7,368.
The quango, which was set up by Labour in 2009, oversees 20,000 hospitals, care homes and treatment clinics. It is also being investigated by the National Audit Office and the Commons public accounts committee.
Chief executive Cynthia Bower, who is paid more than £195,000, was formerly responsible for supervising Stafford hospital. Poor care there allegedly led to hundreds of patient deaths between 2005 and 2008.
A Department of Health spokesperson said last night: ‘It is essential that the health and care regulator, the CQC, is performing to the highest possible standards. ‘We are currently carrying out a review of the CQCs’ performance and capability to ensure that it is doing the best it can to protect patients.’
Children in broken homes are three times more likely to run away
“Broken” homes are now extremely common so this is not terribly informative. Which type of broken home yields the runaways? Low IQ or psychiatrically abnormal homes would be my first bet
Children who come from broken homes are three times as likely to run away as those who have a stable background, a major study said yesterday. The report, for the Children’s Society, found one in five youngsters who had experienced conflict at home ran away in the last 12 months. The risk bore no relation to whether the child came from a poor or wealthy background.
The findings are likely to intensify the debate over marriage and its status that continues to nag at David Cameron and Coalition ministers.
Married parents are far less likely to break up than those who live in cohabiting relationships, and research has again and again proved that their children are more likely to enjoy better health and succeed at school.
The report was based on interviews with 7,300 teenagers aged between 14 and 16 in schools across England. Around 84,000 children run away from home each year.
It said: ‘Children are equally likely to run away in all types of geographical areas – whether urban or rural; deprived or more prosperous. ‘The quality of family relationships is more important than economic factors – children who had recently run away reported a less positive relationship with parents and higher levels of family conflict. ‘One in five children living in these types of situations had run away in the past 12 months.’
It added: ‘Children living with both birth parents have the lowest rates of running away…Children who have experienced family change and conflict over the past year are three times as likely to run away as those who have not.’
The charity has spent 12 years examining the motives of children who run away from home. This is the first of its surveys to identify the overwhelming importance of family break-up.
Its chief executive, Bob Reitemeier, said: ‘We have shown that arguments and other family conflict play a massive part in a child’s decision to run. ‘Poor quality family relationships and neglectful parenting are making children and young people feel helpless.’ According to the survey, 70,000 children aged between 14 and 16 run away from home each year, but ‘substantial numbers’ of younger children also flee.
It said that more than a quarter are likely to have ‘harmful or risky’ experiences. One in nine of the runaways said they had been hurt or harmed while on the run from home, foster care or a children’s home, and one in six said they had slept rough or stayed with someone they had just met. One in eight said that they had stolen while away and one in 11 said they had begged.
Seven out of 10 were not reported missing to the police after they ran away. Mr Reitemeier called for ministers, police, schools and social workers to develop a ‘safety net’ to try to lessen the risks for runaways.
He said: ‘We are deeply concerned that tens of thousands of children are still running from home or care. Huge numbers are putting themselves in very dangerous situations. ‘One child in this situation is one child too many. Some children are so desperate that they steal, turn to drugs or alcohol or are abused by adults who groom them. ‘Too often they are alone and desperate for help.’
Giving jobs to women based purely on their sex is bad for society
The liberal intelligentsia is enjoying another of its occasional, mad bursts of self-flagellation. Its bien pensants, many of them white, middle-class and allegedly male, are horrified that Parliament is mainly, er, white, middle-class and of the trouser tendency.
The Institute for Government, a silo of Guardianista gibberish, produced some damn-fool report yesterday which demanded remedies to this allegedly atrocious state of affairs.
It wanted, among other things, means-tested bursaries for approved minority candidates in major political parties. It wanted state funding for postal primary elections of candidates who are non-white, non-male and non-middle class.
In addition to these Stalinist suggestions it said that the pro-minority skew should begin with elections to the proposed new police commissioner and mayoral posts. You want a white, well-educated man for your police commissioner? Bad luck. The Institute for Government has found someone more ‘acceptable’ for the job.
One term for this sort of thing is ‘tokenism’ (it certainly ain’t ‘democracy’). Its proponents prefer to talk of ‘affirmative action’ or ‘reserved political positions’, both expressions being typically opaque and dishonest, as is so much of the language used by today’s political scientists and think-tank wonks.
One person’s ‘outrageous favouritism’ is another’s ‘encouragement for under-represented sections of the community’.
One reason for the alienation of minorities and working-class people from parliamentary politics is the complex, politically-correct language used by the likes of the Institute for Government and other ‘approved’ outlets of multi- cultural opinion.
Whatever you call it, the idea of blocking the progress of the majority to some important public positions — which is, inevitably, what proposals such as those from the Institute for Government would achieve — is immoral, self-defeating and dangerous. It is also, I suspect, out of date.
With flames licking under the citadel doors of Western Europe and its bloated ‘rights’ culture, the last thing taxpayers are likely to want their politicians to spend their precious money on is yet more social engineering to fiddle with the gender, race and class balance in the House of Commons. But let argument be joined, all the same.
The Labour Party has for some time now had all-female shortlists in some of its parliamentary candidate selections, and has recently toyed with the idea, as has Commons Speaker John Bercow, of all-black shortlists.
I could point out that Jacqui Smith, arguably the worst Home Secretary of all time, was selected from an all-woman shortlist and at that point say: ‘No further questions, m’lud.’ But that would be a cheap shot and you know what a model of sportspersonship I am.
I could point out that the Commons which gathered after the general election of 1997 was the first to see significant numbers of all-women shortlist MPs. They were labelled ‘Blair’s Babes’.
Were they a success? Hardly. Parliament became lamentably toadyish and ineffectual. This was nothing to do, per se, with the gender of so many of its occupants. It was something deeper than that.
MPs who have been chosen off a restrictive shortlist cannot be said truthfully to have got to Westminster by merit in complete and open competition. They have not taken on all available rivals.
This is a point often made by that stonking former parliamentarian Miss Ann Widdecombe. She was chosen in an open selection contest against men (poor wretches, they never stood a chance). She duly spoke in the Commons chamber with all the brisk certitude of one who holds an undisputed mandate.
Shortlist MPs may have certain qualities, but they are bound to lack recognition as true meritocrats and they therefore lack authenticity and may not have complete confidence in their own judgments. They are products of favouritism and that is exactly how Blair’s Babes behaved, being craven before the system to which they owed their existence.
The shortlist is an instrument of patronage. That is why the Establishment Left and, troublingly, some of the sillier modernisers in David Cameron’s Conservative Party, so very much approve of the idea. They see shortlists as a way of increasing their control of the system.
It is inexplicable that a Speaker of the House of Commons should have anything to do with such gerrymandering of representative democracy. Speaker Bercow’s support for minority shortlists betrays him at his worst.
But Parliament is not the only place where the argument for ‘more women’ or ‘more minorities’ is being heard. One hears it said of TV and radio presenters. Jane Garvey, of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, was droning away about it the other day. Perhaps she is fishing for more work.
Given how long women have been a prominent force in journalism, it seems surprising that we do not have a few more hard-boiled memsahibs on the box alongside carbon-dated men such as John Simpson, John Humphrys and the remarkable Sir David Attenborough.
One of my favourite radio essayists is the veteran Katharine Whitehorn, who sounds like W.H. Auden. Maybe it is a depth-of-tone thing, or maybe, in TV, it is an inclination of society to be more severe in judging ladies’ looks.
Those who argue for positive discrimination always say they want to have society reflected. But what happens if the society they want to reflect does not actually want some Margaret Beckett lookalike presenting the Six O’Clock News? Houston, we have a prab-lem.
Our judiciary has long been semi-paralysed by self-criticism in this regard, senior judges twisting their limbs in agony that there are not more black, minority, ethnic, or female barristers.
Only yesterday Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said he wanted to use the new Equality Act to favour women and ethnic minority candidates when appointing judges.
Lady Hale, the only female member of the Supreme Court (or ‘Law Lords’ as they used to be called before being put in the Europeanist foodmixer), was also at it the other day. Calling for more women at the top of the legal world, she said: ‘It would be nice to have some company. It would be nice for there to be a critical mass of three or four women because then it is not something that anybody is going to comment on.’
As it happens, virtually the only person ‘commenting on’ it at present is Lady Hale, a beady-eyed old cabbage who has long played the token-woman card with shrewd aplomb. And if she wants some female company, can she not talk to her cleaner? Or is her cleaner a man?
Should members of the Supreme Court really be chosen in part because they are female or because they belong to some officially- sanctioned subset of society (to be granted approved status, perhaps, by the male, white, middle-class poohbahs of the Institute for Government)?
Should there be, say, only one Jewish member of the Supreme Court? Given the large number of brilliant Jewish lawyers in London, that may rob us of some excellent candidates. Any attempt to block their appointment would surely lead to accusations of anti-Semitism. Oh no!
Should there always be, for the sake of argument, one Muslim member of the Supreme Court? Should that be a Sunni or a Shia? Yikes, perhaps they should toss a coin to decide who gets it.
And should we have at least one Supreme Court chap who is gay? The lesbians may need to be given a turn every third time, or however so often is required in order to ‘reflect’ the number of homosexual men and women there happen allegedly to be in the country at that time.
These questions may be absurd, and of course they are intended to be that, but are they really so illogical when you start to play around with the principle of appointment on merit?
Militant egalitarians insist that all humans (I nearly said ‘men’) are equal. I do not happen to believe this. My view is that all humans are different. But basically the argument is that men and women should be treated equally.
The electorate, they are saying, should be blind to gender. At which point the positive-discrimination brigade do a volte-face and say equality can be achieved only by inequality, with one group or other being granted special favours.
As ever, state-imposed egalitarianism results in less real equality and in a system of chilling orthodoxy of which Chairman Mao himself would have been proud.
British council accused of a ‘staggering invasion of privacy’ as it plans to record EVERY conversation that takes place in taxi cabs
This could be troubling but if the safeguards are as announced it would seem to be beneficial on balance. As ethical standards decline we may have to ramp up the fear of getting caught
Cab drivers and their passengers are to be spied on during journeys in what has been denounced as a ‘a staggering invasion of privacy’. CCTV cameras are to be fitted in 650 taxis – costing the taxpayer £260,000 – to monitor drivers throughout their shift and record the conversations of passengers.
The cameras will begin recording sound and vision from the moment the ignition is turned on and remain on for 30 minutes after the engine has stopped running.
The footage gathered will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following, for example, an attack on the driver. It will cost Oxford City Council taxpayers £400 to fit each of the 107 black cabs and 545 private hire vehicles in the city with the CCTV system.
The fact that recordings will be encrypted and only accessible in the event of a police investigation are added safeguards, a council spokesman insisted.
Nick Pickles, the campaign group’s director, said: ‘This is a staggering invasion of privacy, being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties. ‘Big Brother now has big ears, and they are eavesdropping on your conversations with absolutely no justification.’ He added: ‘Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron’s constituency] is through Oxford, we’ll be letting the Prime Minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs.’
A spokeswoman for Oxford City Council said video and audio would run all the time in the cabs but officials will only be allowed to view the material if there has been a complaint.
The authority said complaints against both taxi drivers and passengers had increased year on year and without CCTV the allegations ‘amount to one persons word against the other’. Complaints included overcharging, sexual assaults and attacks on drivers.
The spokeswoman added: ‘Oxford City Council considers that so long as clear notices are provided in vehicles which inform passengers that video and audio recording may be taking place, the risk of intrusion is acceptable compared to the public safety benefits.
‘In any event, the level of privacy reasonably to be expected in a licensed vehicle is far lower than that expected in the privacy of one’s home or own car.’ She added that the footage will not be routinely viewed, but will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following a specific incident.
A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said it is not normally justified to use CCTV to record conversations between members of the public as ‘it is highly intrusive’. But she added that council applications to install cameras in cabs are likely to be acceptable because of the number of crimes being committed in taxis.
An ICO spokeswoman said: ‘Licensing authorities must take account of people’s right to privacy when deciding whether to impose CCTV as a licence condition for taxi drivers.
‘As well as assessing the impact on privacy, we have accepted they [councils] can take into account factors such as the likelihood of crimes being committed against drivers and passengers; the vulnerable one-to-one situation; the fact that taxis are travelling all over the area at different times of day; and CCTV can protect both the driver and passengers.’
All taxis licensed for the first time by Oxford City Council must have the equipment installed from April 6 next year. Cabs which are already registered will have until April 2015 to get the camera fitted, the council said.
I’ll get powers back from the EU, says Cameron: Prime Minister’s vow to rebellious MPs in Lord Mayor’s speech
David Cameron last night said the EU was ‘in peril’ and described the debt crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to claw back powers for Britain. After being rocked by a Tory MP rebellion over Britain’s future in the EU, the Prime Minister cast himself as a ‘sceptic’, attacking ‘grand plans and utopian visions’ and vowing to ‘refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests’. He accused the EU of being out of touch and attacked its ‘pointless interference, rules and regulations’.
His remarks are diametrically at odds with those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called yesterday for the EU to focus on building a ‘political union’ as she warned the continent faced its biggest crisis since the Second World War.
She said: ‘The task of our generation is to complete economic and monetary union, and build political union in Europe, step by step. That does not mean less Europe, it means more Europe. If the euro fails, then Europe will fail.’
But as Mr Cameron prepared to start a whistlestop tour of European capitals, he said EU countries had ‘indulged in debt and overspending and looked uncertain or worse when confronted with the consequences’.
Addressing the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, the Prime Minister insisted leaving the EU would not be in Britain’s interest, with European countries accounting for half of our trade. But he said he wanted an organisation ‘with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc’.
Italy was forced to pay an effective interest rate of 6.29 per cent as it sold government bonds yesterday to fund its vast national debt of £1.6trillion. The yield on Spain’s government bonds crept above 6 per cent – almost three times that of the UK, which is increasingly being seen as a safe haven by international investors.
Mr Cameron, who has been under pressure from his party to set out a timetable for repatriating powers from Brussels and seeking approval for a looser relationship in a referendum, suggested that instead less should be done at a European level.
‘The EU’s achievements are dramatically overshadowed by its problems,’ he said. ‘It’s not just the crisis in the eurozone – urgent and all-consuming though that is. ‘It’s how out of touch the EU has become when its institutions are demanding budget increases while Europe’s citizens tighten their belts. It’s the pointless interference, rules and regulations that stifle growth, not unleash it.’
His remarks will be seen as an attempt to appease his party’s eurosceptics.
London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday became the most senior Tory to question the Government’s willingness to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund, which acts as the world’s global economic emergency service. ‘British taxpayers are going to be shelling out ever more in bailout dosh, much of which will ultimately go to banks and bankers’ bonuses,’ he protested.
Suggesting he would use treaty negotiations to try to repatriate powers for the UK, Mr Cameron added: ‘Change brings opportunities, an opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests and the interests of its other 26 nations too. ‘An opportunity, in Britain’s case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away, and for the European Union to focus on what really matters. ‘That is the kind of fundamental reform I yearn for, and I am determined to do everything possible to deliver it.’
British Prime Minister’s cry about ‘coasting’ schools will confuse parents
The PM seems to feel that if the white middle class loses its way, Britain is doomed. He is probably right. And making sure that their kids get the best education possible should help avoid that fate. Given the fixity of IQ, the present focus on stretching the least talented is unlikely to achieve much for the society as a whole
The Prime Minister’s remarks on complacent schools are puzzling parents who thought inner cities had all the problems.
Parents have long had sleepless nights about their children ending up in one of the “failing schools” that our politicians talk about so often – those troubled comprehensives, usually in the inner cities, where many pupils don’t even meet the Government’s basic “floor target” of 5 GCSE passes at grade A* to C.
But now the Prime Minister has given us a new nightmare to keep us tossing and turning – “coasting schools”. These “secret failures”, he warned in The Daily Telegraph yesterday, are to be found where parents least expect them, in “prosperous shires and market towns”.
It is not so much, David Cameron wrote, that children at coasting schools are doing so badly in exams that inspectors’ alarm bells start ringing, simply that they could be doing better if teachers were stretching them instead of allowing pupils “to sit at the back of the class, swapping Facebook updates”.
He painted a picture of “pupils and staff [who] count down the hours to the end of term without ever asking why B grades can’t be turned into As”. What future is there for our offspring in the ultra-competitive global jobs market if their teachers don’t even encourage them to realise their full potential in the classroom?
The Prime Minister’s remarks will make particularly unpleasant reading for those parents who, despairing of finding a halfway decent local comprehensive for their 11-year-olds in urban areas, sell up, take on a new job or a long commute to their existing one, and relocate to the countryside, assuming that the local school in such leafy places will not face the particular challenges of the socially and ethnically diverse inner city. After all that cost, effort and disruption to family life, Mr Cameron is now effectively telling them that the schools they moved out to access are not the havens they were cracked up to be.
Worse, in a speech in Norwich at the opening of a new free school there in September, Mr Cameron rubbed salt into the wound when he suggested that the new breed of inner-London academies – such as Walworth, Burlington Danes (where rumour has it he plans to send his children) and Mossbourne in Hackney, regularly quoted approvingly by ministers – are actually better than four fifths of state schools in Oxfordshire and Surrey. So those parents who squash into commuter trains into London in order to give their children a better start in the Home Counties are actually selling them short.
The phrase “coasting schools”, though it has acquired a new buzz in the education debate, has a longer history than this government. It was used, for example, by New Labour (once Alastair Campbell had tried and rejected “bog-standard comprehensives” in 2001) in the “Gaining Ground” initiative in 2008. Ed Balls, then education secretary, named and shamed more than 600 examples of “coasting schools” and set them a “national challenge” to improve their standards. The Prime Minister has been more circumspect, but there is no doubting his commitment.
So why this rare unanimity between Conservatives and Labour? Because there is data to show that children at secondary schools in shire counties and market towns do not always make as much progress in the five years to GCSEs as assessments of their ability at 11 suggest they should. They may end up with better grades than their inner-city counterparts, but they are still falling short of the progress that might reasonably be expected of them given their ability.
“It is certainly true,” concedes Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, “that there are examples of schools where the catchment is less challenging than the inner city, and where the pupils have fewer disadvantages, that have shown a disappointingly slow rate of improvement.
“Their results may look satisfactory, and therefore they are not under any pressure, but when they are examined closely, there is plenty of room for improvement. However, I would seriously challenge the assertion that there are lots of these schools, and the accompanying implication that some teachers accept mediocrity.”
Until he took up his union post, Mr Lightman was head of St Cyres School, on the outskirts of Cardiff. “It roughly fits the description of an out-of-town school,” he says, “and I can assure you that I never came across a single teacher willing to allow pupils to use Facebook during lessons, as the Prime Minister suggests. Unfairly accusing teachers like this is not helpful.”
All sides, then, appear to accept that there is a problem with coasting schools. The difference between them is over scale. To identify a solution, it helps to work out why such under-achievement happened in the first place. While few would decry the roughly 50 per cent increase achieved in the past decade in the number of pupils gaining 5 A*-C passes at GCSE, there is a growing chorus of voices among educationalists warning that putting so many resources into closing the gap in attainment levels between the least and the most able pupils risks overlooking the needs of those pupils in what might be called “the squeezed middle”.
“The effect of this focus [on closing the gap between high and low achievers] in recent years is now clearly visible in GCSE results for English and Maths,” according to Neil O’Brien, director of the Policy Exchange think tank. “Almost all the improvement has been to move pupils scoring a D, E or F grade up to a C. While this is valuable, the proportion gaining an A*, A or B grade is essentially unchanged. The floor target appears to have led to the neglect of potential high performers.”
In concentrating on making the difference between a D and a C, and hence meeting their government target, coasting schools stand accused of failing to give an extra push to those on course for a C so that they achieve a B, because it will make no difference to how they appear against the all-important “floor target” measurement.
Anecdotal stories include tales of bright pupils being put in for their GCSEs a year early because a school judged they would deliver a “safe” B/C grade, and free up teaching time to concentrate on lower achievers.
Goffs School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was one of those highlighted by the Prime Minister in his article as having successfully cast off coasting in favour of seeking the highest levels of achievement for all. “Goffs was not delivering for each student as it should have been, based on their ability, in terms of number and level of qualifications,” agrees head teacher Alison Garner, appointed in 2009. She attributes the turnaround to “employing staff committed to bringing out the best in every child”, to instilling an expectation of excellence in all, for example by adopting as the school motto “every lesson counts”, and “relentless hard work”.
The Department for Education likes to link the zero tolerance strategy on coasting schools with its drive to add to the thousand academies already created under the Coalition government. Goffs is an academy, but that change came very recently, Mrs Garner says, and postdates the radical improvement in the school’s fortunes. Instead she is anxious to praise the local education authority for its commitment to ending the school’s coasting days.
“I do get sick and tired of hearing about the fairy dust of academy status,” says another head teacher, who doesn’t want to be named. “Simply changing your status does nothing in itself to raise standards. It is down to leadership, investment, individual tracking of each pupil’s attainment, and effective interventions. Yes, all of these happen in academies, and enable them to raise standards, but they are happening in plenty of other schools, too.”
However, if the academy question is put to one side, many of those other key tools for success are about to be introduced more widely. Revised league tables in the New Year will measure progress made by pupils according to whether they are judged low, medium or high-achieving, and will take into account “value added” – ie, how far the school stretches its intake. And the new head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, late of Mossbourne, has coasting schools firmly “in his sights”, the Prime Minister has promised.
Time for parents to sleep soundly again? Or on their commuter trains back to the “prosperous shires”? Perhaps – but only until the next educational nightmare comes along.
Excitement! The draft of the next IPCC report fell off the back of a truck in front of the BBC’s Richard Black
He advises that it is a lot more cautious than their previous efforts
On the one hand, it says it is “very likely” that the incidence of cold days and nights has gone down and the incidence of warm days and nights has risen globally. And the human and financial toll of extreme weather events has risen.
But when you get down to specifics, the academic consensus is far less certain.
There is “low confidence” that tropical cyclones have become more frequent, “limited-to-medium evidence available” to assess whether climatic factors have changed the frequency of floods, and “low confidence” on a global scale even on whether the frequency has risen or fallen.
In terms of attribution of trends to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, the uncertainties continue.
While it is “likely” that anthropogenic influences are behind the changes in cold days and warm days, there is only “medium confidence” that they are behind changes in extreme rainfall events, and “low confidence” in attributing any changes in tropical cyclone activity to greenhouse gas emissions or anything else humanity has done.
(These terms have specific meanings in IPCC-speak, with “very likely” meaning 90-100% and “likely” 66-100%, for example.)
And for the future, the draft gives even less succour to those seeking here a new mandate for urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions, declaring: “Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”.
It’s also explicit in laying out that the rise in impacts we’ve seen from extreme weather events cannot be laid at the door of greenhouse gas emissions: “Increasing exposure of people and economic assets is the major cause of the long-term changes in economic disaster losses (high confidence).
The succour only lasts for so long, however.
If the century progresses without restraints on greenhouse gas emissions, their impacts will come to dominate, it forecasts:
“It is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas…
“It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the 21st Century over many areas of the globe…
“Mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase…
“There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st Century in some seasons and areas…
“Low-probability high-impact changes associated with the crossing of poorly understood thresholds cannot be excluded, given the transient and complex nature of the climate system.”
The draft report makes clear that lack of evidence or lack of confidence on a particular impact doesn’t mean it won’t occur; just that it’s hard to tell.
It’s impossible to read the draft without coming away with the impression that with or without anthropogenic climate change, extreme weather impacts are going to be felt more and more, simply because there are more and more people on planet Earth – particularly in the swelling “megacities” of the developing world that overwhelmingly lie on the coast or on big rivers close to the coast.