Image by Jessica Knowlden on Unsplash

“Mainly dry for most”: compulsive hedging language in weather forecasting

One thing is certain about the British weather: its uncertainty.

That uncertainty will only increase over time as the polar ice melts, sea levels rise, the jetstream gets further disrupted, and one-in-a-thousand-year events start to occur annually.

Pity then the intrepid British forecasters whose every word is hung onto nightly by farmers, fishermen, event organisers, sportspeople, families and dog walkers – and insurers.

Coming up with the right scenario from hundreds of computer-modelled scenarios is hard enough in itself. Finding the right language to describe the selected outcome – to deliver with airy reassurance, grim precision or obvious glee – is even harder.

So it’s hardly surprising that forecasters are inclined to be not very definitive in their predictions. The risk to reputation is one thing. More than thirty years on people still chuckle at poor Michael Fish and his quote, inevitably taken out of context, from the afternoon of 15th October 1987.

The economic risk to the farmers and fishermen is another thing. The weather matters meaningfully to many. Livelihoods and even lives are at stake: best to not get it wrong.

Still, couldn’t the forecasters be a bit less – well – vague?

Growing trees in Africa? Local solutions are best

[About the author: Tony Mulvahil is a project manager who enjoys writing. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for a Business short course in April-July 2019. Tony wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Feeling lost amongst the noise of climate disaster stories? These charities focus on making an extraordinary difference to local people.

Your social media feed pops up another horror story of a forest fire consuming a vast tract of pristine forest. Or a monstrous cyclone drowning an entire city. You feel a rising sense of fear and panic combined with despair that nothing you do will solve this man-made climate disaster.

Yet, hidden away from view are many organisations working with local people who are on the battlefront of the climate crisis. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), not to be confused with the UN Environment organisation, focuses on addressing drought and soil degradation. The UNCCD supplies resources and action plans aiming to halt the loss of productive land.

On their website, the UNCCD provides extracts titled Actions Around the World. These tell the stories of the many small groups of people making a tremendous contribution to their local area. The UNCCD highlights how women are taking an increasingly significant role in setting up groups that tackle climate change by giving them the authority to decide their priorities. Tree Aid establishes enterprise groups in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali, and this activity helps women improve their lives. Over in Kenya’s Mau Forest, Green Grants supports the Indigenous Information Network enabling local women to reclaim degraded land.

Separately, the Forest Peoples charity supports indigenous forest people to continue living in their traditional homes by working with them to tackle the political challenges these people face.

People Change: Wondering how to save the planet? Avoid these 7 deadly emissions

[About the author: Darren Wimhurst is an operations manager and writer. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in January-March 2019. Darren wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Lord knows; I’m a sinner. But I can’t say I’ve been involved in anything deadly before.

Is it that bad? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in October 2018 that human activities have caused 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. If this figure rises above 1.5C we face a number of apocalyptic scenarios.

How do we avoid said apocalypse? “We need to cut CO2 emissions almost in half (45%) by the end of the next decade,” says Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) in Sweden. Emissions need to be net zero by 2050.

Are world leaders directing the response? The UN sponsored the IPCC report but their remit extends to strongly worded recommendations. Responsibility lies with individual countries and after decades of negotiation on climate change there has been no slowing of the rising global carbon curve. To confirm: no change whatsoever.

So it’s down to us. Below, are the seven emissions we need to eliminate or significantly reduce.


FRTB: I am become death, destroyer of desks

[About the author: Satinder (Sid) Jandu is an industry expert/public speaker on risk. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in January-March 2019. Sid wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

The power struggle of regulators vs banks as god and man

Bang! The financial crisis of 2008 sent atomic shock waves across every corner of the world. Established pillars of finance which stood like Solomon’s temple, too big to fail, were rocked to the core. The relationship of god and man, regulator and bank, had changed forever.

The authority of god/regulator was reasserted through Basel III:

“…an internationally agreed set of measures developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The measures aim to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of banks.” https://www.bis.org/bcbs/basel3.htm


After initially focusing on credit risk, the primary driver of the financial crisis, regulators turned to the final piece of the jigsaw, market risk. They set about conducting a Fundamental Review of the Trading Book, known as FRTB.

FRTB, or its real name “Minimum Capital Requirements for Market Risk”, is a global financial regulation that affects every bank in the world. https://www.bis.org/bcbs/publ/d457.pdf

This short blog examines whether regulators have gone too far and the struggle of banks to meet shareholder demands versus regulator demands.