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Greenland is burning up! Uh... never mind

21 Aug 2019 | News Roundup

Via Watts Up With That we learn that a claim of an all-time temperature record of between 2.7  and 4.7 degrees C at Greenland’s Summit weather station, which triggered worldwide headlines, hysteria, wailing and gnashing of teeth, has been retracted by the Danish agency that monitors Greenland weather. Seems the equipment was faulty and the real temperature was an unremarkable -2.2 degrees C. Oops. Nothing to see here folks. Except that, as usual, rare warm events get worldwide attention and are held up as proof of climate change, rare cold events are ignored or dismissed as “weather", and when the warm events turn out not to have happened the newspapers don’t run big headlines saying “Sorry, we panicked”.

Are there rare cold events? Of course, such as the Australian towns getting hit with their first snow in decades (this kangaroo, for instance, didn’t get the record-heat-crisis memo) or Moscow breaking 150-year summertime cold weather records. The fact that you don't hear about them proves the point.

In the same way and for the same reasons, natural variability and the law of large numbers, there are rare warm events every year. No one expects otherwise, nor are they always due to faulty or badly-sited equipment (though surprisingly often they are). But only one type of event gets press coverage, so a lot of people come to think that only one type of event ever happens.

Likewise if a bad storm hits, the press leap on it as evidence of climate change, on the assumption that they somehow knew the storm would not have occurred but for the effect of greenhouse gases. But if they know that much about weather and climate, they should also be able to identify the mild, calm days that would have had a bad storm but for the effect of greenhouse gases. Nobody claims to be able to do so, and nobody ever runs headlines about how “Climate change prevents hurricane”. But it doesn't mean there aren't such days. It’s just that to admit such things would imply that greenhouse gases might have beneficial effects on the climate, and we all know that idea is not allowed.

In a world where deviations of cold and hot both occur, as do mild and wild winds, if only one type of weather ever gets reported on it starts to be assumed that only one type exists. And if people begin to think that the weather is only ever hot and stormy, they might, in their confusion and folly, declare it an emergency. Better just to start tuning out the blaring headlines about the world ending because outside the window it clearly isn’t.

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