Australia’s hottest day ever recorded was in Edwardian times, so long ago it was 125°F rather than 51.7°C, on Jan. 3 1909 in a place called Bourke. (Not to be rude, but it’s in north New South Wales in a spot even Canadians might concede resembled the middle of nowhere.) The Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently dropped this reading, claiming it was an “observational error” because no official stations recorded high temperatures on that day. As Jennifer Marohasy observes, Australian MP Craig Kelly didn’t believe them, went to the Australian National Archive in Chester Hill and found the actual handwritten records for the nearby official weather station at Brewarrina, showing 50.6°C on that day. Strange that the meteorological authorities couldn’t find that record themselves even though it was in their own files. Just possibly they didn’t really want to.
Even once they’d disposed of Bourke’s 1909 mark the new official hottest day ever was in 1960 rather than during the current climate emergency. Or at least it would be if Kelly had not also discovered that the actual second-hottest to Bourke’s scorcher was in White Cliffs on Jan. 11 1939. Once again the facts show that the 1930s were extremely hot for reasons CO2 cannot explain and others seem not to want to try to.
Of course some might say, well, Australia is an outlier where they even have their hot days in January. But it turns out the hottest day ever in Death Valley, California was in ‘13. No, not 2013. 1913. And in response to “the ever over-alarmed Bill McKibben” tweeting about that temperature over 100°F in Verkhoyansk “Siberian town tops 100 degrees F, the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle. This scares me, I have to say.” Anthony Watts noted tartly that in fact it was over 100°F in Fort Yukon, Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle in… 1915.
With the hot weather here last week there was the usual talk of breaking records. But it’s interesting to look at the records that were broken, or nearly so. On July 10 Ottawa had its hottest July day since… 1931. And its hottest day overall since 2001, passing records set in 1944, 1921, 1917 and, well, you get the idea. Many of the hottest days ever were not in the last decade or even half-century. And in case you think streaks matter more than individual days, the nation’s capital was chasing a record for consecutive days at or over 31°C set in 1921, narrowly beating the 1919 one, with 1949 in 3rd, and 1911 and 1880 in hot pursuit. Proof positive that we’re in an unprecedented man-made crisis.
Is the Earth warming? Generally it seems to have been since the Little Ice Age. Which itself rules out CO2 as the main factor. But when you look at the record with an eye to preserving rather than “correcting” it, you see that while the 20th century was generally warmer than the 18th, there’s no pattern of extreme heat events bunching together in the very recent past.