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Drought, heat, climate disaster

23 Jun 2021 | OP ED Watch

It was bound to happen. After a chilly spring due to weather, a hot dry spell in the United States caused by climate change is the harbinger of doom. According to NBC “The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region.” And of course experts say: “Drought ‘is not a temporary condition we can expect to go away, but rather something we have to deal with,’ one expert said.” The email “teaser” was even worse, saying “The Western U.S. is the driest it's been in 1,200 years, raising questions about a livable future”. As for the prolonged cooler-than-normal spell east of the Rockies through late June, well, just weather, of course.

Interestingly, the NBC story on Western drought and heat was in their “Climate In Crisis” section. But it didn’t mention climate once. Instead it dwelt on growing populations and, to a lesser extent, bad water management. But why then the headline “Drought is here to stay in the Western U.S. How will states adapt?” Because everybody knows, apparently. You don’t even have to say it any more.

The New York Times “Climate Fwd.” didn’t seem likely to scare many people with claims “that current drought conditions in the West are the most widespread and severe than at any point in at least 20 years.” Even if accompanied by yellow-orange-red maps. But another NBC story raved on about wildfires and record heat that were going to happen and then plunked down that “Higher temperatures and worsening wildfire seasons can be attributed to climate change.”

As we said in February about record lows across the Northern Hemisphere, “If these were record highs, you know what they’d say: proof of climate change.” And they did. Incidentally the Texas power grid, which underperformed tragically in the ice storms, is now underperforming in the heat wave; are you quite sure renewables can get it done? Because creating energy shortages in Texas is quite an achievement, but not one to boast about. Or blame on fossil fuels, though the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas tried.

NBC later said “Extreme heat has one of the strongest correlations to the warming temperatures due to climate change. Heat waves are lasting longer and becoming more intense, and wildfire seasons across the West are burning more acres.” As you’d expect. Though after more heat hype it conceded that “for the short term, there's relief in sight. The high heat finally breaks early next week as temperatures return to near average or even below average for some spots.” But you know how weather can be.

Still, unprecedented drought is a sign of something, right? Well, yes. Of ignorance and hype according to Roger Pielke Jr. who tweeted quite the series on the past history of drought in the continental United States. It turns out drought has been declining over the past 20 years not increasing. And that over the last century and a quarter it’s been… declining slightly. Whereas in the Colorado River Basin it’s… pretty common and not getting worse in that period. And over the last 1,800 years, well, guess what? It’s a dry place with a lot of droughts. Of which this one is not the worst even since 1900 let alone since 800 AD. That drought is not getting worse generally, including in Australia, is also relevant here.

It’s also fair to observe, as Rud Istvan did, that “The mainstream media (MSM) is abuzz about the present Western Drought allegedly caused by ‘anthropogenic climate change’”. But “Alarmists need to be a bit more specific as to where and when and why. This post covers the Columbia River basin, the Colorado River basin, and California. In that Western US geography, the ‘drought’ is mainly in the Colorado basin and California, in both from lack of Sierra and Rockies snowpack. The Columbia basin is so vast, that even in the previous ‘peak’ California drought year of 2015, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) experienced no water flow problems across its 33 hydroelectric dams since there was no drought in British Columbia.” Moreover, “Just focusing on California and the Colorado basin, tree ring studies peg the present situation as only the fourth worst in the last millennium. Abandoned Chaco Canyon proves it was previously much worse. Chaco was abandoned about 1250 because of a worse western drought than at present.”

As Charles Rotter observes, the usual suspects claim Germany is in drought despite flooded fields. And they do so using devices ranging from fiddling soil depths to fiddling comparison periods.

It also seems that in California the State Water Board is deliberately draining reservoirs, partly from environmental concerns about river flow and just possibly because public perception of a climate emergency suits their preconceptions and plans. Even if it’s not happening.

2 comments on “Drought, heat, climate disaster”

  1. Tony Heller has been pointing out for ages that forest fires are burning only a small fraction of the acres today compared to 100 years ago.

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