No extreme weather event would be complete without Michael Mann doing a victory dance. And sure enough, “That Heat Dome? Yeah, It’s Climate Change.” Coauthored with a climate scientist holding a BS from Syracuse University in Public Communication and Public Affairs. And sure enough, the science is settled. And we are toast. But then you knew it as soon as you saw his name, right? Before he even started to gyrate.
To hear these authors tell it, there’s nowhere to hide. “In the old days, we could escape the summer heat by heading north — to the Adirondacks in the East or to the cool, forested Pacific Northwest in the West. But this is not your grandparents’ climate. And though we’re only one week into official summer, the characteristically cool Pacific Northwest has turned into a caldron of triple-digit temperatures, with Portland, Ore., and Seattle reaching record highs of 115 and 108 degrees, respectively. That’s unseasonably hot — for Phoenix.”
That it cooled down again is not an issue for these two. They say the heat dome is “being called a once-in-a-millennium event”. Though not who said it. But they say no, these things are now commonplace. “It’s as if snake eyes, which should occur randomly only once every 36 times you roll a pair of dice, were coming up once every four times.” Which we can’t help noticing statistically would mean such events are now nine times as common so still only about once a century. Which is not what they seem to think.
Instead “The science is clear on how human-caused climate change is already affecting heat waves: Global warming has caused them to be hotter, larger, longer and more frequent. What were once very rare events are becoming more common.” Not something the IPCC believes, in fact. But what do they know?
Mann and Hassol say “Heat waves now occur three times as often as they did in the 1960s… Record-breaking hot months are occurring five times more often than would be expected without global warming. And heat waves have become larger, affecting 25 percent more land area in the Northern Hemisphere than they did in 1980”. But hold on. Leaving aside the impressively spurious precision of that “five times more often” we know that the 20th century saw a prolonged cooling from the 1940s through the 1970s. Comparing this decade to the times known to be cooler than average feels like… loading the dice.
Then they say “These changes matter because extreme heat is the deadliest form of extreme weather in the United States, causing more deaths on average than hurricanes and floods combined over the past 30 years.” Which is a flat-out misstatement, and a serious one. Cold kills far more people in that country than heat. And if they don’t know it, all they had to do was Google. Except they know things other people don’t, in ways other people don’t.
Indeed, speaking of settled science, they add “Some still refuse to acknowledge the dire warning that Mother Nature is sending us. They say the science is too unsettled to take action. But uncertainty, if anything, is a reason for taking even more significant action to reduce carbon emissions. Uncertainty is not our friend. And the current heat dome is an excellent example of why.” So the fact that they don’t know what’s happening means they do.
As others have noted, the proximate cause of the heat dome was a wiggle in the jet stream “which scientists (including one of us) have shown is increasingly favored by the considerable warming of the Arctic.” Although “Those climate models that the critics claim are alarmist do a poor job of reproducing this phenomenon. That means that the models do not account for this critical factor behind many of the persistent and damaging weather extremes we’ve seen in recent years, including the heat dome.” Oh dear. The models don’t?
No. But Mann does, so it’s OK.