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Remember Portland?

14 Jul 2021 | News Roundup

Sure you do. The one in Oregon where climate change melted the sidewalk or something. In late June the high temperatures there were the latest final conclusive proof of runaway climate heating or whatever the scare term du jour is. But while these temperatures were extraordinary, it then cooled fast, so last week it was seeing very non-frightening weather, with highs in the low nineties and even low eighties. Surely global warming was meant to last longer than a week and cover a wider area. If, of course, you’re really interested in trends.

While it lasted, and spread into Western Canada, the vultures of course swooped. But they kind of missed, because for instance across Canada on July 1 temperatures ranged from unusually hot in Edmonton to pleasantly cool in Toronto to unpleasantly chilly in St. John’s. And a week later in Ottawa, the Weather Network reported, “temperatures tumble”. Naturally it threw a possible tornado at its audience, and added “MUST SEE: Canada’s scorching summer may only be getting started: Exclusive July Outlook”. But the fact is, and they said it, “Daytime highs will also remain a few degrees cooler than normal.”

Still, never let an unusual event go to waste. Provided it’s heat; the fact that unseasonal snow messed up a classic car race in Colorado on June 26, or that Argentina had very unusual snowfalls on June 17, is beneath notice. As is Ottawa having its lowest June 22 low in over 70 years. On the other hand, “British Columbia sees 195% increase in sudden deaths during Canada heatwave”, the Guardian blared, and noted climate scientist Justin Trudeau “warning the blistering temperatures in a region of the country ill-prepared for such heat was a reminder of the need to address climate change.” And then it amped things up with a piece screaming “Canada is a warning: more and more of the world will soon be too hot for humans”.

How soon? you ask. Soonly soon. “There is no time to lose.” And NBC hollered “More than 60 dead from heat wave in Pacific Northwest as region confronts new future” and announced without even bothering with a source, not even “experts say”, that “Climate change will make heat waves more common and more intense, even in places where people are used to staying cool.” As noted, Portland promptly returned to its normal temperate ways.

Which of course isn’t by itself proof of anything. As always, one swallow does not make a spring, nor one downpour a flood. Thus it subsequently became very hot in Las Vegas. But the fact of outlying weather being just that, outlying, is precisely our point about the Oregon heat dome. It was odd. But it was not typical and if the alarmists are right it should have been.

Or possibly not, because in fact this year is not unusually hot. The heat dome was seized upon as proof of the impact of increased temperatures. But in fact the satellite data now show no warming for nearly seven years. The Guardian said the death total in BC “marks a 195% increase over normal years.” But normal years, in the past 30, have been mostly warmer than 2021.

If these sorts of lethal, pavement-buckling events were triggered by the trivial temperature increases alleged to have happened since the mid-20th century, we’d all be in huge trouble if we ever get back to Roman Warm Period levels (which makes you wonder why people at the time didn’t mention that they were all perishing from heatstroke). And moreover we should also have been seeing them last year, or in 2016, not in 2021 which is increasingly looking chilly.

As Anthony Watts observes, media reports of the heatwave were distinctly lacking in historical perspective. We just don’t know with any reliability what heat spikes may have hit further back than the mid-19th century. But we do know that “data show us that more high temperature records were set during the first half of the twentieth century than during the past 50 years. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms this.” So in judging the meaning of unusual weather patterns, it’s not just a question of extreme cold in New Brunswick in 2018, or in Eastern Europe in 2012, or in Asia in 2002-03. (Or indeed in Europe earlier this year.) It’s also what we know about blistering heat in North America in the 1930s including the deadliest heat wave ever in Canada, in July 1936, at which time many American states were also sweltering.

There are many accusations of cherry-picking in the debate. Which is why we invite you to pick some place at random and check its average highs and lows for this time of year and its current weather. (For instance New Delhi, India, which seems to be about normal for this time of year, or Paris, France, which is looking cooler than usual.) But sometimes there aren’t even any cherries, as when journalists report non-existent increases in heat waves or alarmists predict them.

Thus Larry Hamlin writes that 33 years ago James Hansen and others kicked off the panic with their 1988 drought-will-never-end and heat waves will keep getting worse claims. But “The 33 years that have passed since then have proven these Democratic Senators and ‘experts’ to be wrong with EPA and NOAA data clearly establishing that the U.S. and global droughts have not increased over this period and neither have U.S. heat waves”.

The trouble with climate is that because reporters think everybody knows it’s incredibly hot, they don’t bother checking whether it’s unusually hot. Just as everybody knows there are more wildfires, so they don’t bother checking whether there are more wildfires. And then they report things that aren’t happening and growl at anyone who raises an eyebrow.

5 comments on “Remember Portland?”

  1. Ah, Justin Trudeau. Justin, Justin, dishy Justin.
    He ain't pretty he just looks that way. (h/t Northern Pikes)

  2. "The satellite data show no warming for nearly seven years".
    I was always taught to cite primary references, so if you are going to talk about UAH data, then you should reference UAH data. It's available here: https://www.nsstc.uah.edu/climate/. UAH says the warming trend is since Dec. 1, 1978 is 0.14 C/decade. The chart is clear, almost all months over the last seven years were warmer than the 1991-2020 baseline.

  3. And June 2021 was 0.1 degrees colder than the 30-year average. (If you ignore the ridiculous precision of that statistic.)

  4. Which is the time period covered by the 30-year average? 1960-1990? 1970-2000? 1980-2010? 1990-2020?
    Without defining the period, it is difficult to be convinced by Thylacine’s or Roger’s comments .

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