One of the problems with climate alarmism is the focus is only ever on the few places having bad weather and never on the far more numerous ones that aren’t. Moreover they reliably blame bad weather on climate change but never suggest that a place where it’s currently pleasant might have been experiencing worse conditions had the climate not changed. It seems simplistic to say that for warmists all effects of climate change are bad. But when’s the last time they ever said well, climate change prevented hurricanes from hitting South Carolina this year, or the harvest was good in India because of climate change, or Atlanta Georgia had a temperate summer, like Toronto, while Ottawa had its coldest July in 11 years, due to climate change? Maybe because they only look for bad outcomes. According to Katharine Hayhoe and Friederike Otto in the New York Times, the lovely computer models let smart caring people like them know exactly what the world would have been like without climate change and who should get all the blame. And yes, it’s all bad. The “cutting-edge science” of “attribution” doesn’t ascribe any improvements anywhere to climate change. Instead, they conclude: “The evidence and the data are already clear: The faster we cut our emissions, the better off we’ll all be.”
As we noted last week, when the ferocious Tropical Storm Henri failed to make landfall as a hurricane in New England, the New York Times blamed it on climate anyway and said “Just you wait”. And when Hurricane Nora rapidly weakened to a tropical storm the Times wrote that it had “battered” Mexico before warning that “The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.” So they’re covered either way, or so it seems. But they’re not really because the question must be asked whether Nora might have remained a hurricane if it were not for changed conditions.
Such considerations do not get considered. Instead the usual suspects blamed this year’s flooding in India on climate change while remaining strangely silent about the horrendous flooding in, say, 1936. But there’s more. Much more.
We’ve previously cited Brian Fagan’s The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 in which he argues, with much solid evidence, that the cooling at the end of the Medieval Warm Period caused catastrophe for the world. The Little Ice Age wasn’t just colder, it was far stormier, with disastrous impacts on agriculture that had large geopolitical consequences including, arguably, triggering the French Revolution. (Incidentally national weather agencies, when not directly focused on peddling man-made climate change, generally know about this stuff too.) And if so, then even if a warming planet is on balance a bad thing, there ought to be a number of places where the weather is currently better because of rising temperatures than it would otherwise have been, and the hypersophisticated science of “attribution” ought to know where they are and say something.
In a characteristic passage, Fagan writes (pp. 66-67) “In the early 1400s, more damaging storm surges attacked densely populated shorelines. On Aug 19, 1413, a great southerly storm at extreme low tide buried the small town of Forvie, near Aberdeen in north-eastern Scotland, under a 30-meter sand dune. More than 100,000 people are said to have died in the great storms of 1421 and 1446. …The changing signals of hydrogen isotopes from a two-hundred-meter section of Greenland ice core GISP-2 tell us summer and winter temperatures for the fourteenth century. This hundred-year periods saw several well-marked cycles of much colder conditions, among them 1308 to 1318, the time of Europe's massive rains and the Great Famine; 1324 to 1329, another period of unsettled weather; and especially 1343 to 1362, when stormy conditions in the North Sea culminated in the ‘Great Drowning’ and the Norse Western settlement struggled through its exceptionally cold winters.”
Alarmist journalists have long since abandoned any effort to demonstrate that weather is deteriorating. They simply assume and assert it. But they do so by swooping on any current example of high winds, rain, lack of rain or dead starfish and ignoring all the places they’re not happening. Now of course the job of media is to highlight the unusual and important. And it’s quite possible that if 10% of places are having bad weather and 90% are not, it’s proof of a crisis because 40 years ago it was 5% and 95%. But what if it’s not? What if, for instance, it was and still is 10%, so that while some places have weather that has gotten worse and, for the sake of argument gotten worse due to climate change, other places have weather that has gotten better and, for the sake of consistency, for the same reason? Because it is not the job of the press to make unusual things seem frequent.
For instance hurricanes. The climate debate features a great deal of generally unedifying mutual accusations of cherry-picking. And there is no escaping the need to debate statistical methods though it ought to be possible to escape accusations of fraud and malice… from both sides. So what can we say about hurricanes?
Well, to repeat ourselves as often as is necessary to get people to stop making false claims, there is no evidence of a global increase. If anything there’s been a decrease which, if the world really is warming, would tend to confirm Fagan’s hypothesis. And to repeat, it is not necessary to say that global warming is good just because one effect of it is desirable or at least not catastrophic. A grownup should be able to see plusses and minuses to a phenomenon and come to a balanced assessment of it. And unless Fagan is wrong and cooling improves weather everywhere and warming makes it worse, then there must be places today that are having more reliable rainfall, more moderate temperatures and fewer storms even if on balance things are getting worse. So where are these places?
Is there anywhere that is not having flooding today that would be if it weren’t for “climate change”? Anywhere that is not having a drought? Anywhere the crops are not failing, or the weather is pleasant, or hurricanes are not blowing, that would be having trouble if things were still as they were in 1921? Anywhere that’s not having a heat wave that might be?
To hear NBC tell it in a typical story, no, nowhere at all: “In a summer already full of extreme weather, it's the heat waves roasting hundreds of millions of people across three continents that are confirming a grim climate prophecy for many experts. Sizzling temperatures in the United States and Canada and persistent heat in parts of Europe and northern Africa are creating dangerous health conditions, aggravating droughts and fueling wildfires around the world. And it's this troubling confluence of climate threats that researchers have been warning about for two decades.” Oh really? Did everywhere have a far hotter summer than usual? No, of course not. Otherwise the satellite measurements wouldn’t be showing vanishingly small amounts of warming over the last two decades and none whatsoever for nearly seven years now. As for the droughts and wildfires, well, once again, the IPCC begs to differ, in the fine print.
So try this tack. Ask any alarmist where the weather has improved because it got warmer, either over the last 20 years or the last 150. If they can’t think of one, be wary of any other factual claims they make.