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It's... it's... impossible

31 Aug 2022 | OP ED Watch

As the pseudo-science of attribution studies makes giant strides in the world of journalism, Canary Media alerts us that “New research shows Western Europe is seeing a three- to fourfold increase in heat waves compared to anywhere else in the northern midlatitudes. And none of this would be possible without climate change.” None of it.

Canary Media then goes on to interview an expert. “A lot of meteorologists and climate watchers couldn’t quite believe it was happening – including Axios’ Andrew Freedman. ‘A high of 104 degrees has always been this limit that no meteorologist ever thought would be crossed in their lifetime in the U.K.,’ says Freedman.” No meteorologist ever thought. Presumably he asked them all. And in case you’re wondering about his expertise, he’s… “a climate and energy reporter at Axios.”

Also a meteorologist, surely? Um, no. In fact he has a B.A. in Political Science, a Masters in “Climate and Society” and “MALD, International Environment and Resource Policy; International Negotiations and Conflict Resolution” from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, MALD being “Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy” from the Fletcher School, which apparently invented this cumbersome thing.

Cliff Mass begs to differ. He puts forward the “Golden Rule of Climate Extremes” that “The more extreme a climate or weather record is, the greater the contribution of natural variability and the smaller the contribution of human-caused global warming.” (And here let us grant that Mass has no MALD; he is merely “an American professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. His research focuses on numerical weather modeling and prediction, the role of topography in the evolution of weather systems, regional climate modeling, and the weather of the Pacific Northwest. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, past-president of the Puget Sound American Meteorological Society chapter, and past chair of the College of the Environment College Council.”) On which basis he not only says that the small increase in temperature in Europe in the last half-century, even if it is all attributed to increased greenhouse gases, “is absolutely dwarfed by the magnitude of the heatwave” and then proceeds to explain why such things are to be expected regardless of trends in temperature or their causes.

Moreover, he notes that “major heatwaves periodically hit Europe”, including in 2003 and 1976. In some sense he’s no “denier,” attributing “perhaps 5-10% of the warmth” to global warming.

Over at The Telegraph, whose views on global warming are to its credit somewhat mixed, they threw further light though not water on the situation with a story “‘If you can see me, weep’: Drought-hit River Elbe reveals ‘hunger stones’ from 1616”. The point seemed to be that Europe’s drought was reaching unprecedented levels or might soon. But the fact that it was as bad in 1616 rather suggests that nature is variable and not always in ways you might like.

P.S. Once again National Geographic was trying to convince readers to fly to Europe for an epic vacation, proving that they don’t really think we should reduce our carbon footprint or that Europe is a volcanic wasteland, while on the hottest day of Britain’s heatwave the BBC cheerfully emailed “The sun-soaked, smash-hit whodunnit returns! Death in Paradise: Season 11”. But the Daily Telegraph tried to scare us with “The Colosseum could start crumbling, wine grapes wither on the vine, a risotto shortage is on the cards and olive oil may run dry as Italy bakes”, apparently not aware that the Roman Warm Period was warmer than today and so its various droughts and heat waves would have been even worse without destroying its monuments.

2 comments on “It's... it's... impossible”

  1. CBC, et al, are lamenting the lack of named Atlantic storms this summer. But dont worry. It's just climate change dont you know.

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