The usual suspects were all over the claim that July 4, 2023, was the hottest day ever if you don’t count hotter days that happened in the past. The CBC says “Monday may have set a global record for the hottest day ever. Tuesday broke it”. NBC went with “World swelters under unofficial hottest day on record”. The Globe & Mail panted “World swelters to unofficial hottest day on record Monday then gets even hotter Tuesday”. Reuters missed it by that much, with “World registers hottest day ever recorded on July 3”. Fortune said “The planet probably just had its 2 hottest days ever as scientists grapple with ‘truly unreal meteorology and climate stats for the year’”. Probably. Unless it didn’t, because the measurement was a computer model artefact. And we made up that bit about “ever recorded” to scare you because this model only manipulates data going back to 1979, leaving out the 1930s, the Roman Warm Period, the Holocene Climatic Optimum and anything else inconvenient.
Of course all these news outfits are running essentially the same story. They’re not out there breaking news, let alone treating official pronouncements skeptically. They’re running with the pack to confirm an agenda.
The result is more than a bit weasely. Numerous outlets including the U.S. government’s “Voice of America” ran an AP story with the headline “For the Third Time This Week, Earth Sets an Unofficial Heat Record” or something similar. But after laying on the usual hype in the usual thick steaming layer, the piece noted that:
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday issued a note of caution about the Maine tool's findings, saying it could not confirm data that results in part from computer modeling.”
Of course NOAA also doesn’t want mere facts to impede a good stampede, so it told the press “Although NOAA cannot validate the methodology or conclusion of the University of Maine analysis, we recognize that we are in a warm period due to climate change”. Though “a warm period” isn’t quite the same as “heat record”, let alone “hottest day ever”. It could mean yeah, natural climate change turned the Medieval Warm Period into the Little Ice Age and now the climate is changing again, naturally, getting us back to a fairly routine warm period.
On which point the Washington Post also slipped up slightly on this exercise in mass hysteria, blurting out an even more crucial flaw in the whole business:
“Tuesday was the hottest day on Earth since at least 1979, with the global average temperature reaching 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit (17.18 degrees Celsius), according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.”
Just since 1979? Yes, even if Fortune used “unofficial hottest day in human recordkeeping” in a story that also later pointed out that the whole dataset covers just 44 years. Possibly their reporters think writing was invented in the Carter years.
Turns out writing is quite old. So is heat. For instance the 1930s were hotter than the hottest thing since Edward III until NASA altered the data. Indeed, the use of the satellite record to judge trends in Arctic ice is notorious, in some circles at least, precisely because it begins in the late 1970s at the tail-end of a generally recognized cooling trend since the 1940s, meaning if we had satellite records going back a century today’s numbers might be nothing unusual.
Time didn’t start in 1923 either, of course. The 1100s were hot too. So yes, people in the past had temperatures. And heat. And hot spells. And hot periods. What they didn’t have was satellite records. It’s not the same thing. (Nor did they have news agencies competing to amplify government propaganda instead of questioning it, at least not in the Anglosphere.)
Undaunted the Post added:
“As a result, some scientists believe July 4 may have been one of the hottest days on Earth in around 125,000 years, due to a dangerous combination of climate change causing global temperatures to soar, the return of the El Niño pattern and the start of summer in the northern hemisphere.”
And they cherry-picked 125,000 years because, all together now, it’s when the Eemian interglacial ended and temperatures plunged from levels well above those of today that were entirely natural. Dang. (The Post also found someone to deny the Holocene Climatic Optimum, Roman Warm Period and Medieval Warm Period, without naming them lest someone Google.)
Even so it’s rubbish. As Steve Milloy wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
“The reported average global temperature on those days was 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit, supposedly the hottest in 125,000 years. The claimed temperature was derived from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, which relies on a mix of satellite temperature data and computer-model guesstimation to calculate estimates of temperature. One obvious problem with the updated narrative is that there are no satellite data from 125,000 years ago. Calculated estimates of current temperatures can’t be fairly compared with guesses of global temperature from thousands of years ago. A more likely alternative to the 62.6-degree estimate is something around 57.5 degrees. The latter is an average of actual surface temperature measurements taken around the world and processed on a minute-by-minute basis by a website called temperature.global. The numbers have been steady this year, with no spike in July.”
Also, we complained recently about news outlets reporting things before they happen in case they turn out not to and a good panic is wasted. But how about the trumpeting of “unofficial” records as records, in case they end up not verified?
According to the CBC story:
“The entire planet sweltered for the two unofficial hottest days in human record-keeping Monday and Tuesday, according to University of Maine scientists at the Climate Reanalyzer project. For two straight days, the global average temperature spiked into uncharted territory. After scientists talked about Monday’s dramatic heat, Tuesday soared 0.17 C even hotter, which is a huge temperature jump in terms of global averages and records.”
Mind you we do want to give them credit for “in human record-keeping”. Then take it back with a stiff reprimand because it’s really only since satellites. Not even the modern thermometer record era, let alone “human record-keeping” since humans have been keeping various proxy and anecdotal records of temperature for centuries. And of course “uncharted territory” is unmitigated rubbish since we know that in the Holocene Climatic Optimum, which ended before writing started, it was considerably warmer than today, so there’s no doubt whatsoever that a hot day in those days was hotter than last Tuesday.
The Globe & Mail actually slipped up too, apparently without realizing it. They mentioned the awkward satellite thing then tried to push it aside and fell over:
“While it is not an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration record, ‘this is showing us an indication of where we are right now,’ NOAA chief scientist Sarah Kapnick said. Even though the dataset used for the unofficial record goes back only to 1979, she said that given other data, it’s likely the hottest day in ‘several hundred years that we’ve experienced.’”
Uh, “several hundred”? Yup. Nothing this hot during the “Little Ice Age”, for some reason. But go back before that, several hundred years and a bit more, and you find, oh dear, the Medieval Warm Period. Which they did not actually mention.
And another thing: If it’s so gol-durn hot, why does the weather seem normal to most people who aren’t journalists, politicians and climate activists? If the planet set a record, why didn’t your home town?
Oh, right. The computer models again. As the CBC adds:
“The same University of Maine climate calculator – based on satellite data and computer simulations – forecasts a similar temperature for Wednesday that would be in record territory, with an Antarctica average that is a whopping 4.5 C warmer than the 1979-2000 average.”
NBC tried to bail it out with:
“High temperature records were surpassed July 3 and 4 in Quebec and northwestern Canada and Peru, while cities across the U.S. have been hovering at all-time highs, meteorologists said.”
But it won’t do. Indeed their list of temperature records, putting “northwestern Canada and Peru” into their basket, makes plain that they were picking cherries. (Like “hovering at”, which in translation means yeah, it’s hot in mid-summer, as usual.) As we keep saying, with temperatures being recorded in tens of thousands of places around the world, you’re going to get records somewhere every day. Both ways. Indeed by Googling “record cold July 5” we got “Moose Jaw breaks 105-year-old cold weather record on Wednesday”.
Moose Jaw, for readers who are not connoisseurs of Canadian place names like Pickle Crow, or Fort Whoop-Up, is the fourth largest city in Saskatchewan. Which maybe just digs the hole deeper. Though not as deep as the city’s marketing inspiration “Canada’s most notorious city” which wouldn’t be impressive even if it were true.
The point is, you can Google “record heat [any date]” and somewhere you’ll find it. Even if you have to go to Peru. It doesn’t mean there’s a trend.
Nor does Reuters’:
“The southern U.S. has been suffering under an intense heat dome in recent weeks. In China, an enduring heatwave continued, with temperatures above 35C (95F). North Africa has seen temperatures near 50C (122F).”
What’s it normally like in North Africa in July? Duh. And remember the old standard for unbearably hot was “a hundred in the shade”. China’s not there, is it?
The satellite data is a problem as well, because the stuff that calculates energy inputs and outputs consistently seems to show more “warming”, a term here meaning calculations of what should be going on at the sea’s surface if the models are correct, than buoys measuring actual temperature show. And to repeat, the best satellite dataset, that from the University of Alabama Huntsville, shows June temperatures 0.38°C above the average of the last 30 years. Not runaway warming.
In our last newsletter we quoted someone asking, if the entire global temperature is a hockey stick, why no credible actual temperature record from any single place on Earth is a hockey stick? And here we ask: If July 5, 2023 was “uncharted territory” for the planet as a whole, why wasn’t it “uncharted territory” for any single place on Earth?
“‘This is not a milestone we should be celebrating,’ said climate scientist Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Britain’s Imperial College London. ‘It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems.’ Scientists said climate change, combined with an emerging El Nino pattern, were to blame.”
OK. Show us a dead ecosystem. Just one. Otherwise you’re just making it up. (Except perhaps the El Niño bit which awkwardly isn’t climate at all.)
Mind you they also quoted that famously neutral and dispassionate observer Zeke Hausfather that:
“Unfortunately, it promises to only be the first in a series of new records set this year as increasing emissions of [carbon dioxide] and greenhouse gases coupled with a growing El Nino event push temperatures to new highs”.
We shall see. Provided you learn to measure and compare. Otherwise it’s just more babble.