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So about that heat

23 Aug 2023 | News Roundup

The latest alarmist “gotcha” was supposedly the unprecedented heat of summer 2023 afflicting the United States. Except it didn’t happen, as shown by this map of temperatures compared to seasonal norms for the 60 days leading up to August 7 (h/t Joe Bastardi).

Yes, it’s been colder than normal across most of the country. Which didn’t stop journalists from shrieking about the heat, and wondering where their audience went.

Endless stories implausibly nudging the audience about heat and climate have appeared this summer. For instance a mountain biker who got lost in Carrizo Gorge while rescuing some hikers who had no water with them and died of heatstroke became a news story. But the fact that the Gorge is located south of Death Valley did not. Then there were the passengers who felt ill after being stuck in a plane for nearly three hours on a Las Vegas tarmac in mid-July. Which would have been just as much of a nightmare 30 years ago.

Even the once-sober Times hollered in an email that “Charon ‘heat storm’ continues to sweep across southern Europe, sparking power cuts and threatening record high temperatures”. One day you’re naming heatwaves. The next you’re renaming them “heat storms”. And also hyping record temperatures that didn’t happen yet, based on novel ways of measuring heat designed to produce new records even if it’s not actually hotter. (Like the suddenly ubiquitous “heat index”.)

NBC also reported that “Heat has killed at least 18 people in Arizona’s Maricopa County this year”, adding that “The county is one of the few that has revamped its reporting to ensure heat deaths are accounted for” which means such deaths were probably undercounted in the past which is something to keep in mind when they start yelling “unprecedented!” every summer from now on. In fact current numbers might be fairly normal, especially since “Maricopa County” contains Phoenix, an infamous heat island, and moreover “Data from years past shows heat deaths are intertwined with the opioid and housing crises in the Phoenix area.”

Indeed Statista, in an unguarded moment, tells us that “Heat Islands Have City Dwellers Swelter in a Concrete Jungle” because:

“According to a new study by NGO Climate Central, 41 million Americans in 44 major cities – the equivalent of around half of these cities’ populations – habitually see outside temperatures in their Census tracts rise by an average of more than 8° Fahrenheit above those in surrounding areas.”

It’s a serious issue, to be sure. But here’s the thing: Does it occur to any of the people who do notice this factor to say gosh, if we want to know if there’s “global warming” we really better be sure we’re measuring temperatures outside those local hotspots?

Heck no. Instead the New York Times “Climate Forward” chipped in a tale of “How extreme heat affects workers and the economy” that featured a cleaner who “works the overnight shift inside planes where the air conditioning is off and nighttime temperatures regularly approach 100 degrees.”

Yeah? And how was that job back in 1987? The piece eventually gets around to “Experts say airport workers, like those in Phoenix, are some of the most at risk from heat, because of the heat-intensifying effects of asphalt and the need to wear bulky protective gear.” But not before telling us it’s also hot in New Delhi in July, as though it would startle anyone who’d fled the place for the cool Himalayan foothill country during the Raj to hear of this development.

Likewise NBC had the urban heat island story. But they didn’t connect the dots. Instead they shrilled that:

“In Europe, where cities in Spain, France and Italy broke records for high temperatures this week, the extreme heat is also expected to continue into the weekend. On Sunday, temperatures in Athens, Greece, are forecast to reach 108 F, and Antalya, Turkey, is expected to reach 111 F. Climate scientists studying heat waves report that their frequency and duration has increased since the 1960s. In its most recent assessment, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found with virtual certainty that the changing patterns of extreme heat are driven mainly by excess greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere — a phenomenon that has caused recent anthropogenic global warming.”

Except if you measure it in places that were rural in the 1960s and still are, instead of urban agglomerations of over 2.5 million people (Antalya) or 3 million (Athens) you find that the heat-trapping properties of asphalt and cement are hugely important. News stories ponder why Antalya is setting records… but don’t mention that, as so often, they measure it at the airport. Seriously, if you were assigned to find a place that would distort readings upward anywhere in the city, could you find a better spot?

Also, as Alex Epstein wrote, the Earth has been warming slowly for a long time, with colder places warming faster than hotter ones, so why would Phoenix, Arizona be setting records rather than, say, Pierce County, Wisconsin or Pickle Crow, Ontario? Which on August 11, 2023 set a high almost 7°F below average and whose all-time high of 104°F was set in, yes, 1933, the hottest decade in the modern instrumental record. At, in fact, the airport, code YPL. Over in Estevan, Saskatchewan, the all-time record was set in 1937. Even though they didn’t move the monitoring station to the airport until 1944. Code YEN.

NBC also did something more subtly misleading, reporting on July 26 that:

“Sweltering heat that has dogged some parts of the U.S. for more than a month is beginning to hit the Midwest and Northeast, with more than 100 million people now under heat alerts that will remain through Friday.”

What’s misleading here is that they had not, to that point, been telling you most parts of the U.S. were not unusually hot. Indeed, as Joe Bastardi noted, in the 60 days leading up to August 7, most of the United States was cooler than usual. But NBC doesn’t mention it until it threatens to reverse, and when they do, they don’t admit that it has any relevance to their hysterical coverage of a supposed national heatwave.

8 comments on “So about that heat”

  1. Perfectly normal summer in my part of Ontario.Lots of hot days,cooler ones,ample rain,good for agriculture.No records set here.The hottest day ever,locally,
    was in 1936,I think.105F,and no Humidex then.We haven't come close to that record in my lifetime.

  2. Things here in Eastern Ontario are running about average or just below. Although, in my 73 years I would have to say this is the hottest day never.

  3. John:

    Love your work and am a new subscriber/donor. The hypocrisy of the alarmists is astounding as is this comment from your past climate czar:
    “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony. … climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

  4. I live in Savannah, Georgia. Around Christmas was unusually cold-10 C. January and February significantly warmer than normal, flowering trees and shrubs were two to three weeks earlier than normal. May through mid June I was able to walk my elderly golden retriever daily since the temperatures in the shade were below 26C. I had to stop in mid June. We have had a couple of days in mid July when it made it up to 36C in the shade. What a shock here in the Deep South, that it was hot during the day in the middle of summer. My power consumption year to date is 5 to 10% lower on a daily KWH basis than recent years. In short, my lived experience this past year to date matches the published map. My wife and I , our family, friends and neighbors have been able to thrive through a 50+C sustained temperature variation with somewhat lower energy consumption. Whatever will w do if the temperature rises 2C over the next couple of decades?

  5. This exposes one of the fundamental problems with the climate "crisis" narrative. The entire premise of AGW is built on radiant IR energy (heat) that rises into the atmosphere and warms components such as CO2 to a greater extent than Nitrogen and Oxygen and thus causes overall warming. Urban heat islands are where the highest source of this energy comes from. And its not just heat resulting from the sun's warming of man made surfaces. It also includes waste heat energy dumped into the atmosphere by various machines and processes. Every energy consuming machine and process rejects waste heat into the atmosphere. I believe this along with heat emanating from man made surfaces are the true main cause of any warming being seen and NOT the differential effect of warming CO2. This radiant IR energy varies wildly depending on the location. Over 75% of the earth's surface is covered with water which has little to no energy that can create warming of any significance. This is precisely why modeling has been so wrong. Scientists have a very poor understanding of this on a global scale. To understand the magnitude of warming effects of CO2, you have to know both the concentration and the temperature differential between CO2 and other components. Scientists can only guess at the temperature differential and their guesses have been wrong for over 30 years and yet they still keep making the same guesses using the same flawed assumptions on temperature differential which have never been proven close to being accurate.

  6. Well of course there has been global warming which ended the last ice age. Not in a straight line though. The medieval warm period was, to the best of our understanding hotter than now. This was followed by a mini ice age. Here in Kelowna, which has hit the international news thanks to rapidly moving and destructive forest fires, now called the more threatening wild, fires we are experiencing fires which are much more terrifying as they are closer to urban areas. In 2003 there was a huge forest fire but mostly in the local Okanagan Mt Park which did burn some homes. We live in desert which experienced a colder winter than normal but while it is normal to have temperatures over 30C we have a drought which makes the grasslands and timber extremely dry. While lightening causes about 40% of the fires the rest are man made, either intentionally or deliberately or through stupidity e,g, camp fires.
    The point about airports is important as they all have weather stations and reports. Many are initially in semi rural areas but the areas near them rapidly become commercial centres. The effect of this is clearly outlined in the Book "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout" by former Greenpeace President Patrick Moore now an outspoken critic of the environmental/green "industry"

  7. Not very hot in Ottawa this year. Notice that more and more news outlets mention heat index and not actual temperature.

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