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Soaking Man

13 Sep 2023 | OP ED Watch

Cory Doctorow in the New York Times “Opinion Today” swooped on the chaos at the aggressively pagan “Burning Man” party/art festival and complained about the “unprecedented rain“ as proof of climate change. Normally it’s horribly dry and hot out there in the Nevada desert, which is also proof of climate change given that in the past it was, well, horribly hot and dry. He writes: “On one hand, the experience was still meaningful – for many of us ‘burners,’ the muddy ‘playa’ called us to service: feeding and caring for one another and keeping the dancing going. On the other hand, it underscored the current realities of our planet’s changing climate.” Which are what? That nature is unpredictable, as opposed to the entirely predictable tendency of alarmists to blame anything and everything on climate change.

Thus, you see, or at least he does, that:

“This is the second Burning Man in a row that had challenging weather conditions. Last year, daytime temperatures were so intense that it felt dangerous to work in the sun, compromising the ritual of setting up camps and public art. White-out dust storms – a normal occurrence in the Black Rock Desert – were so fierce and frequent that attendees had to shelter for hours at a time, over and over again.”

Note that we’re talking a desert in northern Nevada. So surely they’re used to heat? Well, duh. Indeed, Doctorow writes:

“Burning Man is an event where intense, hostile conditions have typically been a feature, not a bug. In such a harsh place, there’s a delightful contrast when you stumble across fun, beauty and camaraderie (or better yet, when you create these elements together). But now, thanks to rising global temperatures, the Black Rock Desert could be shifting from almost uninhabitable to totally incompatible with human activity. It wouldn’t be the first place to go through this change, and it won’t be the last.”

Where is the first place that has gone from almost uninhabitable to totally incompatible with human activity? He doesn’t say. Nor does he explain what minor increase in temperature has this peculiar effect. Or “could”. Or why it was rain this time, or what it will be next time. With climate alarmism, you don’t have to. Anything will do, or everything, or nothing. Scientists say. But only after bad things happen, not before.

We keep hearing things like “Scorching current heat waves ‘virtually impossible’ without climate change, researchers say”. See, it’s all about how attribution science now allows people to link specific weather events to climate change instead of just going well, sometimes we just get bad weather. Thus:

“As firefighters and other first responders battle an unprecedented summer of fires, floods, tornadoes and heat waves around the country, a group of Canadian scientists are asking why they’re happening in the first place. ‘May and June were record hot months in Canada and we’ve got the record wildfire season as well,’ said Nathan Gillett of Environment and Climate Change Canada. ‘Yes, it has been busy.’ Gillett heads the Rapid Extreme Event Attribution Project, a new federal program that uses the growing field of attribution science to promptly establish to what extent – if any – a specific flood in British Columbia or wildfire in Quebec is due to climate change.”

And when a government pays you large sums to justify their extravagant climate policies by “proving” that humans are causing warming that is causing fires, why, it’s totally disinterested and objective.

You can tell because Gillett told a journalist “The idea is to be able to make rapid extreme event attribution days or weeks after the extreme events occur.” Which has no real scientific purpose but sure makes for great polemical headlines.

Unlike, say, the one we would have written, that “June and July were hot months in the United States and they had one of the lowest wildfire seasons on record”. Which puts the kibosh on attribution and so is unscientific despite being factually correct (and that “Climate Forward” piece blaming fires in California and Hawaii on “global” warming when it missed most of the United States).

Attribution science however is not a real-world thing. Instead:

“in 2003, a paper was published suggesting science could do better. Myles Allen of Oxford University borrowed a concept from epidemiology…. Since then, hundreds of attribution papers have been peer-reviewed and published. As well as Canada, governments including the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan and the United States are using attribution science.”

Let us not be sarcastic about those governments’ performance fighting inflation or, oh, we don’t know, predicting the course of an epidemic, based on computer models. Instead, bow down before the mighty simulation:

“Attribution science works by comparing climate models. One set of models will use data drawn from actual records while another, otherwise identical, set will be constructed with the influence of greenhouse gases removed. Simulations will be run using those two sets and the difference in the results reveals the impact of climate change. It allows scientists to say to what extent the presence of greenhouse gases increased the likelihood of the event in question.”

Or would if we had any reason to believe that the simulations of weather with “the influence of greenhouse gases” removed works better than scapulimancy.

The Economist recently tried to rescue the risible reputation of weather forecasting, throwing in trendy AI. But its actual chart said that whereas a forecast of snow three days ahead had gone from about 90 to 99% accuracy, one ten days out had gone from just over 20% to just under 50%. So they don’t know what is going to happen in a week and a half. Yet they know what would have happened 48 years ago with such exactness that the government is proved right. Thus:

“The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), an arm of the United Nations, reckons that a five-day forecast today is about as accurate as a two-day forecast was a quarter of a century ago.”

For our part, we check the forecast with obsessive gullibility because of our gardening, and have one hard and fast rule: If they say rain in Ottawa in two days, no rain will fall. And if they say no rain today, it’s about 10% that it will. (During the initial drafting of this article, there was a firm prediction of fairly heavy rain from mid-afternoon through evening the next day. By early that morning, it had been advanced to 11:00, only to be pushed back to 14:00, then 16:00, then evening. The rock bottom low point came at 18:40 when the Weather Network app wrongly declared that it was currently raining. Then came one minute of unannounced faint drizzle at 19:00, after which the forecast gradually pushed it back until the next morning before it didn’t materialize at 10:00 so they claimed it was raining anyway but would soon stop and be sunny all weekend. Next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would feature heavy rain, though.)

3 comments on “Soaking Man”

  1. According to Wikipedia, the Black Rock Desert where Burning Man is held, “is in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan.” So, at some point in the past, there must have been lots of seasonal rains for it to now be a “dry lakebed”. If climate change is a relatively recent phenomenon, then what caused Lake Lahontan to dry up? Or all of the Great Basin for that matter?

  2. I read recently that Probability of Precipitation doesn’t mean what most people think it means. It’s actually the conjunction of two factors: the probability of any rainfall anywhere in the forecasted region at any time in the forecasted interval; multiplied by the confidence that the forecaster has in that forecast. So if there’s an 80% chance that some rain will fall somewhere in Ottawa overnight, and the forecaster is 50% sure if that, then the POP is 80% x 50% = 40%.

    It follows that if there’s zero confidence in the forecast OR zero chance of any rain then the POP will be zero.

  3. This all reminds me of a tell-all book written by a Soviet KGB defector.He was told by his superiors that if he could not find genuine spies or "enemies of the state",then he must "create enemies in order to unmask them". So in this case,no matter what the weather or location,these alarmists will tell us that
    it is not "normal",and therefore proof of man-made climate change.

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