If the continental United States had on Nov. 1 been on average 11°F warmer than normal, or even if on Halloween North Dakota alone had been 44°F warmer, the usual suspects would have no difficulty explaining the phenomenon. Instead it’s that much colder (as North Dakota was 44°F below average on Oct. 31) prompting National Geographic to scratch its wise old head and wonder if cold weather can come out of nowhere, even brutally. As we’ve observed before, the science is totally settled on climate while weather is mysterious. And thus it is that NG, shivering in the unseasonable cold, rediscovers the unspeakably frosty winter of 1709. They write “In today’s newsletter, we examine our early chill and the mystery freak winter of 1709” that “disrupted two wars, broke church bells, froze Venice’s canals, and turned the Baltic Sea into horsepaths.” And the punchline? “What caused it? We still don’t know for sure.” Whereas the hot summer of 2023 was just like totally certainly man-made climate change.
As the link from that newsletter to the main story asks of the sudden, severe, protracted cold spell in 1709: “Could it happen again?” Of course the answer ought to be no. The air is full of “heat trapping” man-made “carbon pollution” thus heating the place to the global boiling era of fire. And if it turns out to be yes, well, don’t worry, the theory is obviously right, it’s just the facts that are mysteriously wrong.
We would like to gloat briefly here, because we actually wrote about that winter a year ago. We can’t taunt them too much, though, because we did so because of a piece in, um, National Geographic. Which we noted at the time, “in a rare nod to reality” admitted that unusually cold weather is a catastrophe causing famine and disease, a stark departure from orthodoxy that says warmth is horrible in every dimension from agriculture to health (despite abundant evidence to the contrary) and gosh if only it hadn’t warmed up since pre-industrial times.
On the plus side, we can taunt them a bit because they recycled the same story because, well, gosh, the fall of 2023 is turning out to be extremely cold in North America. Exactly as the global warming theory NG is normally all in on didn’t predict.
As we have suggested, standard global warming theory did not predict this summer’s conditions and could not. It pounced on them once they hit, of course. But its take is that there’s something like a linear relationship between atmospheric CO2 and warming, so a sudden discontinuity either way doesn’t fit.
Don’t take our word for it. Well, do. But not ours alone. In a different context, responding to man-made warming icon James Hansen’s claim that warming is accelerating and is about to accelerate as well, no less a man-made warming icon than Michael Mann insisted that it’s not what the theory says:
“Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that Hansen and his co-authors are ‘very much out of the mainstream’ in identifying an acceleration in surface heating that has ‘continued at a remarkably constant rate for the past few decades’.”
Well OK then. If it’s been remarkably constant, and in a stable relationship with atmospheric CO2, what explains the apparent spike this past summer? And a strong possibility for the unusual warmth this past summer is that the early 2022 eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano underwater filled the air with water vapour, the most important greenhouse gas.
Such an event certainly could cause a temperature spike lasting somewhere between half a year and two years, as powerful above-ground eruptions can cause similar temperature drops. If so, the effects would be fading away now, and if they are, the summer of 2024 won’t be as warm. (That’s called a testable prediction, folks, of exactly the sort the AGW enthusiasts routinely fail to make.)
It’s also possible that this coming winter will be colder than expected, because of the fading of that effect, some other cause, or both. Unlike climate, which always does what the computer models say even if you have to torture the data to make it confess, weather is unpredictable.
Finally, we note with a sour smile that the piece also says of 1709 that:
“In the absence of weather forecasting, the authorities had no time to prepare for what became known as ‘Le Grand Hiver,’ and thousands succumbed to hypothermia before measures could be taken to help them.”
Nowadays of course with modern scientific modeling, we have no idea what it will be like in three days except the conditions forecast in our ubiquitous pocket telephone weather apps will not arrive as forecast.