It’s especially important to understand how arrogant certainty leads people to misinterpret data with fierce conviction because reporting on the supposed record-breaking recordiness of the scorching hell of 2023 really does border on fraud. But from the complacently ignorant side, not the deviously deceitful one. For instance the New York Times “Climate Forward” wrote “It’s confirmed: 2023 was the planet’s warmest year on record and perhaps in the last 100,000 years. By far.” But nothing of the sort has been confirmed. Indeed the reverse is true. The Holocene Climatic Optimum was warmer by far than it is today. But again we hasten to add that it is fraud driven by conviction not cynicism, an irresponsible failure to check facts due to reckless certainty. Indeed, we wouldn’t take an even money bet that author Manuela Andreoni has ever heard of the Holocene Climatic Optimum.
No, really. According to her bio on the Times site:
“Manuela Andreoni is a writer for the Climate Forward newsletter. Before joining the climate desk, she was a fellow at the Rainforest Investigation Network, covering the Brazilian Amazon. She studied at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and received a master’s degree from Columbia University, where she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. She is a native of Rio and started writing for The Times in 2018 working out of the Brazil bureau.”
So a climate activist not a climate scientist, and an ill-trained one at that; even her BA is in “Comunicação Social-Jornalismo, Comunicação e Jornalismo” which basically sounds like the Portuguese for “activism” twice.
Thus she writes, among much other nonsense, that:
“every fraction of a degree matters. Between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius of warming, coral reefs may disappear…”
Can this person really not know coral survived the Holocene Climatic Optimum, and the Eemian, whatever it was, and the Hoxnian? And the Eocene? Or indeed that there are trace coral fossils going back 535 million years, while (all you need is Wikipedia and a browser) “The currently ubiquitous stony corals, Scleractinia, appeared in the Middle Triassic” and that the planet Earth was roughly 10°C warmer than it is now for most of the period between then and the Miocene?
We don’t mean to fling eras around, or epochs. But for those thinking corals will go polyps up if it gets a teensy tiny bit warmer, the Miocene was the first Epoch of the Neogene Period meaning it was from about 23.03 to 5.3 million years ago and even then, though the long natural cooling was under way that led to modern chilly conditions in the Pleistocene “ice age”, and temperatures fluctuated considerably as they always have for natural reasons, on the whole it was still about 6 degrees warmer than today.
If that geology lesson is too much for her, we could just point out that if you want to see coral you go to hot places not cold ones so obviously the stuff thrives in warm water. It’s not rocket science.
Arguably reporters get some marks for conveying fairly accurately what their sources said. But they’re also meant to have some skepticism even if, oh, say, the sources are liberals, Democrats or activists. Instead in another story the New York Times gushes:
“To climate scientists, it comes as no surprise that unabated emissions of greenhouse gases caused global warming to reach new highs. What researchers are still trying to understand is whether 2023 foretells many more years in which heat records are not merely broken, but smashed. In other words, they are asking whether the numbers are a sign that the planet’s warming is accelerating.”
Well, some are. But possibly there are some researchers out there trying to understand whether 2023 was actually an anomaly in which temperatures jumped up for some reason unrelated to long-term trends, and might jump back down. If the credulous Times reporters ever even thought of that angle, it didn’t survive into the story.
Instead, they moved on to a flagrantly untrue statement:
“When scientists combine their satellite readings with geological evidence on the climate’s more distant past, 2023 also appears to be among the warmest years in at least 100,000, said Carlo Buontempo, director of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, at a news briefing. ‘There were simply no cities, no books, agriculture or domesticated animals on this planet the last time the temperature was so high,’ he said.”
Incorrect. The first “city” in the world, at least the first one with a city wall, is thought to have been Jericho. Wikipedia says “Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (to 9000 BCE)” which takes us back into the Holocene Climatic Optimum, definitely warmer than 2023. As was the Minoan Warm Period. It is true that there were no books until the Christian era, in the sense of a codex; earlier “books” were in fact collections of scrolls. But no agriculture? It is to laugh.
Humans have been planting grain on purpose since before Jericho had a wall. Indeed cities are the result, not the cause, of farming. And four of the “big five” farm animals, sheep, goats, pigs and cows, were domesticated 10,000 years ago, while if it counts the domestic dog goes back into the mists of time, or rather the ice.
The scientist has no idea whereof he prates. And the journalists have no curiosity about it. A cozy arrangement. But bad for readers, and the public generally. As is their naïve regurgitation, instead of asking him something like “When’s the last time temperatures were so high?” of the further nonsensical claim that:
“Every 10th of a degree of global warming represents extra thermodynamic fuel that intensifies heat waves and storms, adds to rising seas and hastens the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.”
Consider, at the risk of short-circuiting your own journalism career, that according to alarmist orthodoxy we’re already 1.1°C above the temperature in 1850 and, the story also rebabbles:
“last year, temperatures worldwide were 1.48 degrees Celsius, or 2.66 Fahrenheit, higher than they were in the second half of the 19th century, the European Union climate monitor announced on Tuesday.”
If so, and if every 10th of a degree represents a detectable rise in heat waves and storms, records from 1850 on should show 11, or 14, such rises as discernible steps in the data. If they do not, indeed if you snort that the records aren’t remotely complete enough to draw such a judgement, then on what basis do the scientactivournalists say blithely that it is known that such a correlation definitely exists?
You’d expect journalists to wonder a little bit about such things. Or maybe not, as for instance with MSN cheerfully telling us “Warmer winters and more flooding will be the norm in the UK, scientists warn” and the same day “North Sea winds to bring harsh -9C chill as Britain tipped for heavy snow”. And then there’s the CNN headline, via MSN, that “Extreme heat is pushing India to the brink of ‘survivability.’”
Now hang on. In the abstract, how would you tell whether a county was being pushed to the brink of survivability? Presumably there’d be some kind of evidence that significant numbers of people were having trouble surviving. Instead India’s population, which doubled from 1975 to 2010 to reach 1.2 billion, has now passed 1.4 billion making it the most populous country in the world, and it’s projected to reach 1.7 billion by ground zero for Net Zero, 2050. All of which can be discovered very quickly by Googling… if you care to try.
Even the normally sensible National Post (for which one of us writes) hollered:
“Earth shattered heat records in 2023, nearing critical 1.5-degree warming threshold: European climate agency/ The U.S. lurched through 28 weather disasters last year that caused at least $1 billion in damage, smashing the old record of 22 set in 2020”.
Interestingly, not one word of it is true except that Copernicus, the “European climate agency”, did say it. We don’t actually know precisely what the temperature was globally in 2023, or any other year, which didn’t stop the story from repeating that “The European climate agency Copernicus said the year was 1.48 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.” But we do know that it was a lot warmer in the Holocene Climatic Optimum so no heat records were broken, let alone shattered. We also know that the 1.5°C “threshold” isn’t “critical” or even significant; it was chosen for its supposed symbolic value without any scientific basis, whereupon a host of people with no scientific talents began yelling that the science said if we passed it something dreadful would somehow happen somewhere.
“That’s the threshold beyond which, scientists say, humans will have trouble adapting to intensifying wildfires, heat waves, drought and storms.”
No. Scientists don’t say anything of the sort. Politicians picked that number at the 21st COP in Paris without any scientific basis and indeed, as leading alarmist Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia admitted back in 2007, even the earlier 2°C limit was “pulled out of thin air.”
As for that rubbish about disasters, Roger Pielke Jr., who insists that he believes in man-made climate change and thinks it matters, has thoroughly demolished it, as we detail in our second “Science Notes” item below, from lack of transparency to strange handling of data to a glaring analytic blunder.
The Post story babbles on that “scientists say a warming climate is also to blame for more extreme weather events, like the lengthy drought that devastated the Horn of Africa, the torrential downpours that wiped out dams and killed thousands in Libya and the Canada wildfires that fouled the air from North America to Europe.” But as noted, not even the IPCC actually says we are having more extreme weather events, let alone that a warming climate is to “blame”. (And as we just pointed out, if a warming climate caused Canada’s unusually large number of wildfires in 2023, why did its immediate neighbour the U.S. have remarkably few that year?) But the journalists know how to find the alarmist outliers who do say it and they scratch one another’s backs, trading clickbait for publicity.
The Wall Street Journal also went with the story, which rather surprised us. But it was slightly more skeptical, noting that even the NOAA, which routinely “adjusts” temperatures to reinforce the apparent warming trend, only classified 2023 as the fifth-warmest in the U.S. since 1895, which should raise questions about whether we really know 2023 was hottest worldwide given that the U.S. has the best long-term records. But the Journal wavered then panicked with:
“Not every storm or heat wave is caused by climate change, and not every city, state or country hit record temperatures in 2023. However, climate scientists say that rising global temperatures increase the likelihood of more periods of heavy rainfall, more heat waves more droughts and more wildfires.”
Except, again, “climate scientists” only say such a thing in a weird abstract negative way in that they admit it hasn’t happened then fear that it might certainly maybe do so later a bit or lots unless it doesn’t.