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Mind-blowing hogwash

28 Feb 2024 | News Roundup

Journalists are meant to be skeptical. But not on trendy causes, at least not in recent times. Thus a piece in The Daily Digest starts out “It seems impossible but some people still deny climate change science” and continues, beneath a caricature of Donald Trump: “We all know somebody who thinks this ‘climate change stuff’ is a bunch of hogwash. Forty years ago, it was easier to understand, but as of late, it is pretty mind-blowing that some people can have this level of cognitive dissonance.” But does the journalist (who we doubt was even around 40 years ago) really know such a person? Or are they only talking to one another, and failing to examine assumptions or check facts because it’s, like, mind-blowing that anyone could disagree with us, man? But at a certain point even journalists sometimes check the details, and that’s when it really gets mind-blowing.

MSN ran the headline “US weather: Heat explosion to smash America in freak 20C winter heatwave” and said “The US is about to roast in a freak winter heatwave as a plume of sweltering air surges up from the tropics.” Still, it’s a kind of progress that they then noted it’s a freak event, not a trend, and the heat is coming from the tropics not from your SUV. And they also noted how cold weather elsewhere was breaking records in Alaska, even thickening fuel oil so furnaces and stoves stopped working, while NBC took notice of a snow storm that dumped two feet of snow on California.

These days we count it lucky when a story says “Norway hit by hurricane-force winds: Is climate change making Europe's extreme storms worse?” and answers by saying “Unsurprisingly, many across the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and other storm-hit European countries this winter will be wondering whether climate change is partly to blame” then admits it’s not. As in:

“This is the furthest through the list we have ever been at this stage,” a Met Office weather service spokesperson confirmed to Euronews Green last week. But since storms only started being named in 2015, it’s not the best way of measuring climate change impacts. ‘It’s quite a complex issue and not quite as simple as [the] increasing frequency of heatwaves in the UK as a result of human-induced climate change,’ they added.”

Even though human-induced climate change is not increasing the frequency of heat waves, nor has the UK seen an increase.

Meanwhile in The Atlantic an article that started “California’s Climate Has Come Unmoored/ The weather of catastrophe is here” soon went on to detail how “unmoored” California’s weather has always been, from Joan Didion’s 1968 “Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse” to “The damage from the 1862 flood was so bad that it bankrupted the state.” But it then concludes that, as everybody knows, everything has changed:

“Meteorologists have described it [the 1862 flood] as a once-in-30,000-years disaster, but there is reason to believe that another one could come much sooner, because the planet is warming, and warmer air holds more moisture.”

Again, the narrative has run away from the facts. On purpose, it seems. The flood that might be coming is more real, far more real, than the one that actually did come. The British Red Cross advises that:

“In the coming decades, it is predicted periods of hot weather and heatwaves will be longer and more extreme.”

Note the passive voice, which makes it hard to check who made the prediction. But we tried anyway, and found instead that according to the official British Met Office the UK in 2023, the “Hottest year ever”TM, the hottest day came in September and the heatwave in question “would not have been particularly unusual” during the summer, adding:

“The seven consecutive days with temperatures exceeding 30°C in the UK was the longest such spell on record with the previous longest runs five days in the Septembers of 1929 and 1911.”

Given the urban heat island effect it is fair to say that in fact a stretch of hot weather in September 2023 was nothing out of the ordinary, having happened a century ago, possibly more frequently. Especially since, the Met adds of the September peak of 33.5°C at Faversham in Kent, on the 10th, that “While this is a notably high value it was not record-breaking, falling well short of the UK September record of 35.6°C set at Bawtry (South Yorkshire) on 2 September 1906.”

Yes, 1906. What’s more, the hottest day of the year rarely comes so late, having “only occurred in September on four previous occasions in 2016, 1954, 1949 and 1919.” So it’s episodic, cyclical and typical. Except that in this hottest year ever, Britain didn’t break 30C in August, didn’t break 31C in July, and didn’t break 33C in June.

The tendency nowadays is to rely on theory not evidence. For instance in the New York Times “Climate Forward”, Manuela Andreoni writes of storms and flooding on the American east coast and south to Louisiana that:

“So far this week, Californians have not seen the kinds of weather-generated disasters that struck last winter, with flooding in Ventura County in December and in San Diego in January, my colleague Jill Cowan reports. Storms are part of the natural cycle that replenishes the water supplies that several states will rely on during the drier months to come, Judson Jones, The Times’s meteorologist, told me. ‘The problem comes when there’s too much at one time,’ he said. Climate change makes that a lot more likely. Warmer air holds more moisture, which means storms in many parts of the world are getting wetter and more intense, as my colleague Ray Zhong explained during deluges last year. Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to climate change, not just because of storms and floods, but from rising seas and erosion.”

OK, more likely, you say. Though the amount of extra moisture isn’t specified and would, you’d think, at least reduce drought. But the real question is whether it’s actually making it more common. Climate is a complex phenomenon even in a world where many things are more complex than some people seem to think, and there are a lot of hypothetical mechanisms that could operate and might be worth testing if the result they could produce actually seems to have arrived. But is the U.S. having more flooding?

As we’ve noted, California has been notorious for cycles of searing drought and inundating floods since anyone started keeping track. As for, say, Louisiana, the U.S. National Weather Service (yes, we have Google on our computers, apparently unlike many journalists) says “On this page you learn what types of flooding are typical in Louisiana”. Types, you’ll notice. Not just one. And it lists “Significant Louisiana Floods in 2005, 1927, 1965, 2011 and 1995.

The 1927 event, aka the “Great Mississippi Flood of 1927”, was “the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States”. A century ago. Before there was climate.

Still, everybody knows that if something bad happens now, or something unusual, it’s proof that climate is way more climatic than it was before it was. Or something.

9 comments on “Mind-blowing hogwash”

  1. Storm severity is caused by steep temperature gradients. In a warmer world, the poles heat up more than the tropics, which REDUCES the temperature gradients in general. This leads to less and less severe storms in a warmer world. What we do get is more rain, due to the additional moisture. So the best plan is to make sure that reservoirs, lakes, dams etc are up to the increased water flow.
    This contrasts with the newly approved plan in the EU to remove 'man made obstacles' from 25000km of rivers in a rewilding attempt. This will only end in misery as the increased amount of water can now no longer be managed. The resulting floodings will undoubtedly be blamed on climate change and yet more rewilding will be attempted to placate the gods.
    Anyone with a basic understanding of physics and logic that looks into this for a few days will understand this. How can the politicians be so reckless with the safety of their people? And how can they still not be locked up in a mental hospital?

  2. There was a song in my youth, words to the effect: "it never rains in California, but girl don't the warn ya', it pours, and it pours". Gee, wonder what might have caused them to write it thusly.
    Then, too, in the opening chapters of "Cadillac Desert", the author documents reports of early explorers saying to the U.S. president that he should avoid trying to populate this desert land, and forget about expansion to the west of the Rockies.

  3. And about a century ago a bluesman sang a song with the words "if it keeps on raining,levy's gonna break",influenced by great floods of the day in
    the American South.Led Zeppelin covered that song in the early 70's.Out of respect to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,many radio stations
    did not play that song for quite some time.
    Yeah,today's journalists like to cherry pick their weather stories to fit their Climate Alarmist Narrative.

  4. These Climate journos aren't even pretending to interview actual scientists anymore, they are just making it up! Could it be that none of these scientists want their names associated with this garbage anymore!

  5. From my time working with meteorologists on climate and weather, it was a rule of thumb that for every 1.8 degree F. increase in air temperature, the atmosphere had an additional 7% in moisture holding capacity. Unfortunately that numerical relationship is a straight line relationship.......3.6 degrees F. results in 14% increase and so on......

  6. But anyone with a basic understanding of politicians knows they love disasters they can blame on something they're not responsible for. Newsom loves 'climate change', since the electric power grid, wildfires, mud slides, and any other complicated and hard to deal with thing which is his responsibility has a simple two-word excuse. And since enough people seem to be buying this nonsense, anything bad he can blame on climate change is an excuse to wield more power. I think they're all this way. It's why they've embraced this nonsense so readily.

  7. Politician love "climate change" everything can be blamed for it, therefore we can't do anything about it. Except you need to drive electric car.

  8. i grew up in Sacramento in the 70s. every year in may the weatherfolk would have a running commentary on when the first 100 deg day would happen , i think it hit that mark in the first week of May one year. they would also have a running discussion on what was called the "September sizzle", the last heat wave when the temps would get above 100 for the last time, in September, obviously. it has been a long time since this has happened, although it may hit the century mark later in May occasionally.
    so much for "global warming".

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