If it's hot, it's climate change

Brass monkeys

Brass monkeys

UPDATE: Read Warwick Hughes’ analysis of Sydney’s “hottest day eva” here.

But if it’s cold, it’s “just weather”. Actually, no, that’s climate change too (it’s called having an each way bet).

The agenda-driven attitudes to the reporting of any kind of extreme weather are so predictable.

Whilst the Australian media is hyperventilating over a heatwave Down Under, already attributed by several news organisations and government bodies to “global warming”, the severe snowfalls in Europe, which, we were sternly advised in 2000, would be a thing of the past, are merely an intriguing curiosity of the weather:

Extreme winter weather swept across western Europe Saturday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at London’s main international airport and claiming several lives in Spain, Portugal and France, including those of three Mali-bound soldiers.

The frigid temperatures also caused delays and cancellations on major railway lines including the Eurostar train service, and transport authorities warned of further traffic disruptions with more blizzards forecast for Sunday.

In London, thousands of passengers were forced to camp out on the floors of Heathrow Airport overnight as hundreds of flights to and from the British capital were cancelled.

“There are lots of bodies lying around in the airport. If feels like there’s been a natural disaster,” Jerry Meng from Los Angeles, whose flight to New York was cancelled, told British broadcaster BBC.

London’s other main airports, Gatwick and Stansted, managed to operate fairly normally Saturday.

For Sunday, the snow is expected to cause a 20-percent traffic reduction at Heathrow, and French air traffic authorities have ordered a 40 percent cut in take-offs and landings at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports. (source)

Yes, the heat in Australia was extreme, and records were broken, but is that not to be expected? The planet is warming slowly and has been for several hundred years, primarily due to natural recovery from the Little Ice Age. It is not surprising that records will continue to be exceeded.

What is surprising is that it has taken from 1939 until 2013 for the record to be broken in Sydney, despite nearly 80 years of gradually increasing global temperatures and massive increase in the urban heat island effect in the city. And the all time record from 1960 at Oodnadatta remains.

Agenda-driven Met Office's grudging concessions to reality


It’s bizarre to watch the UK Met Office squirm as it desperately tries to maintain an ideological position in the face of conflicting evidence. I never would have believed that such a formerly respected institution, scientific impartiality at its core, could be so compromised by a political agenda.

Instead of simply reporting on new developments in climate, they must instead be spun in order to bolster the case for political action. Such is the case today, where Peter Stott grudgingly concedes that temperatures have fallen in the past couple of years, but surrounds it with caveats and “yes, buts” in order to make sure The Cause™ is not diluted (see highlights below):

THE world’s climate has cooled during last year and this year, temperature data from Britain’s Met Office reveals — just before this year’s talks on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.

The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen since the record seen in 2010.

The findings could prove politically sensitive, coming ahead of the UN’s climate summit in Doha, Qatar, where the global system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions faces collapse. The threat comes because the Kyoto Treaty, under which developed nations pledged to cut their carbon emissions, expires at the end of this year. Doha is seen as the last hope of securing an extension.

In such a febrile situation, any data casting doubt on climate scientists’ predictions is potentially explosive.

The World Meteorological Organisation, which oversees the publication of climate trend data from the four main global centres, including the British Met Office, has been strongly criticised for its policy of releasing such data just before the UN’s key annual summits.

“In the past two years we have seen a slight decline in temperature,” said Peter Stott, the Met Office’s head of climate monitoring and attribution.

“However, it is such a short period that it is scientifically meaningless. Climate change can only be measured over decades — and the records show that the world has warmed by 0.75C over the past century.”

The Met Office figures show that, for the first 10 months of this year, global temperatures averaged 14.43C; 2010 was significantly hotter at 14.54C.

Dr Stott says the heat of 2010 was caused by an El Nino event, where warm water currents in the Pacific released unusual amounts of heat into the atmosphere.

“It is a natural short-term fluctuation and nothing to do with climate change,” he said.

The longer-term record shows global temperatures have hardly risen for about 15 years. But Dr Stott said the key point was that they had remained consistently above the long-term average. (source)

In fact, the print edition of The Australian includes a further sentence, which reveals the Met Office’s bias even more clearly:

“This is why the Arctic icecap is melting and extreme weather events are increasing.”

That could have been written by Greenpeace or the WWF. No mention of the increasing ice in the Antarctic or the fact that no link from “extreme weather” to climate change has been established – even by the IPCC. The claim has no factual basis and is pure environmental ideology.

Bjørn Lomborg has an op-ed in The Oz as well today, on mitigation vs adaptation.

No increase in droughts despite 'global warming'

No change

From the Science is Settled department. Another ‘extreme weather’ lie is exposed, as it is revealed that there has been little change in droughts over the past 60 years, when CO2 emissions increased rapidly and our planet succumbed to the evils of global warming – allegedly:

According to a commonly used model of drought patterns, researchers had previously assumed that higher global temperatures were causing greater evaporation of water, and therefore more droughts.

But a more detailed analysis of weather data, including wind speed, humidity and radiation levels, found that in fact there has been “little change” in drought over the past 60 years.

Researchers from Princeton University and the Australian National University said drought was “expected to increase in frequency and severity” in the future, but added that currently used prediction methods are inaccurate.

Overestimating the influence of temperature on evaporation could skew estimates of the likely impacts of climate change over the coming decades, they reported in the Nature journal.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global temperatures have risen by about 0.13C per decade for the last 50 years – nearly twice the rate of increase for the last 100 years.

In a report published in 2007, the IPCC claimed that “more intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s”, adding that “increased drying linked with higher temperatures and decreased precipitation has contributed to changes in drought”.

In a recent review, however, the statement was significantly revised to recognise that over-reliance on temperature recordings to predict evaporation may have inflated estimates of drought at regional and global scales.

Now in their new study, the American and Australian scientists have outlined “more realistic calculations” which suggest major uncertainty over drought trends since 1950, and little sign of an increase in the overall area affected by droughts. (source)

Paging the ABC, the Climate Commission and Greg Combet… hello? Anybody home? [tumbleweed]

By the way, when Combet labelled Tony Abbott’s statements on climate change as bullshit, we must remember that Combet himself is the foremost climate bullshitter. As Terry McCrann notes, no one spouts more ordure on this topic than Combet himself and the deceitful Gillard government.

Why should we believe anything James Hansen says?

Climate activist (source: PA)

UPDATE [1.35pm AEST]: Pat Michaels writes “[Hansen’s] hypothesis is a complete and abject failure.” and quotes from the paper itself, which states:

“we were motivated in this research by an objective to expose effects of human-made global warming as soon as possible…”

So there you have it. From the horse’s mouth.

The lamestream media has pounced upon James Hansen’s latest announcement, blaming “global warming” for recent heat waves. This article, from the UK Telegraph is as good an example as any, illustrated as it is with a flattering portrait of the great man:

Recent heat waves can only be attributed to climate change, a top US scientist has warned.

James Hansen, who cautioned of the dangers of climate change as long ago as 1988, said the deadly European heat wave of 2003, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and the catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year could all be linked to climate change.

He predicted the same would also be true of the hot summer the US is currently experiencing.

Dr Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, reached his conclusions after he and his colleagues analysed the past 60 years of global temperatures.

Writing in The Washington Post, he said: “Our analysis shows that for the extreme hot weather of the recent past there is virtually no explanation other than climate change. (source)

The Telegraph doesn’t bother to look for any alternative viewpoint, merely parroting what Hansen says with no critical questioning or thought. It’s left to the blogosphere to provide that.

The ABC does much the same, including rehashing the Richard Muller “conversion” non-story, just in case you missed it the first time (unlikely if you rely on ABC for your news).

But in any case, why should we believe anything Hansen says in the first place? This is a person whose activism has completely swamped any vestige of impartial scientific enquiry, even going so far as to get himself arrested four times at environmental demonstrations. How can Hansen be relied upon to provide unbiased scientific conclusions in such circumstances?

What would happen if Hansen were to be confronted with evidence that challenges his entrenched position? Would he come out publicly and say it or simply post it down the memory hole because it doesn’t fit the agenda? You decide.

Even some of Hansen’s colleagues are sick of his surrender to activism (and kudos to the New York Times for actually bothering to seek an alternative perspective):

Martin P. Hoerling, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studies the causes of weather extremes, said he shared Dr. Hansen’s general concern about global warming. But he has in the past criticized Dr. Hansen for, in his view, exaggerating the connection between global warming and specific weather extremes. In an interview, he said he felt that Dr. Hansen had done so again.

Dr. Hoerling has published research suggesting that the 2010 Russian heat wave was largely a consequence of natural climate variability, and a forthcoming study he carried out on the Texas drought of 2011 also says natural factors were the main cause.

Dr. Hoerling contended that Dr. Hansen’s new paper confuses drought, caused primarily by a lack of rainfall, with heat waves.

“This isn’t a serious science paper,” Dr. Hoerling said. “It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title. Perception is not a science.” (source)

In reality, I suppose we should be glad that Hansen is out there making this kind of noise. Every exaggerated claim gradually chips away at the credibility of The Cause. And the eagerness with which the mainstream media regurgitated the story with barely a second thought (with notable exceptions) shows how out of touch they are with reality.

Brendan O'Neill on 'extreme weather' hysteria

Brendan O’Neill

You can bet the farm that if there’s some noteworthy weather event (with the emphasis on the term “weather”) somewhere on the planet, there will be a Green nut-job on hand to say it was all caused by man-made global warming.

Usually it’s couched in weasel words, of course, the most common formula being the “consistent with” ploy.

The floods in Queensland were “consistent with” global warming projections. The drought in south-east Australia was “consistent with” global warming projections. The rains that filled the dams and ended the drought in south-east Australia were “consistent with” global warming projections. The Victorian bush fires (that were actually worsened by a variety of non-climate related factors) were “consistent with” global warming projections. The record low temperatures in Canberra last week were “consistent with” global warming projections. My cat getting fleas is “consistent with” global warming projections. My losing a $2 coin down the back of the sofa last Tuesday is “consistent with” global warming projections. [Insert anything you like] is “consistent with” global warming projections.

As has been said countless times on this blog, it is, of course, the classic example of an unfalsifiable hypothesis: ask a greenie to describe the kind of weather events that would not be consistent with global warming, and you’ll get a stony silence. Because anything and everything is “consistent with” some global warming model somewhere. And I’m almost glad the warm-mongers continue to make these nonsensical claims, because every time they do, it moves them further away from proper science and into the realms of astrology.

Brendan O’Neill has a whale of a time exposing the neo-Medieval view of the planet punishing humanity for its sins:

Greens now constantly promote the wild idea that mankind’s irresponsible behaviour is causing “extreme weather”, and that only by being more meek, by radically overhauling our lifestyles, can we hope to tame this weather of mass destruction.

But haven’t we heard this kind of thing before? Yes. From the biblical era to the Middle Ages, the idea that the immorality of man was responsible for enraging nature or God and causing storms and floods was widespread.

So the modern green claim that floods in Britain are a consequence of our wicked over-reliance on fossil fuels, that is of our daring to live industrialised lives, is just a pseudo-scientific updating of the Noah story.

Genesis tells us it was when God saw “the wickedness of man was great” that he decided to “bring a flood of waters upon the earth”.

Today, greens give us a science-tinged version of that morality tale. Mark Lynas, one of Britain’s leading eco-thinkers, says that with all our fossil fuel-using and climate disruption “we have woken Poseidon (God of the Sea) from a thousand-year slumber, and this time his wrath will know no bounds”.

A columnist for The Guardian says recent floods are a kind of punishment for our polluting behaviour. “The turbulent weather we’ve seen is a warning of what lies ahead for us,” she said, unless we can be “cajoled, led, provoked and taxed into changing (our) ways”.

Here, Gaia replaces God as the sender of floods to reprimand man and “change our attitudes”.

Quick, stone another sceptic…


Read it here.

Flying Spaghetti Monster 'cannot be excluded' as driver of Queensland floods


It’s the Holy Grail of alarmism. Even though there is almost no hope of ever doing so, the team are desperate to point to an extreme weather event and say that man-made climate change caused it, or made it worse.

Professor Matthew England (one of Anna Rose’s advisers in ABC’s I Can Change Your Mind about Climate – see here) has another go here, and uses weasel words to hijack a study – unrelated to climate change – to advance The Cause:

Abnormally high ocean temperatures off the coast of northern Australia contributed to the extreme rainfall that flooded three-quarters of Queensland over the summer of 2010-11, scientists report.

A Sydney researcher, Jason Evans, ran a series of climate models and found above average sea surface temperatures throughout December 2010 increased the amount of rainfall across the state by 25 per cent on average.

While the study did not look at the cause of ocean warming in the region, a physical oceanographer, Matthew England, said climate change could not be excluded as a possible driver of this extreme rainfall event.

Matthew England, who was not involved in the study, said ocean temperatures off northern Australia were the highest on record at the time of the Queensland floods.

“While the La Nina event played a big role in this record ocean warmth, so too did the long-term warming trend over the past 50 years,” Professor England, the co-director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, said. (source)

Interfering with SST data now are we?

The study “did not look at the cause of ocean warming”, so the “abnormally high ocean temperatures” may have simply been natural variability at work. But according to England, climate change “could not be excluded”. Similarly, therefore, we cannot exclude the possibility that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was behind it, sneakily raising sea temperatures with his noodly appendage…

Early US tornadoes will 'become the norm as planet warms'


It was only ever a matter of time. Any unusual weather event occurs and there will be some rent-seeking climate scientist, aided and abetted by a willing journalist who will blame it on ‘global warming’.

This shameless opportunism does nothing to convince people of the need to ‘tackle climate change’, it merely makes the scientists and journalists look even more desperate and callous, especially given the tragic loss of life in these events (39 deaths as of today).

This time we have über-alarmist Sharon Begley and Kevin ‘Travesty’ Trenberth:

When at least 80 tornadoes rampaged across the United States, from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, last Friday, it was more than is typically observed during the entire month of March, tracking firm AccuWeather.com reported on Monday.

According to some climate scientists, such earlier-than-normal outbreaks of tornadoes, which typically peak in the spring, will become the norm as the planet warms.

“As spring moves up a week or two, tornado season will start in February instead of waiting for April,” said climatologist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. (source)

Once again, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. Climate change is the unfalsifiable hypothesis – nothing can disprove the alarmists claim that every weather event is being affected by it. It therefore helpfully relegates the theory of catastrophic AGW to the dustbin of astrology and pseudoscience.

On reading the rest of the article, however, the true picture is that scientists really don’t know what effect warming will have on these events. But that doesn’t make a very good headline, does it? And there isn’t really a story there at all, is there?

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