Al Gore, Anthony WAtts, Build Back Better, Cliff Mass, Climate Emergency, CO2, Emergency Powers, Forest Management, Greenhouse Gases, Heat Index, Heatwaves, Joe Biden, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Urban Heat Island, Wildfires
Lately almost any passing weather phenomenon is said to have been rooted in climate change and higher carbon concentrations. The recent heatwaves that seared parts of Europe and the U.S. are no exception, and climate change activists always find heat spells ripe for rhetorical exploitation. But while these would-be Cassandras and Gretas push their fearful narrative, there are strong reasons to doubt that these weather events are any cause for alarm. This summer’s heat waves, like all others, were of limited geographic scope, and they certainly weren’t the most severe heat waves on record in terms of either duration or magnitude. More on that below.
Temperature measurements tend to be exaggerated these days because so many “official” temperature records come from local airports or other urban sites rich in impervious cover and heat absorbing building materials. This gives rise to the so-called “urban heat island effect”, which refers to the elevated temperatures measured in urban versus rural areas. It’s even worse than that, however, as the vast majority of active weather stations in the U.S. are sited at “hot spots”, and many of them are poorly maintained. Data problems plague European temperature records as well.
Furthermore, official temperature records are extremely short on climatological scales, going back only about 150 years in the U.S. And these records have been “adjusted” by weather authorities like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), usually with the early records “cooled” relative to more recent readings. That means the long-term trend in temperatures is biased upward.
Nevertheless, Joe Biden has been threatening to declare a wholly unjustified “climate emergency“, perhaps thinking these dog days are the perfect time to assume a host of new emergency powers. It’s unclear whether the new “Build Back” bill making its way through Congress will be enough to satisfy the appetite of Biden’s handlers for costly and ultimately ineffective climate measures.
It’s tempting to think delirium from the heat waves is what prompted Al Gore to compare climate change skeptics to the dithering police officers in Uvalde, TX, but Gore’s fever is nothing new. We’re still waiting for the world to end, which he once predicted would occur by 2016.
Even weather reporters on TV are breathless in their descriptions of the heatwaves. They’ve certainly become dramatists for the climate-change cause. And people love good scare stories. It gives them an excuse to polish up their pitchforks! Or to be lazy and stay inside. It’s telling that so many people now quote heat index values (which combine heat and humidity), rather than actual temperatures, in the warm summer months. After all, it’s more thrilling to say it’s 105 outside than it is to say 95.
Anyway, compare the paired maps in each of the graphics below (here are links to sources for the first and second):
The temperatures are comparable, but the use of RED colors on the 2022 maps is so much more frightening! This post from Anthony Watts provides a list of links to news sources taking alarmist perspectives on the heatwaves in the U.S. and Europe, and falsely attributing the heatwaves to CO2.
Same Old High Pressure Domes
Cliff Mass offers a bone to the climate change community. He thinks perhaps 5% – 10% of the recent temperature anomaly in the UK is attributable to greenhouse gases. An effect of that magnitude is hardly worthy of government action, let alone panic. Mass says:
“Natural variability of the atmosphere was the proximate cause of the warmth and does not represent an existential threat to the population of Europe.”
The heat wave phenomenon is typical of slow-moving high-pressure systems that often develop during the summer months. These domes of high pressure vary in temperature and geographic breadth, and they are sandwiched between or adjacent to low-pressure systems with cooler temperatures. That’s been the case in both Europe and the U.S. during this summer’s heat waves, as illustrated by the following graphics, The northern hemisphere is not entirely enveloped in a heat wave.
And the rest of the globe? In the tropics (below 20 degrees latitude), June 2022 was the coolest June in 22 years, according to satellite temperature readings! Furthermore, the monthly anomaly in June was the coolest in 10 years. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia and South America have had extremely cold winters. Antarctica had its coldest winter on record in 2021. Yet Joe Biden is under the misapprehension that we’re experiencing “a climate emergency”.
These are not the worst heat waves on record. Both the U.S. and Europe experienced higher temperatures and prolonged heat waves during the 1930s. For example, St.Louis, Missouri matched or exceeded 110 degrees four times in the 1930s, and twice in 1954, whereas the city topped out at 102 so far this year, and that was after a cool spring. There was an extreme European heat wave in 1976 that was drier and much lengthier, and others occurred in 1911 and 1906. Of course, available temperature comparisons are distorted because the early readings weren’t as impacted by urban heat islands. There are historical accounts of drastic heat waves much earlier, such as the 1500s and 1700s. Here is more heatwave history, in case you’re interested.
We’ll Be Fine
Heat isn’t the only story, of course. A wide range of other disastrous events are blamed on climate change. Wildfires are a prime example, but as we know, wildfires are not new, and the worst wildfires have more to do with poor forest management than anything else. Likewise, there is little if any association between extreme weather events and climate change. In that context, it’s also worth noting that cold weather is much deadlier than hot weather. The climate today, and going forward, presents far fewer dangers to humanity than in the past.
I did a lot of dirty, outdoor work in my youth, and it was hot! There were times just as hot as this summer, if not worse, I’d venture to say. Anyone old enough to have lived through the 1970s or even the 1950s should recognize the heatwave Chicken Littles as such.