Another few bars in the endlessly played dirge, The End is Nigh, from the NYTimes:
ENJOYING the heat wave?
The answer is probably no if you live in Abilene, Tex., where temperatures have been at or above 100 degrees for 40 days this summer. It’s been a little cooler in Savannah, Ga., where the mercury hit 90 or more for 56 days in a row. How does this compare to business as usual, I wonder? Those are hot places.
Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma are coping with their driest nine-month stretch since 1895. I always wonder when I hear claims like this, was it hotter in 1895? Is this the first year since 1895 that the ’95 record is surpassed? Why was it so hot then, global warming? How much hotter was it?
Yes, it has been a very hot summer after one of the most extreme-weather springs on record. Just what does that last phrase mean? Cold springs, hot summers, it’s all global warming! Is she referring to the flooding?
It’s time to face the fact that the weather isn’t what it used to be. Always a safe statement.
Every 10 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recalculates what it calls climate “normals,” … climate of the last 10 years was about 1.5 degrees warmer than the climate of the 1970s, and the warmest since the first decade of the last century. Temperatures were, on average, 0.5 degrees warmer from 1981 to 2010 than they were from 1971 to 2000, and the average annual temperatures for all of the lower 48 states have gone up. A barrage of stats in no particular order. “All gone up,” how much? 0.5 degrees? Not very much! 1.5 degrees warmer than the ’70s, but what about that “first decade of the last century.” More clarity would be nice. Seems like throwing a lot of stuff to see what sticks.
The numbers don’t take sides or point fingers. They acknowledge both powerful natural climate fluctuations as well as the steady drumbeat of warming caused by roughly seven billion people trying to live and prosper on a small planet, emitting heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the process. Not much talk about natural fluctuation, but quite a drumbeat about AGW! Where’s the link?
Even this seemingly modest shift in climate can mean a big change in weather. This is having it both ways. It’s modest, or it’s not. Fact is, it is modest, but that doesn’t fit with the message.
Shifting weather patterns influence energy demand, affect crop productivity and lead to weather-related disasters. In the United States, in any given year, routine weather events like a hot day or a heavy downpour can cost the economy as much as $485 billion in crop losses, construction delays and travel disruptions, a recent study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research found. Take out the word “shifting,” and you have a statement that is both true and unremarkable. And weather is always shifting, i.e. changing.
In other words, that extra 1.5 degrees might be more than we can afford. And while the new normals don’t point to a cause, climate science does. Drawing from methods used in epidemiology, a field of climate research called “detection and attribution” tests how human actions like burning fossil fuels affect climate and increase the odds of extreme weather events. “Might be more than we can afford..,” and maybe they might not be. Just throwing it out there…Maybe we should spend and plan more for how to deal with extreme weather events regardless of whether there will be more of them. We do a pretty bad job of that now. Please note the lack of discussion on just how these epidemiological methods work in the field of climate studies.
Heat-trapping pollution at least doubled the likelihood of the infamous European heat wave that killed more than 30,000 people during the summer of 2003, according to a study in the journal Nature in 2004. Let’s assume that this claim is true, and that nobody else has published different results since 2004. Certainly, this author will not tell us if they have or not. Just what were the chances for the hottest summer in Europe since the 16th century? Pretty small, I imagine, and double a small number is still a small number. That’s the nature of a rare event. As for the horrible death toll, that was largely due to the complete lack of preparedness for such events – alerting systems, cooling centers for senior citizens, public education on how to survive a heat wave – because such an event was unprecedented. Government health agencies should have considered the possibility, but that’s not the fault of climate change.
And if we don’t ease our grip on the climate, summers like that one will likely happen every other year by 2040, the study warned. People make warnings all the time. The world was supposed to end in May 2011…
Using climate models, we can project what future Julys might look like. Time to dust off my collection of crystal balls for sale…