Monday, January 05, 2015

Whither Weather

I think climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. But when I read about it in the popular press, I can see why skeptics have trouble taking the doomsayers seriously.

Such as this piece in the LA Times: "Alaska's toasty temperatures in 2014 worry observers."

Here's how it starts:

The biggest state in America, home to more ocean coastline than all others combined, has just set another record. This one, however, is nothing to cheer.

For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage did not drop below zero once in an entire calendar year. In comparison, Alaska's largest city had 14 days below zero in the 2013 calendar year and 32 days in 2012. The average is 29 days.

Let's forget about their earlier headline which they note was mistaken since the record was set by Anchorage, not Alaska (and for that matter, let's pretend that warm weather in Alaska could never be something to cheer about), and look at what we have.  The article is about how the warm weather this year in Alaska is more evidence of a warming trend in general.

I suppose it is, but shouldn't they give more facts to back it up? Right there in the second paragraph they note that there were 32 days below zero in 2012 and the average is 29--so just two years ago, Anchorage was apparently colder than usual.  Shouldn't they explain why that doesn't matter?

A bit later, they note this is Anchorage's warmest year since 1926. So it was quite warm in 2014, but not ahistorically warm.  They also note the longest stretch of days above zero (since they started measuring) was in 2000-2001--so Anchorage's "warm" spell isn't as bad, so far, as what was seen 14 years ago.  Let's face it--if no one had a theory behind it, this particular spell of weather would be treated as a normal, natural variation.

Unfortunately, every hurricane, every tornado, every hot spell (and cold spell) and even every earthquake is a sign--to some--that we're in trouble.  If you want to make a real point, you've got to work a little harder.  There's always "unusual" weather.  Heck, we're in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Los Angeles most of us can remember, but does that prove anything?  What you've got to show with Alaska's weather, or indeed in any such story, is why this is part of a bigger trend, not just note it as if its import is obvious.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently you're behind the times. Colder weather in Los Angeles is also caused by global warming (which I thought they'd abandoned in favor of "climate change). Maybe they've decided that's too tepid, maybe "global climate change" or "raise taxes on the richer than me climate change."

3:43 AM, January 05, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes and there is no conclusive evidence that cigarettes cause cancer.

Or that the Holocaust happened

6:11 AM, January 05, 2015  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

We've made it! We're Holocaust deniers!

7:52 AM, January 05, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to say Anonymous #2 missed the point, but then I realized Anonymous #2 made the point for you.

9:36 AM, January 05, 2015  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Just got back from Tuscon AZ, where the temp for the week was about 25 degrees below normal. The fact is, there will be no concerted effort to prevent climate change until there is real evidence of negative consequences to a significant portion of the world's population. I understand that by that time, it may be too late to do anything, but you know what - that's the reality.

I see in the paper today that Gov. Brown is planning on basing his second term legacy on attacking Climate Change from California. I don't get too upset by stuff like this, because if it wasn't this windmill, it would be some other windmill he would be charging at. Ill-considered government waste is going to happen as long as there are massive, centralized governments.

But if it turns out temps go up and down, while food production, quality of life, etc. continue to rise, over the next 15 years (as they have for the last 15 years), I really hope to be around to hear some cliamte alarmists eat some crow. They are such an arrogant, self-righteous bunch.

9:58 AM, January 06, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If by "eat crow" you mean "move the goalposts" then you will be satisfied. Environmentalists have been making predictions about a sudden apocalypse at least since the 60s, and been proved wrong many times, but they never admit to any mistakes. In fact, to even question them is to do evil.

10:16 AM, January 06, 2015  

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