Early in her ABC World News program on January 21, 2011, Diane Sawyer claimed ABC had consulted "ten scientists" who opined that the "weather extremes" (e.g., a spate of colder, snowier winters in the Northern Hemisphere) were evidence for "global warming" (code phrase for "human-caused-global-warming-from-burning-fossil-fuels"). Evidently, ABC's "scientists" are poorly-informed about natural climate variability and the climate record that shows warming climate brings a reduction in extremes.
Early in her ABC World News program on January 21, 2011, Diane Sawyer claimed ABC had consulted "ten scientists" who opined that the "weather extremes" (e.g., a spate of colder, snowier winters in the Northern Hemisphere) were evidence for "global warming" (code phrase for "human-caused-global-warming-from-burning-fossil-fuels"). Evidently, ABC's "scientists" are poorly-informed about both natural climate variability and the actual climate record that shows warmer climate is associated with a reduction in extremes.
This brazen mixture of ignorance and politics in the guise of "news" is why we rarely tune into network "news" programs these days.
Note the following weather extreme in the eastern United States and ask yourself how such weather (including the "abnormally warm autumn and an incredibly warm January") would be reported today:
Reading, Pa. (1950) January maximum set: 77 degrees. Because of an abnormally warm autumn and an incredibly warm January, there was swimming in the Schuylkill and Tulpehocken on this "June in January" day.
Does anyone seriously doubt that a Diane Sawyer/ABC News report of such unusual weather today wouldn't be accompanied by grave quotes from Al Gore and James Hansen of the dire consequences of "human-caused-global-warming-from-burning-fossil-fuels"? At the least we should expect Sawyer and ABC to trot out their ten scientists to promote fear of impending doom, courtesy of our use of automobiles and electricity.
Let's actually examine a few examples of weather extremes Sawyer's global warming advocates claim to be consequences of human-caused-global-warming, namely (1) greater temperature extremes (e.g., more snow and colder winters) and (2) greater numbers of more intense hurricanes.
According to "global warming" fearmongers, we should already be experiencing increasing numbers of record high temperatures as well as increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes. But what does reality tell us?
Note that in every case but Asia, low temperature records have occurred many decades after high temperature records. A peculiar situation for a planet that is supposed to be in the midst of "catastrophic global warming"!
Ignoring Antarctica (because of few recording stations and much less recorded temperature history), the most recent continental high temperature record was set in 1942, which is well before human-produced carbon dioxide could have achieved a level that might have had any impact on climate even if you accept the flawed theory of human-caused-global-warming proponents. We're expected to believe that in an "unprecedented" and "catastrophically" warming climate, no new continental record high temperatures have been set, yet there have been a number of new continental record low temperatures set!
Rather than supporting the human-caused-global-warming theory, record continental temperature extremes actually lend support to the view that we are experiencing a period of climate cooling!
Continental US High Temperature Records Set by Decade, 20th Century:
Continental US high temperature records by decade reveal a contradiction in the claim that "global warming" is "unprecedented" and is rapidly intensifying (Michael Mann's infamous "Hockey Stick" claim).
Note the frequency of high temperature records in the first half of the 20th century exceed those of the second half! If our planet were really experiencing a period of rapid warming approaching "catastrophic", isn't it reasonable to expect that the rate of high temperatures by decade would be increasing? Yet we observe that the numbers of new high temperature records are decreasing!
Evidence that large extremes in temperature variation are more likely associated with climate cooling than warming are not anything new. The chart below, showing over 50,000 years of temperature variability, illustrates the much greater temperature rates of change during colder glacial phases of an ice age cycle than during the relatively short warmer interglacial phases. Yet ABC's "expert" scientists claim warmer climate would bring greater variability, a contention once again contradicted by the evidence.
Atlantic Hurricane Frequency/Intensity:
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at University of Miami produced a PowerPoint presentation in 2005 titled, Hurricane intensity Changes over the Past 100 Years and Future Projections. The following charts from that presentation conclude "Substantial year to year variability in number of storms", "No clear trend in the number of storms" and "Number of intense [emphasis added] hurricanes is ... cyclic in nature ... Above average 1940s-1960s, below average 1970s-1994" (sources: Goldenberg, S. B. et al. 2001: "The recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity: Causes and implications." Science, 293, 474-479, and Landsea, C. W., 1993: "A climatology of intense (or major) Atlantic hurricanes." Mon. Wea. Rev., 121, 1703-1713.).
This information clearly reveals that scientists are either ignorant or misleading when they claim both greater numbers of hurricanes and more extreme hurricanes are a consequence of a small increase in atmospheric CO2 from human use of fossil fuels. It is particularly instructive that there has yet to be a validated scientific study that identifies any direct proven human component to climate change. Not a single scientific study has ever revealed a discernible impact on global climate from human activity!
For more about the magnitude and rate of climate change, read Dr. Don J. Easterbrook's paper (PDF format), Magnitude and Rate of Climate Change. A notable quote (among many) from Dr. Easterbrook's paper puts the CO2 issue in perspective:
In just the past 500 years, Greenland warming/cooling temperatures fluctuated back and forth about 40 times, with changes every 25-30 years (27 years on the average). None of these changes could have been caused by changes in atmospheric CO2 because they predate the large CO2 emissions that began about 1945. Nor can the warming of 1915 to 1945 be related to CO2, because it pre-dates the soaring emissions after 1945. Thirty years of global cooling (1945 to 1977) occurred during the big post-1945 increase in CO2.
Which brings us to a point where we have to scratch our head and wonder what motivates those who try to promote climate alarmism to the extreme where they would claim a series of severe winters in North America, Europe, and Asia are merely a consequence of global warming from humans burning fossil fuels!
Thanks to the highly-esteemed hurricane forecasting expert, Dr. William Gray (Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University), we have a very succinct and accurate view of that motivation. In a column dated December 8, 2009, Dr. Gray wrote:
Had I not devoted my entire career of over half-a-century to the study and forecasting of meteorological and climate events I would have likely been concerned over the possibility of humans causing serious global climate degradation.
There has been an unrelenting quarter century of one-sided indoctrination of the western world by the media and by various scientists and governments concerning a coming carbon dioxide (CO2 ) induced global warming disaster. These warming scenarios have been orchestrated by a combination of environmentalists, vested interest scientists wanting larger federal grants and publicity, the media which profits from doomsday scenario reporting, governmental bureaucrats who want more power over our lives, and socialists who want to level-out global living standards. These many alarmist groups appear to have little concern over whether their global warming prognostications are accurate, however. And they most certainly are not. The alarmists believe they will be able to scare enough of our citizens into believing their propaganda that the public will be willing to follow their advice on future energy usage and agree to a lowering of their standard of living in the name of climate salvation.
The great advantage Dr. Gray has over Sawyer's "experts" is that his view is supported by real world evidence in the record of global and regional weather.
It is easy to understand why the long list of skeptical scientists continues to grow while the hard core of devout "human-caused-global-warming" advocates are reduced to ever more shrill claims in their last-ditch defense of a deeply-flawed theory that must rely on a host of self-serving assumptions driving suspect computer models while ignoring or attempting to explain away real world observations contradicting their theory.
In the end, it is the weather we must actually endure that must concern us rather than computer-generated predictions that bear little resemblance to reality.
A nation deeply in debt can not and must not continue to fund extreme politics in the form of academic and federal agency programs to study the science fiction of human-caused-climate-change. It's time for the new House of Representatives to hold real hearings about real science and put an end to the funding of extreme politics in the guise of climate change research.
Author of "Looking Out the Window", an evidence-based examination of the "climate change" issue, Bob Webster, is a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s). He is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.