Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weather is not climate

The major snow storms on the East coast and around the US this past week have left global warmists scrambling to update their spin. This should not be necessary because climate is about long term trends while weather, such as a snow storm, is merely about temporary fluctuations. For years, however, global warmists have been telling us that every weather event is proof of their version of climate science. Consequently, after every inconvenient weather event, their "climate" theories have to be rewritten. The best summary of this that I have seen this week was written by James Taranto:

It's been a slow week for news because it's been a big week for weather. The East Coast is covered in snow, and Time magazine blames global warming. No, seriously: "There is some evidence that climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm." The New York Times says the same thing, though two-sidedly: "The two sides in the climate-change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments."

The Time story notes that climate is not the same thing as weather:

Ultimately, however, it's a mistake to use any one storm--or even a season's worth of storms--to disprove climate change (or to prove it; some environmentalists have wrongly tied the lack of snow in Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympic Games, which begin this week, to global warming). Weather is what will happen next weekend; climate is what will happen over the next decades and centuries. And while our ability to predict the former has become reasonably reliable, scientists are still a long way from being able to make accurate projections about the future of the global climate.

Wait a minute, "scientists are still a long way from being able to make accurate projections about the future of the global climate"? We thought global warming was settled science, and anyone who doubted it was a knuckle-dragging lackey or handmaid of Big Oil! (Sorry for the mixed metaphors, but at least we're gender inclusive.)

To be sure, the global warmists are right to distinguish between weather and climate. A short-term condition sometimes can run counter to a long-term trend, as when a growing economy goes through a recession, or a generally healthy man suffers an acute illness (though in the long run, we're all dead).

The problem is that for years, global warmists have claimed that the weather proved their claims about the climate. This is a New York Times story from June 24, 1988:

The earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution, a space agency scientist reported today.
Until now, scientists have been cautious about attributing rising global temperatures of recent years to the predicted global warming caused by pollutants in the atmosphere, known as the "greenhouse effect." But today Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told a Congressional committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.
Dr. Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, said in an interview that there was no "magic number" that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather. But he added, "It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here." has a collection of clips from the past decade depicting Democratic congressmen blaming global warming for shortfalls of snow. But perhaps the classic of the genre is a piece from the Boston Globe, dated Aug. 30, 2005, which begins: "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming."

The author, Ross Gelbspan, goes on to blame global warming for "a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles"--something that never happened--along with high winds in Northern Europe, droughts in the American Midwest and Southeastern Europe, rain in India and even a heat wave in Arizona.

It gets better. Gelbspan faults the media for failing to take global warming seriously:

When the US press has bothered to cover the subject of global warming, it has focused almost exclusively on its political and diplomatic aspects and not on what the warming is doing to our agriculture, water supplies, plant and animal life, public health, and weather.
For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.

It is now clear that even if Gelbspan had been describing the media's approach to the subject accurately, they still would have been assigning too much authority to the IPCC. Yesterday London's Guardian, a left-wing paper that has long been squarely in the global-warmist camp, carried a damning report titled "How to Reform the IPCC":

The IPCC says its reports are policy relevant, but not policy prescriptive. Perhaps unknown to many people, the process is started and finished not by scientists but by political officials, who steer the way the information is presented in so-called summary for policymakers [SPM] chapters. Is that right, the Guardian asked?
"The Nobel prize was for peace not science . . . government employees will use it to negotiate changes and a redistribution of resources. It is not a scientific analysis of climate change," said Anton Imeson, a former IPCC lead author from the Netherlands. "For the media, the IPCC assessments have become an icon for something they are not. To make sure that it does not happen again, the IPCC should change its name and become part of something else. The IPCC should have never allowed itself to be branded as a scientific organisation. It provides a review of published scientific papers but none of this is much controlled by independent scientists."

And of course the University of East Anglia emails showed that the so-called independent scientists manipulated data and tried to blacklist colleagues who did not accept the global-warmist hypotheses.

It's true that cold weather, while providing an occasion to mock global warming, does not disprove it. But the mocking would be far less effective had global warmists not spent the past quarter-century making a mockery of the scientific method.

Flopping Aces has another good summary reviewing the IPCC predictions for declining snowfalls and the failed climate predictions of NASA's James Hansen.

PREVIOUSLY on the global warming scandal:
India rejects UN IPCC
Climategate: laws were broken
The collapse of the UN IPCC's credibility
As the state of California goes bankrupt, it continues to spend on global warming
Yet another UN IPCC Glacier-gate scandal
UN IPCC claims of melting Himalayan glaciers exposed as fraud
UN IPCC responds to Climategate with wild accusations
Surprise: EU's carbon trading riddled with fraud
Ma'am Sen. Boxer for and against climate whistleblowers.
Climate alarmist Phil Jones to step down pending review
Why Penn State's investigation of its global warmist will go nowhere
Former boss calls James Hansen call an embarrassment to NASA
NASA's global warming scientists caught hyping false data

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