Sunday, December 16, 2018

Hack journalism at the NYT

The NYT article below is standard Warmist talking points. The author accepts as gospel, claims and findings that are very much under challenge.  It is a very "free" version of the original academic article.  That article is "Increased Occurrence of Record‐wet and Record‐dry Months Reflect Changes in Mean Rainfall"

Despite working at the fanatically Warmist Potsdam Institute  lead-author Jascha Lehmann puts out a lot of careful research and the present article is pretty good, though not beyond criticism.  I think I should reproduce the abstract here:

Climate change alters the hydrological cycle which is *expected* to increase the risk of heavy rainfall events and prolonged droughts. Sparse rainfall data, however, have made it difficult to answer the question of whether robust changes can already be seen in the short observational time period. Here, we use a comprehensive statistical tool to quantify changes in record‐breaking wet and dry months. The global‐mean number of record‐wet months has significantly increased over the recent decades and is now nearly 20% higher than would be expected in a stationary climate with no long‐term trends. This signal primarily comes from pronounced changes in the northern mid to high latitudes where the occurrence of record‐wet months has increased by up to 37% regionally. The tropics have seen opposing trends: More record‐wet months in Southeast Asia in contrast to more record‐dry months in Africa. These changes are broadly consistent with observed trends in mean rainfall.

So where the NYT reproduces the standard absurd Warmist claim that global warming produces both  floods and drought, Lehmann finds differently.  He finds what basic physics would tell you: That a warmer world is a WETTER world. I have highlighted the key sentence.

He finds an unusual incidence of drought in Africa only, which is well established.  But WHY much of Africa has been suffering a lot of drought in recent years is quite unknown.  Some weather system peculiar to Africa would have to be the explanation but nobody can figure out what it is.  Since global warming causes MORE rain, attributing it to global warming is absurd

So there is nothing that need disturb anybody in the Lehmann findings.  All that he found is that we have been getting more rain in the period from 1980 to 2013, which is well in accord with what we would expect given the roughly one degree C of gradual warming that we have had over the last century or so

More records for both wet and dry weather are being set around the globe, often with disastrous consequences for the people facing such extremes, according to *a study published Wednesday* that offered new evidence of climate change’s impacts in the here and now.

Extreme rainfall, and the extreme lack of it, affects untold numbers of people, taxing economies, disrupting food production, creating unrest and prompting migrations. So, factors that push regions of the world to exceptional levels of flooding and drought can shape the fate of nations.

“Climate change will likely continue to alter the occurrence of record-breaking wet and dry months in the future,” the study predicts, “with severe consequences for agricultural production and food security.”

Heavy rainfall events, with severe flooding, are occurring more often in the central and Eastern United States, Northern Europe and northern Asia. The number of months with record-high rainfall increased in the central and Eastern United States by more than 25 percent between 1980 and 2013.

In those regions, intense rainfall from hurricanes can be ruinously costly. Munich Re, the reinsurance giant, said that the 2018 hurricane season caused $51 billion in losses in the United States, well over the long-term annual average of $34 billion. In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria contributed to a total of $306 billion in damage from extreme weather events in the United States.

Parts of Africa, on the other hand, are experiencing more months with a pronounced lack of rain. The number of record-setting dry months increased by nearly 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa during the study period.

Jascha Lehmann, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and the lead author of the study, compared extreme weather events to a high roll of a die. “On average, one out of six times you get a six,” he said. “But by injecting huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humankind has loaded the dice. In many regions, we throw sixes much more often with severe impacts for society and the environment.”

While much climate research relies on complex models to make projections, this new work interprets already-observed monthly rainfall data from 50,000 weather stations around the world. “That’s not to say models are not good,” Dr. Lehmann said in an interview, but his observational data “fits what we expect from physics and what models also show.”

Climate models have long predicted that because of the greenhouse gases human activity has pumped into the atmosphere and the warming that results, the world’s wet regions are likely to grow wetter. Warmer air causes greater evaporation from oceans and waterways, and warmer air can hold more moisture.

There is also evidence that changes in atmospheric circulation in summer have caused some weather systems to stall. The combination of such factors can lead to torrential rains like those that inundated the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey last year, and Baton Rouge during the floods of 2016.

Regions that tend to be dry, by contrast, are expected to grow even more parched as higher temperatures dry the soil and air. “Climate change drives both wet and dry extremes,” Dr. Lehmann said.

To conduct the study, which appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Dr. Lehmann’s team searched the databases of an authoritative repository of rainfall measurement, the Global Precipitation Climatology Center in Germany. Given natural weather variability, some extreme weather events were to be expected, so the researchers tried to determine how many events would have occurred without the influence of global warming.

The researchers determined that one-third of the record-dry months recorded in the African regions under study would not have occurred without the influence of climate change.


More holes in the National Climate Assessment

The most predictable thing about the climate these days is the sensationalism we see in the headlines.

“The weather of Washington’s future: Hellish heat and high water,” The Washington Post wrote after the National Climate Assessment was released. “New U.S. climate assessment forecasts dire effects on economy, health,” said NPR. And not to be outdone, CBS News claimed, “Mass deaths and mayhem: National Climate Assessment’s most shocking warnings.”

It’s not a new trend, but it’s worth pointing out again. Headlines often overstate the actual content of the report, and the report itself often overstates the data.

Let’s take those “mass deaths” (leaving aside the mayhem for the moment). What does the report actually say?

“The health and well-being of Americans are already affected by climate change, with the adverse health consequences projected to worsen with additional climate change,” the National Climate Assessment reads.

More specifically, “In 49 large cities in the United States, changes in extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year under a higher scenario by the end of the century, although this number would be lower if considering acclimatization or other adaptations (for example, increased use of air conditioning).”

That estimate is based on a 2016 study that applies mortality data to climate models that predict more and more intense heatwaves. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find there’s some real uncertainty about those numbers.

That study references a research letter published in 2016 by the American Geophysical Union.

“These probabilities are typically computed using ensembles of climate simulations whose simulated probabilities are known to be imperfect,” the letter reads. “ … Climate model ensembles tend to be overconfident in their representation of the climate variability which leads to systematic increase in the attributable risk to an extreme event.”

As for heatwaves, the reality is that far more people die from extreme cold than extreme heat.

Even those deaths are difficult to pin on extreme temperatures. Rather, scientists say pre-existing conditions can often be exacerbated by extremes. Making projections 50 years out is difficult, and far from “settled science.”

Still, we know what prevents many of those deaths—from both extreme cold and extreme heat. It’s affordable, reliable energy. People cool and heat their homes when they can afford to. Misguided policies like the carbon tax, designed to curb energy usage, would send electricity bills soaring and would achieve the opposite of the National Climate Assessment’s goals.

Energy poverty is deadly, as the European Union is learning. Just last year it established a commission to address the problem.

“More than 50 million households in the European Union are struggling to attain adequate warmth, pay their utility bills on time, and live in homes free of damp and mold,” the EU says. “Awareness of energy poverty is rising in Europe and has been identified as a policy priority by a number of EU institutions, most notably in the European Commission’s ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ legislative package.”

But back to the U.S.’ National Climate Assessment.

The report also presents some scary predictions for the economy. A highly quoted headline cites that the economic damages from climate change could amount to 10 percent of annual U.S. gross domestic product in 2090. The obvious criticism is that this headline uses the highest estimate of a model where the average cost estimate is around 3 percent.

But digging deeper, there are other questions to be posed about how these economic impacts are calculated.

Premature deaths from extreme temperature (9,300 per year) are said to amount to $140 billion in annual losses. How is it that each premature death is given an economic cost of more than $15 million? Is it reasonable to place an economic value on a theoretical loss of life due to climate change, similar to the way we estimate property damage?

These questions must be asked before we take these “projected costs” at face value.

There’s a real danger here, and that’s in responding to the National Climate Assessment in a way that will make things worse, not better. Already, a carbon tax bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would make energy more expensive for American families.

The other danger is in responding to the headlines, not the data. We know the National Climate Assessment is good for frightening news stories. But public policy must be based on solid information, not scary interpretations.


The Truth Behind the Plastic ‘Crisis’

There is evidence that some climate activists are seeking to elevate the plastic ‘crisis’ above the climate ‘crisis.’ Former Vice President Al Gore’s producer of his 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth,”  — Hollywood eco-activist Laurie David — has been test-marketing the plastic eco-scare.

David has touted the plastic crisis over man-made climate fears. “Plastic waste is in some ways more alarming for us humans than global warming,” David wrote in 2009.

“The rapid rise in global plastic production is leading to a rise in plastic pollution and its devastating effects on our oceans and our lives.,” Laurie David wrote.

“This insidious invasion of the biosphere by our plastic waste is in some ways more alarming for us humans than global warming. Our bodies have evolved to handle carbon dioxide, the nemesis of global warming, indeed, we exhale it with every breath. Plastic, though present in the biosphere from the nano scale on up, is too stable a molecule for any organism to fully assimilate or biodegrade. So we have a situation in which a vector for a suite of devastating chemicals, chemicals implicated in many modern diseases, is now invading the ocean, our bodies and indeed, the entire biosphere. The prognosis for improvement in this situation is grim.”

But Greenpeace founding member and Ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore — who has turned against the organization —  responds to the plastics scare:

“What I don’t get is why it is assumed that a bit of plastic in your digestive tract is probably ‘harmful.’ This is the same plastic nearly all our food is packaged, transported, stored, and often served in. It is essentially inert and with the main exception of PVC, which contains chlorine, is made of 100% carbon and hydrogen. And because it is so inert it goes right through us like a small pebble or the cellulose in a kernel of corn.

Now the ‘sea of plastic garbage’ is the ‘size of Alaska.’  Last month it was ‘the size of Texas’ yet no satellite photo has been presented because the sea of plastic is a fiction. The ultimate in Fake News.”

The new report finds that “Greenpeace is deliberately misleading the public by fabricating a fictional ‘crisis.’ and “the infamous ‘oceanic garbage patches’ are not nearly as dramatic as people think.”

“It is making people feel guilty and worried about a ‘crisis’ which isn’t actually real,” the new report notes.

The report finds: “The Greenpeace narrative is largely fabricated, and is based on cherry-picked distortions of the scientific literature.”

“Some scientists are genuinely concerned about the fact that concentrations of ‘microplastics’ in some parts of the oceans are relatively high. However, the concentrations that they are talking about are relatively modest, e.g., a few hundred fragments per square mile in the worst regions,” the report concludes. “Also, the average sizes of these plastic fragments are very small, e.g., less than 1/16 inches in diameter…

Despite this, Greenpeace has been actively misleading the public to create the perception that there are massive floating ‘islands’ filled with plastic bottles, plastic bags and other plastic debris,” the report notes. “They are deliberately misleading the public by fabricating a fictional ‘crisis’ and trying to turn it into an excuse to abandon ‘single use plastics.”

Greenpeace has been hyping the alleged plastic “crisis” and are using it as “an excellent excuse to blame the western world for their ‘overconsumption,’” according to the new report. “They decided to start campaigning for ‘Zero Waste’ and insisting that we needed to completely stop using ‘single use plastics’ to protect the oceans.”

“Where exactly the plastic is coming from. Greenpeace and others are implying that the developed world is to blame (particularly Europe and North America), but several studies have now confirmed that the problem lies almost entirely with certain developing nations – chiefly in Asia.”

Greenpeace, some media channels, and other environmental activist groups (and to be fair, some scientists too) have used these alarming-sounding names to ridiculously exaggerate the phenomenon, and create the completely false impression that there are these horrendous floating “islands” of our plastic waste somewhere “out there”…

Greenpeace’s latest campaign on “the plastics crisis” is having the following effects:

* It is making people feel guilty and worried about a “crisis” which isn’t actually real.

* It is prompting people, governments and businesses to implement radical reforms without thinking through the consequences.

* It is hampering efforts to evaluate and deal with the genuine “ocean plastic pollution” concern.

In addition, “despite Greenpeace’s repeated claims, we now know that the ingestion of plastic particles by seabirds doesn’t seem to be having any ill effects on the birds,” the report notes.

This new report examines whether or not the Earth is experiencing a plastic “crisis” and the scientific finding is a resounding ‘No’.


Climatologist Rebuts Rising Sea Level Narrative

Not that you'll hear about it from the press, which is preoccupied with alarm.

It’s often observed that those with the shrillest voices garner the most attention. Unsurprisingly therefore, the climate debate is overwhelmed by alarmist drivel. Just this week NBC News pilloried the Trump administration under the intentionally perturbing headline, “Trump team advocates burning fossil fuels, even as U.S. scientists sound alarm on melting Arctic.”

Such antics are unfortunate. They are routine only because other distinguished scientists, whose work supplies necessary context and counterarguments, are being drowned out, overlooked, or even ignored. Climatologist Judith Curry is one of those scientists whose work is often snubbed. Why? Here’s one reason: By her estimation, the ramifications of rising ocean levels are greatly exaggerated. She says, “Projections of extreme, alarming impacts are very weakly justified to borderline impossible.”

In February 2017, The Patriot Post documented the meager rise in sea levels in part by including this citation from NOAA: “Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm) per year, due to a combination of melting glaciers and ice sheets, and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.”

If that sounds just as underwhelming to you as it does to us, you’re not alone. In a recent report, Curry addresses the alarm over the supposed cataclysmic consequences of rising sea levels. She points out, “For reference, 3 mm is the height of two stacked pennies.” She provides several additional points, including:

“Rates of global mean sea level rise between 1920 and 1950 were comparable to recent rates. It is concluded that recent change is within the range of natural sea level variability over the past several thousand years.”

“Identifying a potential human fingerprint on recent sea level rise is confounded by the large magnitude of natural internal variability associated with ocean circulation patterns. There is not yet any convincing evidence of such a fingerprint on sea level rise associated with human-caused global warming.”

“In many of the most vulnerable coastal locations, the dominant causes of local sea level rise problems are natural oceanic and geologic processes and land use practices. Land use and coastal engineering in the major coastal cities have brought on many of the worst local problems, notably landfilling in coastal wetland areas and groundwater extraction.”

“Local sea level in many regions will continue to rise in the 21st century — independent of global climate change. There are numerous reasons to think that projections of 21st century sea level rise from human-caused global warming are too high, and some of the worst-case scenarios strain credulity.”

Curry provided supplementary commentary to The Daily Caller, noting: “With regards to 21st century climate projections, we are dealing with deep uncertainty, and we should not be basing our policies based on the assumption that the climate will actually evolve as per predicted. Climate variability and change is a lot more complex than ‘CO2 as control knob.’ No one wants to hear this, or actually spend time understanding things.”

The only proof you need is demonstrated by the fact her report won’t appear in any mainstream media outlets.


Carols turn green as some Australian Christians sing out to save the planet

Hundreds of Christians in church choirs across the country will be singing Christmas carols with ­lyrics altered to protest about the burning of coal in a bid to change federal government policy on renewable energy.

The community organisation Australian Religious Response to Climate Change has facilitated the rewriting of 16 traditional Christmas carols — including We Wish You A Steady Climate and ­Silent Night, Smoky Night — and is encouraging community groups and choirs to sing them.

Darebin Council in Melbourne’s north, which has four Greens councillors among its nine members, hosted an event last week featuring many of the Carols Against Coal, and the Pitt Street Uniting Church Choir in Sydney has recently sung the altered Joy To The World — “Cool down the world, the time has come, for targets tight and fair”.

The ARRCC intends to upload a video of groups singing the carols to social media today ahead of tomorrow’s opening of the ALP’s national conference.

“We believe the Liberal Party has been in a long-term relationship with coal but we have slightly more hope that the Labor Party will be encouraged to take a bolder stance,” said ARRCC community organiser Tejopala Rawls.

“We want them to step down off the fence and gain the moral courage to do something about climate change.”

A dozen carollers from St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane will take to Brisbane Square today to sing the carols, led by Dean Peter Catt. “It shows that there’s a broad cross-section of the community that have concern for the environment,” Dean Catt said.

He said it was not anti-­Christian to politicise Christmas, nor would this detract from the spirit of the season. “Life is political and the gospel itself is political,” he said.



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