Record heat sweeps DC, nation, and world — Washington Post staff sleepwalks through the story

Masters: “Extreme heat wave sets all-time high temperature records in Africa and Middle East”

As NOAA reported early this month, globally it’s the warmest May, spring, and Jan-May on record.  Steve Scolnik of Capital Climate put together this U.S. chart:


Total number of daily high and low temperature records set in the U.S., data from NOAA National Climatic Data Center, background image © Kevin Ambrose.  Includes historical daily observations archived in NCDC’s Cooperative Summary of the Day data set and preliminary reports from Cooperative Observers and First Order National Weather Service stations.  All stations have a Period of Record of at least 30 years.

It’s been so hot in DC — “The official Washington DC temperature of 99° at 2 pm today has already broken the heat record for June 24 set in 1894” — that even the Washington Post noticed.  Sort of.

They assigned a whole team to write about it in a rare front page meteorological story, “Hot, with a chance of sweltering and stifling heat.”  The story begins promisingly:

First we were buried under Snowmageddon. Then we sweated through the hottest spring in Washington history. But that might have been only a warmup.

But the crack reporting team at the WashPost just can’t seem to find any larger pattern, which is quite impressive given the credits on the piece.  Kevin Sieff is the lead author but “Staff writers Hamil R. Harris, Chris Jenkins, Stephanie Lee, Phillip Lucas, Rick Rojas, Donna St. George and Josh White contributed to this report.

Wow!  Eight staff writers worked on this piece — I’ve never seen a WP piece with this many contributors.  It’s sort of like the IPCC of WashPost weather stories.  But without the climate part.  Or the scientists.

Indeed, for all the record setting — the piece notes “This spring’s average of 66.7 degrees was a half degree warmer than the average for spring 1991, formerly the warmest spring in Washington’s history” — the WP doesn’t mention what’s going on nationwide or globally or quote a single climate scientist.

Worse, they even run these statements to downplay what is going on:

And although it was just Monday that marked the official transition from spring to summer, the first days of this new season feel all too familiar — the same soaring temperatures, the same hunt for respite….

D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said two extra ambulances were put to use Wednesday after a barrage of heat-related emergency calls. “Some people say it’s getting hot earlier than usual,” Piringer said. “This feels pretty normal to us.”

Thank you so much D.C. fire department spokesman and apparently part-time climatologist Piringer for that assessment.  And thank you so much team WashPost for quoting him as opposed to the countless experts in the DC area who work for, say, NOAA.

And yes, we are setting higher highs and few lower lows, as a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study found:


This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole.  (©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao.)

NCAR begins its release on this study (see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.“):

Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

“Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”


Good to know the DC fire department is clueless on this important subject related directly to their work helping people during hot weather.

Sadly, for many if not most weather reporters — or metro reporters or maybe just most reporters — it’s all just one of the greatest coincidences in human history (see “The NYT once again equates non-scientists “” Bastardi, Coleman, and Watts (!) “” with climate scientists” and “Is that airlifted snow on your Olympic ski mountain, or is your enormous helicopter just happy to see me?“).

Sadly, for the rest of us, assuming we keep doing what we’re doing, which is to say, nothing, NCAR predicts (and yes, they use the word “predictions” not “projections”):

The modeling results indicate that if nations continue to increase their emissions of greenhouse gases in a “business as usual” scenario, the U.S. ratio of daily record high to record low temperatures would increase to about 20-to-1 by mid-century and 50-to-1 by 2100.

In short, if you like it hot, you ain’t seen nothing yet (see Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!“).

Elsewhere on the planet, meteorologist Jeff Masters reports, “Extreme heat wave sets all-time high temperature records in Africa and Middle East“:

A withering heat wave of unprecedented intensity and areal covered has smashed all-time high temperatures in four nations in the Middle East and Africa over the past week. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, and Niger all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time, and several other Middle East nations came within a degree of their hottest temperatures ever. The heat was the most intense in Iraq, which had its hottest day in history on June 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Basra. Iraq’s previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F) set August 8, 1937, in Ash Shu’aybah. It was also incredibly hot in Saudi Arabia, which had its hottest temperature ever on Tuesday (June 22): 52.0°C (125.6°F), measured in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F), at Abqaiq, date unknown. The record heat was accompanied by a sandstorm, which caused eight power plants to go offline, resulting in blackouts to several Saudi cities.

In Africa, Chad had its hottest day in history on Tuesday (June 22), when the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) at Faya. The previous record was 47.4°C (117.3°F) at Faya on June 3 and June 9, 1961. Niger tied its record for hottest day in history on Tuesday (June 22), when the temperature reached 47.1°C (116.8°F) at Bilma. That record stood for just one day, as Bilma broke the record again on Wednesday (June 23), when the mercury topped out at 48.2°C (118.8°F). The previous record was 47.1°C on May 24, 1998, also at Bilma.

Three countries came within a degree of their all time hottest temperature on record during the heat wave. Bahrain had its hottest June temperature ever, 46.9°C, on June 20, missing the all-time record of 47.5°C (117.5°F), set July 14, 2000. Temperatures in Quatar reached 48.8°C (119.8°F) on June 20. Quatar’s all-time record hottest temperature was 49.6°C (121.3°F) set on July 9, 2000. It was also very hot in Kuwait, with temperatures reaching 51°C (123.8°F) in the capital on June 15. Kuwait’s all-time hottest temperature was 51.9°C (125.4°F), on July 27,2007, at Abdaly. According to Essa Ramadan, a Kuwaiti meteorologist from Civil Aviation, Matrabah, Kuwait smashed this record and had Asia’s hottest temperature in history on June 15 this year, when the mercury hit 54.0°C (129.2°F). However, data from this station is notoriously bad, and each year bogus record highs have to be corrected, according to an email I received from weather record researcher Maximiliano Herrera. Asia’s hottest temperature in history will very likely remain the 53.5°C (128.3°F) recorded at MohenjuDaro, Pakistan on May 26 this year.

We’ve now had six countries in Asia and Africa that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. As I discussed in my blog about Pakistan’s May 26 record, Southeast Asia also had its all-time hottest temperature in May, when the mercury hit 47°C (116.6°F) in Myinmu, Myanmar on May 12. All of these records are unofficial, and will need to be certified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, setting four national heat records in one month is not unprecedented–in August 2003, five countries (the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) all broke their all-time heat records during that year’s notorious summer heat wave. Fortunately, the residents of the countries affected by this week’s heat wave are more adapted to extreme high temperatures, and we are not seeing the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave (30,000 killed.)

This week’s heat wave in Africa and the Middle East is partially a consequence of the fact that Earth has now seen three straight months with its warmest temperatures on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. It will be interesting to see if the demise of El Ni±o in May will keep June from becoming the globe’s fourth straight warmest month on record.

If only scientists had warned us this might happen.

Related Posts:

Extreme heat wave sets all-time high temperature records in Africa and Middle East

66 Responses to Record heat sweeps DC, nation, and world — Washington Post staff sleepwalks through the story

  1. Thanks for this post! I was sort of wondering if temps in the upper 90s in DC are now considered kind of normal, not worth reporting on in the “mainstream media,” etc. You are right: teams of WaPo reporters must have melted down.

  2. Prokaryote says:

    Second 2010 hurricane forms off Mexico (image showing both)

    Current storm status Celia Category 4 hurricane
    Current storm status Darby Category 1 hurricane

  3. john atcheson says:

    Jeez — how bad do these bozos have to get before they just disappear? Yes the Internet has effected the business model for newspapers, but you gotta think if they did one simple thing — report the news accurately with a healthy respect for facts — they’d be in much better shape than they are. I quit both the Post and the NYT when they blew the Iraq runup due to some misguided notion that balance was more important than accuracy or fact, but if I hadn’t then I certainly would now, based on their climate reporting.

    If you want to know why we’re spending our time fighting for an energy bill that is too weak to actually do anything anyway, just look at the reporting — fuax facts and “balance” are why.

    It’s not balanced to put the considered opinions of the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists on one side of the scale and a pile of elephant dung on the other — and I chose elephant dung as the counter weight advisedly.

  4. catman306 says:

    Thanks, Joe, this really deserved a posting.

    We’re all toast.

  5. Peter Mizla says:

    The Post buries this fact in a 3rd page somewhere- ‘The Weather Guy’….blah blah- saying that it is very warm- and that it might ‘have’ something to do with climate change…..”

    Yep— the heat is a weather event of course- but argumentatively the statistics add up over time.

    I know over at the Union of Concerned Scientists the time period from 2010-2039 will see an increase of 90 plus and 100 degree temperatures on the east coast. The weather stats above- technically do not mean this is climate change- over time they do.

    The NYT has an interesting ‘3rd or 4th page’ article today about the military requesting the newest models on climate change- so they can plan accordingly.

    As weather events such as heat waves, extreme precipitation events, droughts, wild fires, & melting ice increase causing societal havoc- the disinterested reporting currently from the Post and NYT may take on more urgency.

  6. Daniel Ives says:

    It’s always nice to see some of your scathing criticism, Joe. Great post!

  7. Prokaryote says:

    Global Temperature Anomalies, May 2010

    In May 2010, temperature records assembled by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) showed wide expanses of slightly above- and slightly below-normal temperatures over most of the globe, but also dramatic warmth near the North Pole. Cooler-than-normal conditions occurred in parts of western North America, southern South America, Western Europe, and Central Asia. Unusually low temperatures also affected parts of Antarctica, especially west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Over much of the globe, however, high temperatures predominated.

    This color-coded map shows global surface temperature anomalies for May 2010 compared to average temperatures for the same time of year from 1951 to 1980. Above-normal temperatures appear in shades of red, and below-normal temperatures appear in shades of blue. Gray areas indicate areas of insufficient data.

    Especially warm temperatures—close to five degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average—occur over most of the Arctic, including the northernmost reaches of North America, northwestern Greenland, and most of the northern coast of Eurasia. Unusually warm conditions also extend southward into Eastern Europe and Siberia. In Antarctica, warm conditions appear in some inland areas and especially over the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Temperature anomalies in May continued a much longer trend. GISS compared the January–May mean surface temperature anomalies for 2010 to those of 2005 and 1998 (the two warmest years on record). January–May anomalies show 2010 to be the warmest out of 131 years (2005 is the fourth warmest and 1998 is the fifth warmest). Moreover, Arctic temperature anomalies are especially pronounced, and have been since the turn of the twenty-first century.

    “Ongoing temperature anomalies like these are strong evidence of the Arctic amplification of global climate change,” says Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Arctic environment is very vulnerable to warming because of feedbacks that amplify the initial change. Sea ice retreat and snow melt reduce Earth’s albedo, which can lead to increased warmth and further melting. Scambos explains that, although the Northern Hemisphere experienced significant snowfall in early 2010, spring melt was rapid, exposing land surfaces to sunlight sooner than usual.

    “Where a lot of the big economies are—the United States, Western Europe, Japan—it’s been cool, but the world as a whole is quite warm,” Scambos observes. “The Sahel, the Indus Valley, and China didn’t see a cool spring the way other areas did.”

  8. Prokaryote says:

    Bid to suspend California’s global warming law qualifies for November ballot
    The battle over the initiative, launched by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, will pit that industry against environmentalists and the state’s clean-tech businesses.,0,216211.story?track=rss

  9. Peter Mizla says:

    More extreme weather today here in Connecticut

    hot temps in the 90s- then a tornado touched down-or some kind of ‘severe micro-burst’ There has been severe damage to several buildings in Bridgeport – Many Trees downed, car windows blown out, Weird.

    This is the 5th tornado seen this month – this is unprecedented.

  10. Prokaryote says:

    Researchers Call for ‘No-Regrets’ Approach to Climate Warming

    The strategy, detailed in the journal Science, prepares people for a hotter and drier Southwestern U.S. through water conservation and the continued development of ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and Earth.

    Two prominent climate experts, including one from the University of Arizona, are calling for a “no-regrets” strategy for planning for a hotter and drier western North America. Their advice: use water conservatively and continue developing ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and Earth.

    Jonathan Overpeck, principal investigator with the Climate Assessment for the Southwest at the UA, and Bradley Udall, director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, write in the June 25 issue of the journal Science that such an approach is necessary for coping with a wide range of projected future climate changes in the West and Southwest.

    In their overview of shifting climate in the region, Overpeck and Udall cite published findings of prevalent signs of change: rising temperatures, earlier snowmelt, northward-shifting winter storms, increasing precipitation intensity and flooding, record-setting drought, plummeting Colorado River reservoir storage, widespread vegetation mortality and more large wildfires.

    Read entire

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Kindra Arnesen Venice LA Local @ the Gulf Emergency Summit

    Kindra introduces America to a new piece of lexicon :
    Pony & Balloon

    We should all have this type of 15 min. of fame.

  12. Chris Dudley says:

    My son and I were leaving the National Geographic Museum in downtown around 2 pm and is was good and hot. The exhibits there were quite good. One, on poverty breaking small scale technologies included a Mad Housers cabin that included a charcoal stove designed by a friend of mine. The Mad Housers are out of Atlanta

    The water in the pool in Waldorf was cool when we got back so we have kept cool despite the heat.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    Peter –
    That system had 80 mph winds in Chicago last night.

  14. Chris Dudley says:

    It occurs to me that with weather like this, Congress will have to go on vacation for June, July, August and September. This is the real reason libertarians support global warming I think.

  15. villabolo says:

    99 degrees in Washington DC! Time to start building Senator Inhofe an igloo!

    It’ll need a lot of maintenance though.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Get ready little lady , hell is coming to breakfast “.

    Lone Watie

  17. Peter Mizla says:

    Colorado Bob

    the ‘storm’ produced over 100pph winds in Bridgeport- there is a curfew in the city tonight- much damage-no power.

  18. Lauren says:

    It’s not so much that this story was terrible, but that this is about as good as it gets for climate journalism.

    I think this story could have used a mention of the fact that by 2100, Washington, DC will see temps of 98 degrees 60 days a year, unless we do something. That’s the kind of tangible reality that people can grab onto, more I think than sea levels rising or a 2-3-4-5 degree Celsius global rise in temperature.

  19. Anonymous says:

    What concerns me is that we are setting all these records in the midst of a “quiet” sun–the low point of the solar cycle. I shudder to think what it will be like in two or three years.

  20. Richard Miller says:

    Dear CP Readers,


    The Tar Sands is one the most environmentally destructive project in the world. It takes about 3 barrels of water to extract one barrel of oil. Over 90% of this water, 400 million gallons per day, ends up as toxic waste dumped in massive pools that contain carcinogenic substances like cyanide. In addition, it involves the clear cutting of great sections of the Boreal forest. You can see the environmental damage in the trailer of a new documentary. See

    Prescending from the leak problem, the clear cutting of forests, and the toxic waste, Jim Hansen has argued that the Tar Sands must be stopped if we have a chance to stop catastrophic global warming. The extraction process of oil from the Tar Sands produces 2 to 3 times more carbon dioxide pollution than conventional oil.

    You can communicate directly to the State Department online at the following link

    For the State Department website with info see here

    Citizen letters really can make a difference, so please write. It can be a brief letter, even briefer than the following (Please do not copy this letter. If you want to use the ideas of this letter that is fine, but it is important that they do not receive identical letters):

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Climate scientists have made it quite clear that if we do not rapidly move off fossil fuels such that our economy is virtually decarbonized in 40 years we run unimaginable risks that include threatening global food and water security, the devastation of major cities and coastlines around the world (including Miami, New York, New Orleans, and Boston), and mass migrations of people that will most likely lead to conflict (as it has in the case of Darfur). The tar sands project is accelerating us into the climate catastrophe because extracting oil from the tar sands produces 2 to 3 times more carbon dioxide pollution than conventional oil and part of the process involves clear cutting of sections of the boreal forest. In this context, supporting the Tar Sands project by building a pipeline from the Canadian Tar Sands through the United States would be terribly destructive.

  21. Richard Brenne says:

    This is a great post. How many Washington Post reporters does it take to make sure the story of our times is not put into its proper context?


    If you want to save money on expensive time travel and get a glimpse of our future, go to the Middle East or Africa this week or your could’ve gone to Pakistan or Myanmar last month.

    National all-time record or near all-time record temperatures have combined with electrical outages, including eight power plants shutting down in Saudi Arabia, to make life unbearable. Many of the places along the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal can also have humidity readings comparable to those in the American South.

    And just because reports haven’t been similar to those of the August, 2003 European heat wave doesn’t mean there isn’t intense suffering. In Europe when many families were on vacation their elderly parents and grandparents were left alone in apartments without air conditioning. In most other cultures including those mentioned above the elderly are more likely to live with families looking out for them, and the pre-air conditioning architecture includes thicker walls with more insulation that can moderate temperatures, like living underground. (By the way, Jeff Masters, the most complete accounting of the European heat wave death tolls appears to me to have been done by EarthWatch, which tabulated that death toll at 52,000 instead of the more commonly reported 30,000 you and others use – I think this is a case where most of us quote each other, and EarthWatch did the most homework, and so I now use their figure. By the way, because of this and the 1995 heat wave tragedy in Chicago where an estimated 900 elderly residents died, families and institutions wouldn’t allow the same events to create such havoc again – but other factors will lead to additional problems, most notably dwindling budgets and resources.)

    Taking poorly-insulated houses and building them in places like Phoenix and relying on coal (almost half of U.S. electricity) power plants to provide mega-air conditioning is the very definition of both insane and unsustainable. When the stuff goes south in the American South – as it inevitably will at some point – the suffering there will also be incalculable.

    Of course 99 per cent of Americans – it sometimes feels like almost everyone except CP readers – appears oblivious to this.

    What we need is to develop empathy for the suffering of others, even if they’re in these far-off lands and cultures, so that we can mitigate their suffering and someday our own.

    And Prokaryote (sorry I butchered your name – and a goat – in the World Cup Post just below): While Qatar’s solar stadium is impressive, can you imagine what it would be like for millions of soccer enthusiasts in the region getting around and living in 120 degree heat – with an increased likelihood over time of electrical brown-outs and black-outs? That’s one World Cup I wouldn’t mind missing.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Minor nitpick: The country name is “Qatar”, not “Quatar”.

  23. David says:

    Good post, Joe. I did a Google news search of “heat wave” the other day, because I know it’s been pretty hot recently here, but I was really surprised by the number of news items that popped up, and from all over the Northern Hemisphere. It seems the heat has really been impressive in parts of north Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

    This, of course, on top of the national and international epidemic of flash flooding, record low Arctic sea ice, and four straight months of record-breaking global temperatures. And it looks like hurricane season is about to begin here in the North Atlantic. Welcome to global climate disruption, people! Of course, you won’t see Anthony Watts or any of the “skeptics” discussing this in their “weather is not climate” pieces.

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    Peter –
    Roger that .

    One thing I’ve been doing for 10 years is watching ” Observed Events “. Ever since I watched iceberg B-15 calf off in Antarctica. What everyone doesn’t know is what the nature of the AGW hypothesis predicted low those many years ago. Needless to say the deniers over the years have told me I don’t know the difference between weather and climate, I tell them that weather is what’s landing on your head today, climate is what landed on it yesterday. I for one believe that’s where the story got lost.

    The narrative was always about some model somewhere saying that “X” would occur in some distant point in time . Never that we would see mega fires, like Greece
    3 summers ago , the Australian fires in the winter of 09′, or the pounding that is going on in south China now. 50 inches of rain as of now ?

    My head is full of these stories , not that it’s going to be 3 degrees C warmer in 2 or 3 decades.

    Example :
    The day before the Black Saturday event, the temps in the northern suburbs of Melbourne were 117 degrees …… The fruit bats were dropping dead from the trees. Stories like that move people, not reports from the latest model run of what 2050 will look like.

    ” There are no deniers working on a wild fire crew anywhere in the world now. “

  25. David says:

    I might add that Matt Drudge did have some articles about the heat, flooding, and severe weather. Of course, he also posted an article about Paul McCartney comparing climate deniers to Holocaust deniers. Of course, Drudge Report still isn’t very balanced. I mean if hits 20 in DC in January, Drudge acts like we’re heading into the next ice age. Plus, his trick is to post the national wind chill map to make it look a lot colder than it actually is. I don’t see him posting any national heat index maps – even though heat is an even bigger killer.

  26. Leif says:

    Richard Miller, @18: Thank you for the heads up and the State Department link.

    Letter is a done deal…

  27. Ben Lieberman says:

    How much time do most reporters, pundits, politicians and lobbyists spend outside of their climate-controlled zone? As long as the air-conditioning is on it’s not really hot.

  28. Hot in MD says:

    This is a great post. I hope everyone who reads it writes to the Post. I am convinced that their attempt at “balanced” coverage is largely because they are afraid of taking too much heat from the climate change deniers. They need to here loud and clear from our side to get them to pay attention to the facts. It’s sad that they need extra prodding to to cover to what used to be legitimate news stories, but that’s just the way it is. I really suggest everyone send them an e-mail or letter to the editor.

  29. Paulm says:

    This is just bizarre behavior by the msm.

    The recent extreme events , flood, heatwave, temp records are all SHOUTING, SCREAMING that the system is busting under globawarming forcing. Yet they are impotent.

    How can they not connect the dots? How can they not get it? How can they not see what the consequences are going to be in even a decades time?

    These are people who are smart, who are reviewing the data, who are accessing the cliamate experts, who report on the extreme events and yet completely miss the ball (go USA!)

    Are we really as lowly as brainless frogs?

  30. Rick Covert says:

    I contacted my Uncle yesterday, who lives in Union Beach, NJ, that it would hit 91º F today and it came true. One of my high school classmates told me her A/C broke down and she is sweltering in the heat.

  31. jyyh says:

    Here in Finland, in the main media, there have been reports of the soaring temperatures in the middle east, and Northeast Brazil floods and most of the other ones too, no connection to climate change have been made, though. After Midsummer I’m offline for the next 2 weeks, off to Lapland to see if I can spot some of the arctic species I’ve not yet seen, and checking how some Autumn and Winter Moth outbreak areas look compared to other areas. Better do it this year than later.

  32. Rob R. says:

    Perhaps some of you might be aware having watched the recent winter olynpics, that
    Vancouver experienced it’s warmest January on record, by a long shot. In the lead
    up to the games I watched the little snow that the north shore mountains already had receed day by day to almost nothing. The preceeding July saw our all time high temperature record broken, which was broken again the following day. On the other hand Cliff Mass, a climatologist out of Seattle says we are well positioned here for the next few decades since we reside on the northeast Pacific coast and receive it’s moderating influence. I worry in the future that we may become the destination of climate refugees.

  33. ChrisD says:

    It’s one thing to talk about trends in the ratio of record highs to record lows–that’s meaningful information.

    But going gaga over regional conditions for a specific day just provides fuel to the deniers. We chastise them for using Snowmageddon to “debunk” climate change, then turn around and get all excited because it’s hot in DC. Bit of a disconnect there.

    Sorry, but I’d like to caution everyone against doing in summer exactly what we criticize the deniers for doing in winter. Local short-term weather is local short-term weather, whether it’s abnormally hot or abnormally cold. It’s not climate.

    [JR: Uhh, you have made any multiple false equivalence. First, I am writing about all-time records over extended period of time (spring in DC) in the context of relevant trend data on national highs vs. lows data in the context of global temperature record. It was Washington Post who pointed out this was a record warm spring. That is “news” and not a coincidence that globally this was the hottest spring on record and scientists have been predicting we would see more record warmth.

    This winter was not an all time record cold in the U.S. or even Washington DC, and, of course, record precipitation is precisely what you would expect from warming, not cooling. So your ‘objection’ makes no sense at all.

    Go back and read my criticisms. You have bought into the disinformer spin on what happened in the winter.

    Oh and the disinformers make crap up know matter what anyone does. Everything is “fuel” for them.]

  34. SecularAnimist says:

    ChrisD wrote: “But going gaga over regional conditions for a specific day just provides fuel to the deniers.”

    I’ll tell you what I’m “going gaga over” as far as the record-breaking, life-threatening heat wave in DC.

    It’s not intellectualizing about the difference between weather and climate.

    It’s the visceral realization that in the not too distant future, this is what it is going to be like around here for two or three months every year, rather than on occasional days in July in most years, and for two straight weeks in June once every hundred years.

    ChrisD wrote: “We chastise them for using Snowmageddon to ‘debunk’ climate change …”

    The reason I chastised “them” for doing that was not because they improperly conflated an extreme weather event with climate change.

    It was because “Snowmageddon” was exactly the type of extreme precipitation event that climate science tells us will become more frequent as a result of global warming, and was in fact part of a national pattern of increasing extreme precipitation events, so that by asserting that the blizzards were contrary to the predictions of AGW, “they” were just plain lying. The blizzards were the exact opposite — a clear confirmation of the predictions of global warming.

  35. Raul says:

    Once watched a talk by a climate scientist who was
    involving herself with how to help New York city
    resolve its flooding issues. Public works was already
    having issues with public cervices. Well she also
    worked with the IPCC and revealed a consideration
    as to why the report didn’t include many feedback
    issues about climate change. She had a strange
    look on her face as she explained that it was
    too scary for the public to be so involved in what
    steps needed to be undertaken for the continuation
    of public safety and services.
    It could be true that the baby shouldn’t be overly
    involved in what the real driver is doing.
    My mom used to hate it when my brothers used to scream
    with me as she tried to drive.
    She knew how to drive though.

  36. Esop says:

    Local record temps in one place does not prove global warming, just like local cold temperatures does not prove the opposite. However, the record high global average temps prove that we are in a warming period, and when all natural drivers point towards cooling (this is why “scientists” that ignored the CO2 signal predicted cooling instead of the warming that is now observed) we have a clear indication that the warming we are seeing is due to human emissions of heat trapping greenhouse gases. Record high local temperatures is a natural result of the higher avarage global temperatures. The MSN needs to start making people aware that the global temps are at record levels, and that the extreme weather events we are observing pretty much every week are predicted results of the increased heat content.

  37. darth says:

    Slightly off topic but I thought this was important:

    Check out this story about pine bark beetle infestation in British Columbia, its an economic disaster:

    The money quote is where they say it’s being caused by ‘strange weather patterns’ and ‘no one knows why’. I think everyone here knows why. Joe, you’d better tell ’em.

  38. Leland Palmer says:

    The real danger, of course, is not of more hot days per year.

    The real danger is that the global heating could become self-sustaining, and run away, leading to a methane catastrophe.

    It’s all happening way too fast. This is more like Lovelock’s sudden shift from one stable climate state to a second, much hotter state of the climate, than it is like the IPCC and MSM projections. We hope that the tropical, ice cap free state of the climate will be stable, but we cannot know that for sure. It has happened in the past, apparently, that such sudden change has triggered positive feedback reinforcement that created mass extinctions. There are several events like this in the fossll record, including the End Permian mass extinction, which killed something like 90% of all species on earth, and raised global average temperatures by more than 10 degrees C.

    Check out the book Under a Green Sky for a paleoclimatologist’s look at just how badly this could all turn out.

    It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel like sh*t.

  39. greg says:

    Has anyone constructed an adobe hut in DC and labeled it “Inhofe’s new home”?


  40. Jason says:

    I’m struggling to understand the lead graph. Is the y-axis a count of locales where the record-high temp has been surpassed? If so, perhaps a ratio of the count of record-breaking highs vs total count of available measurements would be more meaningful. The temperature anomalies maps from the NOAA posted to capital climate on 6/21 ( are far better way to convey meaning. I couldn’t really read the rest of your post (it was sent as a link from a friend) as the lead graph is just killing me. You have to get that stuff right if you want more than cheerleaders in your audience

    [JR: Sorry you’re dying. Read the post before commenting next time. The links help too.]

  41. Wit's End says:

    Aw, Leland Palmer! Take a deep breath!! We do not want you to be feeling like sh*t.

    Did you read With Speed and Violence by Fred Pearce? Or Requiem for a Species by Clive Hamilton? Those cheered me right up.

    It also helps when I pretend I am only a character in a novel.

  42. ChrisD says:

    My comment was aimed mainly at the comments, not at your post, Joe. I specifically said that the trend in records is useful information.

    JR: You have bought into the disinformer spin on what happened in the winter.

    No, I have not. I consistently write that any cold weather was regional, not global; that globally the winter was unusually warm, not unusually cold; and that increased snow is completely consistent with climate change. I’ve explained this hundreds of times, along with the details about why more warming means more snow, all over the net. So what have I “bought into”, Joe?

    My point is very simple. We rightly criticize the “skeptics” for “Global warming is a scam, it was record cold here in South Mudflap last night.”

    Then we turn around and talk about how hot it was yesterday in DC and Union Beach, NJ. This is not good.

    JR: Oh and the disinformers make crap up no matter what anyone does. Everything is “fuel” for them.

    I’m well aware of that. Doesn’t mean we should hand them lit Molotov cocktails.

    Honestly, you guys seem a bit touchy. I’m on your side, not theirs. Sorry for bothering you.

    [JR: The way you bought into their spin was by equating talking about record-smashing warmth around the globe — which is precisely what climate scientists have been predicting — with claiming that just moderately cold weather and record precipitation somehow undercuts AGW. If talking about record-smashing warmth is “handing them lit Molotov cocktails” then there ain’t much to talk about — and they win!]

  43. Paulm (#28):
    “There is this guy…..”

    He’s not employed by WaPo, merely an online-only contractor.

  44. Wit's End says:

    Chris D., we are not cherry-picking isolated incidents. We are talking about clearly discernible TRENDS and repeated record-breaking violent weather events, like this one:

  45. Chris Winter says:

    Says the Washington Post article:

    It is likely to stay hot for the next several days, with highs in the 90s, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures Thursday are predicted to near three digits.

    But some, such as Jason Jackson of Alexandria, say those devices don’t reflect the true heat.

    Looks like there’s a paragraph missing. Sloppy editing?

    I wonder how hot it was over at the University of Virginia. I mention this because of a claim by Pat Michaels, which I debunk. The gist is that Michaels claims air conditioning eliminates heat waves as a mortality concern. An NIH study of the 1980 and 1995 heat waves in St. Louis refutes him, reporting, “The findings show that St. Louis remains at risk of heat wave mortality. In addition, there is evidence that vulnerability has increased despite increased air-conditioning penetration and public health interventions.”

    For the details, go to:

    and scroll down to “A Tellingly Testable Hypothesis: Michaels (2006).”

    I should find the time to update those pages…

  46. MapleLeaf says:

    C02 may be a critical micro nutrient for plants, but that is under ideal conditions. The highest CO2 levels in 800,000 years are not helping these crops during the heat wave.

    On a side note, let us hope that the tropical disturbance approaching the Yucatan Peninsula does not move into the Gulf and strengthen.

  47. ChrisD says:

    Wow, this is harder than it should be.

    I am not talking about trends. I am not talking about recordsetting warmth all over the globe.

    I’m talking about “It was hot yesterday in Union Beach, NJ, and my friends are sweltering in the heat” and “It was hot yesterday outside the National Geographic Museum.” Both are in comments right here.

    Please read what I actually said: I cautioned against making anything out of “regional conditions on a specific day.” Nothing about trends. Nothing about recordsetting global heat waves.

    Just about how hot it was in your back yard yesterday.

  48. ChrisD says:

    Wit’s End: We are talking about clearly discernible TRENDS….

    If that were the case I wouldn’t have a problem. But some of the comments are not talking about trends. Some are about local conditions on a single day. Those are the ones that bother me. Those are no different from, “Global warming is a hoax. It was cold in my back yard yesterday.”

  49. Walter Miale says:

    “It’s sort of like the IPCC of WashPost weather stories. But without the climate part. Or the scientists.”

    You slay me Joe. Move over Mark Twain.

  50. Rob R. says:

    ChrisD: I doubt that many people who read and contribute to this site believe that
    any one particular extreme weather event is proof of global warming. And, I don’t think anyone actually said it was. I don’t think it is invalid to simply state individual facts. You draw your own conclusions.

  51. ChrisD says:

    RobR: No, I don’t think that anyone here believes that a hot day validates global warming. But re-reading my posts, especially the last message, I can see how it could be read that way. This was not my intent.

    My issue isn’t with what anyone here thinks. It with posting a sort of casual “oh, man, it was so hot that …” comment here, where it can be misused.

    Trust me, I get this all the time in comments. Some idiot posts the usual “It’s cold, Gore’s a moron” comment; I respond with a nice explanation about how that’s local, it’s short-term, it doesn’t mean anything, blah blah blah; I get back, “Oh yeah? How come I saw this?” followed by a cut & paste of someone somewhere talking about how hot it was somewhere.

    It’s frustrating, is what it is.

    [JR: Frustrating indeed. But I’m not going to let the disinformation from the disinformers stop me from discussing record smashing heat waves or superstorms.]

  52. Rob R. says:

    ChrisD: Fair enough. Joe: Keep up the good work!

  53. Wit's End says:

    RobR, nail on the head. The comments I saw were simply observations of fact, being shared. No claims were made that such anecdotes were proof of anything (unlike the deniers that frustrate ChrisD). So now can we please just talk and share our thoughts without over-dissecting? For me, the Romm’n’Legions have been the most civil, patient, and understanding community on the web. So many others of full of vitriol. It is a relief to visit Joe’s blog and find comprehensive, vital information and learn even more from the commenters and the links they add to supplement the posts.

  54. Ryan T says:


    I was wondering the same thing. The contrarians are good at putting on a show when localized conditions seem momentarily in their favor. So where are the activists constructing Inhofe’s new hut (maybe in a pool of “meltwater”)outside a government building or major media outlet? Maybe creative messaging isn’t such a strong point.

  55. Prokaryote says:

    Tropical Storm Alex bears down on the Yucatan; extreme heat for Africa and Russia

    Now imagine how might the weather be with doubling of Co2 or just 5 years from now.
    Is it really worth to risk the survival of our species just to keep burning fossils? Even if we stop ALL emission today -it is not enough – start with carbon negative action, now.

  56. SecularAnimist says:

    The fact is, as Bill McKibben pointed out years ago in The End Of Nature, that NO individual weather event anywhere in the world today, “extreme” or otherwise, is NOT affected by anthropogenic global warming.

    We live in a globally warmed world now. The weather is not and never again will be what it was before we warmed the world.

  57. Rob R. says:

    SecularAnimist: That is a good point in the sense that any particular weather is at least partly an expression of a changing climate regime.

  58. I’ve been thinking about this question of how to communicate about global warming for some time, and this is how I see it.

    The distinction between “proof” and “evidence” is critical. Proof is simple: take two identical planet Earths (or more, larger test and control groups are more reliable), introduce more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere of one and not the other, and wait to see what happens. If the planet with more greenhouse gases warms more, AND other scientists can replicate your results, you have proof.

    That being the case, there will never be “proof” of global warming–just more and more (and more) evidence until we decide, one by one, that the body of evidence that has accumulated is convincing enough to amount to proof. In this age of hyper-partisanship and disinformation, some will never be convinced. Others will become professional deniers because they are paid by industries that produce greenhouse gases. Still others, especially mainstream media, will waffle or go MIA because (1) controversies attract more attention and (2) fossil fuel companies spend very large amounts of money on advertising.

    What is evidence? Glacier melt, increasing sea temperatures, a growing imbalance between the number of record highs and record lows, an increase in the number of extreme rain events, and so on–all of the large volume of data the IPCC is painstakingly assembling.

    With that in mind, how do we talk about a record high?

    “No single weather event is proof of global warming. However, recent decades have seen more and more new record high temperatures and fewer and fewer record low temperatures. This latest record is consistent with that pattern of evidence indicating that global warming is a real and serious problem.”

    Is a single record high temperature a “global-warming-type event?” I don’t really think so. How about a record heat wave? Maybe–there’s a better case, especially if the science tells us we are seeing more and more heat waves of unprecedented intensity. A record rain event? Same as heat waves.

    Have I contributed anything? Beats me. But I feel strongly that keeping the distinction between “proof” and “evidence” in mind when talking about this issue is important to making headway in the public dialogue.

  59. Rob R. says:

    Tom: What you said was almost exactly what I was thinking. I didn’t think that ChrisD or SecularAnimist’s points were contradictory. It’s like a panel of jurists assessing forensic information that continues to increase. How many pieces of separate information do you need before you can render judgement?

  60. Raul says:

    Just watched a UTube clip of guests on Hardball.
    Scalace of La and Schultz of Fl talked about doing
    things differently. Earlier Scalace said La needed
    a seawall around the coast of La. What a way to
    deal with the energy situation. Schultz said we
    need to embrace modern energy.
    On the earlier talk with Scalace, the host asked
    do you need to wait for others to do the right thing
    before you do the right thing, even knowing the right
    thing to do.

  61. Prokaryote says:

    Moscow in grip of heat wave

    Russian weather forecasters say, not since 1981, has it been this hot for this long in June.

    And it’s not just the people who are struggling in the scorching conditions. One driver said if he doesn’t prop open the hood of his car, the engine overheats and it breaks down.

    City Hall is sending out trucks to water the streets. The heat is melting the tarmac in some places and people’s shoes are getting stuck.

  62. Raul says:

    Oh, I impress my self sometimes.
    Smart people do address me.
    Happy B-day Joe.

  63. Doug Bostrom says:

    Weather, or climate? Irony for sure, as the Senate keeps its thumb firmly jammed in the business end of the sausage machine, assuring no C02 mitigation progress:

    WASHINGTON — Senator Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in United States history, is “seriously ill,” his office announced Sunday afternoon.

    Mr. Byrd, a 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital late last week with symptoms of heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as temperatures in the Washington area approached 100 degrees. Though he was initially expected to remain hospitalized for only a few days, Mr. Byrd’s condition deteriorated and his doctors are now describing it as “serious,” a spokesman said.