How hot is it? So hot that even the Washington Post mentions climate change (though not what causes it)

A survey of media coverage of the monster heat wave

[Please post links to other MSM stories in the comments.]

It’s hot all over the East Coast.   Weather Underground offers this “plot of the difference between maximum temperature (the high for the day) and average maximum temperature in degrees F for July 6”:

Dr. Rob Carver, filling in for Jeff Masters on vacation in Maine (where I’ll be in August), asks “Is this heat wave due to global warming?”  His answer:

Ah, the $64,000 question. In the absence of detailed analysis, it’s hard to specify the exact cause for this heat wave, from a meteorological or climatological view point. However, events like this are consistent with research showing that heat waves are more likely with global warming. I like the metaphor of loaded dice, global warming is not specifically responsible for any heat wave, but it will make them happen more often.

True, global warming is not specifically responsible for any specific heat wave, but all heat waves we do experience are added to the overall human-caused warming, and thus will be more and more intense.

Carver helpfully notes, “The Centers for Disease Control have some tips for dealing with the heat.”

Here is the Christian Science Monitor:

Global heat wave hits US, reignites climate change debate

Worldwide, the first five months of 2010 were the warmest on record. With the US now getting its share of a heat wave, how will it affect the public perception of climate change?

Beijing hits a near-record 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia break 100 degrees and set new daily highs. Meanwhile, in Baghdad and Riyadh, on July 6 it was 113 and 111 degrees, warmer than average but still cooler than in Kuwait, which set the day’s world temperature high at 122 degrees….

Yes, we’re suffering a global heat wave. No, it’s not the apocalypse. But it may be a further sign of climate change.

“You can’t say any one heat wave is caused by global warming. But you can say that what global warming does is it makes events just like this more likely,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change.

Indeed, 2010 is set to be one of the world’s hottest years on record, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the first five months of the year was the warmest on record, and 1.22 degrees F warmer than the 20th century average, the NOAA states in its May 2010 State of the Climate Global Analysis.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Arctic sea ice extent retreated at a rapid pace in May – 50 percent faster than the average May melting rate. Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, is now at its warmest in 1,500 years, according to the journal Nature Geoscience.

But if these are all signs of global warming, then why did America’s East Coast get slammed with so much snow this past winter?

Climatologists are careful to highlight that no one weather event is a sign of global warming. Just as the blizzards of this past January and February did not debunk climate change, the current heat wave does not prove climate change.

“What climate change does do is make these kinds of events ever more frequent. It increases the frequency of record-highs,” says Dr. Leiserowitz of Yale University.


Here is how the AP handled the story:

The temperature broke records for the day in New York, where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102.

It was also over 100 in cities from Richmond, Va., to Boston, and Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., also set records.

“It’s safe to say this is one of the hottest days in about a decade for many locations in the Northeast and even inland,” said Sean Potter of the National Weather Service. “You’d go back to 2001 or maybe 1999 to find a similar heat wave.”

…  A certain segment of the public might look at the thermometer and blame global warming, but the two things aren’t necessarily related, said Gavin Schmidt, at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University.

“One winter, one heat wave, one snowstorm is not significant. You need statistics over a decade,” he said, noting that day-to-day weather and global temperature are two different things.

That said, he added, “the planet is getting warmer. 2000-2009 was the warmest since the 1850s. And the last 12 months seem to be the warmest.”

Ah, that certain segment.  True, one heat wave is not significant, but then again it’s hard to say that that it’s a complete coincidence that NASA reported it was easily the hottest spring “” and Jan-May “” in the temperature record (and NOAA, too).  To beat a hyperthermic horse, as the UK’s Royal Society and Met Office said in their statement on the connection between global warming and extreme weather:

We expect some of the most significant impacts of climate change to occur when natural variability is exacerbated by long-term global warming, so that even small changes in global temperatures can produce damaging local and regional effects.

I do prefer to look at statistically aggregated data (see “We’re having a heat wave. New daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June“).

Back to the MSM.  You may remember the recent Climate Progress post “Rep. Broun (R-GA) says clean energy legislation will cause southerners to die from hyperthermia!”  Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes Broun to task on this:

A few weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) stood on the floor of Congress to issue a hyperventilating rant about hyperthermia. Claiming to worry that energy legislation would raise electric rates so high that the elderly couldn’t pay for air conditioning, he declaring that cap-and-trade would, in effect, kill old people.

Where’s the Congressman today? Is he still worried about seniors dying from hyperthermia? He should be since they’re suffering mightily in the heat wave that is smothering the eastern United States….

The miserable heat is scorching the South, too….

No one who takes science seriously would suggest that a summer heat wave is evidence of global warming. But a trend, noted by scientists, is something everyone should take seriously, and this heat wave is part of a trend, according to Andrew Freeman, climate blogger for the WaPo….

First, even before this heat wave began, temperatures had already been running above normal lately. May and June were exceptionally warm across the eastern U.S., especially the mid-Atlantic. As we noted last week, Washington recorded its warmest June on record, along with numerous other cities, mainly along the eastern seaboard.

According to Guy Walton of The Weather Channel, many more warm-temperature records were set during May and June than cold-temperature records. In an email exchange, Walton told me there were 3,234 daily record highs (including ties) set nationwide during May and June, compared to 1,493 daily record lows (including ties). There were only five “all time” record highs set or tied during May/June 2010 and no “all time” record lows, but there were 102 monthly highs set (or tied) vs. 52 monthly lows set (or tied) during the period.

Walton also noted that there were 6,870 daily record high minimums (including ties) vs 2,570 daily record low maximums (including ties) in May/June 2010. This is noteworthy since daily minimum temperatures have been increasing faster than daily maximum temperatures, which is consistent with what scientists expect to happen as greenhouse gas concentrations increase, since such gases inhibit heat from escaping into the atmosphere, especially during the night as radiational cooling sets in.

Despite so-called “Climategate,” the scientific evidence is clear: The planet is warming dangerously, a trend caused by human activity.

Alas, Freedman’s stuff isn’t what gets into the print edition of the Washington Post, which is probably read by ten times as many people.  This is what they ran yesterday:

WashPost July

What a waste of ink.

First off, precisely which “climate scientists” are predicting a “normal” July (whatever that means)?  Most expert forecasters were predicting that this entire summer was going to be quite hot on the East Coast.  Obviously this week was going to be horrendous.  So the erroneous opening paragraph merely makes “climate scientists” look like ivory tower academics.

Secondly, while it’s great the WP discusses what climate researchers expect in the coming decades, is it too much to ask for even the briefest mention of the fact that it is human emissions of greenhouse gases that are the reason climate scientists are making these projections?

Third, and this is certainly hopeless for the WP, but the statement that “climate researchers now expect a further 6.3-degree increase by the end of this century” is somewhere between misleading and outright incorrect.  Climate researchers projections of future temperature rise depend critically on their estimation of how high emissions are.  They don’t “expect” any particular increase — 6.3 degrees F might be near the middle of the broad range of multi-scenario projections.  But if we take no significant action to reduce emissions — and why should we if the media doesn’t explain to the public that emissions are the source of the projections (and probably primary reason for the warming to date) — then many scientists expect warming far beyond 6.3 degrees.

Stay cool!

First, even before this heat wave began, temperatures had already been running above normal lately. May and June were exceptionally warm across the eastern U.S., especially the mid-Atlantic. As we noted last week, Washington recorded its warmest June on record, along with numerous other cities, mainly along the eastern seaboard.

According to Guy Walton of The Weather Channel, many more warm-temperature records were set during May and June than cold-temperature records. In an email exchange, Walton told me there were 3,234 daily record highs (including ties) set nationwide during May and June, compared to 1,493 daily record lows (including ties). There were only five “all time” record highs set or tied during May/June 2010 and no “all time” record lows, but there were 102 monthly highs set (or tied) vs. 52 monthly lows set (or tied) during the period.

Walton also noted that there were 6,870 daily record high minimums (including ties) vs 2,570 daily record low maximums (including ties) in May/June 2010. This is noteworthy since daily minimum temperatures have been increasing faster than daily maximum temperatures, which is consistent with what scientists expect to happen as greenhouse gas concentrations increase, since such gases inhibit heat from escaping into the atmosphere, especially during the night as radiational cooling sets in.

58 Responses to How hot is it? So hot that even the Washington Post mentions climate change (though not what causes it)

  1. Wit'sEnd says:

    Along with the temperatures the level of ozone in the atmosphere is rising. Here in New Jersey and I’m sure elsewhere the DEP has issued “severe weather” alerts, advising people to be cautious due to the toxic effects on human health. What that really means, but they don’t say, is that exposure to ozone causes cancer, emphysema and asthma attacks. And they rarely mention that the levels considered safe are not safe, and due to be revised soon, which will probably also not be really safe…and not enforced to the degree necessary to make them safe.

    In the coming days as the leaves fall off the trees and shrubs and the crops shrivel up this will be blamed on the heat and lack of rain, without acknowledgement that aquatic plants in water and plants watered in pots and plants protected from extreme heat in buildings will also be exhibiting symptoms of foliar damage associated with exposure to ozone.

    They’re also warning that there is “explosive fire potential” but fail to mention it is not just the hot and dry conditions but the fact that many, many trees are standing dead, ready to be torches.

    It’s important to link rising temperatures to the greenhouse effect, but it’s also time to link vegetative dieback to the “other” greenhouse gases so that people can make an informed choice as to whether they prefer their gas-powered toys, or food.

  2. Paul T. says:

    You’ll like this one Joe.

    Our CTV (Winnipeg office) is reporting it with this headline:

    Extreme heat wave example of climate change: expert

  3. Joce says:

    “Global heat wave hits US, reignites climate change debate”. NO! First of all, the debate has never gone away. And, secondly, it should not be a debate anymore. Most scientists involved in the research agree that man-made climate change is real. And as long as the “journalists” put doubt in peoples mind, making concrete changes will not happen. The longer we wait, the more we shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot!

  4. Is there intelligent life in the universe says:

    Rule I made back when I was a kid when I read in a newspaper that objects were green in color if they absorbed green light was to never never never get your science from a newspaper.

    Now we have the internet.

    Will somebody somewhere who has a bully pulpit please start yelling FIRE!
    Until people realize what’s at stake, they’ll put little green pieces of paper ahead of all the other green stuff.

  5. BBHY says:

    People in New York and Washington freak out now when it gets to 100. Wait until the first time the temperature hits 110. It’s coming, only a matter of time. It will become a lot tougher to deny warming then. I think quite a few deniers will suddenly change their minds.

    Maybe it will even happen later this summer.

  6. MarkB says:

    This quote by Gavin Schmidt could be easily misinterpreted:

    “the planet is getting warmer. 2000-2009 was the warmest since the 1850s.”

    One might interpret that to mean the 1850’s were at least as warm.

  7. Peter Mizla says:

    It was another nasty day in eastern Connecticut-17 miles from Hartford

    100 degrees–high humidity. 93 tomorrow-91 Thursday. Before storms and some cooling (upper 80s)and less humidity for the weekend. 90 plus returning next week-ugh.

    I have a patio wine dinner party to attend tomorrow evening- I hope its inside.

    The power grids in the northeast are being pushed to the limit- is this not what climate scientists have said would happen?

    Water has been ordered rationed in some towns and localities here- no significant rain in over 3 weeks- water ah yes- a resource they may fight wars about in the not too distant future.

  8. Carter says:

    This “debate” stuff reminds me of the Y2K scare. Predictions of computer shutdowns were in the news all the time. Authors sold books and articles on why everything would stop working. Consultants raked in the money for doing nothing but raising alarms. Meanwhile, the computer people made the necessary changes, checked their work, tested it and retested it. And they asked each other, scratching their heads, “What is all this stuff about a crisis?”

    Those who really know, know there is no debate. The “debate” is manufactured by those in whose interest it is to have a debate.

  9. Wit'sEnd says:

    Oh goody, it’s the newest denier talking point…remember Y2K, the phony crisis!

    Except last time I saw this canard on a thread, a whole bunch of computer experts wrote in to say that if there HADN’T been a sense of alarm, the companies never would have hired them to fix the problem, and if they hadn’t fixed the problem, it in fact could have been quite serious.

  10. Peter Mizla says:

    #9 Carter

    what the hell does Y2K have to do with physics?

    How far does the fantasy of the deniers have to go?

    One thing is certain- climate change will end up destroying the conservative movement/GOP for decades to come.

  11. Bob Wallace says:

    Carter – try thinking through your memories.

    Back before 1/1/2000 people started warning about what Could happen if corrective action was not taken to add those extra two digits to our computer programs. January 1, 2000 was going to be read as January 1, 1900 and nothing that should have been done on 1/1/2000 would have happened.

    Programmers got really busy and fixed programs and the big crash of Y2K was avoided.

    The money spent on consultants “doing nothing but raising alarms” wasn’t at all wasted if it helped businesses and governments to put the programmers to work.

    The programmers certainly didn’t ask each other “What is all this stuff about a crisis?”. They knew, probably more than any others, that the crisis could have been very nasty.

    Right now people are warning that if we don’t drastically cut our CO2/greenhouse gas emissions we are going to really screw ourselves.

    This time people are kicking the can further down the road. We aren’t listening to the “consultants”. We aren’t putting the “programmers” to work.

    The big climate crash of the 2000s may very well happen.

  12. Joe1347 says:

    So why isn’t the Senate coming back from recess and calling a vote to take advantage of the abnormally high temps?

  13. Richard Brenne says:

    Carter (#8) – My sister is CEO of a large computer company that was very concerned about Y2K, but as you say it was appropriately addressed with millions of hours of work. If those in control of policy, government and business were appropriately concerned about climate change and we did all we could to address it, we would have a far better outcome than we’ll get by not addressing it, which is exactly what we’re doing.

    Gail (Wit’s End, #1) – As far as I’m concerned you’re the world leader in alerting us to the dangers of ozone to trees and thus all species. That is beautifully written, as always.

    Generally The Christian Science Monitor, who I wrote for as a freelancer over an 18-year period, the excellent Time blog PaulM (#3) links to and the Winnipeg CTV Paul (#2) links to are all excellent, as of course as always is the original post. All the (at the time 12) comments on the CTV post were evidently from Neanderthals, that I mistakenly thought had gone extinct 25,000 years ago. I was disappointed because my wife’s Canadian and because of the talks I’ve given in Canada I thought most Canadians got climate change. Being further north where climate change is generally more pronounced, the average Canadian sees climate change more dramatically (longer growing seasons, far less ice for outdoor ice skating and ice fishing) than the average American.

    I think it’s time to re-think and re-word what we say about heat waves thusly:

    Every heat wave is part of a serious trend and pattern that illustrates global warming as much as anything. You don’t take any weather in isolation, you see where it fits into a decades-long pattern, and heat waves and heat records fit the pattern more clearly than anything.

    Since 2000 there have been over twice as many heat records as cold records in the contiguous 48 states, and with business as usual we expect that to climb to a 20 to 1 ratio by 2050 and a 50 to 1 ratio by 2100. Thus every heat record illustrates the move in that direction.

    Because of natural variability there will always be cold records, but we’ll see those less and less.

    Snowstorms are not cold records, and a dramatic snowstorm is part of the global warming pattern of seeing more dramatic precipitation events of all kinds, and where it’s cold enough to snow those can easily be snowstorms.

    A snowstorm is not a record cold event.

    Every weather event should be looked at in the context of the trends of global warming. There has always been natural variability and there always will be. There have always been heat waves and cold snaps and there always will be, but as the baseline of temperatures rises we expect more record heat waves and less record cold snaps, and with enough data from entire large nations and especially the world and over the course of a decade and especially decades, this is exactly what we’re seeing.

    And so it is entirely appropriate to discuss this heat wave or any other dramatic or record-setting weather event and to see and say where it fits into the trend and pattern human-caused global warming creates.

    In fact not doing so is a dereliction of the duty of every climate scientist, meteorologist and journalist writing or broadcasting about climate or weather.

  14. ozajh says:

    Carter #9,

    Those who really know, know there is no debate. The “debate” is manufactured by those in whose interest it is to have a debate.

    Absolutely correct. Unfortunately the denialists insist on keeping the “debate” going. Hence the need for sites like this.

    (And I can tell you from personal experience that the organisation I work for basically spent its entire IT budget on Y2K-related work between mid-1998 and early in 2000. Millions a month. We still had systems failing on various critical cutover dates.)

  15. Jon says:

    You should weigh in on this Joe! Set these fools straight.

    [JR: It’s coming!]

  16. I know this is minor, but I had planned to bring my little kids to Six Flags Great Adventure this week but it was 100+ there so I must now wait. I was sure to explain to them that the world is getting warmer and there will be more amusemement park cancellations by parents down the road. They understand THAT impact!

    I highly recommend looking at the graphics shown on Lou Grinzo’s blog:

    Watch how New York “moves” to Georgia and South Carolina toward the end of the century under high emission scenarios. Not too many Six Flags days there in the summer.

  17. Chase says:

    Yeah, “Y2K” was a scam. And I remember back in the 1980s a gang of scientists were all whining that there was going to be a “hole” in the “ozone layer”. What a bunch of nothing that turned out to be. They’re always whining about some new “crisis” to keep that grant money rolling in! And now trees are dying from too much ozone!

  18. PeterW says:

    Richard Brenne #14,

    Canada is currently run by Republican “Climate Denial” clones. Many, including the Prime Minister are from the Tar Sand/Coal loving province of Alberta. My guess is one third of Canadians think global warming is some sort of socialist conspiracy, another third don’t want to talk about it and the rest want action. Canada is in a bit of a stalemate at this moment.

    Our problem is our Prime Minister is an idiot and the Press here aren’t that much better.

    But with that being said, many Provinces and Municipalities have made great efforts pushing conservation and renewable energy. Except for Alberta and Saskatchewan, the electricity grids are pretty carbon free.

  19. Wit'sEnd says:

    Chase, please tell me I am somehow missing the joke here and you’re not such an idiot you don’t realize that the ozone hole is in the stratosphere (naturally occurring and necessary to prevent harmful UV radiation from reaching the surface) and the ozone that is dangerous for humans and the ecosystem is in the troposphere (caused by humans burning fossil and biofuels creating toxic emissions)?

  20. Jim Eager says:

    Is Chase a Poe?

  21. John Hollenberg says:

    Re: #18

    Trying to figure out if this is deep sarcasm I don’t understand, or someone who just doesn’t have a clue. That latter, I suspect.

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    China on heatwave alert as temperatures soar

    In Beijing on Monday, nearly three million cubic metres of water was pumped into the capital, the largest single-day usage since tap water was brought into operation in 1910, the China Daily reported.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    China launches armada to head off algae plume

    High sea temperatures and nitrogen runoff from agriculture blamed for 400 sq km of enteromorpha heading for coast

  24. toby says:

    Wikipedia has an interesting site with worldwide temperature records.

    Looking at Europe, 31 European countries had about 3 low or high temperature records per decade up to the 1990s. Then there were 5 high-temperature records in the 1990s, and 9 in the noughties!

    Europe seems to be following the US in record setting high temperatures.

  25. Rick says:

    Nothing special about this heat wave overall, can find many more severe over the past 30 years….move along. Those who do not follow the history of the weather look stupid when they point to singular weather events as proof of global warming.

  26. Esop says:

    About time that the extreme heat arrived in populated areas. The deniers have had luck on their side for far too long with cooler than normal temps where people live and extremely high temps in remote areas.

  27. toby says:


    I think the post covers your point. No individual heat-wave is of itself an indicator of global warming.

    However, heat waves provide two interestng indicators;

    (1) The frequency of heat-waves.
    (2) The frequency of record high temperatures.

    If both of these are increasing, it provides some indication of global warming. Statisticians can follow up with measures of significance.

  28. Adrian says:

    Rick (#23). Which part of “Worldwide, the first five months of 2010 were the warmest on record” OR “Washington recorded its warmest June on record, along with numerous other cities, mainly along the eastern seaboard” OR “Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia break 100 degrees and set new daily highs” were you not paying attention to?
    Did you even read the article above before asserting your opinion?
    Can it be that you just misunderstood the cautious language used by the several climate experts above who absolutely DO NOT “point to singular weather events as proof of global warming”?
    It’s weird – I thought their message was quite clear.
    Of course, these ‘stupid-looking climatologists’ OBVIOUSLY don’t follow the history of weather.

  29. Raul says:

    Didn’t Y2K start because some wanted to say why is two
    kilowatts the starting point for help with the solar
    setups. Shouldn’t smaller power systems get state and
    federal help too? So Y2K.
    Also in the Gainesville Sun newspaper on July 07 there
    is an interesting story on the number and status of
    abandoned oil wells in the Gulf of Pollution. Seems
    to say that there are many such wells that might leak.

  30. Raul says:

    Then a myriad of other things that were more
    important than solar energy anyway. Taking
    solar energy for granted and then thinking
    that there is just too much solar energy
    anyway and that is why it is so darn hot.

  31. Mike says:

    I was in line at a food court when the woman in front of me said to the cashier: “This weather is weird. It’s like we are on a different planet.”
    I could not resit and said: “No, but we have changed the planet we live on.” They both nodded.

    Does small talk count as a type of media?

    PS: Chase, #18, is obviously being sarcastic.

  32. Too bad we dont have an image of China’s heatwave like we do of the one in the northeast US. I think China’s is larger in scope and severity.

  33. Esop says:

    Highest global average temp on the record and record smashing local temps. All this in the deepest solar minimum in more than a century. Wonder of that Danish solar fellow has any comments. He did, after all, assure the world last year that global cooling had begun. If this is global cooling, I fear what is going to happen when the warming kicks in again.

  34. MapleLeaf says:

    RSS MSU data are in, June 2010 was the second warmest on record (Lower troposphere data, TLT) at +0.535 C, very close to the record for June 1998 of +0.568 C.

    Interestingly, these more reliable RSS MSU data are almost 0.1 C warmer than Spencer’s data for June. Hmmm……

  35. Esop says:

    MapleLeaf: that is interesting indeed. Many have suspected that Spencer’s data have been tweaked with his introduction of the 5.3 version, switching satellites, etc. The latest RSS data prove this to be the case.

  36. paulm says:

    Inhofe, were for art thou?
    Have you melted?

  37. Ummm, still trying to get my head around why a blizzard that occurs without particularly cold temperatures is any sort of evidence that global warming is not happening. No logic, so it remains a masterpiece of misdirection, I guess.

  38. Richard Brenne says:

    Thank you PeterW (#19), very informative and helpful. I’ve heard Alberta described as Canada’s Texas – hopefully they’re not on their way to executing developmentally disabled folks, as Bush encouraged when he was governor there. When I was hopeful the U.S. could learn from Canada and misty-eyed patriots with red, white and blue mascara asked me “What if we’d never had our Independence Day” I’d answer, “Then we’d have universal health care and gun control.”

    Now, tragically, it appears that Canada is taking the worst from the U.S. rather than the U.S. taking the best from Canada – and virtually every European nation.

  39. Richard Brenne says:

    Rick (#26) – Those of us educated in relating weather events to climate change have thought about this a great deal, as my comment at #14 coming from years of doing this suggests.

    Can you use the word “trend” or “pattern”? Can you fit an event into a trend or pattern? Evidently not.

  40. Jack says:

    Hey Inhofe Hey
    How many igloos did you build today

  41. From Peru says:

    You can follow the temperatures of the world here:

    notice the hotspot in SIBERIA.

    Really permafrost is turning into “permamelt” right now!

  42. Ryan T says:

    What seems difficult for some to grasp is that regional weather events are a confluence of both macro-climatic factors (including the cumulative addition of heat by humans) and the variable distribution of heat within the system. At this point, it’s still difficult to perceive a consistent mark from global warming in many temperate regions, even though it contributes to weather extremes. The patterns we can more readily discern are the rising broader averages and the increasing ratio of record highs to record lows.

  43. djrabbit says:

    With all appropriate respect to Dr. Carver, here’s how I would put it for general audiences:

    “In general, Yes; global warming makes Winters milder, it makes Summers warmer, and it makes heat waves hotter. That doesn’t mean that GW makes it easier to predict the weather — in fact, GW makes it harder — but we can predict overall warming with a high level of confidence.”

  44. djrabbit says:

    To be more accurate, I suppose one should include the qualifier “on average” after the Yes.

  45. David says:

    Just to clarify for the people complaining, the point Joe is making isn’t that global warming caused this heat wave in the traditional causal sense – it’s that heat waves of this magnitude are consistent with the predicted effects of global warming. It’s the “skeptics” who try to claim events like the record-breaking snowfalls of this past winter are evidence that global warming isn’t real. Heavy snowstorms are not inconsistent with global warming and, in fact, are probably consistent with the theory, given the observed increase in atmospheric water vapor – at least in the short term. As temperatures continue to rise, however, snowstorms will probably become less frequent and rainstorms become the norm.

    More record cold than record warm temperatures would be inconsistent with global warming, but as Joe pointed out, the data shows that record warmth has far been outpacing record cold events. As Dr. Hansen has always said, the effects of climate change are like loading a dice. Where some events used to have 1:1 odds, now it may be 2-3:1, and in ten years, maybe 6:1 odds.

  46. Rimne says:

    Didn’t say anything bad to get deleted, not sure why that post was deleted.

    [JR: Uhh, you wrote, “Those looking to make a quick buck off the global warming scare will make their bucks but in the end they’ll all be exposed as frauds.” and “its really a cult following so just keep believing and shooting those who disagree.” Yes, I tend to delete such anti-science and anti-scientists comments.]

  47. Jeff says:

    A few points.

    1. This heat wave is a 1 in 4 year event, not a big deal. Most stations with a decent history are not even close to all time records. Imagine if we saw the temperatures that we saw in the 1930s (record highs near 113 or higher given the urbanization at many airports now). Our peak temps this time were mostly 102-105.
    2. Electrical power load records were not even close to being set in most areas. Even if we did set a record power load you would expect that since the population of most of the grids is growing and loads naturally are growing higher (safe for recessions etc). Humidity levels were relatively low with this heat wave also which was another reason load levels did not reach records in most areas.
    3. Given that we are coming out of a strong El Nino and are still in the very warm, postive phase of the AMO it is not a surprise that temperatures are running warm this year. With La Nina coming we should see temperatures calm down in couple months. In 10-15 years when the AMO switches sign to negative, we’ll see even more cooling but probably still run above the “normal”-whatever that is.

  48. David says:

    More typical disinformation from Jeff #49 (are you sure your name isn’t Anthony or Steve?):

    1. BS, most places in the east coast set daily records and were within a few degrees of all-time records – including Central Park, no “urban airport effect” there. And the whole “urban airport” BS is just that. It was funny reading Anthony’s diatribe about runways that looked like they were 50 yards away from the thermometer, and heralding past records as if they were taken in some pristine, agrarian setting. Actually the old Baltimore records were taken on the rooftop of the Customs House – we all know how much Anthony loves rooftop readings – and used to run way warmer than BWI when that was an active temperature site.

    2. More BS, that’s easily refuted by Google…

    3. LOL, what about the mega solar minimum you guys had been hyping? Now, we can attribute all of the record warmth to El Nino? C’mon, you’re going to have to try harder than that.

  49. Ryan T says:

    I wonder, Jeff, how many records there were in July of the 1930’s vs. July of recent decades. If ENSO and AMO are essentially cycles affecting heat exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans, how is it that both the oceans and the atmosphere are are still warming on average according to the latest analyses?

  50. Esop says:

    #49: So you are not surprised that 2010 is a warm year, that is strange, since back in 2008 you deniers claimed that the temperatures would continue to drop and Maunder minimum like conditions were right around the corner. Since you obviously knew back then that 2010 would be hot, why did you say otherwise, and actually ridiculed serious scientists that said 2010 would set records. Were you folks lying then or are you lying now? The solar theory has failed in the most spectacular fashion imaginable, with a mild El Nino overpowering the deepest solar minimum in more than a century, the PDO theory did not work, so now it is the AMO? These denier excuses to justify pumping an annual 30 billion tons of a potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere are getting sillier by the day. Just give it up already.

  51. Andy B says:

    @ Richard, Canada has a strong right-wing equivalent to the tea-baggers and CTV, even though it’s content is centrist-right, has had the following that would be Fox’s audience as well. We’re actually going to be getting a Canadian version of Fox News so it’ll be interesting to see what happens between their ratings. I think the deniers are part of the wider anti-intellectualism in the wider NOAM culture. No amount of evidence will convince these types. 1/3 of Saskatchewan’s farmland is underwater. Mind-boggling. But even on the comments section on the CBC article on that you’ll find deniers mocking AGW or saying that such events are natural variation. I’m highly pessimistic in the longer term. The changes we’re seeing are on a steep, if not exponential, curve in the context of geologic time but so far the changes have been rather incremental, remote, hidden or variable on the scale of human life and perception. I think, if the ice cap goes, the methane goes, the Earth’s temperature doubles or triples and the majority of higher order life is extinct in a few centuries. It’s just too rapid for adaptation for most species. Much hotter and faster than the PETM.

  52. MyName says:

    This “debate” stuff reminds me of the Y2K scare.

    Me to, but for different reasons. Everyone was selling what made money. The knowleadgable knew there is no threat at all, (because experts who design computers and software are not idiots) but opportunists made big money on books and “testing for y2k compatibility”. All of them knew there is no actual threat (all they did was setting date to 1. 1. 2000 and back, if even that) but you could not make money by saying there is no threat.

    Global warming is similar, just now it’s denial what makes money.

  53. Richard Brenne says:

    Jeff (#49) – Sometimes it’s helpful to read the original post and the comments. The Christian Science Monitor’s headline addressed the “Global Heat Wave.” On May 26 Pakistan set the all-time heat record for Asia with a 128 degree Fahrenheit reading. Then in June Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait set their all-time national records of 125 degrees each. Then Niger, Chad and Myanmar set all-time national records as well, as did the Russian part of Asia, and China flirted with all-time records in Beijing and other places, across over 7000 miles of Anthro-Earth. So this global heat wave, even if more mild in the U.S., is significant because the baseline increase of maybe a few or several degrees (at those latitudes) by human-caused global warming means what could’ve naturally been an impressive heat wave instead broke all-time continental and national records (of course in the history of reliable records which NOAA’s NCDC feels go back to 1880 in at least the U.S.).

    New Yorkers and ConEd were fortunate the heat wave had the low humidity you rightly mention. They were also fortunate the heat wave came right after the Fourth of July with many people travelling outside the region, many if not most workplaces closed on Monday, etc.

    In Saudia Arabia they weren’t so lucky and the electrical demand combined with a sandstorm shut down eight power plants. Israel also saw record demand. And with increased efficiency and conservation, one would hope power demands don’t continually grow, because if they do (and likely even if they do not), someday soon the demand is going to exceed supply many times in many places. Many energy experts like Richard Heinberg don’t see how we’re going to sustain the current electrical grid when we haven’t invested in the infrastructure necessary to maintain it.

    The responses from David (#50), Ryan T (#51) and Esop (#52) all made great points, and the earlier explanations of how weather relates to climate by Ryan T (#44), dj rabbit (#45) and David (#47) were also all excellent, and more concise than mine (at #14).

    AndyB (#53) – Thanks for such a thorough response. I agree with everything in your dense (in a very good way) paragraph with very knowledgeable opinions. NASA’s Jim Hansen thinks Earth’s temperatures could ultimately double or triple as you suggest, creating a dead planet, but I’ve asked Brian Toon, Kevin Trenberth, Warren Washington and others about this and none of them agree completely. . .yet. Hansen has been a decade or two ahead of the rest of the scientific community a number of times, and so I feel he bears listening to.

    MyName (#54) – Everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve talked to (including my sister who owns a large IT company again today) whose opinion I respect feels that Y2K could’ve caused serious problems if it hadn’t been addressed. My sister said she felt addressing Y2K took most of most companies IT budgets for a couple of years. She is a little prone to exaggeration and there might have been some overhyping and overbooking of hours by something like 10 to 30 per cent, but I doubt if by the 100 per cent you suggest. When making such a claim it would be helpful to provide links to reputable articles, quotes from experts, etc. I’m willing to listen to any argument with enough evidence – I enjoy being proven wrong, because it means I’ve learned something new – but the evidence needs to be compelling.

  54. MyName says:

    Richard Brenne (#55):
    Some devicess indeed used just two numbers. But those numbers were interpreted as 19xx-20xx, not 1900-1999.
    Unix systems (used for most professional applications, including internet servers) count seconds elapsed since midnight 1. January 1970. The first second of the year 2000 was not even notable. It is actually the first system that can have problems (in 2038) but it will be certainly solved by the time.

    It was expected that the year 2000 will come and all was deigned with it in mind for years before the panic. Only poorly designed nonstandard hardware could posibly fail. Only very poorly written software that handled time in nonstandard ways could have problems.

    It’s hard to prove non existence. Give me some examples of procedures used to test systems for Y2K compliance other than setting the date to 1.1.2000 and back. Give me some examples of critical bugs fixed. Give me specific examples of failures of untested computers.

  55. Richard Brenne says:

    My Name (#55) – I’m sure you’ve invested much, much more time on this issue than I have. But the consensus here in these comments as well as the general perception among educated people is that Y2K was a real problem that was more or less appropriately addressed.

    You have a different view, and that’s good. But the burden of proof isn’t on me, because I’m in agreement with the other commenters here, the experts I know about and the general consensus of society. If what you’re saying is true I’m sure others have written about this as well. If this is the case, it would be helpful to site some sources and provide us with links.

    Otherwise I’m afraid in the little space we have here for these exchanges it is difficult to convince many of us, myself included. Again, I’m willing to have my mind changed, but it will take evidence from longer writings by you and/or others to convince me.

  56. MyName says:

    Richard Brenne: No, burden proof is on you. It’s not posible to prove that something doesn’t exist. How can I possibly prove that? Giving examples of failed computers and fixed bugs should be rather easy it it was such a large scale effort as you claim.

    I’m not aware of consensus about that and I’m certainly not alone with this view. The consensus is that all computers in common use were designed to last much longer. It was a scam, get over it. What experts you know that claim otherwise? (note that CEO is usually not an expert in the field)