Climate

Masters: “2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen”

As nation, Russia, and world swelter under record heat, NY Times’ Tom Zeller publishes dreadful he-said/she-said, quote-mining piece

We now know that “After the hottest decade on record, it’s the hottest year on record, seemingly the hottest week of all time in satellite record and we may be at record low Arctic sea ice volume.”  In this country, we saw new daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June.

Uber-meteorologist Jeff Masters reports today:

The year 2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen.

So, naturally, the NY Times is out with what would, for any other paper, be one of its worst climate stories ever, but which is just run-of-the-mill dreadful for the former paper of record (see here)?

The Tom Zeller’s piece, “Is It Hot in Here? Must Be Global Warming,” buries the one crucial scientific fact that eviscerates its entire narrative:

There is a not-insignificant caveat: Those pointing to hot weather as evidence of global warming are, in the broadest sense, more likely to be right. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado demonstrated last year that record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade.

That’s in keeping with most models of global warming, which predict not a steady climb in temperature, but higher average readings over time “” and more record-breaking peaks than valleys.

Okay, so climate scientists predicted the weather would get hotter as we poured more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.  And now that national and global all-time records are being set, that would seem to be supporting evidence for the theory.

Those of us who explain this are “in the broadest sense, more likely to be right.”  But no need to let the facts get in the way of a good story.  So the actual thrust of Zeller’s piece is the exact opposite.  It opens:

In any debate over climate change, conventional wisdom holds that there is no reflex more absurd than invoking the local weather.

Note the key (mis)framing:  “invoking the local weather.”  Zeller continues:

And yet this year’s wild weather fluctuations seem to have motivated people on both sides of the issue to stick a finger in the air and declare the matter resolved “” in their favor.

“Within psychology, it’s called motivated reasoning, or the confirmation bias,” explained Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Project on Climate Change Communication at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. “People are looking for evidence of any kind that validates or reinforces or justifies what they already believe.”

Thank you Zeller for inserting a quote that is semi-irrelevant here.  Yes, some people have confirmation bias.  But which people are those?  Those who are “more likely to be right”?  Or the disinformers?

Last February, for example, as a freak winter storm paralyzed much of the East Coast, relatives of Senator James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is a skeptic of climate change, came to Washington and erected an igloo.

They topped it with a cheeky sign asking passers-by to “Honk if you global warming.” Another sign, added later, christened the ice dome “Al Gore‘s new home.”

Environmentalists roundly criticized the stunt for relying on a fact as lonely as a snowstorm. “Weather is our day-to-day experience, while climate is more static, describing a region’s typical weather conditions as established over periods of time,” explained Adrianna Quintero, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a blog post scolding the deniers.

Well, actually, if Zeller weren’t so busy quote mining, he would have noted that Quintero has two points to make, one of which just happens to undermine Zeller’s entire narrative.  One point is about climate vs. weather and the other is about the fact that the snowstorm provides no evidence whatsoever against our growing understanding of human-caused global warming.  She writes:

With this warmer planet also comes something most of the general public would not expect: more precipitation which means more rain and snow.

A report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), found overall increases in global precipitation averages with substantial changes in the amount, intensity, frequency, and type of precipitation as a result of global warming.

Marked increases in precipitation have been observed in eastern North America, southern South America, and northern Europe, while certain regions, including the Southwestern United States and the Mediterranean, are expected to become drier. The report adds, “[t]he widespread trend toward more heavy downpours is expected to continue, with precipitation becoming less frequent but more intense.”

So Inhofe’s citing the snowstorm is indeed both “invoking the local weather” and “confirmation bias.”  For more on the recent scientific literature, see “Research says big snow storms not inconsistent with “” and may be ampliflied by “” a warming planet.”

But then Zeller proceeds to jump the shark entirely:

Now, with record heat searing much of the planet from Minnesota to Moscow, people long concerned with global warming seem to be pointing out the window themselves.

“As Washington, D.C., wilts in the global heat wave gripping the planet, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has abandoned the effort to cap global warming pollution for the foreseeable future,” wrote Brad Johnson at the progressive Wonk Room blog, part of the Center for American Progress.

Brad’s point in that post — and I’ll excerpt his response at the end — is that there is a “global heat wave gripping the planet.”  He cites Gore pointing out “we’ve just experienced the hottest six months on record.”

The fact is that record smashing temperature globally does indeed provide evidence for human-caused global warming, particularly since it was predicted by climate scientists (see “NASA: The 12-month running mean global temperature has reached a new record in 2010.”  It’s all the more powerful evidence of human-caused warming “because it occurs when the recent minimum of solar irradiance is having its maximum cooling effect,” as a NASA notes.

But those facts would conflict with Zeller’s he-said/she-said narrative:

For people at either extreme “” that is, those alarmed by or dismissive of climate change “” the local weather isn’t going to have much influence, although they may use it conveniently to drive home a point.

Thank goodness now that Revkin is gone, there is someone at the New York Times to continue to push this fatally flawed narrative (see “NYT’s Revkin persists in selling spin from long-wrong deniers that the IPCC overestimates the danger from warming, when the reverse is true” and links here).

If you aren’t alarmed by the climate change we face on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse emissions, you simply are not reading the scientific literature or talking to leading climate scientists, which, for a journalist writing on this subject, is professional malpractice:

As an aside, if you’re a a member of the general public, its quite understandable why you wouldn’t be “alarmed” — since you are stuck getting most of your information on global warming from lazy journalists, from the status quo media, which failed utterly on climate change.

Berkeley economist Brad DeLong comments:

As I have said many times: the root problem is that the idea that his stories should inform rather than misinform readers about the world is simply not on Tom Zeller’s checklist of things that it should accomplish–or on the checklist of his editors. Which is why the sooner that he leaves journalism the better, and we hope to see him replaced by people who think their job is to tell people the truth–so that they can truthfully sum up: and that’s the way it is.

Again, Zeller knows the core scientific argument that eviscerates his entire narrative:

There is a not-insignificant caveat: Those pointing to hot weather as evidence of global warming are, in the broadest sense, more likely to be right. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado demonstrated last year that record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade.

That’s in keeping with most models of global warming, which predict not a steady climb in temperature, but higher average readings over time “” and more record-breaking peaks than valleys.

That, of course, is why I repeatedly cite the NCAR work and NOAA data to put the heat waves into a national and global context, something Zeller and the NYT refuses to do — see “As nation, Russia, and world swelter under record-smashing heat waves, The New York Times sets one-day record for most unilluminating stories,” which begins with this chart:

temp.records

On Friday, uber-meteorologist Jeff Masters showed how one can put everything into context:

At 4pm local time today in Moscow, Russia, the temperature surpassed 100°F for the first time in recorded history. The high temperature of 100.8°F (37.8°C) recorded at the Moscow Observatory, the official weather location for Moscow, beat Moscow’s previous record of 99.5°F (37.5°C), set just three days ago, on July 26. Prior to 2010, Moscow’s hottest temperature of all-time was 36.6°C (98.2°F), set in August, 1920. Records in Moscow go back to 1879. Baltschug, another official downtown Moscow weather site, hit an astonishing 102.2°F (39.0°C) today. Finland also recorded its hottest temperature in its history today, when the mercury hit 99°F (37.2°C) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jvaskyla on July 9, 1914….

Finland’s new national heat record makes it the fourteenth country (or semi-independent territory) to break an all-time hottest temperature record this year. My source for extreme temperature records is Chris Burt, author of the book Extreme Weather. July in Moscow is easily going to smash the record for hottest month in Moscow’s history. By my rough estimate, the temperature has been 18°F (10°C) above average this month. The record hottest July, in 1938, had temperatures 5.3°C above average. Given that the planet as a whole has seen record high temperatures the past four months in a row, it should not be a surprise to see unprecedented heat waves like the Russian heat wave. A record warm planet “loads the dice” in favor of regional heat waves more extreme than anything experienced in recorded history.

You can read that Masters post for the list, but it keeps growing, as he reported today:

The island of Cyprus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 1, 2010 when the mercury hit 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Lefconica. The old record for Cyprus was 44.4°C (111.9°F) at Lefkosia in August 1956….

The year 2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen. There has been one country that has recorded its coldest temperature on record in 2010; see my post last week for a list of the 2010 records. My source for extreme weather records is the excellent book Extreme Weather by Chris Burt.

Brad Johnson replies to Zeller at Wonk Room, “The World Is Burning, And The New York Times Fiddles Inhofe’s Tune“:

This week, New York Times reporters noticed that the world is hot, but they keep their readers in the dark about the real story, a sad example of the decline of its climate coverage from earlier days. Even in stories about the increasingly catastrophic impacts of global warming, they ignore the scientific understanding of our climate system and the deadly influence of fossil fuel pollution. In Thursday’s “From Fires to Fish, Heat Wave Batters Russia,” investigative reporter Clifford Levy describes the devastation of a superheated Russia:

Much of Russia has been reeling. Forest fires have erupted. Drought has ruined millions of acres of wheat. More than 2,000 people have died from drowning in rivers, reservoirs and elsewhere in July and June, often after seeking relief from the heat while intoxicated. In Moscow alone, the number of such deaths has tripled in comparison with last year, officials said.

In “Fires and Storms Kill at Least 28 in Russia,” Russian correspondent Andrew Kramer at least notes that the record heat in the largest country on earth is part of an even larger geographic trend: “Russia, like much of the Northern Hemisphere, has been baking in a heat wave this summer.” Other stories about record-breaking climate disasters abound: “Floods in Pakistan Kill at Least 1,000,” write Salman Masood and Adam B. Ellick, caused by “record-breaking rainfall.” “Iowa Dam Ruptures Under Torrential Rain,” Christina Cappecchi files. In “Water Vendors Profit From the Heat,” Sam Dolnick describes “July’s historic heat wave” in New York. At no point do any of the writers mention the existence of global warming, or that it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

In the case of the Russian heat wave, we’re talking about a record, destructive, continent-wide climate event within the context of record destructive heat waves across the northern hemisphere “” in North America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe “” within the context of global warming during a solar minimum. And we’re not just seeing heat waves, but the full suite of climatic changes linked to the increase of heat trapped in the climate system, as the other stories demonstrate “” more extreme precipitation, intensified droughts, shifts in seasons, fiercer storms, more frequent extreme floods.

But these are just reports on the ground “” not mentioning the context of global warming is merely a sin of omission. The toxic reporting this week is from New York Times green editor Tom Zeller Jr, who kills the nation’s collective brain cells in the Week in Review piece, “Is It Hot in Here? Must Be Global Warming.”

In the article, Zeller accuses yours truly of the “absurd” crime of “invoking the local weather” to declare the “debate over climate change” over, comparing my mention of the record-breaking “global heat wave” as the Senate gave up on climate reform to Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) warming-denial igloo, constructed during a record-breaking snow storm in Washington, D.C. this past winter.

Zeller’s comparison is based on the fatuously false premise that there is a legitimate “debate about climate change.” Inhofe tried to overturn a decades-long mountain of scientific understanding with an event entirely consistent with climate change “” as I pointed out in this blog at the time. Zeller buries the truth in the sixteenth paragraph:

There is a not-insignificant caveat: Those pointing to hot weather as evidence of global warming are, in the broadest sense, more likely to be right.

If Zeller had wanted to enlighten his readership instead of feeding them manure, he could have written that scientists cannot explain the global accumulation of heat waves and changes in weather patterns that the planet is seeing without the man-made accumulation of greenhouse gases. As the years go by, we live in an increasingly manufactured climate. At first our suicidal path was unintentional, but now it’s by choice. The scientific understanding that fossil-fuel burning would change the climate has been well established for decades now “” the real reason people like me are “more likely to be right.”

52 Responses to Masters: “2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen”

  1. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe wrote: “If Zeller had wanted to enlighten his readership instead of feeding them manure …”

    Then the NYT’s editors would never have printed his article and he probably would have been fired.

  2. Andy says:

    Inhofe was pointing his finger at Washington DC’s weather. Al Gore was pointing his finger at the entire world. The reporter here is an idiot.

    Unlike regional weather, the global average temperature is extremely steady, which is why the increase observed over especially the last 30 years is significant.

  3. Mark says:

    I talked to my Dad yesterday, who noted that grain prices have recently rallied strongly (he farms), and said that it appears to be a response to crop failure in Russia due to the heat wave.

    He said that it was a shame it took a crop failure somewhere to get decent prices for his crops.

    I said I hoped that the crop failures don’t become just regional.

  4. Mark says:

    I mean to write “more than just regional” in the preceding post.

  5. Lore says:

    It’s absurd, that at this point in time, we are still getting drawn into a perennial argument as to the existence of global warming, while the MSM, political and casual disinformers set by and play stooge to their corporate puppeteers. There may be some similarities here with the tobacco industry’s shameful debate and stall tactics of the past century, but the game here is far more dangerous then a generational loss or two of health and wellbeing. Unfortunately when it becomes painfully obvious that these purveyors of deceit are shown to be woefully wrong the day of reckoning will fall on all our heads. Meanwhile the clock is running out.

    Paul Revere was an alarmist; I’m in good company.

  6. PurpleOzone says:

    Pakistan’s rainfall is horrendous. Over 20″ in parts. Bridges out, reports ALL bridges out in a region. Landslides. Mud houses collapsed. Unable to get to people stranded on roofs. More huge rain expected in a day or two.

    The flood waters are moving into the Indus; to be 10 times it’s normal flow, large low-lying areas in many cities downstream to be flooded.

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    Convey BENEFICIAL UNDERSTANDING That You Yourself Would Want To Have

    People in the news media (newspapers, TV news, etc.) should identify, and always keep in mind, the UNDERSTANDING that THEY would want to have about climate change, as HUMANS, in order to make wise choices in their own best interests and in the interests of their children, communities, future generations, and so forth. The writers and editors and owners should imagine themselves as not understanding much of anything about the problem, and then ask themselves what would be vitally important for them TO UNDERSTAND in order to prepare and enable them to make wise choices — e.g., choices ultimately involving which policies to support, what personal actions to take, who to vote for, and so forth.

    In other words, what genuine UNDERSTANDING would the public need to have in order to understand the situation and to make real and well-informed choices to secure its own future well being?

    THAT is the UNDERSTANDING that the news media should endeavor to convey, in its overall coverage, without fail. The special point, or special role, of journalism and the news media — presumably — is to serve the public good and help the public actually achieve its own good.

    It is a simple concept, if you think about it. This aim is NOT the same as aiming to titillate the public, nor is it the same as the aim to maximize advertising revenues, many of which come from advertisers who might not be entirely happy if the central aim of journalism is achieved.

    Also, the word UNDERSTANDING is important, which is why I CAP it several times. Understanding is not merely “information”. By this I mean that a genuine understanding of a situation, and of potential solutions to it, includes a deep and digested appreciation for the importance of the situation, the relevance of the situation to life, the nature and key factors involved in the situation, the benefits of addressing the situation, the genuine risks and costs of not addressing the situation, the best solutions to the situation, and so forth. The news media should convey UNDERSTANDING, not mere words. The ultimate measure of success and effectiveness is the public’s actual achievement of its own good — that is, the public good — NOT the number of articles written, the number of awards given by journalism organizations, or the number of pats on the back one gives oneself. Nor is the measure of success and effectiveness merely how “hard” one works. Andy Revkin has undoubtedly worked very hard for two decades or more. The recent attempt at climate legislation fell completely dead, and (as it seems) the battle wasn’t even all that close. Do you see the difference between these measures?

    UNDERSTANDING, of course, is conveyed by the entire “whole” of climate coverage — i.e., all factors — i.e., headlines, placement, frequency, what’s covered, what’s not covered, the accuracy and quality of articles, the focus on real understanding as opposed to an emphasis on “he said, she said”, the use of diagrams, and on and on and on.

    This all makes me wonder: Do the news media understand the importance of their role, and indeed the role they claim to have for themselves, and often brag about? Or not? And, do the news media understand the difference between UNDERSTANDING that an audience actually gains and the “words” that the news media print? Do the news media see the differences between the several aims mentioned above? Do the news media understand how humans receive information, and digest it (or not), and what sorts of communications practices and tactics and talents go into coverage aimed at conveying genuine UNDERSTANDING effectively?

    Do the news media understand their presumed and necessary and vital role, and do the news media understand how to competently and effectively fulfill that role? Those are the questions. The answers, so far, seem to be “no”.

    I am looking forward to Andy’s open letter to the news media and to journalists.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  8. Colorado Bob says:

    Mark –
    I linked a story from Bloomberg last night on wheat prices , buried near the bottom , was a report that the Canadians are forecasting a 17% drop in their crop due to wet conditions. Another one from China reporting on the Russian situation
    quoted a number as high as a 40% loss in Russia. The Russians themselves are saying 20%. Given that the Russians are refusing to say how many are dieing from the heat due to heat stroke , and the historical Russian hiding of bad news of any kind, I’m guessing wheat is going higher as the speculators pile in to the market, and the losses mount in Russia.

  9. Are any of the fifteen in ’07 the same as any of the ones in ’10? If so, this year has the most standing records.

    In any case I’d be curious to see both lists.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    34 dead in the fires in Russia , note this latest from the Guardian is an example of what I’ve noticed about this story …… 34 dead from fire , 2,000 dead from drowning ( drunk or otherwise ) …….. But no one has died from heat stroke in a country that has very little air conditioning, and lots of old people.
    —————
    Moscow was veiled in acrid smoke from such fires this morning as landmarks disappeared from view and commuters clutched handkerchiefs to their faces. A new temperature record of 38C was set in the capital last Thursday and meteorologists expect it will be surpassed this week as the heatwave continues.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/02/russia-heatwave-wildfires-deaths

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Mike @ 10 –
    Good question.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    The Black Saturday report –

    ” The commission found that the response “faltered because of confusion about responsibilities and accountabilities and some important deficiencies of leadership.”

    No single agency took charge of the emergency and the chain of command was unclear, with leadership “wanting”, particularly from the then-police commissioner Christine Nixon, who went out to dinner as the disaster reached its peak, the inquiry said.

    “When considered collectively, the problems illustrate systemic failings,” it said.

    Widespread problems with radios and telephones made it difficult to track the response and at times “conditions were chaotic on the fireground,” it said.

    Warnings to communities were too vague and in some cases far too late, and there was inadequate evacuation or provision of shelters and refuges for those in the fire’s path, with evacuations described as “ad hoc”. ”

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Inquiry_slams_systemic_failings_in_killer_Australia_fires_999.html

    ———–
    This section can be cut and pasted into a lot of reports, past present, and future.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    Forecast for Northern Arctic Coast

    Today
    Mostly cloudy. Areas of fog. Highs 55 to 70. West winds 30 to 45 mph.
    Tuesday
    Mostly sunny. Highs 55 to 70. West winds 20 to 30 mph.
    Wednesday
    Partly cloudy. Highs 55 to 70. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

    Normal at Barrow is 46 for this date , yesterday it was 58

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=99723#History

  14. neot says:

    Instead of venting here as I am sure many feel compelled to do, why not compose a letter to the Times and explain why their coverage fails so disastrously?

    The public editor is an ombudsman of sorts:
    public@nytimes.com or call (212) 556-7652.

    Letters to the editor:
    letters@nytimes.com

    To report errors and ommissions in coverage:
    nytnews@nytimes.com

    Send an email to Zeller:
    http://nyti.ms/cE395G

    And while your writing, contact your senators too!

    [JR: Can’t hurt. In the case of the NYT, it is a lost cause I fear.]

  15. cervantes says:

    The NYT resolutely refuses to print letters that directly criticize reporting that appears in its pages. As for the “Public Editor” — Hah!

    His job is to waste your time and energy. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    The forecast for Murmansk, Russia calls for 80 F degrees Saturday .

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=68.78166962,32.74666595

    The forecast for Vladivostok, Russia calls for 86 F degrees Saturday

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=vladivostok%20russia&wuSelect=WEATHER#History

    —————-

    I bring all this up because I’m really concerned about the amount of permafrost that is melting this season . Given what we’ve seen with the length of the Russian heat , and considering what happen on Baffin Island 2 years ago in a 2 week period of heat.

    http://studentsonice.com/blog/general/auyuittuq-national-park-experiences-record-breaking-warmth/

  17. Jeff Huggins says:

    Can’t Hurt — and neot’s Comment 15

    Following up on neot’s Comment 15 and on Joe’s response …

    I would be happy to take a cut at drafting a guest post — an open letter to The New York Times — to lay out, very clearly, the problems with their approach and coverage of climate change. Of course, such a (proposed) guest post would be subject to Joe’s approval, sensibility, and so forth, as always. I think I can do it clearly and concretely, within a reasonable amount of text.

    It would probably take me a couple weeks to draft — given other priorities I also have — but (now that the Senate has given up, for now) there doesn’t seem to be any pressing reason why such a piece would have to run any sooner than that.

    In any case, please let me know, Joe. I’d be glad to draft such a piece, for your consideration.

    Cheers for now,

    Jeff

  18. MapleLeaf says:

    Dr. Romm,

    Great piece, my only critique is that it could have perhaps been a little more constructive? That said, I fully understand why your patience has worn so thin. Perhaps this and other recent manglings by the US media are a sign of hope. Maybe, just maybe the journos are actually waking up to the truth and trying for once– they are still mangling it, but maybe it will take them time to spin-up and get up to speed?

    What does one do? Is Zeller even aware of his errors? I’m curious, have you (Dr. Romm) directly emailed Zeller and provided some constructive critique on his piece? Maybe it is a waste of time, but one never knows…..

    As for the number of extreme heat records in the US, I’m sure that by the time 2010 is over the number of extreme heat records will be higher than in 2007.

    Do any of the records take into account the Heat Index? Surely those records are also being broken…? Dr. Masters??

    PS: For those readers considering emailing Mr. Zeller. Someone very wisely pointed out to me that when critiquing someone on their writing, it is best to open with a pleasant tone and first compliment them on some aspect of their writing (for example, point out how happy you are that they are covering the heat waves) before getting to the critique. Starting with complaints and insults (period) is not effective. So be polite, constructive and stick to the facts.

    [JR: The error is the framing, which is to say the entire construction of the article. It can’t be fixed with a correction.

    Readers know I have probably spent as much time time as anybody on the planet pointing out the errors in NY Times (and media) coverage of this issue. For a while, I urged readers to write a letter to the paper or the ombudsman, but I can’t say that it is a worthwhile use of anyone’s time.

    Some reporters who read this blog have occasionally fixed some of the direct errors in their pieces — but they don’t change the framing or withdraw the piece even though its intellectual content has been eviscerated.

    DeLong seems to suggest this is a pattern for Zeller. I’ll ask Brad about that. I’ll leave direct emails to Zeller to others.]

  19. paulm says:

    Lovelock’s world materializes …..
    China, Pakistan, Russia….etc etc.

    We’re at .8C with 2C in the pipeline….and still US cant pass a Climate Bill…
    Almost time to declare a state of emergency.

  20. Leif says:

    Colorado Bob, @9, states: “… I’m guessing wheat is going higher as the speculators pile in to the market, and the losses mount in Russia.”

    Is it a sensible society in which rich people can make tons of money on other peoples’ misery, even death?

    Welcome to corporate and capitalistic America.
    Of the Rich, by the Rich and for the Rich!
    With unwitting help from the Tea Bag faction.

  21. PSU Grad says:

    May I play devil’s advocate for a minute? What, exactly, is wrong with this statement…”In any debate over climate change, conventional wisdom holds that there is no reflex more absurd than invoking the local weather.”?

    It IS absurd. Yes, I understand the concept of confirmation bias. As an example, a local “manufacturer’s association” had post after post about climate change last February. We all remember last February right? Lots of snow, not so much with the record cold temps (though they were below normal for most of February in this region). They even posted on Lake Erie freezing over, as though THAT hasn’t happened before (what do they think stops lake effect snow, sunspots?).

    But what’s happening now? Record high temps (again, regional) in July. NOAA releasing a report last week showing the Earth is warming. And what do we hear from this same organization? Crickets.

    What’s my point? They have now boxed themselves in to an untenable position. They’ve now forfeited the right to credibly (that’s important) use the local weather to get on their horse about climate change. If non-record low regional temps in February were a big deal, why not record high regional temps in July? Why not a NOAA report showing the world warming? If temps again go below normal again next winter, and they make a big deal of it, they’ve opened themselves up to the charge of selective concern with the corresponding lack of credibility. And I think it’s a charge that can stick.

    I don’t want those relying on the science to create the same box. It’s now clear that the science is coming through in remarkable fashion, to the point where it may be TOO conservative (things happening earlier than anticipated).

    Can the NY Times coverage improve? Yes, absolutely. But keep to the high ground, because I’m almost certain it will pay off in the end.

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    The Danes anomalies shot for today

    SST analysis from satellite observations
    Plots and animations for the last 30 days

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/satellite/index.uk.php

  23. Gord says:

    Interesting comments above.

    We have been absolutely astonished this week with the release in Nature of the work done on Phytoplankton. There are many things that are occurring now that will impact humanity. But I can think of nothing that will have a more deadly and immediate consequences than killing the thermodynamic base for life in the oceans. 40% gone since 1950s and 1% down per year with about 0.7 degrees C over baseline. We have enough CO2 in the pipe to give us at least 1 C more over baseline (100 % confidence level). So what kill rate percentage per year will 1.7 C over baseline give us?

    So why am I concerned about these little plants you need a microscope to see?

    Without them the oceans will die … or more correctly the oceans will be inhabited with life we can’t use as a food source and which may even be toxic to us. And further, the oceans may give off gases that are toxic to us. Those ocean cruises in sealed vessels will be a real treat. “Please put on your life jacket and don’t forget your oxygen mask and hazmat suit!!”

    In short, if they go …. we go.

    For those interested take a look via Google at various mass deaths of sea creatures where, upon examination, it was determined that they died of starvation. Keep an eye on it for the next few years. These kinds of deaths will spike when the Phytoplankton reach critical levels in various parts of the world.

    Google “penguins falklands death starvation” and you get some idea of the problem as it appears today off the south-east coast of South America.

    This all reminds me of John Donne,

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…”

    The bell is now tolling for Mankind’s death.

    Absolutely incredible that it has come to this …

  24. Richard Brenne says:

    This is a great rebuttal, Joe, with the usual great comments.

    Our problems are cumulative. It is likely all the use of pesticides that is contributing greatly to the colony collapse disorder of honeybees, the cumulative pollution that creates the ozone that is killing all trees and plant life that Gail (Wit’s End) alerts us to, and it is the cumulative burning of all fossil fuels that has so dangerously spiked CO2.

    Similarly, it is all the cumulative denial in all mediums like this one that creates Zeller’s willfully and wantonly ridiculous and stupid reporting. He knows much of his audience is in denial and he is pandering to them, and he knows more whining spoiled brats are on the right and he’d get ten times as many angry comments from the right if he wrote the truth than he’ll get from writing these lies.

    Joe is doing everything he can think of to counter this, and each of us needs to do the same also.

    Recently I gave a talk to a group of astronomers about climate change. I created a character observing Earth from another dimension and gave a report explaining the Fermi Paradox, that the reason our radio receivers don’t hear from anyone is because the technological base used to send radio signals would likely come from burning fossil fuels and that invariably changes their planet’s atmosphere to the point where at the very least the civilization that could send radio signals collapses, and we’re much less likely to hear from someone sending radio signals over hundreds of years than millions.

    During this talk when I brought up “Your IPCC Report” and someone in the front row scoffed at the very mention of the IPCC, I said “The IPCC Report is the greatest scientific work the greatest collection of scientists have ever put together on your planet. If you’re going to scoff at that, then you don’t believe in science, and if you don’t believe in science, you don’t belong in an audience of astronomers.”

    Not only could you hear a pin drop, you could hear the sleeve rustling preparing to drop the pin. This is an example of how strong we need to be in our statements. We have Joe Romm, but we each need to be, in our own voices, Joe Romms.

    And by the way, what we’re seeing this year is just the beginning. As Joe and I say many times, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The reason the smoking-cancer link gained traction despite the tobacco-industry’s evil disinformation campaign (their profits literally meant and mean more to them than the lives of all their customers – maybe in hell they’ll be the smokers) is that most people knew someone, often a close relative, who had died of a smoking-created disease.

    Soon most of us will know someone strongly impacted by climate change (for instance Joe’s passion began when his brother lost his home in Katrina). We need to do all we can now and all we can then to communicate what we know to be true, and hope and pray (for those so inclined) it has some impact.

  25. Colorado Bob says:

    The Sun wakes up –

    Nasa scientists braced for ‘solar tsunami’ to hit earth
    The earth could be hit by a wave of violent space weather as early as Tuesday after a massive explosion of the sun, scientists have warned.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7923069/Nasa-scientists-braced-for-solar-tsunami-to-hit-earth.html

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Astronomers from all over the world witnessed the huge flare above a giant sunspot the size of the Earth, which they linked to an even larger eruption across the surface of Sun.

    Photo of spotty Sunflare http://www.spaceweather.com/submissions/large_image_popup.php?image_name=Oleg-Toumilovitch-IMG_4611b-wallpaper_1280648784.jpg

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate Denial Crock of the Week – Heatwave Edition Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLnJttkhDTM&feature=youtu.be

  28. Ani says:

    Just checked the spaceweather site. I didn’t see anything about the flare. It looked like there was only one decent sized sunspot. Still looks like a solar min to me. Solar flares of course still happen but doesn’t look like the sun woke up. Maybe just having a bad dream. Anyway keep the blogs coming. Stick to science and the truth and the message will get across to the majority eventually,just hope in time. We will always have some disinformers but that’s just part of life.

  29. Doug Bostrom says:

    PurpleOzone:
    The flood waters are moving into the Indus; to be 10 times it’s normal flow, large low-lying areas in many cities downstream to be flooded.

    I’ve been following the Pakistan story (Hello NY Times? Not worth an above-the-fold mention, given other factors in Pakistan?) and I’d quite missed the notion that of course that blob of water is heading for other parts. Good point.

  30. Peter Mizla says:

    Funny how those who once denounced Global warming as a media campaign -like in Russia, changed their tune when the ravages of climate change hit their country with such ferocity- my question is -whos next?

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2008081,00.html

  31. Jeff, if Joe won’t run it I would be happy to give you a guest posting at my blog. My technorati ranking is 1555 vs Joe’s 133, but climate folks do tend to notice when I have something interesting up. I’ve really appreciated your postings on the subject of the press and especially the NY Times here, and I share your and Joe’s frustration.

    http://technorati.com/search?return=sites&authority=all&q=initforthegold

    [JR: MT, you are coming up in the world. Of course I’d love to see what Jeff puts together, especially since I’m going on ‘vacation’ for two weeks and could always use guest posts.]

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Will Russia’s Heat Wave End Its Global Warming Skepticism?

    Medvedev has not been the only one in Russia to link the ongoing heat wave to climate change. On Monday, Alexei Lyakhov, the head of the Moscow’s Meteorological Center told TIME that it was “clearly part of a global phenomenon” that is hitting Russia.

    Now that Medvedev is also acknowledging the effects of climate change, Russia’s official line could start to change on the subject, Chuprov says. But he warns that convincing the public of the threat from global warming may be difficult. “The status quo can change quickly in the minds of bureaucrats if the leadership gives the signal. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2008081,00.html

  33. Jeffrey Davis says:

    I believe the last 12 months have been the warmest 12 months on record. No need to reach for exotic statistics.

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev, as well as local officials, have been attacked by bloggers and Internet media sites, which are reporting that fire departments are grossly under-equipped.

    Yet Mr. Putin and the Kremlin have been able to turn such attacks to their advantage. Last week, as the fires spun out of control, Mr. Putin said that local officials who had failed to take the necessary fire prevention measures should resign. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/world/europe/03iht-russia.html

  35. The Wonderer says:

    With record global temperatures and so many weather anomalies, this should be a teachable moment. Instead, newspapers are dropping the ball and the general public is at best, confused as ever.

    By next year, we’ll start all over with “global warming stopped in 2010” etc. I despair. When will the worm turn? What will it take for the gravity of the situation to overcome the gravity of short-sighted interests?

  36. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    The Wonderer at 37 –

    “What will it take for the gravity of the situation to overcome the gravity of short-sighted interests?”

    Leadership –

    – speaking from a platform that cannot be ignored;

    – affirming unequivocally the scientific case for action;

    – then making the moral case for emergency action adamantly.

    Getting to the point where that speech is made requires various things we still don’t have after twenty years campaigning.

    For instance, every major successful civil campaign has its music – and particularly its anthems –

    e.g., Country Joe & the Fish played a critical role in rousing implacable resistance against US aggression in Vietnam –

    So where are their successors ? How can they be encouraged ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  37. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Every morning I wake-up and I brush my teeth, and sharpen my tongue. “

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    “Four be the things I’d have been better without: love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.”

  39. Colorado Bob says:

    I watched Book TV this past weekend , and the program on the “Merchants of Doubt ” .
    I took away one thing , because I knew everything else. If not in the front of my brain , certainly in the Lizard part of it.

    That one thing is we need a PR firm. Exxon has one, Hansen doesn’t.

    That boys and girls is the basic difference.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    “we need a PR firm”

    No, we need a law firm and a task force or call it war room.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    Before the 1st World War propaganda was not a dirty word. It was a word that described how one got their message out . We need a great deal of propaganda .

    Exxon understands this completey, that’s why they have a 50 year head start.

  42. Colorado Bob says:

    Prokaryotes –

    Your lawyers will die in the wilderness , if the world doesn’t hear about them.

  43. Colorado Bob says:

    I’m a trained artist, which means I’m a trained observer of things. Trust me, when one of the guys who wrote the ” Merchants of Doubt” says we need a PR firm, he ain’t shootin’ blanks.

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    The time is for climate action nothing less. Change in the energy system.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    “The threat to biodiversity is much, much, much worse than most people understand,” said Michael Rosenzweig, director of UA’s Tumamoc: People & Habitats and of its Alliance for Reconciliation Ecology. “No species is safe from extinction.”

    His research shows that without intervention, the number of species the planet can support in the long term has declined more than 90 percent in the last century. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-08/uoa-ret073010.php

  46. Colorado Bob says:

    One of my close friends taught art lessons to Michael Jackson. He’s going to go that pile of rubble that we know as Gary Indiana, this month to remember his friend. He never quit is his friend, and I never quit him . When he gets back, I’m going to ask him for his help. Trust me, we don’t shoot blanks.

    I have never asked David for anything , except for a place to sleep.

    This guy invented the 60’s poster business before there was a 60’s poster business.

    What David says will change our game.

  47. Peter Mizla says:

    #37 The Wonderer

    The News Media is reporting some of the weather anomalies- The Russian Drama, the Heat in the USA and the floods in Pakistan. What they are failing to do is remind their listeners is that these events ‘can be’ attributed to climate change.

    The media has not made that leap as of yet becasue they are paid by many corporations who supply ad $$$$…. they have to refrain from mentioning ‘climate change or Global warming’….

    As the decade moves on, the climate anomalies will likely become more extreme (making those seen this year tame) The media no matter how much they are muzzled will find it increasingly difficult not inform an increasingly edgy public.

    That day will be like Walter Cronkite in Vietnam saying how the public was being’ mislead’ When this day comes it will radically change everything.

  48. PSU Grad says:

    Speaking of the NY Times, here’s a review of two books. Interesting article title “Warming Is Real. Now What?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/books/03book.html?_r=1&hpw

  49. Timeslayer says:

    “So, naturally, the NY Times is out with what would, for any other paper, be one of its worst climate stories ever, but which is just run-of-the-mill dreadful for the former paper of record (see here)?”

    Joe – Are you suggesting that other US newspapers actually do provide incisive, accurate coverage of climate change issues? Please name some if you can; I haven’t seen it. NY Times is awful but so are all the rest.

    Timeslayer

  50. Jeff Huggins says:

    Dear Michael (Comment 33) and Joe,

    Thanks for your comments. I’ll try to draft something in the next ten days to two weeks — possibly sooner — and then send it to both of you, for your consideration and also open to improvements you might suggest.

    Be Well, and Thanks Again,

    Jeff