Last week, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly promoted the conspiracy theories of a weatherman who believes “the globe is actually cooling.” O’Reilly’s guest, Accuweather meteorologist Joe Bastardi, scoffed at the connection between global warming and wildfires in California. Bastardi — who has an undergraduate degree in meteorology from 1978 and no other academic credentials — went so far as to claim that “global cooling is actually a cause of drought in California”:
I’m gonna show you the facts over the last two years. California has been very, very dry. Why is that the case? Well, whenever the Pacific Ocean starts cooling, and the global temperatures start to cool, California gets dry. You see this ocean temperature presentation, all this cold water off California means the air sinks over top of California. When it sinks, it dries out, so global cooling is actually a cause of drought in California, which by the way is a dry climate naturally.
The upswelling of cold waters in the eastern Pacific, known as La Nina events (the opposite of El Nino events), is certainly a factor in California’s epic drought and unprecedented wildfires. However, what Bastardi fails to mention is that temperatures have also been unusually warm during the present drought, despite the cold La Nina airmass:
California Temperatures During La Nina Droughts
Previous events during 1949, 1954, 1964, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1988, 1995, 1998
Bastardi’s claim of “global cooling” is completely unsubstantiated. Even with the upwelling of cold water during the La Nina cycle, average ocean temperatures during the “cool” years of 2006–2008 were higher than any year before 1997. It has been the warmest decade for both ocean and land temperatures in recorded history. This summer, the La Nina event was replaced by its counterpart, El Nino, and average sea surface temperatures are now at their highest in recorded history.
Bastardi also showed a graph he purported was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecast for global temperatures to “go up, up, up” against actual temperatures “over the last 10 years” supposedly “coming down”:
Fake IPCC Chart Claims ‘Global Cooling’This graph is from a climate denier conspiracy website, The Next Ice Age Now, whose proprietor Robert Felix believes global warming is actually caused by “underwater volcanism.” The graph cites SPPI — the Science and Public Policy Institute, a fringe climate denier organization. Actual IPCC estimates find measured temperatures over the past decade to be well within the range of the forecasts. Furthermore, the Ice Age Now chart begins in 2001 — not “ten years ago. Because 1999 and 2000 were relatively cool years for this decade (though extremely warm historically), their inclusion in the denier chart would have ruined the “global cooling” claim. Bastardi, like other fringe deniers, is seeing patterns that aren’t there.
In July, O’Reilly mocked “hard core right-wingers who don’t believe in global warming even though the temperature shows that the earth has warmed in the last 30 years, three times faster than the previous hundred,” saying, “you don’t debate that.” Evidently, he’s changed his mind.
O’REILLY: Unresolved problems segment tonight. The Obama administration believes that climate change is a front line issue, that global warming must be addressed. That pleases groups like Greenpeace who are now saying the wildfires in California are spreading quicker because of climate change. We invited Greenpeace on. First they said, “Yeah, we will come on,” and suddenly changed their minds and ran away. Joining us from State College, PA is Accuweather guy Joe Bastardi, who thinks Greenpeace wildife theory is wrong. What is going on with Greenpeace? Why didn’t they show up tonight? And is there anything to their wildfire-spreading-quickly theory?
BASTARDI: I don’t want to disparage them. They have done some good things. In this case their house of cards goes up in smoke when you compare it to the foundation of fact. I’m gonna show you the facts over the last two years. California has been very, very dry. Why is that the case? Well, whenever the Pacific Ocean starts cooling, and the global temperatures start to cool, California gets dry. You see this ocean temperature presentation, all this cold water off California means the air sinks over top of California. When it sinks, it dries out, so global cooling is actually a cause of drought in California, which by the way is a dry climate naturally.
And to prove to you that the globe is actually cooling, if you look at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, their forecast was for temperatures to go up, up, up. Over the last 10 years you can see in an up and down manner they are coming down. So, there’s no question about the fact over at least the last 10 years it’s cooling.
O’REILLY: Okay. Why is the global warming movement so successful throughout the world?
BASTARDI: Well, I think people haven’t been confronted with the facts. You know, I don’t ask people to believe me. I ask people to go and arm themselves and build the facts for themselves. go look for the facts themselves. The biggest secret behind all of this is right up my alley with the tropics. You see, while the earth was supposed to be warming a little bit, the atmosphere over the tropics was supposed to really be warming up quite a bit. This is up to 30 to 50,000 feet. That would trap warmth underneath and what has actually been happening? Nada. And consequently, an inconvenient truth is tropical cyclone energy is down to record low levels not record high levels. You have to look globally.
O’REILLY: Your stats are very solid, which is why we put you on the program. But this big industry, and the president of the United States is on board on the industry, Al Gore has made $100 million from it. I don’t understand why so many people around the world just buy it. They just — like Greenpeace comes out and says okay, the California wildfires, terrible, are spreading faster because of global warming. You say that’s bull, that there is no science to back that up. I will submit to you, Joe, millions of people believe Greenpeace. They don’t even care about the data!
BASTARDI: Well, that’s a problem in society today. You’re a historian. You know the facts. You have to go back and look.
For instance, let’s take the hurricanes. Hurricanes are stronger now. Oh, is that so? How were we measuring hurricanes out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico back in 1920, 1930? When you look at a hurricane now, it’s like we have a patient tied to an IC unit. We’re constantly monitoring every single second. If you look at the strength of landfalling hurricanes, for instance, they’re no different than what they were 30, 40, 100 years ago. In fact the 1944 hurricane up along the Eastern seaboard — 600-mile-wide diameter of hurricane force winds — drove the boardwalk in Atlantic City back to Baltic Avenue.
The point of the matter is look at the history, look at the facts, go arm yourself, and then you make the call yourself.
O’REILLY: All right. That’s why Greenpeace didn’t come on the show. They knew you had the facts and they didn’t.
At Accuweather, Bastardi extends his comments:
Common sense dictates that a trace gas needed for life on the planet would not be the cause for destroying life on the planet. Common sense dictates that what has happened before without man can happen again with man. Common sense would dictate that you not believe me, or any one else, but go look for YOURSELF.