What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen, Climate Edition

In 1850 the famous French economist Fréderic Bastiat wrote a short essay titled "What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen."  The essay discusses what has come to be known as the "broken windows fallacy," that is, the idea that breaking windows really makes the world better off because of all the work that is generated for people to repair the windows.  Bastiat points out that the work to repair the windows may be "seen," but because the money gets diverted to that project, plenty of other things that might have been done -- and made someone better off -- remain undone.  Those things are the "unseen."  Overall the welfare of the people has been reduced.

It is not seen that, since our citizen has spent six francs for one thing [repairing the window], he will not be able to spend them for another. It is not seen that if he had not had a windowpane to replace, he would have replaced, for example, his worn-out shoes or added another book to his library. In brief, he would have put his six francs to some use or other for which he will not now have them. 

Over in the world of climate reporting, what is seen is the constant drumbeat of articles about the "hottest" day/month/year ever.  You have seen lots of those over the past year.  Quick, now, when was the last one?  Unless you follow this closely, you very likely won't know.  And, can you think of seeing any recent article revealing that some recent period was not the hottest day/month/year/whatever?  Neither can I.  That's the "unseen."  You can be forgiven for coming away with the impression that things just keep getting hotter and hotter.

For considerations of brevity, I'll leave out the first half of last year, and start in July.  The New York Times headline on July 9 was "Record High Temperatures in the First Six Months of the Year."   (Accompanied by a picture of a house engulfed in flames, of course.)

The average temperature across the contiguous United States for the first six months of this year has been the warmest on record — and by a considerable sum — dating back to 1895, according to a monthly report released Monday by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Then, on August 8, it was this:  "What Cornfields Show, Data Now Confirm: July Set Mark as U.S.'s Hottest Month."   Of course, they are explicit in making sure you know to draw the conclusion that the succession of "hottest" months proves the underlying trend toward catastrophe:

It may come as little surprise to the nation’s corn farmers or resort operators, but the official statistics are in: July was the hottest month in the lower 48 states since the government began keeping temperature records in 1895. . . .  “This clearly shows a longer-term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month,” Mr. Crouch [climatologist at NCDC] said.

And, on September 12, "August Ties July for Hottest Month on Record."  

It just keeps getting hotter.  August has tied July for the distinction of being the hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880, NASA said in a news release on Monday.

Notice that this series of articles was in turn driven by a comparable series of press releases issued by the government propagandists.

And then, when were the next articles?  October, November, December?  Try to find them.  On January 18, we get "Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year":  

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014.

OK, but was there anything that happened to temperatures toward the end of the year that you'd like to tell us about?  Nothing that you can find here.

And then, somehow, all these press releases and follow-on articles just disappeared.  Any guesses as to what might be happening?  Perhaps we should just go and check in on the satellite temperature data set over this period:

Aha!  The global lower atmosphere temperature has dropped a full .56 deg C (that's almost exactly one full degree F) since its peak in February 2016.  Do you think that any of these people would have the common decency to openly admit that fact and discuss it honestly?  Don't kid yourself.