Before moving on from this business of July 2019 supposedly being the “hottest month ever,” I want to pause to take note of some follow-on propaganda fresh out of the Washington Post.
A week ago today, on August 13, the Post published a lengthy “climate” piece with the scary headline “2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT: Extreme climate change has arrived in America.” The piece is several thousand words long and carries the by-lines of the entire Post climate propaganda team: Steven Mufson, Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin and John Muyskens. The gist is that “extreme” climate change — defined here as increase in annual mean temperature exceeding 2 deg C over some year in the past — has now been observed in certain areas of the United States. Not the whole U.S., mind you, but only certain areas — and not very large areas at that. Excerpt:
“These winters do not exist anymore," says Marty Kane, a lawyer and head of the Lake Hopatcong [NJ] Foundation. . . . [A] century of climbing temperatures has changed the character of the Garden State. The massive ice industry and skate sailing association are but black-and-white photographs at the local museum. . . . New Jersey may seem an unlikely place to measure climate change, but it is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.
Before getting into more details of this article, let me first turn to how the Post chose to use the article in its editorial section. On Sunday, August 18, the Post had an unsigned editorial with the headline “Global warming is already here. Denying it is unforgivable.” The basic idea here is to use the definitive reporting of the Post’s crack team to scare the readers and to bash President Trump:
GLOBAL WARMING is already here, striking substantial regions of the United States with increasing severity. That is the upshot of an exhaustive Post investigation in which Steven Mufson, Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin and John Muyskens analyzed decades of local temperature records and identified a variety of hot spots where warming has proceeded more quickly. . . . The warming will continue. Humanity has steadily shifted the chemistry of the atmosphere, in ways that could not be reversed quickly even if rational policy were being implemented. The carbon dioxide that emerges from smokestacks and tailpipes lingers in the air for decades. All the more reason to change behavior now. Yet, whether for political advantage or out of sheer pigheadedness or both, President Trump continues to deny and ignore reality. It is beyond unforgivable.
Yes, our President acts out of “sheer pigheadedness” and “continues to deny and ignore reality.” Anybody with half a brain could tell that from reading the Post’s definitive reporting.
Or could they? For starters, the Post states that they have relied for their analysis on temperature data from NOAA:
A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.
But aren’t those the very data that, as discussed in Parts XXIV and XXV of this series, have been substantially adjusted to cool earlier-year temperatures? Yes they are; but you won’t find one word about that subject in this article. And exactly how much are those adjustments quantitatively for any of the stations discussed in the piece? Again, you won’t find one word about that here.
So, do they give you a link to the source of the data and a guide to what they did so that you can check on how they got their results? At first glance, they seem to, but try to follow what they have done and I guarantee you that you will get nowhere. The link they provide is called (by them) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Divisional Database. There are many follow-on links on that page to various data broken down by state or region, but how have they gotten down to particular towns (e.g., Lake Hopatcong, NJ). Here’s the explanation:
To make the maps, we applied the same linear regression method for annual average temperatures to NOAA's Gridded 5km GHCN-Daily Temperature and Precipitation Dataset (nClimGrid), which is the basis for nClimDiv. For mapping purposes, the resolution of the data was increased using bilinear interpolation.
Aha! It’s the magic of “bilinear interpolation.” With 100% certainty, no one will be able to replicate what they have done. And of course, once again nothing on the NOAA page that is provided says anything about the adjustments that have been made to the data.
And then there’s the Post’s map of places where the temperature has supposedly gone up so dramatically. The dark reds are the places where the temperature has supposedly gone up more than 2 deg C:
OK, a couple of questions:
The areas of 2+ deg C increased temperatures seem rather small — indeed smaller in aggregate than the broad swath of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia that has actually cooled. Are we to believe that the increase in CO2 concentration of the atmosphere from 0.03% to 0.04% acts only in these concentrated pockets? That’s rather implausible.
Two of the pockets of warming are the two largest metropolitan agglomerations in the country, New York and Los Angeles. Could urban heat island effects have anything to do with this? The Post provides no discussion of that, of course. (And why no comparable hotspots in Chicago, Houston or Atlanta? Maybe they adjusted those away — you have no way of knowing.)
Going through the data they have linked to, I try to find the closest thing I can to what they have done. There is a function for producing a temperature record for a state (but not a town like Lake Hopatcong or New York City) from 1895 to 2018. Let’s try New York State:
What? That’s not very scary! Granted, there were a few recent years where the average temperature (indicated by the blue series) got up as much as about 5 deg F (2.8C) above the long term average of 45; but then the temperature dropped right back down and ends right about where it began on (or just above) the 45 deg F line. I guess we just aren’t doing the right “bilinear interpolation” — or something like that.
Looks to me like this whole effort by the Post is a total bust. But then, I’m the first to admit that I am “beyond unforgivable.”