What I want to do in this final post is highlight the one theme which runs throughout ‘Climate Change – The Facts’ from beginning to end, the notion that climate change is here, right now and adversely affecting people across the globe. Climate change propagandists have long been faced with the dilemma of how to communicate the supposed danger which climate change poses and the supposed urgency of the need for mitigation policy when, in actual fact, the world has only warmed by about 1 degree Celsius on average since 1850 and, according to satellite data, has been warming at a steady, non accelerating average rate of 0.13C per decade since 1979?
They’ve tried melting glaciers, melting polar sea-ice, disappearing polar bears and penguins, tragic walrus cliff falls (Attenborough narrated that nonsense too), insect apocalypses, sinking islands, mass bleaching and death of coral reefs, even shrinking Chamois deer, plus any number of other increasingly ludicrous scare stories propagated by activists, scientists and the global media, all to limited effect, because basically, most of them lack hard evidence, have been exaggerated, wrongly attributed to anthropogenic climate change, or have been comprehensively debunked by sceptics. So they’ve turned to the weather. The latest wheeze is a disingenuous, deceptive, poorly evidenced and scientifically dubious attempt to link specific extreme weather events which have caused mass death and destruction to ‘ongoing climate change’. Peter Stott of the Met Office pioneered this approach in 2003 when he ‘attributed’ the European heatwave of that year to climate change. Extreme weather attribution was born and it is now a key weapon in the armoury of politicians, climate alarmists, propagandists, activist scientists and renewables advocates who wish to convince us of the supposed existential threat of climate change.
Hence, the program starts thus:
David Attenborough: Right now, we are facing our greatest threat in thousands of years – climate change.
Naomi Oreskes: For a long time, climate change was something that scientists were predicting that would happen in the future. But that’s no longer the case.
Richard Lazarus: What we’re doing right now is we’re so rapidly changing the climate, for the first time in the world’s history people can see the impact of climate change.
Mark Maslin: Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise.
Michael Mann: All of this is happening far faster than any of us thought possible.
“Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves” according to Maslin. Here is what the IPCC latest Special Report on global warming of 1.5C has to say about these various types of extreme weather:
18.104.22.168 The IPCC AR5 assessed that there was low confidence in the sign of drought trends since 1950 at the global scale, but that there was high confidence in observed trends in some regions of the world, including drought increases in the Mediterranean and West Africa and drought decreases in central North America and northwest Australia (Hartmann et al., 2013; Stocker et al., 2013). AR5 assessed that there was low confidence in the attribution of global changes in droughts and did not provide assessments for the attribution of regional changes in droughts (Bindoff et al., 2013a). The recent literature does not suggest that the SREX and AR5 assessment of drought trends should be revised, except in the Mediterranean region.
22.214.171.124 A large part of the observed regional trends in streamflow and runoff might have resulted from internal multi-decadal and multi-year climate variations, especially the Pacific decadal variability (PDV), the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), although the effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols could also be important (Hidalgo et al., 2009; Gu and Adler, 2013, 2015; Chiew et al., 2014; Luo et al., 2016; Gudmundsson et al., 2017). Additionally, other human activities can influence the hydrological cycle, such as land-use/land-cover change, modifications in river morphology and water table depth, construction and operation of hydropower plants, dikes and weirs, wetland drainage, and agricultural practices such as water withdrawal for irrigation.
In summary, streamflow trends since 1950 are not statistically significant in most of the world’s largest rivers (high confidence), while flood frequency and extreme streamflow have increased in some regions (high confidence).
3.3.6 Numerous studies leading up to and after AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy (Emanuel, 2005; Elsner et al., 2008; Knutson et al., 2010; Holland and Bruyère, 2014; Klotzbach and Landsea, 2015; Walsh et al., 2016). A theoretical physical basis for such a decrease to occur under global warming was recently provided by Kang and Elsner (2015). However, using a relatively short (20 year) and relatively homogeneous remotely sensed record, Klotzbach (2006) reported no significant trends in global cyclonic activity, consistent with more recent findings of Holland and Bruyère (2014). Such contradictions, in combination with the fact that the almost four-decade-long period of remotely sensed observations remains relatively short to distinguish anthropogenically induced trends from decadal and multi-decadal variability, implies that there is only low confidence regarding changes in global tropical cyclone numbers under global warming over the last four decades.
That debunks most of what Maslin said. SR15 did find robust evidence for increases in the frequency of extreme high temperatures, but only since 1950.
Mann’s ‘all of this’ is extreme weather (and non-existent ‘extreme’ sea level rise), not climate change, which, globally, is most often defined as the long term secular warming trend of the earth’s average surface temperature. We as human beings cannot detect this progressive warming trend. Scientists tell us that all or most of it since 1950 is due to GHG emissions. Other scientists, with even less evidence for assigning causation than that which was garnered for the presentation of the IPCC AR5 WG1 SPM attribution statement, state that all warming since 1850 or thereabouts is man-made (or should that be Mann-made?). You can see the attraction: tell the public that a lot of the bad weather (or even very ‘good’ weather) they are currently subject to the vagaries of is due to nasty fossil fuel emissions, then tell them it will only get worse if we all (or some of us, as the case may be) don’t stop using fossil fuels pretty soon. Hey Presto, you hopefully make them more willing to shell out for windmills, electric cars, solar panels, New Green Deals, etc. etc., plus have spy-in-the-home smart meters fitted which will turn their ‘smart’ domestic appliances on and off and ration their electricity usage during times when the wind isn’t blowing. Project Climate Fear on Stilts, aka Bad Stuff is Happening and Worse Stuff Will Happen, aka Extreme Weather Attribution Pseudoscience.
Of the post industrial warming trend, Peter Stott says this:
Peter Stott: We have temperature records going back over a hundred years. There are dips and troughs, and there are some years that are not as warm as other years, but what we’ve seen is this steady and unremitting temperature trend. Twenty of the warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 22 years.
Peter Stott: What’s striking is that warming trend cannot be explained by natural factors but is caused by human activities, in particular our use of fossil fuels.
What’s striking is that the warming trend pre 1950 can be and largely has been explained by natural causes, because the contribution from GHGs before 1950 cannot fully account for the 1910-1940s rapid warming, nor can the subsequent more modest mid 20th century cooling be unequivocally attributed to human causes (i.e. anthropogenic aerosols). Stott, by saying what he does about all of the post industrial warming, is not relying upon sound science, but on minority opinion. There is no official attribution statement from the IPCC re. pre 1950 warming, only an opinion in SR15 based on a limited number of scientific papers that all post industrial warming is anthropogenic. Therefore he is parroting ‘science’ poorly backed up by actual evidence, which is contradicted by a larger body of research which is rather better grounded in evidence.
But he’s not content to unjustifiably attribute the 1C global warming since 1850 to greenhouse gas emissions; he then makes a further leap of faith regarding current observed weather across the globe:
Peter Stott: One degree Celsius global warming may not sound like much, but it’s having a dramatic effect on our weather.
Peter Stott: We’re seeing extreme heat in southern Africa, Japan, North America, in the UK as well.
Stott then goes on to talk about last year’s heatwave in the UK which was part of a larger pattern of extreme weather events (mainly heatwaves) which occurred across the northern hemisphere during summer 2018:
Peter Stott: Last year we had a heatwave that was actually the joint warmest on record, alongside 1976. And we’ve been analysing this, here at the Met Office. What that showed us was that the chances of that heatwave had increased by about 30 times, so it’s now about 30 times more likely that we had that heatwave than we would have had, without climate change.
Female newsreader: Today the mercury hit a scorching 35 degrees Celsius…
Peter Stott: So it doesn’t mean to say that every single weather event is due to climate change. But what climate change does mean is that with the baseline climate having changed, then the frequency of the extreme temperatures is increasing. And that has a substantial effect.
It would be nice to actually examine this attribution study but it has not been peer-reviewed, nor has it been published in a scientific journal. I can find no public access to it via the Met Office website either. But that did not stop Stott from hawking it at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland as further ‘evidence’ that we are deleteriously changing the climate (and weather):
The sweltering heat that hit the UK this summer was made 30 times more likely by human-caused climate change, a Met Office analysis has found . . . .
Without rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, such heatwaves would happen every other year by mid-century, the Met Office said. Its analysis showed the average UK temperature during June, July and August was more than 2C above pre-industrial levels . . . . .
The research was launched at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, and the Met Office’s Prof Peter Stott, who led the work, said: “World leaders should be listening not just to scientists but also to the people who are being affected by extreme weather events right now. They are seeing it with their own eyes and suffering from it. Humanity just won’t be able to cope with the world we are heading for.”
Stott said scientists were making links across the world between extreme weather events and climate change, from heatwaves in Japan to wildfires in California: “We’re seeing it happen again and again across the world. This whole sequence of events would not have happened without climate change.”
What “whole sequence of events would not have happened without climate change”? One can only presume it was the sequence of extreme weather events (heatwaves in Japan, wildfires in California, etc.) which marked the summer of 2018 in the northern hemisphere. This aptly illustrates how disingenuous Stott is re. his communication of extreme weather attribution and he is no less disingenuous when being interviewed by the BBC. On the one hand he says you can’t attribute specific events to climate change, only assess the increasing likelihood of them happening, then he goes on to say that a whole sequence of extreme weather events could not have happened without climate change! He uses exactly the same tactic in ‘The Facts’ too, talking about the heatwave which killed the bats in Australia:
Peter Stott: Scientists have shown that it’s simply inconceivable that you would see these temperatures without the fact of climate change.
Say what? Where have scientists shown this? It’s palpable nonsense, lies even. Temperatures in Australia during current heatwaves are not unprecedented. It is likely that even more intense heatwaves occurred during the 19th century. The difference is there were no guilt-tripping climate change alarmists around at that time to film poor little baby bats clinging to their dead mothers, saying “this is climate change in action”, then to have a ‘scientist’ confirm that the heatwave which killed their mums would have been “inconceivable” if it were not for man-made global warming caused by our SUVs.
Stotts’s offhand attribution of the sequence of extreme weather events in 2018 to climate change can be challenged, as I will do below. Not having access to his non-peer reviwed unpublished study, his attribution of the 2018 UK heatwave cannot be critiqued, but I examined a separate attribution of the 2018 northern European early summer heatwave here and that study had holes in which you could drive a coach and horses through.
Recall that June and July 2018 were very dry, as well as very hot. Quite similar to 1976 in fact, with a similar pattern of a blocking high in place over northern Europe, drawing hot dry air from the continent, even as far south as from the Sahara. Stott tells us that “basic physics” predicts the atmosphere will actually get wetter as it gets warmer.
David Attenborough: But it’s not just through extreme heat events that climate change is having an effect. It’s changing our weather systems in other ways.
Peter Stott: This is a basic result of physics. With a degree Celsius of warming, there’s more moisture evaporating off the oceans.
Michael Mann: When there’s more moisture in the air, you’re gonna get more rainfall, you’re gonna get super storms and force flooding events. We are seeing the impacts of climate change now, play out in real time. They’re no longer subtle.
Mann also chimes in to confirm Stott’s statement. They’re right of course, at least as far as the “basic physics” is concerned. As it happens, summers in the UK have indeed been getting warmer and wetter since the mid to late 1970s:
2018 (June and July only – August was wet) and 1976 (and 1995) were among the notable exceptions – hot but very dry. So, Stott tells us that hot, dry summers like 2018 (and like 1976) are now 30 times more likely because of climate change, despite insisting that “basic physics” tells us that the atmosphere will become more moist through evaporation as the climate gets warmer, despite the observational fact that UK summers have become both progressively wetter and warmer on average since the mid to late 70s. I believe this is what is known in meteorological/climatological circles as having your climate cake with weather icing on top and eating it.
Paul Matthews wrote a post about the absurd switch of emphasis to hot, dry summers as ‘evidence’ of climate change (because we happened to get one in 2018), from a run of cooler, wetter summers from about 2007 which was also attributed to climate change – also by Peter Stott! Once again, you really can’t make this stuff up:
When it comes to global warming, we can forget the jolly predictions of Jeremy Clarkson and his ilk of a Mediterranean climate in which we lounge among the olive groves of Yorkshire sipping a fine Scottish champagne. The truth is likely to be much duller, and much nastier – and we have already had a taste of it. “We will see lots more floods, droughts, such as we’ve had this year in the UK,” says Peter Stott, leader of the climate change monitoring and attribution team at the Met Office.
A series of unusually wet and cold summers has afflicted the UK for several years. Remember the devastating floods of 2007, when some areas received double their normal rainfall for June? Or the predictions of a “barbecue summer” in 2009 that backfired badly on the Met Office as the (correctly anticipated) high temperatures were accompanied by heavy clouds and rainstorms? The impression that many Britons have had that summer weather has been getting worse in recent years is borne out by the data – five out of the last six years (2007-2012), have shown below-average sunshine from June to August, and in some cases well below average. All have had above-average rainfall – in some cases more than 50% above the long-term average. “It is not just a perception – we have had a run of relatively poor summers,” says Stott.
Crap, wet summer = climate change. Gorgeous, hot, dry summer = climate change.
Sequence of extreme weather events = climate change. No, Peter Stott: extreme weather = ‘jet stream’ configuration:
“We find that the position of the North Atlantic Jet in summer has been a strong driver of climate extremes in Europe for the last 300 years,” Trouet said.
Having a 290-year record of the position of the jet stream let Trouet and her colleagues determine that swings between northern and southern positions of the jet became more frequent in the second half of the 20th century, she said.
“Since 1960 we get more years when the jet is in an extreme position.” Trouet said, adding that the increase is unprecedented.
When the North Atlantic Jet is in the extreme northern position, the British Isles and western Europe have a summer heat wave while southeastern Europe has heavy rains and flooding, she said.
When the jet is in the extreme southern position, the situation flips: Western Europe has heavy rains and flooding while southeastern Europe has extreme high temperatures, drought and wildfires.
But why is so much of our world currently being afflicted with blisteringly hot weather? What is driving the wildfires, the soaring temperatures and those melting rooftops? These are tricky questions to answer, such is the complex nature of the planet’s weather systems. Most scientists point to a number of factors with global warming being the most obvious candidate. Others warn that it would be wrong to overstate its role in the current heatwaves, however.
“Yes, it is hard not to believe that climate change has to be playing a part in what is going on round the globe at present,” said Dann Mitchell of Bristol University. “There have been some remarkable extremes recorded in the past few weeks, after all. However, we should take care about overstating climate change’s influence for it is equally clear there are also other influences at work.
One of those other factors is the jet stream – a core of strong winds around five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface that blow from west to east and which steer weather around the globe. Sometimes, when they are intense, they bring storms. On other occasions, when they are weak, they bring very calm and settled days. And that is what is occurring at present.
“The jet stream we are currently experiencing is extremely weak and, as a result, areas of atmospheric high pressure are lingering for long periods over the same place,” added Mitchell.
Other factors involved in creating the meteorological conditions that have brought such heat to the northern hemisphere include substantial changes to sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. “These are part of a phenomenon known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation,” said Professor Adam Scaife, of the Met Office.
“In fact, the situation is very like the one we had in 1976, when we had similar ocean temperatures in the Atlantic and an unchanging jet stream that left great areas of high pressure over many areas for long periods,” said Scaife.
“And of course, that year we had one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers in the UK in the 20th century.”
More facts left out by the BBC in their desperate and wholly disreputable bid to misinform the public about extreme weather by attributing much of it to man-made climate change. There will be those of course who immediately say ‘Yes, but the jet stream has been affected by climate change, so in actual fact, extreme weather is caused by climate change, just not directly. That assertion also is scientifically bankrupt.