Winter Weather Climate Spin Contradicts Science

By | 2018-01-09T12:27:39+00:00 January 9th, 2018|
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Climate-change spinmeisters have been in overdrive since late December, hustling to explain how this spate of treacherous, winter weather is all due to global warming…just like they told us. (No doubt, the next thaw or blizzard will be mankind’s fault, too.) But their avowals mostly contradict scientific fact—including facts they have affirmed in reports they helped write themselves—not to mention current weather trends.

On January 4, as a “bomb cyclone” savaged the eastern seaboard, Al Gore tweeted this:

Gore, who oddly didn’t include clips of massive snowstorms and record-breaking cold temperatures in his films or paid lectures about global warming, linked to an article written by Michael Mann, a Penn State University scientist, author of the infamous “hockey stick” graph, and the media’s favorite climate mouthpiece.

In his customary, humble fashion, Mann appropriates the two-week stretch of brutal weather as evidence of exactly what he’s been saying all along: “Listening to climate contrarians like President Donald Trump, you might think this constitutes the death knell for concern over human-caused climate change. Yet, what we were witnessing play out is in fact very much consistent with our expectations of the response of weather dynamics to human-caused climate change.” The professor then throws in some maps and graphs to purportedly boost his claim, and concludes with, “so, to the climate change doubters and deniers out there, the unusual weather we’re seeing this winter is in no way evidence against climate change. It is an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.”

Gore and Mann aren’t the only climate propagandists who tried to convince a shivering, iced-over, snowed-in public that this deep freeze is proof of anthropogenic global warming. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University (and owner of a climate consulting firm that advises her clients to “plan to deal with climate change and its impacts today and tomorrow”) claims massive amounts of lake-effect snow, such as the record-breaking dump in Erie, PA over Christmas, is caused by a warming world: “If the Great Lakes aren’t frozen, when cold winter weather systems sweep across the lakes, the air warms and becomes more humid.” Hayhoe posted this chart, which was supposed to make her case but confuses her point by failing to demonstrate a long-term pattern in Great Lakes ice coverage:

She further said NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) had projected “very low Great Lakes ice coverage for this year.” Mann supported Hayhoe’s view, writing that “global warming is leading to later freeze-up of the Great Lakes and warmer lake temperatures.”

So, despite all this climate puffery, what does the actual evidence say? Let’s first compare their arguments with the most recent National Climate Assessment (NCA), a quadrennial report released by the White House in November. (All the work was conducted under the Obama administration.) Hayhoe was a lead author of this 477-page report, which lists four key findings to bolster manmade climate change. One finding suggests that, “extreme temperatures in the contiguous United States are projected to increase even more than average temperatures. The temperatures of extremely cold days and extremely warm days are both expected to increase. Cold waves are projected to become less intense while heat waves will become more intense. The number of days below freezing is projected to decline while the number above 90°F will rise.” So, “bitter cold” is not what we should expect from the “climate crisis.”

The NCA is also pretty ambiguous about other weather patterns. Concerning the lake-effect snow that Hayhoe attributes to global warming, the report concluded that, “lake effect snowfall has increased overall since the early 20th century for Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Erie. However, individual studies for Lakes Michigan and Ontario indicate that this increase has not been continuous. In both cases, upward trends were observed until the 1970s/early 1980s. Since then, however, lake effect snowfall has decreased in these regions.” Fair to call this a mixed bag.

What about the claims by Gore and Mann that this extreme winter weather is exactly what we should expect from climate change? The NCA doesn’t support that view: “Some storm types such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms are also exhibiting changes that have been linked to climate change, although the current state of the science does not yet permit detailed understanding.” It also refuted the oft-cited connection between a warming Arctic and worsening winter storms here: “Potential linkages between the frequency and intensity of severe winter storms in the United States and accelerated warming in the Arctic have been postulated, but they are complex, and, to some extent, contested, and confidence in the connection is currently low.”

And no sooner did Hayhoe and Mann warn about low ice coverage for the Great Lakes this season than updated models started to show the rapid pace at which these lakes are now freezing over. On December 26, the day Hayhoe tweeted about lake effect snow, the total ice coverage across the Great Lakes was nearly seven percent; by January 6, that figure jumped to 30 percent, exceeding NOAAs projections for the entire season. Lake Erie is almost completely frozen over at one of the earliest dates on record. (NOAAs seasonal forecast for ice coverage of Lake Erie is 82 percent.) Hayhoe, who describes climate scientists like herself as “physicians of the planet,” just made a major misdiagnosis.

The further irony is that, despite the conflicting claims and evidence, the climate propagandists’ solution to human-caused global warming is to curb the use of the very energy sources that are, in fact, preventing millions of people from freezing to death. Natural gas use hit an all-time high last week as half the nation struggled to keep warm, and prices soared. Just days before New Yorkers were pummeled by snow and cold, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to divest the state’s retirement plans from fossil fuel companies, calling them “the energy economy of the past.” OK.

All this hypocrisy and chicanery by climate peddlers isn’t going unnoticed by the public. “The popularizing of hand-wavy talking points does little to advance science and instead evokes laughter from many in the public, including President Trump,” Ryan Maue, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Science, told me. “The compulsion of activists to link every weather event with climate change, regardless of established science, lessens the credibility of well-meaning scientists who are often stuck defending nonsense.”

Perhaps it’s time for those scientists to speak-up before the entire field becomes a laughingstock.

About the Author:

Julie Kelly
Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review; Julie also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than ten years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.