We’ve seen how the World Wildlife Fund reports were included in IPCC AR4 with disastrous results, now we have an example of a newspaper and TV Network hanging their entire story on a report from the National Wildlife Federation.
Here’s the WaPo story:
By Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010; A10
This winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.
… more here
Now here’s a few things to consider.
Ryan Maue writes at Climate Audit:
The title of the newest contribution is “Odd-ball Winter Weather: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Northern United States” and the PDF can be downloaded from their website. It is a well-manicured reported with glossy photos of wildlife, folks enjoying ice fishing and skiing, and snowplows. Here is the introductory paragraph to get a flavor of the quality of the report:
Global warming is having a seemingly peculiar effect on winter weather in the northern United States. Winter is becoming milder and shorter on average; spring arrives 10 to 14 days earlier than it did just 20 years ago. But most snowbelt areas are still experiencing extremely heavy snowstorms. Some places are even expected to have more heavy snowfall events as storm tracks shift northward and as reduced ice cover on the Great Lakes increases lake-effect snowfalls. Even as global warming slowly changes the character of winter, we will still experience significant year-to-year variability in snowfall and temperature because many different factors are at play.
A few brief comments: (1) Throughout the report, there is unscientific language in the headlines similar to “seemingly peculiar” like “odd-ball”, “erratic”, “surprises”, “patchy”, and “thrown for a loop”. It is clear that the audience of the report is the layperson in the public, but using such terminology obfuscates the scientific message being made. (2) As the first paragraph highlights, there have been changes in winter weather during the past 20-years, a rather short time period to be making proclamations about trends or climate change for that matter. Also, the equivocal nature of the final sentence needs to be translated: global warming “slowly” changes the character of winter… year-to-year variability and different factors are at play = natural climate oscillations and modes of large-scale variability trump the changes associated with global warming during the past 20-years.
Recent odd-ball (sic) weather events.
As WUWT readers know, we’ve seen lots of “odd-ball” weather before in the USA, often far worse than today.
Here are a few of the NWF claims:
The spatial extent of snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere has decreased by approximately 3 to 9 percent since 1978, with especially rapid declines in the western United States
This is highly misleading. As reported earlier on WUWT, December, 2009 had the second greatest December snow cover on record in the Northern Hemisphere. 17 out of the last 21 Decembers have had above average snow cover. October, 2009 had the sixth greatest October snow extent on record in the Northern Hemisphere. Seven out of the last ten Octobers have had above average snow cover. January, 2008 had the third greatest snow extent ever measured in the Northern Hemisphere. Seven out of the last nine January’s have had above average snow cover.
The western United States has actually been seeing record snowfall in recent years, not “rapid declines” as claimed by NWF.
NCDC snow report from the winter of 2007-2008 Numerous ski resorts in the West reported record breaking snowfall this year, as did parts of northern Maine. Caribou, Maine received 197.8 inches (502 cm) of snowfall this winter, shattering the previous record of 181.1 inches (460 cm).
Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado received 418 inches (1061 cm) during the 2007-08 winter, breaking the previous record of 415 inches (1054 cm) from 1979-1980. Even Spokane, Washington was the second-snowiest on record with 89.5 inches (227 cm), four inches (10 cm) short of the previous record from 1949-1950. The map to the right depicts the snowpack levels in many Rocky Mountain basins on May 1, 2008, illustrating a residual near to above average snow cover over much of the Rockies and Cascades in the western U.S. Thirty-two Snowtel locations reported record snow water equivalent records by the end of April.
The winter of 2009-2010 has also started with record December snow cover in the US, and near record snow depth in the southern Rocky Mountains.
5 FEET OF SNOW IN THE PAST 7 DAYS
Midway Base Depth : 112 Inches
Last 7 Days : 56 Inches
YEAR-TO-DATE TOTAL 103″
BASE DEPTH (mid-mountain undisturbed) 60″
Stronger hurricanes, heavier rainfall, and rising sea levels: this is what global warming has in store for the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
This again is misleading. According to NOAA the number of major hurricane strikes on the US peaked in the 1940s at ten, and have been generally declining ever since. (2001-2010 has had seven so far.) The last Category 5 hurricane to strike the US was Andrew in 1993. The last three years have seen exceptionally quiet hurricane activity in the US.
Sea level has been rising for 20,000 years since the end of the last ice age, when it was 400 feet lower.
Blaming sea level rise on CO2 isn’t going to fly. According to NOAA, sea level is rising at about 2.5mm/year along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US. At that low rate, it will take nearly a millennium to rise to the high end of IPCC estimates.
Global warming will bring more extreme heat waves. By the 2080s and 2090s, many parts of the country will have more than two months each year with 100-degree weather if global warming emissions are not curbed.
There is zero evidence of this in the temperature record. NCDC data shows essentially no warming in US summer temperatures over the last 80 years. The hottest summer was in the 1930s.
Global warming has caused more heavy rainfall events in the United States over the last few decades along with an increased likelihood of devastating floods
Actually, the ten deadliest floods in US history all took place prior to 1977.
1. Johnstown, PA
May 31, 1889
Death Toll: 2,200
Several days of extremely heavy rainfall, brought about the collapse of the South Fork Dam, which was 14 miles upstream of Johnstown, PA. It was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the new American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries. It remains one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history.
The Johnstown Flood also became a social cause celebre, because the dam that collapsed had been built to create a lake for vacationing millionaires, such as Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, while the inhabitants of the town were Welsh and German immigrants.
2. Mississippi Valley
January and February 1937
Death Toll: 1,100
Heavy rains flooded 12,700 square miles, destroying 75,000 homes, and leaving 600,000 refugees.
3. Ohio River
Death Toll: 700
Heavy rains brought severe flooding. The disaster led to the nation’s first flood control board and programs.
4. Santa Paula, CA
March 12, 1928
Death Toll: 450
Collapse of the St. Francis Dam
5. Rapid City, SD
June 9 – 10, 1972
Death Toll: 237
6. Kansas City, Missouri
May 16 – June 1, 1903
Death Toll: 200
Heavy rains brought flooding that raised the level of the Missouri River 35 feet.
7. Mississippi Valley
April – May 1912
Death Toll: 200
The Mississippi River overflows its banks.
8. Willow Creek, OR
Death Toll: 200
Flash flood sweeps away a third of the town.
9. Man, WV
Feb. 26, 1972
Death Toll: 118
Slag pile dam collapses under torrential rains.
10. Loveland, CO
August 1, 1976
Death Toll: 139
Flash flood in Big Thompson Canyon
Large parts of the western United States and much of the Southeast has already begun experiencing more frequent and more severe droughts
According to USDA, none of the southeast and very little of the west is experiencing a severe drought. No doubt there is unsustainable water usage in the west, but this has little to do with climate. The 1930s saw the worst droughts in US history. Likewise, the Anasazi were driven out of their home by drought in the thirteenth century, but it is unlikely this was due to people driving Hummers in Chaco Canyon. Drought cycles happen in the west, and they always have.
In summary, it appears that NWF, like WWF, is spreading a large amount of global warming misinformation, and some news outlets like Washington Post and MSNBC seem to accept it without question.
h/t Thanks to Steve Goddard for rounding up rubuttal graphics