Is Newsweek actually heeding the instruction of Linnaeus to “know thyself”? Their latest panic-mongering cover seems pretty self aware.
Panic is a loss of reason:
pan•ic (pænɪk), noun: a sudden, overpowering terror, often affecting many people at once.
Verb: to feel or cause to feel panic
Synonyms: go to pieces, overreact, become hysterical, have kittens
Yes, Newsweek “science editor” Sharon Begley is all het-up with teh kittehz, and offers readers a guide for how they too can work themselves into a state of unreasoning fear. A few details from her grab bag of hysteria provide an interesting look into this pathological mind.
Drier and wetter, IN THE SAME PLACE
This is just strange:
Picture California a few decades from now, a place so hot and arid the state’s trademark orange and lemon trees have been replaced with olive trees that can handle the new climate. Alternating floods and droughts have made it impossible for the reservoirs to capture enough drinking water.
Higher temperatures (unlikely to be coming, now that the sun has quieted down) would probably change some weather patterns, making some places wetter and some places drier. Overall increased evaporation would make for more rain, but this rain might miss California, as a scare story from 2009 alleged.
That was KTVU’s tropopause height extravaganza, put together by “science editor” John Fowler. There is speculation that the width of the tropical weather zone is a function of the height of the top of the troposphere, which has risen since 1958. If continued warming continues to raise the tropopause, we’re doomed:
Fowler: Since 1960, the sand colored desert regions have crept northward, according to this research, now up to about Los Angeles. They could cover the [San Francisco] Bay Area in a few decades.
All of the world’s increasing rainfall is apparently going to land on Seattle. But at least they weren’t claiming that the same part of California was going to become both drier and wetter. Where did Begley get the idea that global warming will cause flooding and droughts in the same place?
A little poking around on the Newsweek website (now a subsidiary of The Daily Beast) turns up Begley’s source, another “new normal” story posted on May 21st, linking the following “global weirding” drivel from Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a “new normal” of extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government planners said on Wednesday.”It’s a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we’re seeing,” climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters.
“We are used to certain conditions and there’s a lot going on these days that is not what we’re used to, that is outside our current frame of reference,” Hayhoe said on a conference call with other experts, organized by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.
An upsurge in heavy rainstorms in the United States has coincided with prolonged drought, sometimes in the same location, she said, noting that west Texas has seen a record-length dry period over the last five years, even as there have been two 100-year rain events.
So west Texas had a record five year drought punctuated by two 100-year rain events. Is that even possible? Wouldn’t the rainfall from two 100-year events be enough to lift the rainfall total of that five year period far above the lowest totals on record? In any case, this is the epitome of local weather, and Sharon Begley is extrapolating it to the entire world. Unusual weather seen in one place one time will now be seen everywhere all the time. Some science editor! And I thought Fowler was bad.
But let’s give Katharine Hayhoe credit as well. What did she expect when she called a single cherry-picked five year span of weather in one location “the new normal”? Begley is just following Hayoe’s instructions for inciting irrational PANIC. Still, aren’t science editors supposed to, you know, edit? When they see something scientifically insane, aren’t they supposed to cut it out, not extrapolate it as world-covering truth?
Global weirding weirdos and CO2 “fingerprints”
In addition to citing global weirdist Katharine Hayhoe, Begley’s subtitle refers to “freak storms” and her article is accompanied by a photographic “freak weather gallery.” Yup, Newsweek is all aboard the weirdo bandwagon. So how do the weirdos justify blaming every weird weather event on people? Just ask Donald Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois. He dusted for fingerprints and the culprit was revealed:
Climate does of course vary naturally, but the large changes we have been seeing in recent decades have the fingerprints of human emissions as being the primary driving force.
The IPCC did try to claim that their predicted CO2 warming “fingerprint”—a “hotspot” in the upper troposphere—had been found, but that claim has long since been debunked, as recounted in David Evan’s recent piece in the Financial Post. (Evans also has a more formal presentation with citations).
If the CO2 explanation for late 20th century warming were correct, the hotspot would have to be there. The CO2 theory produces a testable hypothesis and the empirical falsification of this hypothesis proves that the theory is wrong. Ditto for the “global weirding” that stands upon it.
Trenberth is a weirdo too
Kevin Trenberth follows the Weirdo Wuebbles model for blaming every extreme weather event on human-caused global warming. We know that global warming is proceeding apace, says Trenberth (despite humanity’s failure to cause any 21st century warming), so pitch it in strong:
“Given that global warming is unequivocal,” climate scientist Kevin Trenberth cautioned the American Meteorological Society in January of this year, “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of ‘of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming.’”
Trenberth’s call to blame every bad thing on CO2 was used by the leftists at Think Progress to blame this year’s killer tornadoes on global warming, just like Begley and Newsweek. It’s one big global weirdo convention on the eco-left.
All that is actually getting weirder are the claims of our global warming scientists. Foot soldiers of panic like Sharon Begley are not proceeding just on their own ignorant intiative. They are following the marching orders of unscientific scientists like Wuebbles, Trenberth, and Heyhoe.
I come not to praise Stephen Schneider, but to bury him
It is appropriate that Trenbeth presented his sweeping justification for alarmism in a talk dedicated to the late Stephen Schneider, the spiritual grandfather of politicized eco-science.
It was Schneider who in the 1970’s tried to blame global cooling since the mid-forties on the human burning of fossil fuels. When the planet started to warm a few years later he smoothly switched to blaming global warming on fossil fuels. It never mattered to him if any of it was true. His objective was to curtail the human burning of fossil fuels and any excuse would do. Honesty was not a requirement, as he explained to Discover Magazine:
To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest.
If what one wants to be effective at is expounding truth, there is no such conflict. It is only ulterior motives, like the unplugging of industrial capitalism, that can only be effectively promoted though dishonesty. Bad behavior springs from bad motives. Unfortunately, we’ve let a lot of bad people gain a lot of power, and it’s going to be very difficult to dislodge them.
Addendum: Roy Spencer on the hotspot fingerprint
Roy denies that the absence of an upper troposphere hotspot invalidates the CO2 theory of late 20th century warming, but this conclusion seems to be a non sequitur:
The famous “hot spot” seen in [AR4 figure 9.1] has become a hot topic in recent years since at least two satellite temperature datasets (including our UAH dataset), and most radiosonde data analyses suggest the tropical hotspot does not exist. Some have claimed that this somehow invalidates the hypothesis that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for global warming.
But the hotspot is not a unique signature of manmade greenhouse gases. It simply reflects anomalous heating of the troposphere — no matter what its source. Anomalous heating gets spread throughout the depth of the troposphere by convection, and greater temperature rise in the upper troposphere than in the lower troposphere is because of latent heat release (rainfall formation) there.
For instance, a natural decrease in cloud cover would have had the same effect. It would lead to increased solar warming of the ocean, followed by warming and humidifying of the global atmosphere and an acceleration of the hydrologic cycle.
Thus, while possibly significant from the standpoint of indicating problems with feedbacks in climate models, the lack of a hotspot no more disproves manmade global warming than the existence of the hotspot would have proved manmade global warming. At most, it would be evidence that the warming influence of increasing GHGs in the models has been exaggerated, probably due to exaggerated positive feedback from water vapor.
Roy’s “thus” at the beginning of the last paragraph refers to his assertion that warming caused by a decrease in clouds (as would result from an increase in solar activity under Henrik Svensmark’s GCR-cloud theory) would create an upper troposphere hotspot, so long as there is a positive water vapor feedback effect. This does demonstrate that the existence of a hotspot would not uniquely implicate the CO2 warming theory, but it does not demonstrate that late 20th century warming could be due to CO2 in the absence of a hotspot. In fact the opposite is known to be true.
CO2 by itself does not trap enough heat to account for 20th century warming. The CO2 warming theory depends on a strong water vapor amplification mechanism, where the initial CO2 temperature forcing evaporates water into atmosphere whichg traps yet more heat, creating yet more water vapor, etcetera. As Roy notes, it is this “warming and humidifying of the global atmosphere” and the resulting “acceleration of the hydrologic cycle” that creates the upper troposphere hotspot. Ergo, no hotspot means no powerful water vapor amplification mechanism and no CO2-based account of late 20th century warming.
Svensmark’s theory, on the other hand, does not imply that there will be a hotspot. It is merely compatible with a hotspot. In the presence of a powerful water vapor feedback effect, the temperature forcing created by a GCR-cloud mechanism would create an upper troposphere hotspot. If the water vapor feedback effect is weak or negative, temperature forcing from the GCR-cloud mechanism will not cause a hotspot, but it could still account for 20th century warming just by the magnitude of its unamplified forcing.
ThanksRoy, for all of your great work. Hope you don’t mind this bit of editing help.