Don't sell your coat!

This guest post is well worth a read – Anthony

Guest post by Harold Ambler

What follows is an excerpt from my new book Don’t Sell Your Coat, available here:

I want to examine the moral component of meteorological journalism. As I mentioned near the beginning of this book, I used to be an avid watcher of The Weather Channel. For a good couple of decades, the network was not only an important component for the fledgling cable industry, but an excellent source of information about current weather and climate, as well about atmospheric science itself. An interesting thing took place during the 1990s, though. Weather Channel viewership was found to spike during hurricanes, and not merely among viewers in areas that could be affected by the individual storm being discussed. A lot of folks evidently loved watching the progress of tropical storms, the stronger the better. Hurricanes became, over time, a revenue producer for the network. Experts were hired and given regular on-air time, and hurricane segments were given their own titles, their own graphics, and their own music.

People loved it. Much of this was quite innocuous, and arguably inevitable. Hurricanes are indeed interesting, and for a period of about 15 years it was widely believed, even by many scientists, that manmade global warming was ramping up the number, intensity, and duration of storms. In the last few years, however, links between recent atmospheric warming and hurricane activity, as we have seen, have been reconsidered.

In the meantime, though, the false link had lodged in the popular imagination, and The Weather Channel was more or less avidly exploiting it. The network’s presenters didn’t overtly come out and say that individual storms were generated by tailpipe and smokestack emissions, but they didn’t really have to at this point. The misconception was so pervasive and so widespread that merely trumpeting the “unusual” power of the storms themselves sufficed. In the meantime, the network slowly upped its on-air mentions of the phenomenon of global warming during the daily program cycle and eventually devoted a new segment to the phenomenon known as “Forecast Earth.”

Video alarmism regarding atmospheric phenomena is, perhaps, to be expected by a network like The Weather Channel. After all, it is hardly alone. The major cable news networks routinely send meteorologists and other reporters into the path of hurricanes, so that they can be seen amid the rising waters, gusting winds, and torrential rains.

Get it out of your head: weather didn’t used to be friendly. It didn’t used to rain just enough, snow just enough, with the wind blowing just enough, and the Sun shining just enough. Things didn’t recently go to Hell in a hand basket. That is just a story. And it’s not

a particularly hard story to prove false.

The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad aka the "KATY". A 1903 Missouri River flood, besides impacting travel, toppled bridges, killed many, and left 20,000 homeless. Passengers and crew stand atop the Missouri-Kansas-Texas train. - Image: library of Congress - click for more flood info

On the other hand, the tranquil weather being experienced by most people around the globe at any given time goes ignored and unvideotaped. Again, one can understand why this would be so. In the newspaper business, and other journalistic domains as well, fires are of note. Non-fires aren’t. Fair enough. But something very insidious has taken place. The selling of weather disasters as entertainment has led to a state in which big business stands to gain handsomely from the perception that the planet has gone meteorologically mad. Specifically, General Electric stands to profit. When in 2008 NBC (owned by General Electric) purchased The Weather Channel, an interesting thing took place: the largest domestic producer of wind turbines became the owner of the best-positioned purveyor of images of destructive weather. The same year, NBC’s Today Show continued its longstanding practice of “showing” the great destruction to the ocean-atmosphere system caused by manmade global warming, with story after story: fires, floods, melting Kilimanjaro, you name it. The rest of NBC News, and the Weather Channel, meanwhile, keep the same pieces of videotape on nearly infinite repeat.

Summing up: Wind turbines do not deliver reliable electric power; the ocean-atmosphere system is not broken; scaring people needlessly isn’t nice – and it distracts them from the actual environmental problems surrounding them.

About Harold Ambler

I was obsessed with weather and climate as a young boy and have studied both ever since. I have English degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia and started my career in journalism at The New Yorker magazine, where I worked from 1993 to 1999. My work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The AtlanticWire (the Atlantic Monthly’s online presence), Watts Up With That?, The Providence Journal, Rhode Island Monthly, Brown Alumni Monthly, and other publications. I co-wrote and edited a 600-page history of rowing for Brown University, published in March 2009. I am grateful for donations to my research through PayPal on this site’s front page. I am married to the painter and illustrator Kim Edge. We have two daughters, one dog, and a cat.

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Some reviews:

“ Harold Ambler has assembled an easy-to-follow, systematic, common-sense treatment of the manmade global warming agenda that demands the attention of any person of good

will in this debate.” – Joe Bastardi, chief forecaster, WeatherBELL Analytics

“ How did the good politics of social justice become chained to the bad science of global warming? Read Don’t Sell Your Coat to  find out how it happened.” – Freeman Dyson, world-renowned physicist, professor emeritus at Princeton

“ You don’t need to be a right-wing SOB to think that ‘Man Made Global Warming’ is an Enron-style scam. Harold Ambler is a card-carrying liberal and he thinks so, too.

He’s also very funny. Buy this book!” – James Delingpole, author of Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors

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I helped Harold gather some information for this book, and have read portions of this final book, and I recommend it as well. It is an easy to read narrative. It may surprise some people to learn that Harold Ambler is not your typical skeptic. I can collaborate what Delingpole says,  that Ambler’s political leanings are very much liberal. He simply doesn’t buy into the global warming issue anymore as many of us used to, including me. – Anthony

Buy the book here:

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GregO

Sounds like an interesting read – I’ll put it on my Christmas list. It will be the fourteenth book I have read on Climate since Climategate 1.0 with Donna’s book being the last one read and Mosher and Fuller’s being the first one. I was absolutely not involved until Climategate 1.0 but now am addicted and tell everyone I know about this stuff. Just saying so you all know that non-specialists are passionately interested in your work.
Keep it up.

Re “one dog, and a cat”
Thanks for reminding us that it has been raining “cats and dogs” for at least centuries.
Cycles of a 90,000 year glacial period followed by a 10,000 year interglacial period suggest that we are already well past the probable 50% way to the next glacial period. See: Glacial-Interglacial Climate Cycles
Time to invest in a long underwear factory!

grzejnik

Neat post, so a giant corporation that makes wind power buys the weather channel and the coverage goes to extreme global warming disaster alarmism. I should buy a network to promote my business lol

Such a gentle, obvious, insidious, no-blame way to see how the development of climate alarmism was almost inevitable, given human nature seeking thrills in freak weather, the decline of belief in God The Punishing Man In The Sky, and press-button media availability.
Of course.
We’ve all brought it on ourselves (IMHO). If Mikey Mann hadn’t invented the Hockey Stick, someone else would have done (IMHO).

Otter

The huffington post?
They accept Intelligent, thoughtful writing?

Monroe

Sounds like a good book. Reminds me of all those thousands of times the good old weatherman used the word “normal” to describe “aveage”. I really think many people believe weather used to be smooth sailing!

John Billings

Sounds like an interesting read. The comments about the Weather Channel are perhaps a bit obvious. Why do people watch the Weather Channel? To hear about dramatic stuff. It’s kind of hard to get people to tune in if you say “The weather’s mostly settled for the next few days, fine and dry conditions, pleasantly warm at 22*C/72*F”. If you’ve got a TV channel that survives on subscriptions or advertising revenue, you’d better give people a reason to tune in.
One question: Why is the headline from the “summing up” that “Wind turbines do not deliver reliable electric power”? We all know this, but the article isn’t about wind turbines, so why highlight that? Unless you are implying that General Electric sent a diktat to NBC who passed on the diktat to the Weather Channel that they have to exaggerate hurricanes so that people will blame global warming and go and buy wind turbines…
If that’s the point of this article, then sorry, nope, more likely, it’s just that more people will watch the Weather Channel when the weather’s bad. I do. Don’t you?
Lastly, we all know GE is a top polluter, the fourth-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, not to mention their appalling track record on toxic waste. What do they care about the environment?

I need a recommendation for Christmas:
Most all of my relatives (except my wife, my son, and my son’s wife) are liberals stuck on stupid. They believe that Al Gore has revealed The Truth and that we are all doomed!
What would be the best book to get people like that to think?
Thanks for the help!
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin.)

Al Gored

Nitpicker reporting for duty!
“I can collaborate what Delingpole says”
I think you mean “corroborate.”
No big deal. It is not like you said warming instead of flattening or cooling or anything like that.
,

2ndHalfCor

Next you’re going to tell us that GE contributes to politicians who want to force people to buy their unpopular and expensive CFL bulbs!

@Jon Jewett
I liked “Taken by Storm” when it came out a couple of years back. Still stands up.
http://www.amazon.com/Taken-Storm-Troubled-Science-Politics/dp/1552632121

HaroldW

typo/spelling correction:
In the epilogue, where you have “I can collaborate what Delingpole says” — the correct word is “corroborate”.
No need to post this.

John West

“Don’t sell your coat”
Unless you don’t have a sword!

james

“I can collaborate what Delingpole says”
Small nit, but I think you mean corroborate.
-J

John Garrett

Dear Mr. Ambler:
Try telling that to NPR (National Public Radio).
As best I can tell, wholesale, unquestioning belief in the hypothesis of CAGW appears to be a condition of employment there.

Mardler

Jon Jewett – James Delingpole’s book mentioned above.

Dave Worley

TWC was once useful for getting a quick look at current weather. Now you have to sit through an hour or more of propaganda to get a national forecast. Like NASA, TWC has forgotten its mission.

Curiousgeorge

Having lived thru 67 years of weather in a variety of locales around the globe, I can attest to the fact that nothing much has changed.

If I may buck the current… Here in Kansas, Wyoming, and other places, Wind generators make economic sense. They run near full output about 40% of the time and limited output much of the rest of the time.
I have spoken to executives from local power companies and find their attitude not conducive to intelligent use of the things.
A fair amount of intelligent management could solve some of the problems inherent with wind generators.

mfosdb

This is why I loath wind turbines and the fanatics who promote them:

mfosdb

Woops, I meant loathe.

LazyTeenager

grzejnik says:
December 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm
Neat post, so a giant corporation that makes wind power buys the weather channel and the coverage goes to extreme global warming disaster alarmism. I should buy a network to promote my business lol
——————-
Read the article again. You got the timing way off.
And the whole — GE owns the weather channel with the intent to promote windmill sales — story was just made up. Until he produces evidence it amounts to just introspection while studying a toilet roll.
Beats me why you “right wing SOB” guys would fall for standard boring left wing anti-corporation mythology.

pat

16 Dec: Ria Novosti: Russia says Kyoto protocol no longer effective
Canada’s decision to quit the Kyoto protocol confirms that it had lost its effectiveness, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday…
Japan and Russia have also recently announced that they will not be signing the treaty renewal in 2012, but have yet to withdraw officially. According to Kent, other countries could soon follow Canada’s example, which perhaps indicates the need to find new approaches to battling climate change…
Lukashevich also said that Canada would remain a Kyoto protocol country for another year, until all its obligations under the Kyoto protocol expire. The country, which signed the treaty in 1997, failed to meet the target of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent in the 2008-2012 period, which has instead grown by 17-30 percent.
http://en.ria.ru/Environment/20111216/170302678.html

jim heath

Don’t make things too hard for them, buy them a talking book

LazyTeenager

Jon Jewett says:
December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm
I need a recommendation for Christmas:
Most all of my relatives (except my wife, my son, and my son’s wife) are liberals stuck on stupid. They believe that Al Gore has revealed The Truth and that we are all doomed!
What would be the best book to get people like that to think?
Thanks for the help!
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin.)
————–
And what would you think if they gave you a copy of Inconevient Truth for Christmas? Maybe you need to rethink this, particularly the contempt you feel for others and your imagined superiority, especially around Christmas time.

pat

16 Dec: UK Telegraph: Donna Bowater: Snow and ice warning for entire UK
Weather forecasters have warned that the entire country faces snow and a blanket of ice that will persist into next week.
The Met Office issued a yellow alert, predicting icy conditions on the roads for the whole of Britain, with travel disruption expected to continue until Tuesday. Heavy rain will turn to snow which is expected to affect parts of the country…
Widespread frost was expected as temperatures drop to 25 to 30F (-1C to -4C) overnight and reach just 37 to 43F (3 to 6C) during the day…
The Highways Agency said it had a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, and enough salt to deal with severe conditions…
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8960173/Snow-and-ice-warning-for-entire-UK.html

LazyTeenager

Mofsdb says
This is why I loath wind turbines and the fanatics who promote them:
————-
Let’s see if this attitude survives the hypocrisy test.
Do you own a car?
If so get in the car and go for a drive in the countryside. Count the number of dead animals by the side of the road. These animals were all killed by cars. In my part of the world they include cats, dogs, possums, kangaroos, foxes, wombats and lots of birds. The birds like to eat the carrion you see.
Now do you loath cars and the fanatics who promote them?

Sounded so good I just bought the book. Thanks for sharing this Anthony.

u.k.(us)

Yep, for years I would spend my spare time reading a book with the Weather Channel playing in the background.
The weather has always interested me, and even impacted my work as a land surveyor.
(I’ll leave out the part it might have played in getting my private pilot license, as I never really used said license).
It might have been the Weather Channel that drove me to google “arctic ice”, and click on their return of a post at WUWT.
Unintended consequences.

Lazy,
Just because you banged a hammer on your thumb last week is no reason to bang a hammer on your other thumb today.

John West

Jon Jewett says:
“They believe that Al Gore has revealed The Truth and that we are all doomed!”
IMO there’s really no one answer to this, there’s as many paths to skepticism of CAGW as there are people it seems.
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/reader-background/
If they’re into history then something that goes through the historical evidence of the LIA and MWP might be a good place to start.
If they’re “people” people then a book that organizes and explains climategate might be better. Does “I would not give them *anything*. I would not respond or even acknowledge receipt of their emails. There is no reason to give them any data, in my opinion, and I think we do so at our own peril!” (Michael E. Mann to Phil Jones) really inspire confidence?
http://assassinationscience.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/1076359809.txt
If they’re scientifically literate then Jo Nova’s “Skeptic’s Guide” might be enough.
http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/

GeoLurking

Yeah, I remember when Geraldo was down here in Pensacola hyping up one of our hurricanes. Idiot was dragging tree limb around trying to set up an interesting background for hit on air spot.

Bill Illis

At any time, 98% of the planet is having normal ordinary weather. 1% is having abnormally cold weather and 1% is having abnormally warm weather. Its just the stats of a 100 year record of weather.
Climate science is constantly trying to tie the 1% abnormaly warm weather to global warming but, as the above statement notes, it is completely normal for 1% of the planet to be abnormally warm.
The same place in Russia that had the heat wave in 2010 (just south of Moscow) is now having the 1% abnormally cold weather over the past 6 weeks at 8C below normal. No one is running climate models over this particular cold spell.

Steve C

@Jon Jewett … If they’re really far-gone, useless cases, a nicely bound copy of the Last Rites might prove appropriate and reasonably … well, ok, almost tasteful … :after all, if we’re destroyin’ the planet at the rate they think, they’ll be needing it really, really soon. We’ve gotta look after our immortal souls in these ordinary terrifying times, and it would show how deeply you care.
I know, too morbid. I’ll get me coat. It’s not for sale, the book above will tell you why..
[Thought for Anthony – a book sales page (or extension to the Stuff page) might be worth considering for generating a bit extra site-running money, split with a book outlet to handle all the actual book stuff. This book, Donna, quite a few spring to mind.]

davidmhoffer

Lazy Teenager;
Maybe you need to rethink this, particularly the contempt you feel for others and your imagined superiority, especially around Christmas time.>>>>
Well, yes, if it wasn’t Christmas time, a higher degree of contempt would obviously be more appropriate.

davidmhoffer

LazyTeenager;
Now do you loathe cars and the fanatics who promote them?>>>
Nope. I don’t recall any of the promoters of cars telling me they are economical to do things they are not economical for, nor do I recall promoters of cars insisting that the road kill has nothing to do with the cars.

John West

LazyTeenager says:
“And what would you think if they gave you a copy of Inconevient Truth for Christmas?”
I’d think, they haven’t been listening to me pointing out all the flaws in it at all (or read my editorial in the local paper), if they’d been paying attention they’d know that I had already seen it /read it / debunked it. Then I’d think, this thing can’t even be re-gifted! After awhile I’d probably realize that it would make a decent target and be proportionately grateful.
“Maybe you need to rethink this, particularly the contempt you feel for others and your imagined superiority”
It has nothing to do with contempt for others or any imagined superiority. When you see someone you care about being scammed by a con artist, you tell them.
“especially around Christmas time.”
What better time of year to spread cheer? Hey, good news, we’re not doomed after all, you’re free to be happy.

u.k.(us)

LazyTeenager says:
December 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm
“Now do you loath cars and the fanatics who promote them?”
=========
Is it safe to assume that at least some of those cars are making their journey in an attempt to improve the economy, as opposed to the windmills suckling from the taxpayers tit.

LazyTeenager

davidmhoffer says:
December 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm
LazyTeenager;
Now do you loathe cars and the fanatics who promote them?>>>
Nope. I don’t recall any of the promoters of cars telling me they are economical to do things they are not economical for, nor do I recall promoters of cars insisting that the road kill has nothing to do with the cars.
————–
That’s odd, maybe you look at different car advertising than I look at. In my world car promoters of cars tell me that cars are fun and inflate my social status. Economical transport is rarely mentioned. I am not sure that cars are an economical way to have fun or inflate my social status.
But hold on, you are executing the good old “move the goal posts tactic” tsk tsk! You seem to be trying to move from – wind mills are bad since they kill birds – to – wind mills are bad because the wind mill company lied to me – . Does this mean you are conceding my point that as far as bird kill and animal kill rates are concerned cars may very well be much worse?
And an even handed approach would require measures against both cars and wind mills that was in proportion to the kill rates?

Am I *REALLY* going to need that coat?
This post re a Russian Neutron monitor reading:
Signal or noise of a quiet sun…or something else?
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread786624/pg1?

Wade

Looks interesting. But this is the book I am most looking forward to reading.
Regarding the Weather Channel. Many years ago, I used to watch TWC with regularity. This was before the alarmist days. One day I decided to pay attention to their forecasts. I began to notice that the forecasts tended to be as accurate as a disgraced prophet. So I stopped watching. If you can’t get the weather prediction right, why are you called the weather channel?

nofreewind

>>>Here in Kansas, Wyoming, and other places, Wind generators make economic sense. They run near full output about 40% of the time and limited output much of the rest of the time.
I think not. Wind output averages 25% in the US. If what you say is true, then the Wyoming output would average 50% or more. That’s not true. Likely their output is in the 35% range, on average. Just because they are spinning doesn’t mean they are creating full output. I don’t think there are any wind turbines ANYWHERE that average over 40% output on average. And no, they don’t make economical sense. That’s why they get the enormous subsidies that they do.
About 70x more subsidy per kWhr than nat gas or coal
http://windfarmrealities.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/eia-subsidies-2010-wg-chart1.jpg
from here, the 2010 story on electricity subsidies.
http://windfarmrealities.org/?p=1240
Also, in most places, there is more wind energy produced at night, when it’s value is low to the grid and our society.

To mfosbd 3:36 pm…
One of my ecology students did a term paper on animal casualties caused by wind generators Vs. animal casualties done by automobiles. Would you be surprised to know that no deer have ever been proved to have been killed by wind generators? Would you be surprised to know that in most states, more deer are killed by autos than are taken by hunters? Would you be surprised to know that about 100,000 birds/bats are killed by autos for every one killed by wind generators. Look it up, she found all this on the internet.
For myself, every turn these wind generators make, that is one more turn of a screw in our rich middle eastern trading partners’… well you know the word.

Steve from Rockwood

LazyTeenager says:
December 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm
And an even handed approach would require measures against both cars and wind mills that was in proportion to the kill rates?
—————————————————————————————–
The biggest difference between wind mills and cars is that while cars kill animals, wind mills kill the economy. So why subsidize them? Just to kill a few birds?

Ambler left out part of the story that actually helps to make his point. Earlier this year NBC was bought by Comcast, which doesn’t need to sell Chinese bat-mashers to increase its share price. Since that purchase, the Weather Channel has downplayed the Gaia crap. Heidi Cullen is no longer on staff as High Priestess, and the features about Our Noble Planet Suffering From Our Grievous Sins no longer appear on their website.
So it’s a classic A/B experiment. With only one direction of change, you don’t know for sure if the effect is coincidental. With an on/off change, you can spot causality.

To nofreewind 5:55…
Your estimates may be average. I presume you do not live near Wyoming or Kansas. I got my numbers from the vice-president of an electric power generating company. He was quoting his own company studies (43% actually) and like you, he hated wind generators. One has to presume he was not inflating the usefulness of the things.

I have a peculiar view of the economics of the wind generator argument. I can see wind generators from my town. That means money is flowing into the county coffers, that does not come out of my pocket. Money is given to my customers, that replaces some of the taxes they pay, and when they do business with me, it trickles into my pocket.

Doc,
You should read up on economist Frederic Bastiat’s Broken Window fallacy. Money isn’t tricking into your pockets, it’s trickling into other pockets.

For those who have never served in the military, There is a comment always made when you say you are from Kansas: ” There is no such place as Kansas, It is Oklahoma blowing north in the summer and Nebraska blowing south in the winter.”

Smokey, No doubt about it!!