People send me stuff. Today it is this web page from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), another official sounding NGO modeled in the WWF funding style of wail n’ beg.
The first thought that went through my head when I saw this web page was the scene from the classic movie Mr. Roberts where the captain, portrayed by James Cagney, finds his palm tree missing and runs through the ship shouting “sound the general alarm!, sound the general alarm!, sound the general alarm!“.
Here’s the introduction:
Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US. Check out the interactive map below to find out what events hit your area from January to October 2011.
And here’s the map:
Gosh, how terrible that there were so many records, right? Hardly any room left to plot any more. That probably explains then why NRDC simply ignored hundreds to thousands of records that didn’t fit the weather is now climate narrative.
The first clue that this really isn’t an accurate portrayal of US weather records comes from the (i) mouseover on the map key (visible on the web page but not in the still graphic).
They completely ignore low temperature records, but pay attention to record snowfall, as if somehow snow and cold are not connected. The lack of lows is confirmed in the methods page:
Methods for Developing NRDC’s “Extreme Weather Map 2011”
A. Criteria for Events’ Inclusion in the Map: Record-Breaking
“Record-breaking” was defined as exceeding the monthly maximum for each event type over the past 30 years. We included two different types of weather event information to build the “Extreme Weather Map 2011”: (1) specific record-breaking weather events linked to a meteorological station location (i.e., point events with latitude and longitude); and (2) record-breaking events that covered larger, multi-state areas and that were notable for their large geographic extent, unusual intensity, or that generated significant damage costs that have already been estimated at over $1 billion.
B. Link to Climate Change
Furthermore, we were interested in mapping some of the types of extreme weather events that have occurred in 2011 and whose occurrence is linked to the influence of climate change. With the November 18, 2011 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s SREX report — “SREX” being the acronym for The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation — some of the linkages between climate change and extreme events have been drawn even more sharply than ever before. For example, the SREX summary finds at least a 66 percent chance that extreme temperatures and coastal extreme high water (which contributes to flooding) have worsened as a result of human activities. And looking to the future, SREX projects that if carbon emissions continue unabated, it is likely that the frequency of hot days will increase by a factor of ten in most regions of the world; that heavy precipitation will occur more often; and that the wind speeds of storms will increase (see the IPCC SREX Press Release). It’s likely, too, that climate change will intensify drought in the future and that, coupled with extreme heat, wildfire risks will increase.
On the other hand, there are other types of extreme events for which the net influence of climate change is not yet understood fully. These include extreme events like tornadoes, which occurred in 2011 and inflicted significant damages and tragic effects in US communities. Because additional studies are needed to determine the potential influence of climate change in affecting tornadoes’ occurrence and severity, we chose to not include these types of events.
- Record Temperatures: Monthly Highest Maximum Temperature records and Monthly Highest Minimum Temperature records (i.e., daily records that were higher than recorded temperatures previously set for that month in the period of record for that temperature station) were compiled for 2011. Records, by state from January through November, were downloaded by month and compiled as of November 15, 2011 from NOAA-NCDC. The NOAA-NCDC dataset is based on the historical daily observations archived in NCDC’s Cooperative Summary of the Day dataset, and on preliminary reports from Cooperative Observers and First Order National Weather Service stations, and as such is subject to change. (Data was downloaded from these sites: http://ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/monthly/maxt/2011/08/00?sts=US and http://ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/monthly/himn/2011/07/00?sts=US.)Values that only tied with prior monthly temperature records were not counted as broken, for mapping purposes, and were removed from the dataset. The Period of Record (POR) represents the number of years with a minimum of 50 percent data completeness. All data was from stations with a POR of at least 30 years. Because the calendar year 2011 is not yet completed, and because there is a lag in full reporting of record-breaking temperatures to the online NOAA-NCDC dataset, the records that ended up in our map have dates ranging from January 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011.The Record Temperature icon means that the monthly highest maximum temperature, the monthly highest minimum temperature, or both exceeded the previous records set at meteorological stations located within the designated county.
No mention of lows or minimums, as if somehow “extreme” is only a one way number.
I’ll give them credit for not shouting that tornadoes are linked to climate change, but that probably has to do with the fact that this myth has been repeatedly shot down and they didn’t think they could sell it with wail n’ beg since people could easily find articles like this one. Too bad they missed this non-linakge to floods. Ditto for wildfires which has an inconclusive link and may have more to do with land management policy than anything else.
They miss all sorts of record low events.
For example, the January 21st 2011, record cold event, while notable by NWS/NOAA standards, merits nary a peep by the NRDC in their map.
Nor does this multi-state record cold event on Feb 10th, 2011 fit the
sales effort narrative, even though it fits their criteria of “record-breaking events that covered larger, multi-state areas and that were notable for their large geographic extent“.
And of course, Alaska’s record breaking events like the November 17th -40F record cold don’t even make the NRDC map.
Going to the source of records, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) shows just how many daily and monthly records NRDC is ignoring.
9647 daily record lows and 370 monthly record lows isn’t chump change, unless of course you are the NRDC.
Clearly though, record highs, given the blocking high heatwave in Texas aren’t unexpected. That synoptic weather event has already been shown though to have no climate connection, much like the Russian heat wave of 2010. And of course, given the sad state of bias of the USHCN, GHCN, and COOP network operated by NCDC, with USHCN having over 90% of the weather stations compromised by heat sources, record highs are not unexpected.
What I found most interesting in the NCDC tables though, were the number of records that reflected a cooler than normal daytime high temperature with 29,336 of those compared to the 26,244 record highs. Of course, they don’t dare mention those nor the 1,859 monthly “Hi Min” temperatures compared to the 1,160 “Hi Max” records
So clearly, there’s an agenda, and record lows and cooler than normal daytime highs don’t fit the narrative. It wouldn’t be good business and dilutes the wail n’ beg effectiveness of asking for money to “Take Action“.
Oh and then there’s the $64,000 question – did extreme weather occur before 30 years ago when CO2 was lower? Sure did. Without comparing to earlier periods, this one year is meaningless. This would be a good time to remind everyone why severe weather seems to be getting worse, but is mostly an artifact of our modern age of information awareness.
h/t to WUWT reader Steve for the tip.