Comment by Kip Hansen
The always amusing NY Times’ Climate section has begun offering a new feature: Catastrophic Climate Propaganda, forwarded to your email inbox. They have named it “ClimateFwd:”. There have been two issues so far, two weeks apart.
The journalist involved seems to be “Kendra ‘Gloom is My Beat’ Pierre-Louis” — no kidding, her self-chosen Twitter identity — who writes mostly content-free pieces for the climate desk at the Times. Her contribution to the first installment of ClimateFwd: starts with this:
“At Climate Fwd: we love when you send us your questions. And one of the most frequent questions you ask is, what can I do to shrink my climate footprint?”
And offers three cutting-edge scientific answers:
- “If your goals for 2018 include getting more exercise, consider committing to walking or bicycling distances under a mile.”
- “One way is to waste less food.”
- Use phone apps that “quantify the carbon emissions associated with [your] purchases, investments, dietary choices and preferred modes of transport.”
Each of these hard-hitting, sure-fire planet-saving suggestions is accompanied by incredibly science-free, inane explanations of how they will make a difference.
I apologize in advance — I am being less than collegial in my opinion of the work of a fellow journalist — but the first installment of ClimateFwd: is so silly that I can hardly contain myself. It seems to be written for ‘tweenagers (you know, middle-schoolers) who brains have been blended into a semi-colloidal mass of misunderstandings about how the world works through constant exposure to social media, television, and the curricula at their schools.
Their latest offering, received today, is hardly better. [Apparently, ClimateFwd: is meant to be viewed in your email so when using the “View in Browser” link in the email it brings up a not-quite-functional web page.]
The feature article “Its Getting Hotter”, written by Ms. ‘Gloom Is My Beat’, is about NASA’s ranking 2017 as the “second-warmest year since reliable record-keeping began in 1880, trailing only 2016.” Which the Times covers in this story. Remember, the Global Average Temperature for 2017 is somewhere south of 15°C [59 °F] which is neither warm nor hot.
When I accuse the NY Times’ Climate desk of propaganda, I do not do so lightly. Here is the graph they offer, labeled “Source: NASA”:
I have increased the text size of several elements so that the “doctoring” of the graph by the NY Times’ interactive graphics department is more visible.
NASA never ever made a graph of global temperature anomaly with a base period of 1880-1899 — two decades, during which Global Average Temperature and its [nearly imaginary] anomaly are based on rough guess-work at best. The NASA standard is 1951-1980, the usual 30-year climatic period. The clever little eager-beavers at the Times have moved the zero point down to the 1880-1899 level thereby increasing the “anomaly” to nearly 1.2 °C.
Apparently, NASA’s official figures of “1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York” did not seem “hotter” enough, so they felt it necessary to sex-it-up.
Without belaboring the point any further, I will simply show the NASA GISS MONTHLY temperature index graph for the same period [some commentary in blue]:
This is the Met Office Monthly graph:
The year 2017 apparently had two warmer months (looks like January and February) and through the magic of “anomalization” this has made 2017 the second [or, if you’d like a second opinion, the “scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded that 2017 was the third-] warmest year on record.
You could ask me why I have posted only these monthly graphs to offset an annual graph — I look forward to your answers in the comments.
But, wait, there’s more:
The second installment of ClimateFwd: includes a piece by Brad Plumer — “Reporter at @nytclimate. On the apocalypse beat, more or less.” — honest, I am not making these Twitter handles up, click the link on his name — in which he talks about a controversy in the suburbs of San Francisco on proposals to “Add… more housing near transit stops [which] could allow more people to be less dependent on car travel, reducing emissions significantly.”
This irrelevancy is followed by Ms. “Gloom Is My Beat” answering the burning climate question [admit that you’ve been dying to know…] a question sent in: “from Chris Brooks in Noblesville, Ind.: “I live far from the coasts. They will be spending billions/trillions on saving cities from rising seawater. Many have purposely put themselves in danger through coastal living. Why should I have to pay higher taxes to support their chosen lifestyles?”
Luckily, we are spared having to read an answer, since, although there are paragraphs of writing, there is no answer to the question offered, and nothing is really said about sea level rising or why it is a tax issue. We are informed though, as filler, that wildfires (I guess she means forest fires) caused a lot of damage last year “partly because climate change is making wildfires more likely” — that clever thing — climate change — magically fiddling with probabilities [ for a second opinion, see this link h/t Climate Etc.] . Glad we have that issue settled.
The ClimateTeam at the NY Times would like to hear from you, they say so themselves:
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