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Parsing The Washington Post on Climate

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Aug 28, 2018  at  at 6:00 AM
Category
Climate Change

The Washington Post recently published an article entitled: Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous summer. The article has since also appeared in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. The article is based on numerous broad, unsupported generalities.

The article begins with the assertion that: “This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet.” Summers are hot and hot weather can be dangerous, but that is hardly new or strange.

The article mentions wildfires in Greece and in Yosemite. It states that “scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires”, though that is technically inaccurate, and implies that the heat and wind are exacerbated by climate change, though there is no evidence to support that implication.

The article goes on to state that: “The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say.” The “scientists” are not identified and there are numerous scientists who dispute such linkage.

The article also states that: “Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer.” While it is true that climate models have “predicted” (The IPCC now says: “projected”) warming for the past three decades, they have clearly not predicted “exactly” the situation this summer or any previous summer. The predominant climate model of three decades ago predicted more than twice the warming the globe is currently experiencing. The CMIP5 projections are also dramatically higher than current experience. Numerous scientists have recently acknowledged that the models are “running hot”. Clearly the article suggests an unjustified level of certainty.

The article further states that: “It's not just heat. A warming world is prone to multiple types of extreme weather - heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts.” The data does not support this assertion, as documented by Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. Some scientists predicted permanent drought in the US southwest, though that prediction has been falsified.

The article quotes climatologist Katharine Hayhoe as follows: "You see roads melting, airplanes not being able to take off, there's not enough water". However, surface melting of blacktop road surfaces is not a new phenomenon related to climate change. It has been a fact of life in much of the US in summer for decades. To imply that it is a new phenomenon is intentionally misleading. While it has also been common for airlines to be required to reduce cargo loading and even passenger loading of their planes during summer in desert locations, the recent issue with flight cancellations in Phoenix is linked directly to a specific aircraft – the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ), which is only certified by the FAA for operation at temperatures below 118°F. The manufacturer made a series of economic decisions regarding the aircraft design and the purchasing airlines made a series of economic decisions regarding their aircraft selections. Water shortages in desert regions are hardly a new occurrence; and, they are exacerbated by growing populations in desert regions combined with inadequate preparation for water retention during “monsoon” periods in these locations.

The article also refers to the results of attribution studies as theory meets reality, though the attribution study results are hardly certain, as there are no observational data to support them. Model outputs are not reality.

Articles such as this are intended to promote an agenda. They do so by offering unsupported assertions as if they were facts. They do not advance understanding, though they can increase concern.