The headline was one of the most stupid declaratives I have seen in quite some time, but it’s worth mentioning because it shows, better than anything I can think of, the scale of the problem facing climatologists, environmentalists and anyone concerned about the future health of Planet Earth. Thirty years of climate hysterics being proven wrong over and over again.
That heading appeared in a national newspaper I shall not dignify by naming. It was accompanied by a column written by a bellicose newspaper magnate and unapologetic climate denier, who I shall also not dignify by naming.
Every sane person is opposed to the pollution of the environment, it continued — an exercise in distraction if ever there was one, considering the words to follow — but there is no justification for the self-punitive nonsense of the Paris climate accord.
Said national newspaper is a tireless advocate of fossil fuels, Big Oil and, specifically, the Alberta tar sands, the filthiest, dirtiest, most ruinous-to-the-environment form of extracting fossil fuel there is. Jobs — or, more importantly, the quarterly profit statements of mining companies and Big Oil matter more than the future health of the planet, to cut to the chase.
Never mind that, though. Take another look at that comment: Thirty years of climate hysterics being proven wrong over and over again.
Never mind the past 30 years. Let’s look at the last 30 days.
The past month has seen power shortages across California as record temperatures — 47.2°C one recent weekend in Los Angeles — drove a surge in the use of air conditioners. A prolonged heatwave across the UK melted the roof of a science centre in Glasgow, Scotland, a nation state more renowned for its damp and drizzle damp than blistering heat. Ouargla, a remote desert town in Algeria’s Sahara, experienced the hottest temperature ever recorded on the entire continent of Africa: 51.3°C on July 5th.
Night-time provides little relief — in itself an anomaly — in some hot spots around the globe: Quriyat, on the gulf coast of Oman, recorded minimum overnight temperatures of 42.6°, set a new mark for the highest “low” temperatures ever recorded on Planet Earth.
A “heat dome” over much of Eurasia culminated in dramatic higher-than-average heat-wave temperatures throughout Russia during the World Cup; the post-match ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow was interrupted by a sudden deluge of near Biblical proportions. French president Emmanuel Macron was forced to wring the rainwater out of his suit jacket after the World Cup trophy was presented to Les Bleus; Russian president Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, was allowed to retain his dignity after a minder present a black umbrella to shield him from the torrential downpour of a Moscow monsoon. (Note to climate deniers: Moscow is not particularly renowned for its monsoon rains, not even in July.)
But wait, there’s more. Torrential flooding across Japan, four times the monthly average, led to more than 150 deaths in one of the most technologically advanced, climate-aware nations on the planet. A lethal heat wave across southern Quebec, prompting dozens more deaths (54 to be exact , as of July 14th). Montreal set a new record high temperature of 36.6°C on July 2nd.
Western Siberia, which noted climate denier Sarah Palin can see from her living room, recorded five straight days of temperatures rising to more than 30°C this past month.
That’s a big deal because climate scientists, environmentalists and field biologists worry this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, which — science again — will release vast amounts of methane, a more problematic and potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
The issue is not just wild fluctuations in hot and cold but rather that weather fronts — both hot and cold — are stalling or being blocked by shifts in the jet-stream. That causes droughts and storms to linger longer in one place, which exacerbates the damage. Recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts are becoming the rule, not the exception. And scientists — those wieners — warn these weather changes are in line with their predictions of how increased, and constantly rising, gas emissions are likely to affect the climate.
Weather is not the same as climate, of course, but the two are related. One is short-term, the other is long-term. The expression “global warming,” now out of favour with most climate scientists, is misleading because it implies that heat is the primary indicator of Planet Earth’s deteriorating health, when it’s climate extremes — wild, unpredictable swings between extreme heat and extreme cold — that is the more serious and hard-to-isolate problem.
Every issue, especially one as complex and (unnecessarily) controversial as climate change, needs a snappy picture or viral video to bring the message to the public. Just such a video emerged this past week from western Greenland, where a huge iceberg that drifted close to the coastal town of Innaarsuit, prompted a mass evacuation, in case the iceberg calved in such a way that the resulting wave, likened to a tsunami, would swamp people’s homes.
This is not a joke: Last summer, four people died after waves swamped houses in northwestern Greenland, following a seaquake.
Climate scientists have coined a new term, “extreme iceberg risks,” which they say are becoming more frequent, because of climate change.
Back to that screed in a right-wing national newspaper in Canada.
Alongside that declaration about how Thirty years of climate hysterics (are) being proven wrong over and over again came this what newspaper people call “nut graph:” “No ice has been lost by Greenland, other than what melts every summer and then forms again, and water levels have not moved appreciably.”
Yes, indeed! And here’s the video to prove it.
Not all right-leaning media outlets believe climate change is simply the fevered dream of hand-wringing hysterics and unrepentant lefties.
The UK’s Daily Mail, not exactly a bastion of Guardian or Independent-style progressive thinking, warned in no uncertain terms on July 4th that global warming — climate change by any other name — is to blame for all-time heat record being set worldwide, even as the experts — those wieners — warn that these already stifling temperatures will continue to soar.
I don’t know about you, but I’m with the climate hysterics.