The Washington Post recently pumped global warming alarm with a front-page, above-the-fold headline screaming, “2°C BEYOND THE LIMIT: Extreme climate change has arrived in America.” It was a headline that couldn’t be more at odds with the soft-pedalled inconvenient truth of the federal government’s National Climate Assessment.
Based on original analysis by staff reporters, the Post featured a map (above) of America showing a how much average US temperatures had changed over the period 1895-2018. Some parts of the US had cooled, most of the US had warmed slightly and, there were some scattered parts of the US that had warmed in excess of 2°C, according to the analysis.
Although the Post clearly wanted readers to focus on the map’s scattered dark red spots – i.e., those areas experiencing average temperature increases in excess of 2°C — it’s hard not to notice that in the area from central Oklahoma to western South Carolina, and from southern Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico, average temperatures had either not changed or had even cooled. The Post analysis ironically labeled this as a “global warming hole” and guessed that it might be due to regional air pollution reflecting sunlight.
But past the global warming hole and randomly scattered areas of dark red, there is the problem of the contrived metric of average temperature. While every day has a mathematically determinable average temperature, no one actually spends much, if any, time in it. It is a metric invented for the era of global warming without other significance. What is likely more important to more people are daily highs and lows, especially the daily highs when the narrative is global warming.
That’s where cooling and the National Climate Assessment come in. Although the latest edition of the National Climate Assessment is often characterized by the media as a Trump administration report, it was largely prepared before the 20126 election and then preliminarily (and unusually) rolled out soon after the election of President Trump by the Obama administration.
The National Climate Assessment reports that, for the period between 1986 and 2016, the average warmest temperatures over more than half of the continental U.S declined from the average warmest temperatures for the period 1901-1960. Compared with the Dust Bowl era — when there was about 25 percent less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — average temperature extremes over most of the country have declined by almost 2°F.
The National Climate Assessment also reveals that not only are there fewer heat waves in the US today than in 1900, they are also less intense.
This would seem to be good, or at least interesting news but none of this fits the part of the global warming narrative. The story line there is dire warnings of higher high temperatures and more and more intense heat waves. So none of this inconvenient information was mentioned in media coverage of the National Climate Assessment’s release.
Not only did the New York Times fail to mention this decline in extremely hot days and heat waves in its report on the National Climate Assessment, it actually reported the opposite: “the frequency and severity of warm days have increased.” This was followed up in July with a New York Times headline blaring, “Heat Waves in the Age of Climate Change: Longer, More Frequent and More Dangerous.”
The Washington Post reported that the National Climate Assessment, “finds that the continental United States is… being racked by far worse heat waves than the nation experienced only 50 years ago.” And CNN erroneously reported that the NCA, “The United States has seen more frequent and longer-lasting heatwaves.”
And they wonder why the “fake news” label sticks.
But what about the increase in average temperature? Isn’t that evidence of dire global warming?
The latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that there has been no warming of the average US temperature since 2005, despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of about 10 percent.
None of this is to say that manmade emissions of carbon dioxide don’t have a greenhouse warming effect. Of course, they do.
But mankind makes all kinds of contributions to the atmosphere and climate. Land use, for example, can either cause cooling or warming. Air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide emissions from burning coal, may cause cooling by reflecting sunlight before it hits the Earth. Combining man’s various contributions with unpredictable and significant natural variations, it’s no wonder that climate models have so miserably failed to predicted global temperature changes and climate doom.
The problem with climate is not that America (and the rest of the world) may be warming and cooling in various ways, it’s that the doomsday climate narrative is being relentlessly pushed by media that ranges from incurious to dishonest.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com, served on the Trump EPA transition team and is the author of “Scare Pollution; Why and How to Fix the EPA” (Bench Press, 2016).