Thursday, January 08, 2009

Freezing out the facts.

Liam Dutton, the weatherman for the BBC, recently wrote on the BBC site:
Having worked at the BBC weather centre for about six years, I'm finding it hard to remember the last time I talked about cold weather constantly for such a long period of time - and that's saying something, as I'm a bit of a winter weather fan.

The start of the meteorological winter is 1 December and last month proved to be the coldest December in more than 30 years, with the average temperature at 1.7C (35F), compared with the long-term average of 4.7C (40F) for the first part of the month.
Dutton says the he is frequently asked if this unusually cold winter is a record breaker. He says it isn’t: “The current UK lowest temperature record stands at -27.2C (-17F) at Braemar in Scotland, which was last reached in December 1995, and before that in 1982.”

So the coldest winter on record in the UK is 1995 and before that 1982. The London Telegraph reports that even southern England, which is used to mild winters were shocked this year. “Dog walkers and boat owners were startled to discover that the waters around the exclusive Sandbanks peninsula which stretches out into the harbour at Pool, Dorset, were covered in ice.” They report that a half mile section of the coast “reaching out about 20 yards to sea was frozen”. The local marina manager says that in his 20 years of managing the marina “I cannot remember this ever happening before.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has urged people to bring all pets indoors and report that smaller pets outside have frozen to death. The water fountains in Trafalagar Square have frozen and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that the freezing temperatures are putting wild birds at risk as it is becoming difficult for them to find food.

In Milan, Italy a snowstorm brought the city to a halt. Warsaw, and Berlin, Germany, both saw minus 20 degrees Celsisus days. Police in Poland saw that this winter 76 people have died from the cold. In France, snow has cancelled rail service between Pairs and Marseille. Demand for energy is so high that the authorities are warning of black outs if people don’t cut their heating needs. An icebreaker was brought into Rotterdam harbor to break up the ice that had closed the harbor

The deaths are a sad reminder that cold weather, not warm weather, is the main killer of people, especially the elderly. Last year England had 25,300 elderly die due to cold weather, that was up on the previous year when 23,740 died from the cold. A spokesman for the National Pensioners Conventions says: “Since 1997, we have lost over 260,000 pensioners during the winter months because of cold-related illnesses...”

I remember in 2003 that a particularly unusual heat wave hit France while many physicians were on their annual holiday. That summer France saw 14,802 people die from the heat. That got reported in the US. Now we read that cold has killed over a quarter of a million elderly people in just the UK alone in the last decade. The French heat wave from 2003 has not yet been repeated so those 14,802 deaths were in one year only. The UK sees that number of deaths EVERY year from cold plust around another 10,000 more. Did you see that reported in the US media?

This is a far more tragic set of statistics but one the media in the US doesn’t find “sexy”. It doesn’t have that “global warming” angle to it that the media loves so much.

A google news search on “coldest winter England” turns up quite a few stories from the UK regarding the bitter weather there this year but the US media barely appears in the listing. The rather unusual story about a section of sea water freezing got no hits from the US media in google news, though the UK media reported on it. I couldn’t find a mention of at the New York Times while the BBC couldn’t ignore it.

I’m not going to say that this weather proves global cooling -- even if I’m becoming more and more convinced that a global cooling is more likely than a global warming, at least for the rest of my lifetime. Weather extremes like this can’t prove global cooling. Of course, neither do weather extremes in the other direction prove global warming. And it would be silly if a “skeptic” on the warming issue were to argue that this ultra-cold winter is proof of cooling. I am sure that many warming activists will go to great lengths to remind us not to be fooled by singular weather events like this one.

Well, except when those singular events appear to bolster their case. The on-line envrionmental publication Grist was very quick to note that extra heavy wild fires in California were a result of global warming -- even if experts in forest fires said that was poppycock. Grist justified their hysteria saying: “You’ve got to talk when people are paying attention” and “You’ve got to drive home the point while people actually care about wildfires (same true for hurricanes, droughts, etc.).” They said that jumping in during such disasters would be useful because “the media will lap it up.”

When Hurricane Katriana it the Green Left was all over the media with claims about how global warming was responsible. Not only that but more frequent and powerful storms would be battering the US as a result of this warming. Katrina hit in 2005. That year 15 hurricanes hit. The 2006 hurricane season was light, with just 5. The 2007 hurrican season ended with 6, 2008 was slightly more active with 8.

Torandos are a nasty piece of weather. And sometimes they hit in places where they normally aren’t found. Since 1950 there have six recorded in New York City, about one every decade. The Washington Post ran an article on August 9, 2007 about the small tornado that had hit New York City the prior day. The Post gave it the scare headline: “Did Global Warming Cause NYC Tornado?”

(The link for this story has been removed from the Post site and the story appears to have vanished from their archives as well. But all traces of the story have not vanished. If you go to this warming scare story you on the Post site you will see they forgot to delete a link to the story. Here is a screen capture of the “more stories” section listing the story. But if you try to click on the link it will take you no where.

In 2007 England suffered from some summer flooding that was unusually severe. The Independent reported: “It’s official, the heavier rainfall in Britain is... being generated by man-made global warming.” One atypical weather event and they hopped on the warming angle. The current cold spell, however, is reported without any mention of the warming worry. Later studies showed that warming had nothing to do with the floods. But all the major media outlet had already reported otherwise.

Weather extremes can be very nasty things. And the media can report them or ignore them. From what I’ve seen their tendency is to report endlessly any such extremes that substantiate the warming agenda that politicians and the UN are pushing. Weather extremes that would undermine such reports tend to get ignored or downplayed. I'm not even saying that the press is doing this intentionally. I suspect that they know what they know and information that confirms what they know is deemed important by them. Information, which seems to contradict or undermine what they know is selectively ignored or downplayed because "they know" it isn't, or can't be, important.

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