Guest News Brief by Kip Hansen — 24 May 2020
The New York Times has an amusing feature called the Climate Section. It has a neat newsletter (called ClimateFwd: ) that it will send you by email headlining its latest efforts to push the Climate Change narrative set by the editors of the NY Times. The latest memes are that 1) “All stories should be Climate Change stories” and 2) “All pandemic stories must segue into increased concern about Climate Change”.
The latest effort is from Somini Sengupta is titled: “What a Week’s Disasters Tell Us About Climate and the Pandemic” . Oddly, the featured image (called “art” in the newspaper business), is a picture of boy waving a cloth at a swarm of locust in January (not exactly “this week” and not caused by climate change).
What climate change disasters does Sengupta point to?
“A cyclone slammed into the Indian megacity of Kolkata, pounding rains breached two dams in the Midwestern United States, and on Thursday came warning that the Atlantic hurricane season could be severe.”
Each of these is misrepresented and spun to be “climate change disasters”.
Cyclone Amphan is just one of the regularly occurring cyclones that sweep up the Bay of Bengal nearly every year. Despite the size of the cyclone and its path, only 80 lives were lost according to early counts. It was just 13 years ago on 15 November 2007 that Cyclone Sidr with wind speeds up to 260 km/hour, made landfall on southern Bangladesh, causing over 3,500 deaths and severe damage. This event, a supposed disaster, was in reality a miracle considering that it directly impacted Kolkata, which has a high population density and very poor infrastructure. The governments of India and Bangladesh did a heroic job safeguarding their people.
Climate change had nothing to do with Cyclone Amphan — cyclones are part of the normal climate of the Bay of Bengal.
Michigan Dam Failures
The claim that “pounding rains breached two dams in the Midwestern United States” is equally a misrepresentation. To be picky, only one dam was breached, the other was simply overtopped. It was not pounding rain at the time of the breach and it was not caused by climate change in any normal sense of the word. I covered this story in “Michigan Dam Failures and Climate Change” – a wet spring and heavy rains, which are normal for Central Michigan, caused a dam to be breached — a dam that has been known to be unsafe for years – it had been declared repeatedly since 1993 by the FERC (which regulates hydroelectric dams) to be unsafe. The Michigan Dam failures story is not a climate change story, it is a story of greed, self-interest and misguided environmental activism. Read my earlier piece and the many interesting comments giving additional information.
Severe Hurricane Season
You may be getting tired of the term “misrepresentation” – but it must be used in this case as well.
What are the real Atlantic Hurricane Season predictions?
“Colorado State University hurricane researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.”
And from the US National Hurricane Center:
“May 21, 2020 — An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.”
The real predictions? Probably an “above normal” season. All seasons are one of the following: “Above-normal, Normal, or Below-normal”. Our striving NY Times journalist, Sengupta, links to another NY Times story for her hurricane statement – a story which quotes an unnamed federal weather scientist as saying that the coming hurricane season is “expected to be a busy one”.
There is no mention of a “severe” hurricane season from any reputable hurricane center or scientist. The use of the word “severe” is gratuitous and patently false.
This coming season is predicted to be “above-normal”. Why “above-normal”? Philip Klotzbach, at the University of Colorado, says his prediction is based on “the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.” El Niño cycles (ENSO) are a natural, normal, recurring cyclical part of Earths overall weather/climate pattern. ENSO cycles are not climate change.
And then there are the locusts
Locusts in Africa and the Middle East are not extraordinary – they are cyclical and have plagued the region for all of recorded history. I invite you to read Heartland’s take on this year’s swarms or NPR’s take on it (as usual for NPR, they report a “may be linked to…” causation clause required by their Editorial Narrative). In either case, locust swarms are a recurring problem in the Horn of Africa, and have been for thousands of years. It takes just the right series of weather events to kick off a huge swarm event – such a series occurred over the last few years. The weather sequence may be related to changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole, sometimes referred to as the Indian Ocean’s equivalent of the ENSO. It may or may not be changing – but in the real world weather and climate system, nothing remains the same.
And the Pandemic?
Of course, the governmental responses to the pandemic, which vary from country to country, have made everything worse and more dangerous for almost everyone. Only the rich and comfortable are spared the worst effects.
The poor of Africa, India, Bangladesh, whose daily lives and economies have been severely impacted by the lockdown orders, will suffer the most from any new adverse weather, climate, social, health or economic event.
It has always been thus. Only increased standards of living will lift the poor into a more comfortable level of existence. That means strong vibrant economies, universally available electrical power, beneficent governments, real education for boys and girls (and the opportunity for continued education for adults) and allowing agriculture to thrive using all the latest scientific advances including pesticides, herbicides, and genetically improved crops – to name a few of the needed ingredients of a better future. Readers are invited to add to this list.
What is not on that list? Misguided attempts to control the weather and climate that will destroy economies and cripple industry resulting in lower standards of living for the average man and woman.
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And that’s the news brief for the day….
I am often caught by surprise, over and over, by the lack of journalistic integrity – lack of what would have been considered the minimal norms of journalism 20 years ago – at what used to be one of the world’s great newspapers. What a shame.
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