No evidence to support wild claims of ‘global boiling’

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Appeared in the Ottawa Sun, August 9, 2023
No evidence to support wild claims of ‘global boiling’

Once again, we’re being told the climate and weather patterns we normally associate with summer are the signs and portents of climate doom.

According to the Hill Times, the “planet is in a climate emergency.” Salon said we’re facing the “Hellhounds of summer” as the “hottest heatwave in human history just keeps getting worse.” July, said CTV, was probably the “hottest month in 120,000 years.” And of course, the CBC is at the vanguard, with daily warnings of heat-driven “climate-related disasters” as we enter the “era of global boiling.”

So, that’s it then. Climate disasters. Hellhounds. Era of Global Boiling. Hottest in 12 millennia. Nothing left but to grab a beer and wait for spontaneous combustion, right? Or maybe not. For the record, climate change is real, partly humanity’s doing, and poses some risks to humanity. But Climageddon? Not buying it. Neither should you.

First, let’s deal with this “hottest month in 120,000 years” claim. Does anyone know what the climate was like, in any detailed way, over the last 120,000 years? In short, no.

Mercury thermometres were only invented around 1720. NASA’s surface temperature record (arguably one of the world’s best) only dates back to 1880. Satellites started recording temperatures in 1979, giving us a better idea about the Earth’s average temperatures (at least the temperature at certain heights in the atmosphere). That’s about all we have by way of decent-quality measurements of the Earth’s average surface temperature.

Any estimate of conditions previous to these dates is based on indirect measures of temperature (like fossil tree ring patterns or latent heat measured in arctic boreholes). But as a landmark report from the U.S. National Academies of Science documented back in 2006 (when claims of historic abnormality of climate first went mainstream), these “proxy” measures are of low resolution—in other words, vague indicators of temperature over centuries and millennia, not decades or years. So any claim that we’re experiencing the “hottest month in 120,000 years” is simply propaganda, not a statement of reality backed by hard evidence.

Now, about those fires. Yes, we’re having a lot of them this year. Yes, that’s playing havoc with air quality across much of North America and bringing misery in its wake. But once again, real measured data are a stubborn thing. And the data suggest that recent trends in fire patterns around the world are not clearly related to recent climate change. In fact, the trend in number of wildfires (and area burned) in Canada has been declining over the past three decades as the climate has warmed.

Globally, in its latest climate report, the UN’s vaunted IPCC assigns only “medium confidence” to the idea that climate change has actually caused increased “fire weather” in some regions on Earth. In addition, reports by the Royal Society (another fairly authoritative scientific body) have shown that while fire activity is on the rise in some regions, there’s not a clear overall increase when considering total areas burned worldwide.

Any sober analysis of the available evidence will deflate all the hot air from the media’s climate hysteria. In reality, over the relatively short period of time we’ve been measuring temperatures at regional scales, the climate seems to be getting hotter. But is it some kind of Earth-shattering historic abnormality that’s setting the world on fire? Have we entered the era of global boiling? There’s no good evidence to back up those claims.

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