Popular denier waves off hottest spring in U.S. history

The multitudes at this site have been wondering how long it will take before the most popular of climate change deniers waves off the hottest spring in American history. It's been months. 

Well, the wait is over. Anthony Watts finally bothered to opine on the subject, cleverly mixing the minimization of the hottest spring and second hottest May with ad hominem attacks on James Hansen, as usual, and cherry-picked graphs, as also usual. 

He begins with the press release from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, then pivots to a claim that the five degrees above normal spring is the result of what meteorologists call a "blocking high." 

He writes:

One spot on the globe becomes the focal point and “proof” that AGW [global warming] is happening. This gets touted in the media..[b]ut this was found to be based on a synoptic pattern, basically weather noise. This spring in the USA is no different.

That makes sense, as long as you think of the spring in the Midwest in particular and the continental U.S. in general as "one spot."

Watts goes on to point out that it's still not nearly as warm as the l930's, so why worry?

This ignores what scientists call a "trend." Here's the NOAA chart for May over the last century: 

May temps
The somewhat encouraging news is that the warm winter and the hottest spring in our recorded history does seem to have influenced public opinion, according to the most recent research (pdf): 

The most recent survey results also indicate an increasing confidence among Americans that global warming is occurring. Just under two thirds of those who believe global warming is occurring stated that they were very confident of this position. This 63 percent confidence level is 14 percentage points higher than in the fall of 2011 and marks the highest level since the NSAPOCC began in 2008.

Respondents to the pollsters specifically indicated that the warm winters and spring have influenced their views. This is heartening, somewhat, because it indicates that most people still are open to observable data, unlike Watts and his zombies, um, followers. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

4 thoughts on “Popular denier waves off hottest spring in U.S. history

  1. So the warmest spring in recent memory means, what exactly? It means that the earths climate changes, that’s about it.

    Warm weather, cold weather, melting glaciers, polar bears are all evidence that the earths climate changes only, they are not evidence that CO2 is the cause.


  2. That last bit would involve analyzing the data, klem.

    Kip, I wanted to highlight a key sleight-of-hand Watts used, as it’s a common one, i.e. the claim that the warm spring was a consequence of a synoptic pattern. Er, sure, all conceivable weather events can be described in those terms, but all that does is beg the question of whether the synoptic pattern is changing in some way.

    Indeed it is, as a number of papers have described in the last year or so, with a warming Arctic leading to an increase in the amplitude of the jet stream, which in turn makes blocking events not only more likely but (and of greatest concern) more likely to stick. See this current review article for more, although bear in mind that the article is focused on the cold winter part of the problem.


  3. Steve, I agree that using the phrase “synoptic pattern” simply begs a bigger, more important question, and I saw that very interesting study you referenced, and hope to get to it soon (or at least, by winter!)

    The other big question that comes up with climate change denial is arguably psychological, which may be as complex in its own intricate way as our climate. That’s a topic for another post I hope to be able to work through and publish soon. Thanks for checking in: comments always appreciated.


  4. Tom Toles has a rant with a memorable conclusion on this topic today:

    Burning question
    By Tom Toles

    Enjoying the weather reports? Weather increasingly comes in three forecasts: Out of control wildfires, out of control rainfall, and out of control wind. As the west is once again ablaze in what is now politely called “fire season,” perhaps soon to be “conflagration season,” I invite the ever-clever climate deniers to retell their never tiresome “if this is climate change, I’ll take it!” witticisms. Anyone?

    And speaking of wind, we can watch while they execute their last gusty vacillation between “climate changes all the time” and “more clouds will cancel out warming” stratagems. The latter of these two is an interesting tactic employing the concept of “a negative feedback loop,” which my comments section often resembles. This is a cute idea, because, you know, it COULD be true. Who’s to say? Therefore why worry? Here’s one reason. Because there is ALSO such a thing as “a POSITIVE feedback loop,” which makes the problem WORSE, not better.

    No matter to the climate change deniers. Their whole game is to sow doubt, like seeding clouds, and this is just more good fun. The telling fact about their passionate love affair with doubt is simply this: THEY DON’T HAVE ANY. They are so sure that there could not possibly be a carbon climate problem, that they are content to gamble the planet on their certainty. It’s a sure thing! And one thing we know about gamblers who have “a sure thing,” they eventually gamble it all away.

    By Tom Toles | 07:15 AM ET, 06/13/2012

    TITLE: my site
    URL: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2012/04/24/top-twitter-blog-marketing-tips/
    BLOG NAME: my site
    DATE: 06/18/2012 11:34:16 AM
    A Change in the Wind: Popular denier waves off hottest spring in U.S. history


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: