No doubt we will hear how the current heatwaves in Australia are “unprecedented” and evidence of dangerous man-made global warming.
They are neither “global” nor “unprecedented”.
Okay, so Viv wasn't talking about last summer, he was pre-empting any discussion about this summer. (Last summer would be hard to beat in terms of heat records. It's already been documented that last year's summer was "unprecedented".) As for not being global - of course not. It's winter up north. You can't expect heat waves in winter. But first, let's look at the big flaw in his argument.
Hot somewhere some time isn't the same as hot everywhere at the same time
Viv put up a gaily coloured chart modeled on the chart from the then Climate Commission (which re-emerged as the Climate Council after the Abbott Government shut it down). The difference was that the Climate Commission chart was for a single summer and showed the record heat right across the continent. Viv's chart by contrast, showed record temperatures at single locations for particular years - which varied from 1912 through to 2009.
Look at the difference in this animated comparison. The denier chart has to span 97 years to show hot records in a lot of different single locations at different times. Australia's Angry Summer spanned just 90 days in the summer of 2012-13:
Viv Forbes thinks WUWT readers are pretty dumb. I don't blame him for thinking this. They may excel intellectually in other subjects but when it comes to weather and climate they are very dumb.
HotWhopper readers by contrast know very well that you can have a record heat wave across a continent without breaking a heat record in any single locality. That's because if it's hot everywhere the the whole continent is hot (by definition). You don't have to break hot records anywhere to be hot everywhere all at the same time.
However even if there's a heat record broken in one place at any one time, it can be cool elsewhere. So the continent as a whole may not be excessively hot. (I wrote that bit for the benefit of anyone who's strayed here from WUWT. By visiting WUWT, they could easily have lost several IQ points and I want to help recover them. If you need it elaborated further I've explained it with charts and numbers in this article.)
Look at this map of Australia and you'll see what I mean. (As always, click to enlarge).
Now compare the above with our Angry Summer of 2013 and notice just how widespread that heat wave was, plus the fact it lasted a couple of weeks:
Viv goes on to write about another heat wave. That one was back in 1896, so it was before Australia-wide records maintained by BoM. However look at what he wrote:
In the great heatwave of 1896, with nearly 200 deaths, the temperature at Bourke did not fall below 45.6 degC for six weeks, and the maximum was 53.3 degC. Bushfires raged throughout NSW and 66 people perished in the heat.
In 1897, Perth had an 18 day heatwave with a record of 43.3 degC. Other heatwaves were reported at Winton, 1891, Melbourne 1892, Boulia 1901, Sydney 1903, Perth 1906 and so on.
Yes, there have been heat waves in the past in Australia. However he's lying about temperatures at Bourke - see FrankD's comment below. And do you see what else he's done? Viv is trying to argue that Australia has been hotter in the past. All he's actually shown was in different years, different parts of Australia had heat waves. That's different to what we have been seeing in recent years. The national record maintained by BoM starts after Viv's last year. Just the same it's worth looking at the record and comparing early years of the twentieth century with recent years.
Here's an animation showing maximum and mean temperatures for all Australia. Notice the stark difference between early last century and the last few years.
I hope you now see the tricks deniers play. Especially people like Viv Forbes who have a vested interest, such as keeping share prices of coal companies as high as possible. The fact he's a coal company director should have no bearing on his views on climate science. But now you know that Viv Forbes is a climate disinformer, you could be excused for pointing to his coal company directorship as a reason - but not an excuse.
Viv talked about Australia's heat waves not proving global warming. Of course they don't. They are consistent with global warming. So has the world warmed since Viv's early records around a hundred years ago? You bet it has.
From the WUWT comments
The very first comment is a classic denier "I remember when it was hot in summer" from cnxtim, who says:
January 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm
Without doubt this AGW scaremongering is sheer poppycock.
I remember many a stinking hot summer as a child in western Sydney and around 1954 where thetemperature was over 112 degrees Fahrenheit at Penrith in NSW for many days on end over the Christmas holidays at my uncles farm.
I couldn't find any records for Penrith itself for the 1950s, but I did notice that Penrith hit 46.5 degrees last January (115.7 Fahrenheit). It does get hot there. Update: I found data for Richmond RAAF, which is only 18.5 km away. It wasn't hot in 1954 - temperatures then maxed out at 37.3 Celsius in December and there was no monthly average above 30C. It was a mild summer in Jan-Feb. It wasn't 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 or 1959 either. It was cooler in the 1950s than now. I went to Observatory Hill for the early 1950s. Nope - not a hot summer in sight!
craig eyles I think is talking about last week's heat wave when it stayed above 40 degrees for about a week across much of Victoria (Gippsland is in south eastern Victoria and is one of the cooler regions normally). He says:
January 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm
This is the “anti-global warming” Govt we have in power in Australia. Yes, global warming is shite, but in my 44 years haven’t been in 4 days of 40+ degree temps & I’m in Gippsland. Friday felt like time I went to Sacramento 1999.
There are lots of people who are confusing hot weather in different places at different times with continent wide warming all at the same time. Stephen B says:
January 20, 2014 at 10:55 pm
Last week was my birthday and I was reminded by my mother that when I was born 55 years ago I came 3 weks premature, brought on by the extreme heat wave that week in Warragul (Gippsland) Victoria – 4 days above 40 degrees. Nothing new.
Nick Stokes (who I haven't seen at WUWT for a while) says:
January 20, 2014 at 11:04 pm
This is an odd post – lots on temps in the past, but no numbers on the actual heat last week. It was very hot (here is my complaint at the time). Max temperatures in Melbourne for the first 5 days of the Australian Open were 31.1, 42.8,41.7, 43.9 and 43.9°C. Or, if you prefer, 88, 109, 107, 111, 111°F.
Now we’ve seen hotter days. And even a longer heat wave, in 1908, where maxima were close to or above 40 for six days. But they are rare. From 1855 to 2013, Melbourne averaged 1.3 days per summer in total exceeding 40°C. For the last thirty years, the average has been 1.7. So four consecutive days well over 40 is bound to attract comment.
That'll about do. You can imagine the rest. Mostly of the "I remember when" type or the climate conspiracy variation: "BoM is part of the worldwide climate hoax consortium and has adjusted all the old records". If you want to suffer more they are archived here.