Climate science deniers are a funny lot. From my reading of climate conspiracy blogs like WUWT, most of them don't know what they are rejecting. Nor do they care. What drives some of them seems to be a desire to show they are cleverer than the experts. But like many people who aim to look smart, they don't fool anyone who really is smart. Sarcasm only works if it's grounded in fact. When you use sarcasm but base it on a logical fallacy it tends to reflect badly on you, not on the person you are mocking.
Take Eric Worrall for example. He's the person who Anthony Watts has put in charge of WUWT while Anthony's off doing I don't know what. At least that's what it looks like.
Eric has posted two articles in succession at WUWT. He seems to think they show that "climate alarmists don't know nuffin'".
It snowed in Montreal in winter time
His first article (archived here) was about a recent heavy snowfall in Montreal, in winter, after some unseasonally warm winter weather. He wrote:
ON the 24th December this year, Montreal was a poster child for the “new normal” – mild weather, no snow in sight. All that came to an abrupt end on the 29th, when Montreal strayed off narrative with a record breaking snowfall.
And he added:
No doubt all that snow was due to CO2 causing climate alarmists to make fools of themselves.
In those three sentences Eric achieves a lot. He builds a straw man, he implies that there was a narrative to break, and he wrongly thinks that "alarmists" think that with global warming it won't snow in winter in Montreal. You could infer more from those three sentences, such as Eric thinking that if something hasn't happened yet it won't happen as climate change continues. Or you might infer that Eric thinks that a fresh fall of snow negates the especially mild December, makes it all go away. That would be supposition, so I won't dwell on that.
The straw man
Eric starts with a straw man. He just makes stuff up. There is no science that suggests that it is now normal for Montreal to be without snow all winter. I don't know if Montreal has ever had a winter without snow in the instrumental era. I doubt it. It gets very cold up there so winter precipitation is likely to take the form of snow. Last winter, people in Montreal were complaining about it being the coldest winter in 20 years.
Logical fallacies are one of the telltale techniques of climate science denial, and building straw men is a favourite pastime of deniers.
The record snowfall is only for 29 December. It's just a day record, not a winter time record and not even a December record. Still, the snowfall was heavy for Montreal, measuring 39.2 cm (15.4 in).
I looked up the record for December and it was around 45 cm (18 in) on 27 December 2012. This was also the all time record for a day's dump of snow in Montreal. (Some locals recall the snowstorm of March 1971 as more memorable.) I came across a meteorological discussion of the December 2012 weather event - from Sheldon J. Kusselson (NOAA NESDIS), and another from Lee Grenci at Wunderground.com.
Global warming, precipitation and temperature
Precipitation: With global warming there is more moisture in the air. That means that there are more heavier downpours and snowfalls than when the planet was cooler.
Temperature: With global warming the average temperature over the entire planet is higher than it was. That doesn't mean the end of the seasons. It doesn't mean that winter will stop. It doesn't even mean that every single place on earth is warming. There are some places that have been cooler. Not many, but a few, as you can see in the trend map below.
|Figure 1 | Change in surface temperature over 1901-2012. Source: IPCC AR5 WG1 Figure TS.2 (my annotations)|
It was hot in Montreal, for winter
Montreal has an average maximum for December below 0 °C. According to WeatherSpark:
The month of December is characterized by rapidly falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 0°C to -5°C over the course of the month, exceeding 6°C or dropping below -14°C only one day in ten.
This month it was 16 °C on Christmas Eve, after days of warmer than normal temperatures. Eric quoted from an article on CBC News, which stated that the Christmas Eve temperature was " a coat-shedding 20 degrees higher than normal for this time of year." That's 20 °C higher, or 36 °F higher!
Reading through the CBCNews article it quoted the World Meteorological Organisation as attributing the record-breaking warmth to El Nino (16 to 20 per cent) and global warming. I expect some can be attributed just to weather variability, but not much.
It looks as if Environment Canada houses someone who wants to play down the influence of global warming. The article quoted Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Leblanc: ""We can't say 100 per cent that it's climate change," he said. Between the two, he said El Niño is more likely to blame than climate change." Thing is, if it was just El Niño then it's unlikely that the temperature would have got that high. It hasn't before (as evidenced by the record). I'm more inclined to the WMO view - that it's both El Niño and global warming.
Who is the fool?
Remember how Eric wrote, flippantly: "No doubt all that snow was due to CO2 causing climate alarmists to make fools of themselves."? I don't know what he could have meant by that. Is he arguing that it didn't hit 16 °C on Christmas Eve in Montreal? Is he arguing that snow in winter in Montreal means climate science is a hoax? More fool Eric.
Eric has been haunting climate blogs for years. He's not got the excuse that he's ignorant because he can't bring himself to visit decent climate blogs. He pestered people at WatchingTheDeniers for quite a long time (where he made a habit of equating climate science with early 20th century eugenics).
Back to Eric. You'd think that some science would have rubbed off, but it didn't. That's why I speculated up top that he is not interested in climate science. The driver is more likely wanting to appear smarter than he is. (A bit like Anthony Watts.) Eric has more chance of doing that at WUWT than on a climate science blog, but even at WUWT his efforts have mixed results.
Mocking the vulnerable in Pakistan
I won't dwell too much on Eric's second article (archived here), because I've already written quite a bit. However this is an example showing how science deniers are hypocrites when it comes to thinking about people in less developed countries. (You know, how they want to make money sending them coal to burn, regardless of the harm that this will cause in adverse health effects from smog, and climate change.)
His article was about a piece by Iftikhar Firdous in the Express Tribune (with the International New York Times). It was about how the provincial government doesn't seem to have a strategy to deal with the weather that climate change is bringing, particularly when global warming exacerbates El Nino, bringing more snow and rain.
Eric quoted some of the article including this part:
Floods triggered by the glacial lake outburst phenomena (GLOF) phenomenon have killed more than 90 people across Malakand Division. And yet, there are a series of doubts as to what has caused these events.I'm guessing Eric didn't understand that part, because he commented:
Here I was thinking that the Himalayas were melting away. Luckily journalists on the scene have corrected this misapprehension, and helped us to understand that global warming causes harsher winters and a massive increase in snow accumulation.
Glacial Lake Outburst Floods and Climate Change
The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting. Eric is wrong if he really thinks that glaciers aren't retreating in the Himalayas. Many and maybe most of them are shrinking. There is a human interest article about villages in the Himalayas that have been affected by reducing glaciers, written by Daniel Grossman on the Yale Environment 360 website.
The newspaper article that Eric quoted from wasn't just about cold winters, it was about wetter winters, with more snow and floods with the El Nino, and flooding from the glacial lakes. Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) are a much greater risk with glaciers melting with global warming. Below is an abstract from a paper by Samjwal Ratna Bajracharya and Pradeep Mool of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), published in Annals of Glaciology in 2010. The paper discusses the melting of glaciers, the formation and expansion of moraine-dammed lakes, and the dangers of glacial lake outburst floods. The abstract:
Recent climate changes have had a significant impact on the high-mountain glacial environment. Rapid melting of glaciers has resulted in the formation and expansion of moraine-dammed lakes, creating a potential danger from glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). Most lakes have formed during the second half of the 20th century.
Glaciers in the Mount Everest (Sagamartha) region, Nepal, are retreating at an average rate of 10–59 m a–1. From 1976 to 2000, Lumding and Imja Glaciers retreated 42 and 34 m a–1, respectively, a rate that increased to 74 m a–1 for both glaciers from 2000 to 2007.
During the past decade, Himalayan glaciers have generally been shrinking and retreating faster while moraine-dammed lakes have been proliferating. Although the number of lakes above 3500 m a.s.l. has decreased, the overall area of moraine-dammed lakes is increasing. Understanding the behaviour of glaciers and glacial lakes is a vital aspect of GLOF disaster management.
Insensitive and wrong
The point I wanted to make is that using the Tribune article to reject climate science is a low blow even for deniers. Eric is mocking people who are most vulnerable to climate change, who are suffering from the more extreme weather and risks to their water supplies, all brought about by global warming.
No mention of the really unusual weather
As you may know, WUWT is owned by someone living in the USA. The one thing that would have struck you if you visited WUWT is that while Eric wrote about a heavy snowfall in Montreal in winter, and about the difficulties facing the people in Pakistan this winter, there has not been any attention paid to any of the recent extreme and devastating weather in the USA:
- the unseasonal warm weather in eastern North America (Eric mentioned it but only as a springboard to his snow in winter article);
- the devastating floods in Missouri and Illinois
- Floods that will extend through January down the Mississippi
- Deadly tornadoes near Dallas
- The blizzard that hit western Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, extending to Kansas, Wisconsin and Michigan.
From the WUWT comments
This is a mixture of thoughts from both the Montreal article and the Pakistan article. Not that it matters. I'd guess that most of the people commenting at WUWT don't bother with the articles they are supposed to be commenting on. They just see the box that invites them to post whatever silly thought is in their head at the time - and away they go.
I think Leo Smith is having trouble understanding that all weather is impacted by the greater amount of energy on Earth, and by the warmer atmosphere, more moisture, and warmer oceans. That is, climate change affects the weather - yes, really!
December 31, 2015 at 4:32 pm
Well here they are back on message telling us that the warm winter is down to ‘climate change’.
Anything that happens is down to climate change, innit?
AndyG55 doesn't know that global warming causes climate change. Not only that, but he's an ice age comether.
December 31, 2015 at 4:45 pm
Its was called Anthropogenic Global WARMING for a reason.
They changed it to Climate Change.. because warming stopped.
Now is it going to become Anthropogenic Global COOLING?…
… just in time for the lower solar effects to kick in
This is what passes for a thoughtful, sensible comment from Janice Moore. It contains verbs and nouns.
December 31, 2015 at 5:08 pm
“… mock …
There’s the take-away from that bit of journalistic farce.
What else can one do? Bill McK. and the Climate Clowns — does any rational person take them seriously?
Janice Moore usually goes for over-excited, irrational gibberish, like this:
December 31, 2015 at 5:18 pm
waaaaaay a minute….lolollo — NO I am not W.U.I…. just hasty. Heh!
lee_jack01 is waiting for a story.
December 31, 2015 at 7:49 am
Just waiting for the story that this abrupt change is just another example of extreme weather events caused by humans adding CO2 into the system…….I can almost guess which news outlets will run with it.
Leo Geiger doesn't win any friends at WUWT by pointing out the obvious:
December 31, 2015 at 7:52 am
I wonder if it occurred to anyone here that blogging about a late December snowfall *in Montreal* speaks volumes about just how unusual the autumn weather had been up to that point.
Latitude only gets away with pointing out the obvious because he's known as a regular denier - and readers probably interpret his comment to mean that extreme weather is no longer unusual (without pausing to reflect on what that means).
December 31, 2015 at 8:34 am
Leo…people used to celebrate the warm weather….go out enjoy it, talk about how lucky they were
What’s unusual……is now claiming that’s unusual
Duncan doesn't want any talk of weather at WUWT. Extreme weather is for "alarmists". Clearly Anthony Watts agrees or he'd write about it. It does make WUWT very dull though, doesn't it.
December 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Personally I think weather stories like this “record busting snow” are just playing into the warmists narative of “extreme weather” and should be avoided here on WUWT. There is nothing abnormal about a lot of snow in Montreal and leave it at that.
Russell is sick and tired of reading about climate change, so he spends time at "the world's most viewed climate website" knowing he'll just get climate change denial instead.
December 31, 2015 at 12:36 pm
Duncan I get so upset hour after hour all the propaganda Radio CBC, CTV, Weather channel and on and on Climate Change this and Climate Change that. I use WUWT as an outlet for my frustration. Please allow me to rant.
References and further reading
What are the most common tricks used by dumb people to seem smart? - Quora discussion
Bajracharya, Samjwal Ratna, and Pradeep Mool. "Glaciers, glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods in the Mount Everest region, Nepal." Annals of Glaciology 50, no. 53 (2010): 81-86. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756410790595895 (pdf here)
U.S. Reeling From Violent Tornadoes, Epic Flooding, Winter Weather, and Weird Heat - article by Bob Henson and Jeff Masters at WeatherUnderground
Montreal's Christmas Eve record-breaking temperature matches Los Angeles - CBCNews article 24 December 2015
Snowstorm blasts Eastern Canada, delaying travel - CBCNews 27 December 2012
Montreal cleanup starts after record Dec. 29 snowfall - Montreal Gazette 30 December 2015
Record-breaking snow in Moscow and Montreal in 2012 - a tale of two cities (29 November and 27 December 2012) - article by Sheldon J. Kusselson (NOAA NESDIS)
About the Coastal Occlusion on December 27 - article by Lee Grenci at Weather Underground on December 29, 2012
Swept under the carpet: Climate change remains little-known threat in K-P - article by Iftikhar Firdous in The Express Tribune, January 1, 2016
As Himalayan Glaciers Melt, Two Towns Face the Fallout - article by Daniel Grossman at Yale Environment 360, March 2015
From the HotWhopper archives
- Extreme December weather - 28 December 2015
- Denier Drumbeat: Eric Worrall on Democracy in Australia and the Climate Crisis - September 2014
- Eric Worrall and WUWT with telltale techniques - No. 3: Impossible expectations No: 2 Logical Fallacy - November 2015 (also about extreme weather)
- You can use the search bar up top if you want more.