JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Eight reasons the Australian heatwave is not “climate change”

Eight  reasons why this current heatwave is a boring, overhyped example of weather being used for political purposes.

1. It’s the long term trends that matter — not a few weeks of hot weather

As climate scientists keep telling us (except when they have a heatwave to milk), ”weather is not climate”. It’s the long term trends that matter. One short four week period is not a long term climate trend, but it is an excellent opportunity to create hype and scaremongering in the newspapers. Scientists with little scruple and low standards are making the most of this.

2. The “records” we are breaking are pitifully short

Even if this is the hottest heatwave “ever recorded”, it doesn’t mean much in the long term scheme of things. Natural climate cycles work on scales of 11 years, 60 years, 200 years, 1500 years, and 100,000 years. We have decent temperature records for many locations for only 50 years. We have a scratchy patchy thermometer record for 150 years. Any scientist raving about breaking a 50 year record as if it means something is … embarrassing. There is too much noise in this system and too little data.

3. If a few weeks [...]

Extreme heat in 1896: Panic stricken people fled the outback on special trains as hundreds die.

Photo: Jo Nova

Post by: Lance Pidgeon with assistance from Chris Gillham and others.

It is as if history is being erased. For all that we hear about recent record-breaking climate extremes, records that are equally extreme, and sometimes even more so, are ignored.

In January 1896 a savage blast “like a furnace” stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks. The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states. Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days (1)(2)(3). The maximumun at or above 102 degrees F (38.9°C) for 24 days straight.

By Tuesday Jan 14, people were reported falling dead in the streets. Unable to sleep, people in Brewarrina walked the streets at night for hours, the thermometer recording 109F at midnight. Overnight, the temperature did not fall below 103°F. On Jan 18 in Wilcannia, five deaths were recorded in one day, the hospitals were overcrowded and reports said that “more deaths are hourly expected”. By January 24, in Bourke, many businesses had shut down (almost everything bar the hotels). Panic stricken Australians were fleeing to the hills in climate refugee trains.  As reported at the time, the government felt [...]

Heatwave kills thousands of birds — this was climate change in 1932

Trawling through our National Archives, Lance Pidgeon has found stories of how a heatwave in 1932 was so extreme that it caused mass bird deaths across outback Australia. The PDF is posted on Warwick Hughes blog. As Lance says, imagine the headlines if that had happened 80 years later.  Presumably some would blame coal, airconditioners, and SUV’s for “killing billions of birds”. These old newspaper records also raise questions about our national temperature databases. Things appeared to be hotter then, than history now records them? I’ve only had time for a quick look and a cut and paste.

Great numbers were killed alone by the fortnightly train to Alice Springs. These fell exhausted on the railway line. A large number flew into the fans in the carriages and perished. Thousands fell exhausted in water pools and were drowned. A letter from Minnie Downs told of the death of thousands of birds on one day. The temperature that day was 125 degrees in the shade— and there was no shade. One woman at Tarcoola filled a 40-gallon drum, with shell parrots in one afternoon. Trees actually snapped under the strain of flight after flight of birds which swarmed exhausted on them. More than [...]

Storm trends in Australia and New Zealand? No evidence that CO2 increases extreme weather

Get ready — for all the fears of extreme weather coming our way — studies of Queensland, Victoria, the whole of SE Australia, New Zealand, and Perth show that either nothing is changing (there have always been bad storms) or possibly, the weather is better now than it used to be. Where is the evidence to support the claims by alarmists that increasing CO2 will make “extreme weather” more common? It’s less windy now across South East Australia than it was in the 1920′s. It’s less stormy on the southern coast of Victoria, and records that go back 7000 years in New Zealand and 5000 years in Queensland show repeated examples of monster storms that — should they hit today, would be described as being “likely” due to coal fired power stations and excessive use of SUV’s.

The Science and Public Policy Institute published  Historical storm trends in Australia and New Zealand in June. This post builds on that publication.

It’s less windy across South East Australia

Alexander et al 2011 looked at locations from Port Lincoln (SA) to Goondiwindi (QLD), to Hobart (Tas) which pretty much covers everything anyone could call South East Australia. They used wind [...]