Saturday, July 20, 2019

Hmm …

… The New York Times Says Heat Waves Are Getting Worse. The National Climate Assessment Disagrees. –

As evidence, the Times cites the U.S. Global Change Research Program, reporting that "since the 1960s the average number of heat waves—defined as two or more consecutive days where daily lows exceeded historical July and August temperatures—in 50 major American cities has tripled." That is indeed what the numbers show. But it seems odd to highlight the trend in daily low temperatures rather than daily high temperatures.
Not so odd, when you have an agenda that facts may get in the way of:
As it happens, chapter six of 2017's Fourth National Climate Assessment reports that heat waves measured as high daily temperatures are becoming less common in the contiguous U.S., not more frequent.
I spent 28 years working for what was then a major metropolitan daily. So I have some experience of what  journalism is supposed to be about. As a reader, what I want is an accurate and precise  account of what is going on. I’ll figure out the implications on my own.  In my case, that means I won’t bring any ideological bias to it, since I don’t happen to subscribe to any ideology. 


  1. Try reading Chapter 6 of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. It's far more complex than the author of the piece indicates. Heat waves are only one aspect of the picture (and the average daily temperature in a heat wave is also important). There is this, for example:

    'Changes in the occurrence of record-setting daily temperatures are also apparent. Very generally, the number of record lows has been declining since the late-1970s while the number of record highs has been rising.'

    The Assessment is a challenging read for a layperson. Good luck with figuring out the implications!

  2. I bought the Kindle version of the report. Hope the chapter you refer to is in that volume. Though just because it's a government report hardly makes it gospel. I do have a great deal of faith in government. The planet ha]s been spinning around the sun for 4 billion years. We have at ost a couple of hundred years of accurate temperature data. We do know that the planet has been quite warm in the past. But we actually have little to go on when it comes to predicting the direction climate will take. And as we used to be reminded of quite frequently, weather and climate are not the same thing. The Whole Story of Climate and The Chilling Stars are as much worth reading as a government report.