Monday, July 16, 2012

Texas Tall Tales and Global Warming: Guest Post by Dr. Cliff Mass University of Washington

“…extreme heat events were roughly 20 times more likely in 2008 than in other La Niña years in the 1960s” It is this statement that has made headlines across the country.   Headlines you shouldn’t believe.

Last week the national media was full of stories about how global warming has made Texas heat waves TWENTY TIMES more probable.  We are talking about hundreds of stories in respected national media outlets (including NY Times, Washington Post, and even the Seattle Times).   These stories were all based on an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (DID HUMAN INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE MAKE THE 2011 TEXAS DROUGHT MORE PROBABLE?  with lead authors David E. Rup and Philip W. Mote of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and some British colleagues…found here…scroll down to page 12).

The trouble is that this study is flawedand weak (and I will explain why) and its scary conclusions are insupportable.   This is important story:  about the hyping (past) of global warming, about poor research being published, about the media jumping on sexy, scary global warming stories.  And most worrisome of all..this is not an isolated incident.
Before I go further, let me stress that I am believe that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases will cause the planet to warm significantly over the next century.  The impacts could be both profound and serious.   But exaggerating the impact of human-induced warming on what is happening now and in the past only serves to weaken the efforts of the meteorological community to provide information society needs to make rational decisions.  If you cry wolf too many times and are proven wrong it is bad for credibility.
So lets consider the Rup/Mote et al. study.   Texas had an extraordinary six-month  heat wave and drought in 2011…no doubt about it.   The question is whether we can ascribe this event to global warming..human or otherwise. read more

No comments:

Post a Comment