Baby, It’s Cold Outside

December 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Australian newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt recently observed that there’s an embarrassing gap between what the experts have long said the symptoms of global warming would look like and the bitter winters much of the world has experienced over the past few years.

Bolt assures us we haven’t imagined this disconnect. He points to the 2007 climate bible written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It told us that winters would be warmer and less extreme. I invite you to take a look for yourself. This table is titled Temperature-Related Phenomenon and appears on a page titled: Some Unifying Themes. The table contains phrases such as:

  • more frequent heat waves / hot spells in summer
  • more warm and fewer cold nights
  • fewer frost days
  • fewer cold outbreaks; fewer, shorter, less intense cold spells / cold extremes in winter [bold added]

Across from those phrases, on a case-by-case basis, the IPCC tells us these phenomenon are either “likely” or “very likely.” So, for example, the IPCC said it was very likely that we’d experience fewer below-freezing days everywhere in the world. We were further assured that all of the IPCC’s climate models are in agreement on that point.

Similarly, George Monbiot’s 2006 book was titled Heat. Its subtitle was not: How to Stop the Planet from Freezing. Rather, it insisted the planet was in danger of burning. A year earlier, in a Guardian newspaper column, Monbiot told readers that “The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are…unlikely to recur.”

As the final two weeks of 2010 count down, reality is not being kind to these prognosticators. Instead of sugar dustings of snow and mild temperatures, many parts of the world are in the grip of another unusually harsh winter:

In the UK a recent newspaper headline read: Millions facing fuel rationing over Christmas as heating oil runs low. In one of the world’s wealthiest countries some households face a four-week-long wait for furnace oil shipments, and the price has nearly doubled. Rather than being warm and comfortable, many people will spend their holidays cold and miserable – not to mention worried that their water pipes might freeze and burst (more here). Meanwhile, a women’s World Cup skiing event has been postponed due to too much snow in France.

Although the mass media barely mentioned this fact, it’s more than a little ironic that the Mexican resort town of Cancun broke cold weather temperature records six days running during the United Nations’ anti-global-warming summit earlier this month.

We’ve long been advised that the symptoms of climate change are all around us – and that global warming is happening faster than predicted. But Mother Nature, it seems, has a wicked sense of humour.

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In related news, I love this headline on yesterday’s Christopher Booker column in the UK Telegraph: It’s ‘the hottest year on record’, as long as you don’t take its temperature

Back in January I wrote a lengthy blog post examining snowfall in Britain over the past decade. In the year 2000 the Independent newspaper interviewed climate scientists and then advised the public that soon children wouldn’t know what snow was. Global warming would result in “not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.” I examined every one of Britain’s winters since the year 2000, however, and found no shortage of the white stuff.

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UPDATE Dec. 20: A belated hat tip to Tom Nelson, who gathers climate change news stories together in one place. Many of the links embedded above came to my attention via Tom.

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This blog has a donation button for another two weeks only. If you think my work contributes positively to the climate debate please consider buying me a holiday cocktail. (Read my longer appeal here.)

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Entry filed under: climate bible, historical perspective, IPCC, predictions that failed. Tags: , , , , .

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