Joe Bastardi / March 6, 2015

The Rise of the CO2 Fairy

(Let’s have some fun, shall we?)

In Sept. 2011, I did a video explaining why I thought the winters of ‘12-'13, '13-'14 and '14-'15 could be quite severe for the U.S. We had the late start in '12-'13, the brutal start to finish of '13-'14, and then the fast out of the gate, back off, then come on gangbusters winter this year. When one considers November challenged the legendary November of 1976 in terms of cold, and that February went after such years as 1934, 1958, 1978 and 1979 – all holy grails of cold for people who understand how the weather can get so extreme – then you understand the magnitude of the cold that major population areas of the U.S. have dealt with. Moreover, the preseason snow forecast from is looking very good, and snowfall is not done yet for the season. The following graph was made in October, not after all this started. In fact, in mid-winter, there were loud cries asserting winter’s demise, similar to the pre-2010 “Snowmeggedon.” That winter backed off also.

It’s not perfect, but it said loudly, Look out, there is going to be a lot of snow this year. In the West, a lot of the snow is early and late in the season, so it’s common to see late-season rallies. For instance, Denver had a very snowy November and the snowiest February on record.  So there is time to “bullseye” the southern and central Rockies.

And precisely what we loudly proclaimed beforehand about the result of what we saw coming last winter and now this winter (and in early Jan 2013, warning about the rest of that one) is being echoed by economists:

A quote from the article:

> “[A] good chunk of this [economic] slowdown traces to the unusually severe weather that struck most of the country late last year and early in this year.”

Our reasons were laid out well beforehand and were centered on an idea I picked up while talking with some meteorologists I knew around Houston in 2007. I listened to their idea and researched it privately, getting input from people I knew and trusted in the field. There were plenty of years to look at, plenty of examples of similar set ups. The point is that you can see this coming by lining up patterns in the past.

In the highly competitive world of private meteorology, cutting edge ideas are battle-tested. One does this on one’s own time, and your “funding” is having a job where clients pay you to be right on the weather. So you spend countless hours researching ideas to give them an edge.

It is the nature of the competitive meteorologist to trust but verify that all that came before you is a foundation for the chance to compete against the ultimate opponent – weather. One understands that in an infinite system as majestic as the atmosphere there is nothing etched in stone. Grasping the total picture with a intimate knowledge of the past is essential to even having a chance to hit events that resemble some of the great occurrences of the past. While similar, nothing is ever the same!

In talks I give now, I always make sure people know that no extra CO2 was used to come up with my ideas. It’s done to get a laugh, the point being the forecast does not take CO2 into account.

I also stated I hoped that, if my ideas had merit, it would wake people up to the folly of the statements being made when the earth was still in a warming phase. I introduced publicly on the O'Reilly Factor the Triple Crown of Cooling, which is now The Grand Slam of Climate.

It was also opined that, in the past, when these cyclical shifts occurred, there were local pickups of what is now being called extreme weather. But it is nothing out of the ordinary in the big picture, no sign of an appending atmospheric apocalypse, warm or cold. It’s nothing that is not well within the realm of what nature does. Why? Because we used examples of past events before the fact to set all this up. Case in point: the idea we put out in Jan. that this month in the Northeast could rival the benchmark February of 1934. That was said before it happened. You will notice many of the people reporting on the cold now bring that month up. But we explained the why before the what. Anyone can say there is six inches of snow on the ground when there is six inches of snow on the ground.

But my better angel years ago was hoping such events I was alluding to would wake people up to the folly of things they were saying about man-made global warming. The very people I was saying that to instead have doubled down on excuses.

I was going to do this opinion on one particular column I saw Feb. 17 in USA Today titled “Nationally, it’s been one of the warmest winters on record” that used data through Jan. to claim this was one of the warmest winters on record.

I got mad for four reasons:

a.) The author seemed to forget that Feb. accounts for a third of winter, so 20% of the winter season was not considered.

b.) The West was warm, but many of the stations are far newer, have less records and are less reliable as far as station upkeep goes than the long running stations in the Plains and East.

c.) While Nevada and Utah are great states, far less people live there than the Northeast, which the author had the amazing chutzpah to call “chilly” in the face of a run at the coldest month ever.

d.) The entire Heating Degree day season is November-March. When you include November, it’s darn close to last year (which was also being spun twofold: 1. It’s not that cold, and 2. Yes, it is cold, but it’s caused by global warming).

Last year vs. this year,  Nov 1-Feb 28:

Like most of the great winters in the Eastern U.S., there is a lot of warmth in the West and North. The enhanced meridional flow is something we forecasted based on the Pacific temperatures last year and this year. No big mystery unless you either don’t know about it or do and choose to deceive people as to the cause of such things.

In any case, I said I was going to write on that, but with the onslaught of one blast after another that has come down the pike from people pushing this issue (the colder it got, the bigger the excuse) – the latest being a witch hunt launched by people in congress on several climate scientists who actually believe there may be some human influence but dare to question how much – I decided I can’t single out one article. They are coming fast and furious by people who had no idea before what was going on. Explanations that, frankly, make a lot of us in the field laugh, including some people I am friendly with but don’t see eye to eye with me. (Side note: I never see these folks in public venues, where one can be embarrassed if wrong. But they love to explain after the fact what they didn’t know before.)

So here we are, being told CO2 is responsible for global warming — climate change, the term they are now using, is a natural event which only people that claim humans are driving them deny – and events perfectly natural and to a large degree fairly predictable simply by understanding what went on before. What we have to ask these people in the face of the actual geological record that shows CO2 and temperatures is: Why is it CO2 now, but not before?

Anyone see any linkage between CO2 and temperatures?

Why would the increase of one molecule of CO2 out of every 10,000 molecules of air over a 100-year period suddenly pick now, at 400 ppm, to overcome the sun, oceans, stochastic events and the design of the system, including the physical properties of CO2 in relation to the other greenhouse gases, of which it’s only 1%?

The answer below I think makes as much sense as the explanations I am seeing out there:

Could it be there is a CO2 fairy waving its magic wand? While CO2 has little to do with actual weather and climate, as shown by past events, both recent and in the geological time scale, apparently it can affect people who believe it does.

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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