Right Opinion

More Alarmist Tactics From The New York Times

Joe Bastardi · Aug. 22, 2016

The last three summers have been cool in the nation’s midsection. Weatherbell.com in February called for the hottest summer in the U.S. since 2012 based on sound physical realities confronting us. It’s not brain surgery — most post El Niño summers are hot in the U.S.

We emphasized that for the Northeast it would be an “endless” summer well into September and even October. And after the heat, hurricanes would be a threat for the end game. That of course is still to be determined.

As far as summer 2016 being so warm, we’ve been there, done that. We forecasted it to be. Again, it wasn’t brain surgery given the El Niño coming on.

The spike was forecasted and the cooling has started like it did before.

And if the hurricanes have high impact like we have predicted despite a major overall lull in strong hurricanes hitting the U.S., we will see agenda-driven forecasts for more and stronger storms in the future. That is one forecast anyone can be sure of.

Meanwhile, The New York Times waited until summer when it’s hot and humid in the Northeast corridor to come out with a climate scaremonger piece. Please read the article, but the graphics are below. My point is that the heatwave was easy to see coming, but none of the Times folks had any forecast out. Instead they loitered until it got hot, at which point they authored a hype article about hot it will be 50 years from now.

Here is my question: Why should we trust models when they have busted horribly for the past 30 years?

There’s no accountability for major busts that people try to use for policy justification, yet we find another article with another outlandish projection. There is a saying in the computer world: garbage in, garbage out. Why no explanation of the busts that have driven some of the hysteria? Are these charts lying? Because someone is engaging in deception here, if not by admission, then by omission. The model history is the track record, not projections in the future, and you have to be ignorant or arrogant of busts like this to accept them.

I will close with this quote from Dr. Craig Bohren, now retired of my alma mater, Penn. State University, from an article in USA Today he was quoted in 10 years ago. I was intrigued by the opening, but you should read the whole article:

Discussion: First off, let me say I consider the concept of a global mean temperature [upon which global warming statistics are based] to be somewhat dubious, and I say so in my recent book (with Eugene Clothiaux) Fundamentals of Atmospheric Radiation. A single number cannot adequately capture climate change. This number, as I see it, is aimed mostly at politicians and journalists.

The issue of global warming is extremely complicated, and it transcends science. Views on global warming are as much determined by political and religious biases as by science. No one comes to the table about this issue without biases. So I’ll state some of mine.

My biases: The pronouncements of climate modelers, who don’t do experiments, don’t make observations, don’t even confect theories, but rather [in my opinion] play computer games using huge programs containing dozens of separate components the details of which they may be largely ignorant, don’t move me. I am much more impressed by direct evidence: retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, the migration of species, rising sea level, etc.

There is an honest and open discussion here, including things I don’t agree with, but Bohren is an example of excellent journalism, showing multiple threads in an open fashion — hardly what we see in the Times piece which is hyping something that, based on past model performance, is laughable and a sign of something beyond a serious approach to weather and climate.

Models are tools for an answer. They are of no use if a) the person trying to use them does not know the inherent biases of the modeling, or b) is simply using the wrong tool for the problem at hand. To treat them as ends, not a means, is simply saying you don’t know what you are doing. Because if you did, you would be skeptical of any future projection simply by experience. You can use them, but if you are digging the ditch, don’t expect the shovel to work without the right ditch digger. But that ditch is not going to dig itself.


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

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