Right Opinion

Putting a Cap on Heat Hysteria

Joe Bastardi · Jul. 19, 2019

It’s summer, it’s hot, and the climate-change agenda is turning up the heat on the weaponization of weather. So I thought some perspective may be in order.

No question the last three Julys have been warmer than average for a large area of the nation.

But for perspective, the three Julys before that were quite cool in the U.S.

The 2015-16 Super El Niño, with its input of massive amounts of water vapor, changed all that. How can we tell it’s water vapor and not CO2? Because nighttime lows (mins) are beating out daytime highs (maxes) in relation to averages. The moisture in the air when the air is stable at night effectively keeps temperatures up (as do Urban Heat Islands). However, because there is not enough corresponding warming aloft, more clouds form during the day from convective processes as it heats up, leading to more rain and holding maxes down. There is a perfectly natural explanation for why it’s become so wet.

Here is the anomaly for mins over the last three Julys:

The average for maxes is not as strong for most. West Texas is quite dry, so it’s the exception to the rule. The drier it is, the hotter it can get during the day. But in the area where dew points are higher relative to the rest of the country, you can see the difference (the Southeast, for instance).

Now contrast this with three great heatwave years: 1934,1936, and 1966. Look at the maxes.

Now look at the mins:

The maxes are much higher. Remember, “hot” is not 75°F instead of 70°F for a nighttime low. Even mins in the 80s don’t carry the same weight. Hot is when it is 106°F, like it was in July 1936 in New York City. So how did New York City reach 106°F then, but with this current super heatwave, it’s highly unlikely to occur again, despite there being even more widespread urbanization than we had in 1936?

One could say it’s a matter of semantics. But then why do some people use the term “hot” instead of “warm”? Besides, temperature is not a measure of feeling; it’s a metric that is based on heat. Here is the definition of it from Encyclopedia.com:

Heat is a form of energy — specifically, the energy that flows between two bodies because of differences in temperature. Therefore, the scientific definition of heat is different from, and more precise than, the everyday meaning. Physicists working in the area of thermodynamics study heat from a number of perspectives, including specific heat, or the amount of energy required to change the temperature of a substance, and calorimetry, the measurement of changes in heat as a result of physical or chemical changes. Thermodynamics helps us to understand such phenomena as the operation of engines and the gradual breakdown of complexity in physical systems — a phenomenon known as entropy.


It’s a form of energy. So to make temperatures higher takes even more energy. If there’s something capping that, it will show up in maxes, not mins.

The fact is, maxes are not going up, but mins are. So the mean is higher. But calling something like the month of June “hot” is absurd, because the planet’s average temperature was low enough that we would all be wearing sweaters. But again, those are feelings. What higher mins mean is that there is more energy available, but it becomes self-limiting at higher temperatures.

So where would water-vapor increases affect temperatures most visibly? We get more water vapor into the air via the oceans, since they have 99.9% of the heat capacity of the system. The increase in moisture, brought about by years of warm water surrounding the U.S. and the input of massive amounts of water vapor into the air by the Super El Niño, simply does not disappear. Remember, an extra gram of water vapor has little impact where it’s normally warm, but it does have an impact where it’s colder. It’s intuitive. What happens when you breathe out on a cold morning when the temperature is near the dew point? That’s not CO2 you see with each breath.

Of course, if I wanted to use the mentality of the people pushing the heat narrative, I could say, “Hey, you have your point if you say it’s warmer, especially at night. But is CO2 not also holding temperatures down during the day?”

If I was a propagandist, I would say CO2 is limiting how hot it can get.

We know that’s not the case, but I am saying that kind of mentality is being used. And yet we can see that what we’re observing is natural.

The “hottest year” missive is a grossly oversimplified distortion of what has perfectly natural causes and can be seen simply by looking at the details of temperatures. The daytime highs of recent Julys can’t hold a candle to what happened in the years shown above.


Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting, is a contributor to The Patriot Post on environmental issues. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”

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