Apparently the climate change debate just ended, for about the 43rd time since 2000. This time heat waves did it. Environment and Climate Change Canada just bellowed: “Climate change is real and Canadians are feeling the impacts—from wildfires that choke the air with smoke, to devastating floods and deadly heatwaves.” But don’t lose your cool just yet.
As I’ve complained before, there’s a kind of rotten-cherry-picking going on when heat waves are blamed on climate change and cold snaps dismissed as “weather”. Or, alternatively, cited as proof of global warming. The Protean nature of the theory makes it hard to come to grips with. But let us attempt to focus here on these heat waves.
It’s hot in the northern hemisphere in July. I assume you know that. But I thought I’d mention it just in case. I also know that we get artifacts like record “Alaskan” temperatures by measuring the temperature on airport runways; if you check what’s going on in less suspicious locations it’s not so headline-worthy. Nor is it headline-worthy to point out that we have had heatwaves for as long as we have had summer heat. The real question is: Are we getting more of them?
Other than when they’re writing press releases for the Minister, Environment Canada staff seem reluctant to say so. Here is what they said in their recent report on Canada’s changing climate: “For North America and Central America, there is medium confidence that more regions have experienced increases in heatwaves and warm spells than have experienced decreases.”
What? That’s it? Deadly heat waves are proof of the harm from greenhouse gases, but we’re not sure if we’re getting more or fewer than we ever used to.
So it goes with the alleged increases in floods, forest fires and big itchy poison ivy. I thought the latter was a one-off but if you Google you’ll see that it’s a thing; apparently CO2 is good for nasty plants though harmful to food crops or some such. There’s also stop climate change or the Parthenon gets it and so forth in a steady barrage. But the workhorses are heat waves, droughts, floods and forest fires and we keep getting told they’re getting worse.
By politicians and activists, I mean. The data tell a different story. Keep an eye on the CDN website where we will soon have a new video on the empty slogans around climate change-induced flooding. As to the rest, there’s a lot of suspicious cherry-picking of data around everything from glaciers to droughts. But let’s not get overheated.
I’m meant to be talking about heat waves specifically. And I do have a fan beside me as I write in early July. But I also have some data sets in front of me.
Thanks to a Climate Discussion Nexus reader, we were recently alerted to the Canadian Weather Stats website at weatherstats.ca. It takes historical data from Environment and Climate Change Canada and makes it easily available for the public to peruse. And I don’t have to tell you our government, and that ministry, are all in on climate change at least rhetorically and politically, so the source can hardly be accused of being in the pay of those elusive billionaire climate deniers. And what does this Canadian Weather Stats site say?
Well, it has this very cool feature where you can look up the stats for a city, ask for days with a temperature over 30˚C, click the 10x button to get the longest historical series they have and up pops a data chart covering, in some cases including Ottawa, over a century.
I start with Ottawa because that’s where the endless hectoring comes from about heatwaves getting worse. And the site has data going back to 1872, so if there’s an upward trend it ought to be visible by now. With so many people on the federal payroll you’d think it would be somebody’s job to look up the numbers.
If the PM and cabinet were doing a bit less flying they might even do it themselves. If they had, we’d suspect them of lying on purpose. More likely they’re just lazy and incurious. But one thing is for sure: They’re not deliberately fiddling government statistics to minimize the supposed crisis. So you can believe their numbers if they don’t show any increase in heatwaves in Ottawa. And they don’t.
None, as in whatsoever. Up next is Churchill Manitoba (see our next CDN newsletter on Wednesday). And there is lots more. But don’t wait for us. Go ahead and check for yourself. Look at your home town, or your mother-in-law’s, or some politicians, or a place you like or one you never visited, and see if there’s been an increase in heat waves.
If not, it seems to me pertinent to ask why there’s such an increase in heated rhetoric. And why the famously skeptical media don’t do a bit of digging and ask politicians what they think they’re talking about. It wouldn’t be a lot of work. They’d just have to go to weatherstats.ca and click a few buttons.