Activists hope that fake news about droughts will win

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by Fabius Maximus 

Summary: Activists hope that daily apocalyptic news stories about climate change will mold public opinion, no matter how much they exaggerate the science. For a stunning example, look at the news and facts about droughts.

The propaganda barrage by climate activists has few precedents in modern US history, increasing in intensity and the magnitude of its exaggerations. Any extreme weather, no matter how typical in history, becomes evidence of human influences: heat waves, cold, floods, snow, and – as described in this post – droughts. Activists hope that their flow of alarmist “news” will shape public opinion, just as a riven can carve through mountains.

About the California drought, forever until it ended

For several years journalists and activists pumped out stories like this. Seldom did they mention the IPCC or any contrary notes by scientists.

Thanks El Nino, But California’s drought is probably forever” by Rick Stockton at Wired, May 2016.

California Braces for Unending Drought” by Ian Lovett at the NYT, May 2016.

Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Drought is the new normal“, December 2017.

The Pacific Institute on the California drought: “Responding to the drought is responding to a ‘new normal’ water future with climate change” (2016).

See this example from September 2016 showing how sober research becomes apocalyptic warnings.

The Texas drought, a new normal until it wasn’t

The Texas regional drought produced a similar flood of doomster stories.

Texas’ Permanent Drought” by Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer, July 2011.

Texas Climate News sought out the state’s finest climatologists, oceanographers and public-policy experts. If nothing else, their responses make clear that the Lone Star State is headed for a new normal.”  {Dallas Observer, 14 October 2013.}

Fear in a Handful Of Dust” by Ted Genoways, The New Republic: “Climate change is making the Texas panhandle, birthplace of the state’s iconic Longhorn, too hot and dry to raise beef. …environmental activists and reporters began to ask whether “drought” – a temporary weather pattern – was really the right term for what was happening in the state, or whether “desertification” was more appropriate. … ‘If climate change is the real deal then the human race as we know it is over’.”

Drought is ‘the new normal’” by Lacey Jarrell at the Herald and News, September 2015.

Texas’ Record Floods Are the New Normal” by TakePart, September 2015.

Back to reality: good news about droughts

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— About our unpreparedness for the inevitable repeat of past weather, by Steven Mosher of Berkeley Earth at Climate Etc.

Neither of those droughts was unusual for their regional climates. Scientists said so at the time. (See the quotes in the posts listed below.) Such short-term events tell us little or nothing about climate trends (but showed our poor ability to handle normal weather). But clickbait-loving leftist journalists misreported the science.

Now the weather has swung to the other extreme, but there are few stories about this good news: the percent of the continental US in drought is at a record low (i.e., going back to January 2000), with a slight trend to less droughts (h/t to Professor Roger Pielke Jr.). This graph shows the percent not in drought. For more information, see the US Drought Monitor.

What do we know about the trend in droughts?

How much do climate scientists From the table 1in the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, a description of what we know about the trends for various kinds of extreme weather. Here is the row about drought. Unlike the bold certain claims by activists, the IPCC’s scientists have low confidence in assessment about past and future trends.

  • “Increases in intensity and/or duration of drought: low confidence on a global scale’
  • “Assessment that changes occurred (typically since 1950 unless otherwise indicated): low confidence.
  • “Assessment of a human contribution to observed changes: low confidence.
  • “Likelihood of further changes in the early 21st century: low confidence.”

You will seldom see this mentioned in articles about climate change, especially since Leftists abandoned the IPCC as “too conservative” (examples here and here). That is why they are losing. We cannot successfully cope with climate change – natural and anthropogenic – without a relentless focus on the science. Otherwise climate change will become a tool for those who wish to shape society for other reasons.





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