By Paul Homewood
Junk scientist, Katharine Hayhoe, was back on her soap box last week, so it’s time to cast our minds back to an interview she did with Yale 360 in 2011.
This was published in the Guardian:
Katharine Hayhoe is an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where temperatures during this summer of record-breaking heat have surpassed 100 degrees on 43 days. While Hayhoe would certainly not argue that this scorching heat is unequivocal evidence of global warming, she is sure of one thing: it’s a sign of things to come.
Hayhoe is well known not only for her scientific work on the regional impacts of global warming in the U.S., but also for her efforts to reach out to conservative communities — particularly evangelical Christians — to speak with them about the realities of climate change. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she said she has found much common ground with people by patiently answering their questions, stressing the impact that global warming will likely have on the individuals and places that people love, and discussing actions to blunt climate change that nearly all sides can agree on.
“Who doesn’t want renewable sources of energy?” Hayhoe told Yale e360 senior editor Fen Montaigne. “Who doesn’t want cleaner air and a thriving economy? Who doesn’t agree that we should be conservative with what we have? I think this is the way to move forward on this issue.”
Yale Environment 360: Obviously it’s been a really hot summer in many parts of the U.S. On the one hand you’ve got people saying this is unequivocally a sign of global warming, and then you’ve got Rush Limbaugh saying, “What heat wave?” What do you tell people who are confused by all of this back and forth?
Katharine Hayhoe: I get asked that a lot and I think there are three really important things to communicate about that question. The first one is that one day, one month, even a whole season’s worth of weather doesn’t really tell us anything in the bigger picture. It’s just weather, it’s natural variability, it’s the chaos of the atmosphere. So that’s kind of the standard answer to the question — that climate is defined as the average of weather over 30 years or more.
Right now, though, we’ve actually gotten to the point where we have already altered the background conditions over which the weather occurs, so we have increased average temperatures, we are changing the distribution of those temperatures, making certain types of extremes more frequent and others less so, the circulation patterns are shifting, our precipitation is becoming more extreme. So in that sense we already have these altered background conditions, so whatever type of event happens now has a little bit of climate change in it.
The third thing I like to tell people is that we do have projections about what the average conditions will be in the future, and so what we can say is that this summer is a picture of what it would be like every summer if we made certain choices regarding our energy sources, and if we reach certain levels of climate change. So for example this summer we’ve already had 43 days over 100 degrees in Lubbock, which is higher than normal. And if you look in the future this summer is what we’d expect the average summer to be like by the end of the century under lower emissions or by the middle of the century under higher emissions. So we’re complaining about this summer, but this could be the average summer within our lifetimes if we continue to depend on fossil fuels.
e360: In the southern plains, where recent summers have been so scorching, have you seen sizeable increases in average temperatures that could be defined as climate change?
Hayhoe: What we’ve actually seen, at least in West Texas, is an increase primarily in winter temperatures. Our very cold days are getting less frequent and our winter temperatures are increasing in nearly every station we look at across Texas and Oklahoma. We haven’t seen a significant trend yet in our summers. So in that sense science is so conservative because we’re looking for trends that have to have been happening over at least 30 years.
What people are seeing and instinctively recognizing is a change in the average conditions. They are seeing very unusual things happen — birds here that you didn’t used to see, red fire ants here that we didn’t used to have, trees and plants are flowering earlier in the year, our weather is becoming much more extreme, where it’s either feast or famine. I’ve been here for five years and in five years we’ve had the longest dry period on record, we’ve had the record drought that we’re in right now, and we’ve had two 100-year rain events.
We’ve already seen that her claim of increasing winter temperatures in Texas is fake, as she started her analysis from 1965, the beginning of the cold part of the cycle. Winter temperatures were just as high a century ago.
Let’s now look at summer temperatures and her claims that heatwaves are on the increase.
The nearest USHCN station to Lubbock is Crosbyton. Below is the whisker plot for daily max temperatures.
The heatwave of 2011 stands out, but no more so than other years in the 1930s, and also 1980. It is also clear that 2011 was an outlier, and that there is no trend to higher summer temperatures. We can also look at the chart of daily record temperatures for Crosbyton, which CDIAC analyse decadally:
Obviously this does not include years after 2010, but again it is apparent that many more daily record summer highs were set in the 1930s, and that recent decades are similar to other earlier ones.
(Note – the chart includes ties, so, everything else being equal, we would expect a normal distribution of records for each decade).
Hayhoe claims that the summer of 2011 will be the normal by 2050, but there is absolutely no evidence to back this up.
Update 05. July, 2017
Katharine’s Imaginary Extreme Rainfall & Droughts
By Paul Homewood
Let’s look at some more pearls of wisdom from Katharine Hayhoe, in her interview with Yale 360:
Our weather is becoming much more extreme, where it’s either feast or famine. I’ve been here [Lubbock] for five years and in five years we’ve had the longest dry period on record, we’ve had the record drought that we’re in right now, and we’ve had two 100-year rain events.
Crosbyton is the nearest USHCN station to Lubbock, just 33 miles away.
Below is the whisker plot for daily rainfall there:
Extreme rainfall events are randomly distributed, and there is no evidence whatsoever that extreme rainfall is either becoming greater or more common.
The story is the same for Texas as a whole, apart from that one outlier year of 2011, rainfall has actually been increasing. Previous droughts, notably in the 1950s, were far worse than anything Katharine has experienced.
It is difficult to trust anything Hayhoe says.