By Paul Homewood
The Telegraph have published the following letter today from Phillip Williamson, in response to Booker’s column last week:
SIR – Christopher Booker is right to question whether busy airports provide suitable locations for weather stations, particularly for temperature extremes (“Nice heatwave, but June 1878 was hotter”, June 25).
However, his historical analysis fails to mention that 57 per cent of worldwide highs were recorded since 2000, causing many thousands of fatalities. More than half the global population is likely to be at risk from deadly heat in the decades ahead.
Reliable records of ocean warming have existed since the Sixties. These show that the seas are warming from surface to sea floor, soaking up almost all of the extra heat retained by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the rate of the rise in the sea level is, unfortunately, accelerating – even if Mr Booker says it isn’t.
Dr Phillip Williamson
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia, Norwich
Unfortunately the letter is highly misleading.
I will deal with the first section later, but first let’s examine his claim that sea level rise is accelerating.
As I pointed out in my post last week, a recent paper found that the GMSL rose with the rate of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr during 1993–2003 and started decelerating since 2004 to a rate of 1.8 ± 0.9 mm/yr in 2012.
In other words, sea level rise is back to the 20thC average and has actually been decelerating, if you want to cherry pick such short periods.
We also know from the IPCC that sea levels between 1920 & 1950 were rising at a similar rate to 1993-2010
It is clear these things go in cycles, and it is grossly misleading to draw trends from the upward part. For instance, New York:
Williamson Letter Part Two
Now for the first part of that letter. A few thoughts.
- It is good to see that he agrees airports are a very poor place to place weather stations on. Perhaps he might like to comment on the fact that airports now account for roughly a half of all the stations in the supposedly gold plated GHCN.
- He talks about “worldwide highs”. He provides no evidence of this, but I have analysed many such claims before, and they all ended up as fake.
Many are based on sites with only a few years history, such as Gravesend and Faversham in the UK which only have date since the late 1990s. No serious scientist would claim “record” temps at these sites.
Many others are at airports (think Heathrow!), or in big cities, where rising temps are due to UHI.
What we do know is that if we look at sites with long term data and little UHI, temperatures are not going up in the way he describes.
In the US, it is absolutely indisputable that most record high temperatures occurred in the 1930s, even outside of summer months. Also very few records have been set since 2000.
In Britain, by far the hottest summer was in 1976, and the highest daily temperature in the CET was recorded in 1976, and equalled in 1990
Many of these supposed records in any event are not “heat” but simply slightly milder temperatures in winter or spring. The idea that people will die from this is frankly irresponsible scaremongering.
3) He talks emotively about thousands dying from these supposed record temps, and half the world at risk from deadly heat.
But he forgets to mention that, in the UK alone, some 25000 a year die from the cold every winter. It is cold that kills, even in countries like India.
And in the past millions have died from floods, drought and other weather events. There is absolutely no evidence that more people will die of the weather than do now.
I would ask him just what temperature he would like to see the Earth at. Would he prefer the 19thC maybe, when millions died in India and China from drought?
Just what does he imagine LIA temperatures would do to global food production?
Or maybe he would prefer 1930s style dustbowls? Or the killer tornadoes that the 1970s brought.
I have already complained about the dreadfully one sided article he wrote for the Spectator. From a blogger such as me, that might be acceptable. But from a supposedly impartial scientist, we should surely expect something better, with all the facts on show.
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Alex Epstein challenges conventional wisdom about the fossil fuel industry and provides fascinating and controversial moral and sociological arguments about the importance of fossil fuels for human thriving. Epstein is a blogger, past fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute, and the director of the Center for Industrial Progress, a for-profit thank tank he founded to “inspire Americans to embrace industrial progress as a cultural ideal.”
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