Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau passed a motion in June 2019 declaring a National Climate Emergency in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments.
Canadians deserve an update from Mr. Trudeau because there’s an astounding amount of scientific evidence that disproves the notion of a climate emergency.
This article highlights two areas of study: extreme weather trends and thermometer data.
Extreme Weather Trends
Italian physicist Gianluca Alimonti led the authoring of a recently published paper titled, A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming (springer.com).
The paper concluded that “…on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet.”
Simply put, extreme weather event statistics do not support a climate emergency.
The assessment is largely a review of extreme weather trends that are often falsely attributed by media and politicians (including Trudeau) as confirmation that climate change is an existential threat to humanity.
Alimonti et al used established and accepted public domain databases—some of which have been used to argue there is a climate emergency—and other published reviews.
Below are their findings on these weather trends in brief:
- Heat waves: Since 1950 the occurrence and duration of heat waves have increased. This would be expected due to the approximately 1°C of global warming since the preindustrial age. However, there is no meaningful trend to indicate an increase in the intensity of heat waves.
- Hurricanes and tropical storms: The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated “…it is premature to conclude … human activities have had a detectable impact on Atlantic basin hurricane activity….” The authors’ work found “…only a small nominally positive upward trend of the tropical storms from 1878 to 2006.”
- Tornadoes: The authors conclude “…strong to violent tornadoes … show no increase over time.”
- Global Precipitation and Extreme Precipitation events: In reviewing data since 1950, the authors observed an increase in total global precipitation, an absence of generalized growth trends in extreme precipitation, but a limited number of increases in extreme precipitation with strong regional differences.
- Floods and Droughts: This increase in global precipitation “…does not translate into an increase in intensity or frequency of floods.” Additionally, “…there is no evidence that the areas affected by the different types of drought are increasing.”
To underscore that focusing on raw numbers of reported extreme weather events in the 20th century would lead to erroneous conclusions, the authors also looked at reported earthquakes.
The number of reported earthquakes per year increased tenfold from 1901 to 2000. No sane person would argue this was a result of increased carbon dioxide in the air.
The reason more earthquakes were reported in that period is that detection technology had improved.
The Alimonti paper is powerful as it uses accepted public databases and looks at multiple extreme weather classifications to come up with a single answer: There is no climate emergency based on extreme weather events.
If extreme weather events aren’t an existential threat to humanity, Trudeau’s only climate emergency argument is his government’s previous position that a rising average global temperature is. But that argument is getting harder to sustain as, in the short term, global warming has ceased.
It is easy to show with non-thermometer data that the climate changes naturally and at different rates over centuries or millennia.
But to gauge whether climate change—specifically global warming at a rate that constitutes a crisis—is occurring right now, we have the luxury of thermometer data.
We will first look at the highest quality thermometer data available on the planet, then the thermometer data with the best global coverage, and lastly the longest continuous thermometer data available in the world.
Highest Quality Thermometer Data
For the purpose of scientific study, the United States Climate Reference Network (USCRN) was set up in 2005 to provide continental U.S. temperature data using state-of-the-art triple redundant instruments in pristine locations unaffected by human activity.
As you can see in Graph #1, there had been no warming trend in the continental United States since USCRN data collection began 18 years ago.
Thermometer Data with the Best Global Coverage
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses traditional surface-based temperature collection. Disadvantages of surface-based collection include:
- Data collection methods from multiple sources
- Poor station quality
- The urban heat island effect (where cities heat the air)
- Merging land air temperature data with ocean surface water temperature data
- Often no data was collected for 40 percent of the ocean area (oceans cover 71 percent of the planet)
On a global scale, the best temperature data available is from satellite measurements in the lower troposphere.
This data collection began in 1979 and has none of the disadvantages encountered by traditional surface-based temperature collection used by the IPCC.
The best global coverage of thermometer temperature data (Graph #2) confirms the average temperature is no higher today than since its modern peak in 1998, which was an El Nino year.
The long-term satellite warming trend is 0.11°C per decade, hardly an emergency.
Longest Continuous Thermometer Data
But the period from 1998 to now is only 25 years, not long enough to qualify as climate, only as weather.
The chart below (Graph #3) is the longest continuous instrument-derived temperature recording on Earth, starting in 1659. The data is from central England in the area between Lancaster in the northwest, London in the southeast, and Bristol in the southwest.
The 1°C warming since 1990 may look like evidence of rapid human-driven warming, but it should also be noted that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions were of significance and began increasing very rapidly 45 years earlier at the end of World War II.
Graph #3 shows that long before the industrial era began, central England was sporadically coming out of the Little Ice Age.
There was greater warming between 1690 and 1730 than between 1990 and 2020, and a continuous temperature oscillation of slightly less than 1°C throughout the 1800s.
After the Little Ice Age had its last gasp around 1880, the warming trend for the next 140 years was about 0.14°C per decade, not too different from the current satellite-derived trend.
The Logical Conclusion
The first graph (#1), which represents the most sophisticated temperature recording instruments available in a network specifically designed for scientific research, conclusively shows no warming in the continental U.S. for at least 18 years. That makes it hard to imagine a climate emergency right next door in Canada.
The second graph, which uses the best coverage and consistent methods, shows no warming globally for 25 years. That makes it hard to imagine a climate emergency anywhere in the world.
And the third graph, which uses the longest thermometer record available, shows temperature changes in central England greater than or on par with current temperature changes in the three centuries before significant CO2 emissions.
That makes it hard to imagine it’s an emergency this time.
Additionally, Alimonti’s study concluded that there is no statistically significant increase in contemporary extreme weather events.
In aggregate, this would suggest that in an open and fair scientific inquiry, Mr. Trudeau would be hard-pressed to defend a claim of a current climate emergency.
Nonetheless, Trudeau fell into a trap of his own making:
- Accepting hyperbolic mainstream media reporting that short-term extreme weather events were symptomatic of extreme climate change. They aren’t.
- Accepting politically biased forecasts of impending human-caused dramatic temperature increases. They didn’t happen.
- Viewing climate change as a political tool instead of a scientific issue. Trudeau and his government have never reached out to the opposing scientific community but he famously met with Greta during an election campaign.
It’s time to have a rational, dispassionate, and independent review of Canada’s climate emergency declaration. Canadians have a right to know the science.
Ron Barmby (www.ronaldbarmby.ca) is a Professional Engineer with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, whose 40+ year career in the energy sector has taken him to over 40 countries on five continents. His book, Sunlight on Climate Change: A Heretic’s Guide to Global Climate Hysteria (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), explains in layman’s terms the science of how natural and human-caused global warming work. Please contact me via my website if you would like to purchase an autographed copy, it has been recommended for the concerned but open-minded young person on your gift list.
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