Extreme Temperature Diary-Sunday January 12th, 2020/ Main Topic: Be Careful On Social Media For The Sake Of Our Future…Some Self-Deprecation From The Climate Guy

Sunday January 12th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Be Careful On Social Media For The Sake Of Our Future…Some Self-Deprication From The Climate Guy

Dear Diary. In life we make some mistakes, all of which are unintentional. Sometimes one might perceive that they are not in error while another party thinks that what you did was a big mistake. In the last 24 hours I’ve dealt with the consequences of making a fairly innocuous tweet that has ballooned to something gigantic, with a lot of name-calling going back and forth between climate change denialists and those who know that what most science has revealed about our climate is true. Are there some lessons to be learned here? You bet!

Here is some background. Last week there was a well advertised storm system that would be enveloped in a record warm airmass to its east as it moved through the Midwest. Most meteorologists knew that dozens of daily maxes would be produced in the eastern U.S. from this synoptic setup. Since I look at weather models and temperature guidance everyday I was a little surprised to see that the American GFS had come out Friday night with a forecast as high as the lower 80s for Charleston, West Virginia for a max Saturday. So I thought, hmm…let’s put out a tweet:

So, what could I have done better? First, people thought that I was tying in weather too much with climate. After all, one warm day across a big area like Europe in say the year 1500 does not mean that climate change was taking place 520 years ago. I was merely trying to point out the fact that we would be seeing unusual record warmth in association with a January weather system. Stating that “this is climate change” was a no no on my part, getting hyperbolic. 

Anomalous warmth over years and decades is however, climate change, and this chart and associated study cannot be refuted:


Second, many weather enthusiasts, like me, had a hard time believing that this guidance was spot on in West Virginia, but that was another problem with the emphasis on “spot.” I was honing in on the most anomalous looking guidance knowing too that daily records would be set up and down the eastern U.S. area. Also, I should have indicated how anomalous 81°F would be if indeed it got that warm in Charleston. A reading of 81°F would have tied the monthly record but would have not been unprecedented, or a very strong climate change signal like that of 109°F in Paris France last year.

Many forecasters thought that 81°F was way too high, which I questioned myself on the original tweet. The actual reading was not very far off from the forecast:

The worst blowback I got was from one Tony Heller, who tried to make this point:

And then, much to my chagrin, Tony had posted this YouTube video, which so far has had over 1,700 likes with a few nasty comments:

Mr. Heller is no stranger to the world of misinformation, having built up a big following from trying to take down various scientific climate change arguments. Unfortunately I may have given him more ammunition, or did I? Denialists will hang their hat on anything presented that is not soundly grounded in hard numbers, or fact, and rightly so. After all, as the world warms they continue to loose favor with the public…and no one, including Tony, wants to be on the wrong side, going to their grave, on such an important issue. 

So, to all of my weather and climate friends, please be sure to check anything going out on social media before posting. Also, please keep in mind that no matter what is presented most hard core denialists won’t believe you. They are “hard wired” to believe what they believe, discounting scientific evidence. Seriously, we have no more time for petty arguments after looking at more articles such as this one from Vox via Desdemona Despair:


The sad truth about our boldest climate target – Limiting global warming to 1.5˚C is almost certainly not going to happen. Admitting this need not end hope.

Activists in Berlin stood with signs calling for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at a rally that criticized Germany’s insufficient climate policy on 29 May 2019. Photo: Michael Kappeler / picture alliance / Getty Image

Activists in Berlin stood with signs calling for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at a rally that criticized Germany’s insufficient climate policy on 29 May 2019. Photo: Michael Kappeler / picture alliance / Getty Image

By David Roberts
3 January 2020

(Vox) – In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the countries participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to a common target: to hold the rise in global average temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” The lower end of that range, 1.5˚C, has become a cause célèbre among climate activists.

Can that target still be met? Take a look at this animation from Carbon Brief:

No graphic I’ve ever seen better captures humanity’s climate situation. If we had peaked and begun steadily reducing emissions 20 years ago, the necessary pace of reductions would have been around 3 percent a year, which is … well, “realistic” is too strong — it still would have required rapid, coordinated action of a kind never seen before in human history — but it was at least possible to envision.

We didn’t, though. We knew about climate change, there were scientists yelling themselves blue in the face, but we didn’tturn the wheel. Global emissions have only risen since then. Humanity has put more CO2 in the atmosphere since 1988, when climate scientist James Hansen first testified to Congress about the danger of climate change, than it did in all of history prior.

Now, to hit 1.5˚C, emissions would need to fall off a cliff, falling by 15 percent a year every year, starting in 2020, until they hit net zero.

That’s probably not going to happen. Temperature is almost certainly going to rise more than 1.5˚C.

Pathways for reducing carbon emissions to prevent breaching the Paris target of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, 2000-2019. Graphic: Carbon Brief

Pathways for reducing carbon emissions to prevent breaching the Paris target of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, 2000-2019. Graphic: Carbon Brief

A lot of climate activists are extremely averse to saying so. In fact, many of them will be angry with me for saying so, because they believe that admitting to this looming probability carries with it all sorts of dire consequences and implications. Lots of people in the climate world — not just activists and politicians, but scientists, journalists, and everyday concerned citizens — have talked themselves into a kind of forced public-facing optimism, despite the fears that dog their private thoughts. They believe that without that public optimism, the fragile effort to battle climate change will collapse completely.

I don’t think that’s true, but I can’t claim to know it’s not true. Nobody really knows what might work to get the public worked up about climate change the way the problem deserves. Maybe advocates really do need to maintain a happy-warrior spirit; maybe a bunch of dour doomsaying really will turn off the public.

But it is not the job of those of us in the business of observation and analysis to make the public feel or do things. That’s what activists do. We owe the public our best judgment of the situation, even if it might make them sad, and from where I’m sitting, it looks like the 1.5˚C goal is utterly forlorn. It looks like we have already locked in levels of climate change that scientists predict will be devastating. I don’t like it, I don’t “accept” it, but I see it, and I reject the notion that I should be silent about it for PR purposes. [more]

The sad truth about our boldest climate target

Well, time to press on. I’ll be showing how many record reports did actually get into the NCEI system the next few days.

Here is more climate and weather news from Sunday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Here are some “ET’s” from Sunday:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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