Last week’s heatwaves in southern Europe would have been “virtually impossible” without humans altering the climate, reports the BBC, quoting model-produced work rushed to press by World Weather Attribution (WWA). Humans caused the spell of Mediterranean summer heat to be 2.5°C higher, it was said. This latest study confirms what we knew before, says frequent BBC contributor and WWA founder Dr. Friederike Otto. More to the point, last week’s coverage of these heatwaves confirmed what we knew before – the BBC will pull out all the stops to promote weather fear in the cause of the collectivist Net Zero project.
On Tuesday July 18th the BBC reported on its rolling news feed that the island of Sardinia was expected to see a high of 46°C in the afternoon “and there are warnings that extreme heat could continue for a further 10 days”.
Time and Date compiles comprehensive records of past temperatures, an increasingly useful tool for checking up on ‘World on Fire’ fantasists. The graph above shows the temperature in Sardinia peaking at 40°C on July 18th and then steadily falling during the week to the lower 30s.
Also on July 18th the BBC reported that the temperature in Rome could reach 40°C and remain above that level for 15 days. Over to Time and Date again.
Here we see the temperature did briefly touch 40°C in the midday sun, but then, like Sardinia, promptly fell away for the rest of the week.
At this point, the European Space Agency entered the scare-fest and the BBC duly reported its view that Sardinia and Sicily were expected to hit a high of 48°C. As I noted on Tuesday, this fanciful prediction came from a press release issued by the European Space Agency, where it started using measurements from the ground rather than the conventional air temperature.
No comment is required, although at this point the arrival of the Monty Python Colonel marching onto the set declaring, “stop it, this sketch is getting silly. Badly written and too silly”, might be necessary.
But before the Colonel shuts us down, let us consider the plight of Justin Rowlatt, the BBC’s green activist-in-chief who was airlifted last week into heat-torn Alicante. On the southern Spanish frontline, he reported on July 18th that the heat has been “relentless” and continued day and night. It helps explain why these periods of extreme heat “can impose such a burden on people’s health”, he observed. Rising at 6:30am to do his first broadcast, he reported it was 27°C.
Alas, for our intrepid William Boot, it only briefly touched 33°C that day, and by the weekend the temperature in Alicante was struggling to stay in the 30s.
But for the BBC, it’s job well done. The mainstream media headlines screamed on cue about imminent Thermogeddon. Writing in the Daily Telegraph this Tuesday, Suzanne Moore said the “world is on fire – and we can’t ignore it any longer”. Arsonists took the opportunity to light fires on the Greek island of Rhodes, but to Moore, observing a hasty retreat by holiday makers, “this is what climate refugees look like”. BBC Dragon’s Den celeb Deborah Meaden noted that arson ”might” have been responsible, but then took the opportunity to widen the debate by claiming – without a shred of proof – “we are about to see the first countries abandoned due to rising sea levels”.
It "might" be arson that started it and wildfires happen all the time but this is not quite the slam dunk you think it is. Unusually high temperatures for prolonged periods are what is fanning it. We are about to see the first countries abandoned due to rising sea levels..you… https://t.co/laiHTvgr0B— Deborah Meaden 🇺🇦 (@DeborahMeaden) July 23, 2023
Meanwhile, the World Weather Attribution operation, partly funded by green billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham, adds to the mix with its modelled guesses based on imaginary climates with and without human-produced carbon dioxide. As we have noted in past articles, attribution studies is a growing branch of climate alarmism, but it fails the bedrock science falsification principle outlined by the science philosopher Karl Popper. Former IPCC author and economics professor Roger Pielke Jr. is a fierce critic, noting that he can think of no other area of research “where the relaxing of rigour and standards has been encouraged by research in order to generate claims more friendly to headlines, political advocacy and even lawsuits”.
Pielke suggests that the rise of individual event attribution studies coincides with frustration that the IPCC has not “definitively concluded” that many types of extreme weather have become commonplace. In his view, they offer “comfort and support” to those focused on climate advocacy.
Undoubtedly WWA leads the way in providing simple, press-ready, clickbait material. Its latest press release on the European heatwaves notes that it uses “published peer-reviewed” methods, and backing this up there is a link to Philip et al. But it might be more accurate to describe this 2020 paper as ‘mates’ helpful suggestions’. One of the named authors, for instance is none other than Friederike Otto. Another author was Julie Arrighi from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, a person identified by the BBC as one of the authors of the latest WWA report. Helpful suggestions include the advice that communicating only a lower bound, because it is mathematically better defined in many cases, “is not advisable”. Furthermore, “quoting only the lower bound de-emphasises the most likely result and therefore communicates too conservative an estimate”. We can’t be having well-defined, conservative estimates now, can we.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.