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Extreme weather events are increasing: yet another green propaganda myth

Global-Climate-Change3by James Delingpole

So I’m a speaker at this conference, a month or two ago, and I’ve just delivered my spiel about the global warming hysteria being a classic example of the madness of crowds. The audience are gratifyingly impressed: some of them have never heard this stuff before, certainly not expressed in quite so forthright a way. Now there are questions from the floor and one of them comes from a university professor.

Actually – I’ve seen this before, all too many times: it’s how the Warmists roll – there’s no question being asked, it’s more of a rambling, grandstanding statement. The professor roots his statement in the personal, always a good tactic when you’re trying to make your case seem likeable, reasonable, down-to-earth. He tells us how on his travels and in his back garden, he’s noticed how very much the seasons have been changing in recent decades, how Autumn is definitely lasting longer and Spring is coming earlier, and glaciers are melting and butterflies are doing whatever it is to indicate that things bain’t natural and global warming is real. Then he begins invoking “the science.” What the scientists are now telling us, apparently, is that climate change isn’t so much a case of global warming as of a chaotic system (my, how the Warmists love that phrase!) being disrupted and leading in turn to “extreme weather events” of a greater intensity than ever before.

(Ah yes. That old chestnut. Didn’t the BBC once christen it “global weirding”? They surely did…)

As an example of these “extreme weather events”, the learned professor eruditely and loftily cites something he calls – with a straight face – SuperStorm Sandy.

At this point, I’ve heard quite enough. “It’s only called ‘SuperStorm’ Sandy by places like the BBC and the Guardian and the New York Times for emotive propaganda purposes. And you do realise that it wasn’t the strongest category of hurricane. Just a cat 3…” (And only a Cat 1, I should have added, by the time it reached shore).

This, I’m afraid, is where we’re at in the great climate debate – and have been for some time. The scenario I’ve just described will be familiar to absolutely every climate sceptic who has ever appeared on a public platform anywhere: you’ve come to fight by the rules of the Geneva convention – but there’s the opposition using poison gas, napalm, Red Cross ambulances to transport healthy combat troops, slave labour, torture, whatever means comes to hand at any given moment to help them win at every cost.

By which I mean that climate alarmists threw all moral compunction or intellectual integrity out of the window long ago. As we saw in the Climategate emails they smear; lie; twist data; temper with evidence; bully; exaggerate; abuse the scientific method… almost as a matter of routine. When you debate them in public, though, you imagine somehow that they’ll rise to the occasion, that they’ll behave a bit better when there are other people watching. They never do though.

Their policy, you might say, has been borrowed from Humpty Dumpty in Through The Looking Glass:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

Substitute “piece of cherry-picked evidence” or “factoid” or “scientific reference” or “thing I read somewhere in the Guardian environment pages, can’t remember when” for “word” and you’ll get an idea of how frustrating it is trying to debate an alarmist. Your case is rooted in empiricism, in observed data, in historical evidence. Theirs might as well have been plucked from a parallel universe – as when, say, the Green party leader Natalie Bennett assured me in a Telegram podcast the other day that if renewables were a disaster for a Britain, how come they’d been such a massive success in continental Europe? No, Natalie – on every objective level renewables have been a total disaster for continental Europe, destabilising the grid, driving up energy prices, killing jobs, causing panic among industries rendered decreasingly competitive by the cost of energy. What you are claiming – whether wittingly or otherwise – is a complete reversal of the truth.

So it was with that professor I mentioned earlier. He hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about but because he’s a professor at a vaguely well-known seat of learning he is able to use his prestige to give the impression of authority. This, on a larger scale, is what Sir Paul Nurse and his nest of Warmists have been doing at the Royal Society: because of his Nobel prize, because he’s a knight, because he’s head of the world’s oldest and most distinguished scientific academy, he is able to make scientific pronouncements which people are inclined to take seriously. Even when he’s rumbled – as he was when he got his facts badly wrong on that BBC documentary when he came round to my house to stitch me up – he still emerges with his reputation intact because that’s how the world works: most people would rather trust a scientist’s lofty credentials than go to the trouble of investigating the veracity of his statements.

All this is a roundabout way of introducing a new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation into extreme weather events. What the report shows is that – contra m’learned professorial friend at that conference the other day; contra Sir Paul Nurse and the Royal Society – there is no more evidence that there has been a recent increase in extreme weather events than there is that we are in the throes of runaway global warming.

Extreme weather events have happened throughout history. It is in the nature of that “chaotic system” my professor friend (inevitably and tediously) cited.

In November 1970 a tropical cyclone killed 250,000 people in Bangladesh.

In July 1969, a Cat 4 or 5 Hurricane Camille struck the Gulf Coast and killed more than 250 people.

The largest one day outbreak of tornadoes in the mid-West was in April 1974.

None of these events was attributed to “man-made climate change” because – fortunately for the people of the 1970s and earlier – that junk science field had not yet been invented.

But look, don’t take my word for it, do your own due diligence. Read Madhav Khandekar’s report, follow up his citations, and then ask yourself: “Do I prefer to base my opinions on actual evidence? Or would I rather base them on ‘feelings in my bones’, ‘weird stuff I’ve noticed about the weather which strike me as odd’ and ‘things I’ve heard environmentalists say on the BBC and at the Guardian’?”

It’s depressing how many people still persist in taking the latter option. But then, we inhabit a particularly crazed and credulous age.

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James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who writes regularly for The Telegraph (London). He is the author of numerous books, including his most recent work Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future, also available in the US, and in Australia as Killing the Earth to Save It. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com.