Climate Catastrophe or Media Hype?

Subjected to a continual bombardment of catastrophism from climate activists, the public can be forgiven for assuming that recent extreme weather events, especially heat waves in North America, are unusual. Citizens would have little reason to suspect that most records for these phenomena were set many years ago.

But they were.

A quick check of the record books shows that the hottest period of the 20th century was during the “dirty thirties." The 1930s Dust Bowl years were miserable for farmers on the American and Canadian prairies, far worse than anything we are seeing today.

Well-known American climatologist Stanley Changnon has documented how the 1920s and 1930s also witnessed significantly higher numbers of thunderstorms and associated violent weather than today. University of Alberta Emeritus Professor Keith Hage’s research showed that severe and destructive windstorms over Alberta and Saskatchewan peaked during the 1920s and 1930s and have lessened since.

The Prairies also witnessed unusually cold winter conditions during the 1910s and 1920s. Meteorologists still do not understand why the climate of North America was so anomalous during this period.

This year’s heat wave in North America is certainly severe, but the U.S. Midwest suffered a long and protracted heat wave during summer of 1980 as well. The summers of 1952-54 were similarly very hot in many regions of the mainland U.S. The graph below was presented on August 1, 2012, to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by Alabama State Climatologist Dr. John R. Christy. Note that almost all state extreme temperature records were set decades ago.

The 1920s and 1930s also had more frequent, more severe, and longer lasting droughts in the American Midwest than in recent times. Many years in those decades had almost no rain at all for the entire year and there were no historic floods in the U.S. Yet climate activists blame global warming for this year’s droughts across the Mississippi River watershed resulting in very low river levels, forgetting about events 80 years ago when no one even thought about human-induced climate change.

They also forget that it was only nine years ago (2003) that historic highs were recorded along Old Man River and we saw the most devastating floods along the Upper Mississippi River Basin in modern times. Five years later, another historic flood occurred when the Cedar River (Cedar City, Iowa) rose to more than 11 feet above the previous record. Extensive flooding was also reported in 2008 in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Why did such floods occur if human-caused global warming is supposed to be causing this summer’s droughts?

Regardless, severe floods are not merely recent events either. The deadliest flood in Canadian history was due to Hurricane Hazel, which killed over 75 people in Toronto in 1954. In 1969, the exceptionally powerful Hurricane Camille slammed the Mississippi state coastal areas killing 256 people. In total, 12 tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic reached hurricane intensity in 1969, far above normal. A year later a tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal killed about 250,000 people, the greatest number ever in a single weather-related disaster. But no one blamed global warming or climate change for such events. After all, the earth’s climate was generally cooling between 1945 and 1977.