Monthly Archives: May 2014

You just got to have faith

knmi' 14 climate scenarios

After reading some newspaper articles I got interested in Climate scenarios ’14 for The Netherlands, the new report of KNMI with four mathematical model scenarios for the future climate in the Netherlands. Subtitle is “Guide for professionals in climate adaptation”.

The optimistic look that I got from the media was making place for a more negative one. It is just an accumulation of all things negative. According to the scenarios hardly anything positive will come out of warming or just with a but as a counterweight.

The pause (KNMI calls it euphemistic the “slowed temperature increase”) was touched only briefly. They state that the failure of the models to predict the current standstill doesn’t mean the models are not fit to calculate the future climate. True, but it doesn’t mean it will fit future climate either. This just means the models, right or wrong, can’t be validated by reality until 30 years from now. So how do we know that this long term direction is correct after all if we can’t even check it? How do we know the assumptions it builds on are correct if the models diverge from reality since 20 years already?

If I read it correctly, the KNMI modelers assume this pause is just natural variation that mask our influence. That could well be, but the fact that there is a pause in surface temperatures while having U N P R E C E D E N T E D (and ever increasing) amounts of carbondioxide in the atmosphere, means that there is something not right with this global warming theory. If anthropogenic carbondioxide really is the main cause of the increase of global average temperature and we have unprecedented amounts of it in the atmosphere, then having a pause of a decade and a half doesn’t make much sense. To me it means that there are one or more elements in the system that have an influence at least as strong as the awesome power of carbondioxide and these elements are not really known, so not accounted for in the climate models.

Yet, we blindly base policies on these models. Models that can’t be validated in the near future. Models of a complex and an intrinsic chaotic system. Models that diverge from reality for already more than 20 years now. What are we thinking?

Going to Bordeaux just by staying at home

In today’s newspaper (Het Nieuwsblad) I found a small article on the last page about extreme weather and global warming. At first it made me roll my eyes…yet another climate report…sigh. But when reading the article I was very surprised it even reported on possible advantages of global warming (assuming those predicted changes are actually true of course).

The origin seemed to be the The KNMI’14-climate scenarios and Climate Scenarios, four scenarios based on recent results of climate research and the newest report of the IPCC.

I found other newspapers that reported on it, for example More extreme weather: winter in the Netherlands will be like winter in Bordeaux (in Dutch). That title caught my attention, it let me think about a post I wrote a month ago after a week in the South of France: How could the French ever survive in the South of France?. In which I explained that I wasn’t really impressed by the “worrying” thought of us, Belgians, having the climate of the South of France.

The same weather as in Bordeaux, that is something that wouldn’t impress much people in this region. If I compare this with the global warming reporting until now, this is rather soft. Am I getting weak or is something changing in global-warming reporting?

The climate theme in the Mother of all Elections

stembiljet

Tomorrow it is an election day in Belgium. It is called the “Mother of All Elections”. Not really my words, but they are heard all over in the media. There are two reason for this. First, the election is not only for the European level, but also for the regional level (in my case the Flemish Parliament) and the National level (the Chamber of Representatives). This means that the chances are that people choose for the same party over all these levels. Therefor a party that wins/lose the elections will likely do so for the three levels. Second, the next election will be in 2019. The party that wins/loses the elections will do so for the next five years. These two things combined means that these elections are extremely important for the politicians.

It showed. In general the battle over the favor of the people was pretty fierce, not only between opponents, but also between allies. There were lots of strong statements, name calling and misrepresentations of the other parties. Hopefully no bridges were blown, they still have to cooperate with each other after the elections.

An interesting development was the campaign of the Flemish green party. In the second half of last year I noticed that there were no green themes in their program. In stead they focused, like all other parties, on social themes like the pensions, economy, unemployment, education, health care and so on. In their media campaign the closest they get to the environment is that they “want affordable energy” (without saying that the focus on “renewable” energy made energy expensive in the first place). When looking a bit deeper on their website there were some mentions of climate. I found for example the term “climate pollution”, whatever that may be (probably yet another poetic name for CO2 emissions). Two mentions of “climate change”, but just in passing, not even as a theme. Not even a mention of global warming.

Strange, before it was brought as the most important theme that challenges our society. Some people complained that global warming/climate change was not a subject in the elections. But on the other hand it is not a surprise knowing that the current interest of the Flemish people is not in climate change. In The Photo of Flanders (a poll from the beginning of the year on the priorities of the people of Flanders) climate change was near the bottom of the list. No wonder that the politicians were not eager to make it as a part of their campaign. Focusing on a topic in which the Flemish people are not interested would be political suicide. That would explain why Green party didn’t use climate as an important theme, but instead focused on the themes that were of interest of the Flemish people, well, our pensions, economy, unemployment and so on.

The only party that made climate and 100% renewable energy a theme (very sparely) are the socialists. They were in election fever and although their program leans very close to the green party’s program, they seem to see them as competitors, not allies. So I was surprised to hear them state a couple weeks back in the media that a vote for the green party is a vote against the socialist party. A bit later it baffled me those two were used as two opponents in an election program. I don’t think there are two parties that are closer together. Probably they wanted to snatch some green votes. The hostility didn’t last very long. After seeing only good figures for the green party the socialists started courting the green party again to form a front against the evil right party. They will be fine after all.

In general the important theme was the economy. All the mayor parties did a calculation on how they would tackle the economic crisis. We got a lot of scenario’s, but no chance to check them properly before the elections. The check will be finished only long AFTER the elections and a new government is in place…hopefully the winning party made a correct calculation…

Now it is waiting until tomorrow. But in a fierce campaign where all parties called each others names and make strong statements, hopefully they didn’t regret some things they said. Whatever the result of this election will be, it will be interesting to watch the coalitions being formed, to say the least.

UPDATE

In the meanwhile the results of the election are in and are interesting. The expectation that people voted for roughly the same parties on these three levels came true. There was a mayor victory for N-VA (center right), that at the flip of a switch became the biggest party in Flanders, even in the country. Some speak about the “yellow wave”. The mayor victim was Vlaams Belang (extreme right) that lost about 2/3 of their seats. The traditional parties christian/socialist/liberal (that were until now in power) had only minor losses. The only other party that didn’t loose were the flemish greens. They did well and got some extra seats, but not enough to make them interesting for the other parties to make a coalition with.

The victory of N-VA was big, very big, but probably ultimately not big enough. The traditional parties are still strong and when they would make a coalition together, they still would have a majority, placing N-VA in the opposition. That makes the formation of a new government rather complicated. Adding to that, the south of the country (Wallonia) voted completely different. The socialist party stayed the largest there. Another difficulty is that only few parties want to make a coalition with N-VA, especially not the socialist party. The game is played tactically now. N-VA has the initiative now, but traditional parties still could rely on their own coalition that would make N-VA redundant and would put the victor into the opposition. Putting them into a rather strong position although they lost. Interesting times ahead.

But chances are that although one party won the elections big time, the change that many were hoping for will not materialize at all…

The consensus explained: “we just stopped arguing”

we stopped arguing

Writing a blog can be satisfying. But the downside is that there is less time to follow other blogs. I spent much less time on them since the creation of this blog. But sometimes I find something that I would never find before. One example is Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists by Joshua Holland. Never heard of the Bill Moyers site, not likely to go back.

The author uses statements of scientists to give it more power. Those “real” scientists seem to be Kevin Trenberth, Ben Santer, Andrew Dessler, John Abraham and Katharine Hayhoe. Not really the most balanced ones in the debate, to say the least.

The pseudoscientific climate claim that interested me most was the claim “4. Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus”. That was what I was looking for in the first place.

It starts rather predictable:

The most important thing to understand about the scientific consensus that human activities are causing the earth to warm is that it isn’t a result of peer pressure or someone policing scientists’ opinions. It results from the scientific method.

Having read a big part of the climategate emails and with the latest revelations of Lennart Bengtsson this is something I would take with some grains of salt. I also guess that I have a different definition of what is “the scientific method” than the author…

Then John Abrahams is quoted:

“Scientists are very interested in theories that other factors may be causing climate change,” says John Abraham. “The contrarians put forward ideas and the consensus scientists investigate them honestly and find that they don’t withstand scientific scrutiny. This happens all the time. That’s how science works. In fact, showing that these guys are wrong makes the science better.”

Now I get all soft and fussy. In the world of the unicorns those nice scientists reach out and take the ideas of the contrarians to investigate them in order to find the Truth. I can have it wrong, but in the real world I see a lot of name calling and ridiculing the skeptic arguments. Calling skeptics “deniers” or “contrarians” will probably not help. 😉

A scientific consensus emerges when the weight of evidence for a proposition becomes so great that serious researchers stop arguing about it among themselves. They then move on to study and debate other questions. There’s quite a bit of scientific debate about lots of different aspects of climate change, but the question of whether humans are causing the planet to warm isn’t one of them.

Now I start to recognize the controverse again … the science is clear … the evidence is unequivocal… I would have no real problem with that in an exact science, but in a field with sparse data, large uncertainties, that depend on many disciplines and that is politicized, I would find it rather unbelievable that researchers stop arguing about it. That humans are causing some warming is not really uncontroversial. The big question of course is “how much” and is it significant.

But then the ultimate argument:

There have been three studies, using different methodologies, that have shown that almost all working climate scientists – 97 percent – accept the consensus view.

The link goes, of all sites, to Skeptical Science. Nice of course that the three studies with different methodologies come to the same conclusion, but this doesn’t really prove anything. It is an opinion, a survey, not real evidence in the scientific sense of the word.

In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them. A survey of 928 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused (Oreskes 2004).

The statement: “stopped arguing about what is causing climate change” is an interesting one. Really? In the complex and chaotic system that is climate, there are a gazillion possible causes, some maybe not even known, other with no or hardly any data, other put forward as THE main cause (probably for political reason, not scientific ones). But yet, no doubt anymore about the cause of climate change?!?!

The three studies were those from Oreskes (2004), Doran (2009) and Cook (2013). They all agreed that humans had some influence on temperatures. But not much more than that. None of them was really specific in what they were looking for. Such a consensus is rather meaningless. No wonder they found so many to agree. None of the three asked anything about the catastrophic nature or the need to act, as it is often marketed.

Science doesn’t advance via consensus (consensus is not a valid scientific argument). The fact alone that one needs the opinion of scientists, even if it are climate scientists, means that the underlying evidence is not solid. If it were, we would rely on the evidence. A survey of scientists is not proof of anything. Nor pro, nor contra. That is an opinion of scientists. When you think about it, there is a reason why we have to rely on the opinion of scientists and that is science doesn’t provide the hard evidence.

If I have the choice to call something pseudoscientific, I would choose this specific claim. It is a extremely nice example of the headcount fallacy and appeal to authority.

Consensus is about level of agreement, not about the amount of evidence. People agree about many things with each other. Not necessarily for good reasons.

Peer pressure on Bengtsson: scientific or political?

peer pressure ahead

It was only two weeks ago when Lennart Bengtsson joined the Academic Advisory Council of the GWPF (Global Warming Policy Foundation), known for challenging the global warming consensus. Bengtsson is a Swedish meteorologist with a career in Meteorology and Environmental sciences. At the age of 79 he is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Systems Science Centre in the University of Reading. His resignation after just two weeks from the GWPF Advisory Board came as lightning at clear heaven. This is how his resignation letter goes:

I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.

I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.

Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.

It shows the peer pressure he encountered. Some who commented on other blogs mocked the discribed peer pressure, by saying that Bengtsson joined a advisory board of a political foundation, that his peers weren’t amused and just communicated this unhappyness with him. What is the big deal? I agree that everybody has the right of his own opinion, so these peers should have the right to indicate that they are concerned. But such pressure is not a small feat easy to dismiss. Especially in a polarized field as Climate Science. Colleagues withdrawing from joint authorship is something not to take lightly for a publishing scientist (which he apparently still is). Would this be a young scientist, this probably would be “fin de carrière”.

More: the pressure that Bengtsson experienced was not because of scientific issues, but because he joined the GWPF Advisory board. There was a massive, swift reaction, not because of a scientific disagreement, but the objections were entirely of a political nature. That should come as no surprise in a politicized field.

This peer pressure was of a politicial nature and only in one direction: when scientists choose to cooperate with political organizations that agree with the consensus, no such fuss is made. But when cooperating with a board of an organization that challenges the consensus, suddenly the peer pressure kicks in.

With this resignation letter we see another glimpse of peer pressure, not the scientific one, but a political one. And only in ONE direction.

Global Warming as distracter

A week ago I heard the news that the Kiribati man who was seeking asylum in New Zealand because “rising seas and environmental risks caused by global warming” had lost his appeal. To recall: he came to New Zealand in 2007 and was ordered to leave the country. He then claimed he couldn’t safely return to his country because of global warming and the sea level rise. Asylum was refused on the grounds his claim fell short of the legal criteria, such as fear of persecution or threats to his life. He then appealed the decision. Now he fears deportation because he lost the appeal.

The verdict was of course not based on science or facts, but on juridical analysis. Juridically he didn’t fulfill the current definition of a refugee although his lawyer took great effort in trying to change the definition of “persecution”. They now consider taking the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

One question kept buggering me: how could such a case ever been started? If we look at the sea level rise in the Kiribati area, it is remarkably stable. A study found that some islands there even increased in size. Yet, now someone is pleading that his country is not able to care for its inhabitants anymore and will be engulfed by an assumed rise somewhere in the future. Without seeing an actual rise. Looking at the data and considering that these are not islands but atolls, should at least put some question marks with these claims.

It made me think about another situation. Last year at the Warsaw summit, the developing countries walked away from the negotiations because their expectations of being compensated for the historic emissions of the developed world were not fulfilled. Scientists, politicians and the media told for many decades that CO2 is the culprit of extreme weather and therefor there is a need to limit its emissions. The developing countries took that for granted and claimed compensation because of this wrongdoing of the developed countries.

None of these are based on an actual threat, but on assumptions, on mathematical models, but also on politics. The overstatements have their origin in keeping fear alive. The fear that many bad things could happen, so to influence other people/politicians in supporting their solution. Fear is of course a powerful political instrument, but playing with fear can have unintentional consequences.

After stating CO2 responsible for all things bad and even boldly stating that our past emissions amplifying and/or even causing storms such as Haiyan, it would come as no surprise that developing countries make an emotional appeal for compensation of this injustice. Even if there is no link found between our emissions and storms. Yet politicians keep on feeding this idea in an desperate move to influence decision making. What would happen in the next summit in Paris 2015 is rather predictable.

After stating CO2 responsible for (global) sea level rise, it would come as no big surprise that inhabitants of atolls declare there is no future for them and they need the money or a residence in the developed world. Even if sea level is stable in their area. It has nothing to do with the science or the facts. We made it very easy for them for them to come to such a conclusion.

Don’t take me wrong. Cebu and Kiribati have real issues that have to be met. Haiyan struck poor people that were not prepared. Helping them is a no brainer. Kiribati has an issue with overpopulation and more impact on the environmental than it can handle. But connecting them with global warming is distracting from the real issues and therefor is not going to help to solve them.

White House solar power: the symbolic nature far exceeds the actual power produced

Back in 2010 the White House took the pledge to install solar panels. It took four years, but then finally they managed to get them installed. The PR machine got in overdrive again:

Obama wants to use his personal example to spur families and businesses to do more to reduce reliance on foreign energy and cut emissions blamed for global warming.

Solar panels at the White House are a really important message that solar is here, we are doing it, we can do a lot more, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a video released by the White House.

That message is clear. It is nice of course that the President want to lead by example, but how much of a dent do those panels make in the energy use of White House? How big is the desire to act on the issue that is deemed so very important?

The panels are expected to generate 6.3 kilowatts of solar power whenever the sun shines, the White House said.

That is quite some weasel wording there. This means the panels produce 6.3 KW if (and only if) the sun is shining and everything is optimal. Just to be curious, how much is that? Washington DC is not really the most sunny location. According to solarreviews.com this gives an average production of 3.4 kWh per day for a 1 kW installation.

If I understand it correctly, for a 6.3 kW installation this should be 21.42 kWh per day or 7,818 kWh per year.

Paint me unimpressed, but that is rather low. Even according to European standards. In Belgium the average household electricity use is considered 3,500 kWh per year. So this installation could provide for the average use of 2 Belgian families. In the USA the average power consumption is much higher: in 2012 this was 10,837 kWh per year (almost 30 kWh per day). It seems the White House solar panels don’t even produce enough electricity to meet the average consumption of one American household! I haven’t yet been in the White House, but I think it is safe to assume the electricity consumption of the White House will be wwwweeeellll above that of an average household. That gives a different meaning to “we can do a lot more”. That is the understatement of the year.

Pity that the expected contribution of those panels to the total energy use is not disclosed. Wouldn’t it be a great to know how much of the consumption in the White House is actually supplied by those panels, that are so badly needed to avert global warming? Then this number could inspire families and businesses… 😉

Things I took for granted: climate models accurately project our climate a century ahead

thermometer in crystal ball

For the record: I like working on computers. I followed quite some computer trainings in the last decades and am the humble creator of several webapps in the last 8 years. I have no problem stating that computers are useful things, to say the least.

Also for the record: I like computer models! I use them regularly at work (okay, nothing to do with climate, but financial). Models are useful things. A lot of things can be modeled and afterwards what if-scenario’s can be calculated from that model. A lot of things could be learned from those kind of analyses. I am glad such tools are available.

That being said, mathematical models have their limitations. There are a few important things to consider. It needs as much data of the components as the process exists of. The more components are included, the better, but at least the major components should be there. As accurate as possible. Some will have a direct relationship (nice), other an indirect relationship (therefor the need to fill in with assumptions). The more gaps/assumptions, the less likely this result would actually be observed in real world (or the more likely the result will diverge from what happens in the real world).

The issue I have with climate models have is that their field of study is an intrinsic chaotic system. The more gaps in our knowledge of the system, the more gaps in the representation and/or the more assumptions are used in the model and the more uncertain the output will be. Mathematical models of chaotic systems are not evidence of anything. Their output depends on the assumptions that were put in by the creators in the first place. For example, if CO2 is assumed the major component that defines climate, then it should not be a big surprise that climate models “find” that the climate is very sensitive towards CO2. Yet the standstill of temperatures learns us that there are other components that are as important as CO2 is.

Although I knew the pitfalls of modeling of chaotic systems, I never considered this a point in climate models. I assumed scientists had enough knowledge of the climate to favor reliable output. I thought the climate models were weather models, but better. Weather models work quite well on short term, why shouldn’t climate science be so advanced that their models would work as well as the weather models? If you ever want a reason why the public need to be convinced that “the science is solid”, this is it.

Look it like this: we know our knowledge of the system is not complete. We know there are pieces missing, but we don’t know how many. Could be 1%, 10%, 50%, 90%,… We know we discover new pieces on a regular basis, so the total count of missing pieces could be high. Well, suppose such a system and, based on what we do know, we then claim to be able to forecast what this system will do almost 100 years in the future from now. Would we believe any of this? Would we take drastic measures based these calculations?

Let me recapitulate: climate is incredibly complex, many elements are not understood, many things are still being under study, there are a lot of discussion on what the major component is. Then a mathematical model is constructed on this and even less elements (clouds, cycles,…) are put into it. So how exactly would the output meaningful for predicting … wait for it … a century ahead?!?!

Coping with a 2.3 °C temperature increase

two-degrees

While other countries are worrying about a temperature increase of a couple tenth of a degree, our tiny country is coping with a 2.3 °C since the pre-industrial period. You saw that right. 2.3 °C. Almost triple the average global temperature increase. If global warming is staying with us, who knows what it will brings us.

Temperature anomaly since the pre-industrial period

Temperature anomaly since the pre-industrial period. Source: VMM

It was clearly stated in the article Climate Change in Belgium in 10 graphs (in Dutch) in MO magazine. It was used to show how we, Belgians, already feel the results of Climate Change. Their 2nd graph said it all: “Already 2.3 °C warmer than in the 19th century”. We are measuring temperature since 1833 and since that time we increased our temperature that much.

Where are the WWF, BBL and Greenpeace to inform our leaders that we should drastically reform our agriculture and society in the wake of these unprecedented temperatures?

I can report on the damage done to our country until now by this unprecedented temperature increase over such a short period. 😉 When looking out of the window I can’t see scorched earth yet. That comes maybe later? No hurricanes that are devastating the country. The invasion of relentless heat waves didn’t materialize either. Neither did droughts. Also still in the pipeline probably? We still have cold waves so now and then and snow isn’t a thing of the past yet. Pensioners still leave their beloved country to live in the South of France or Spain. They don’t go there because it is nicely cool down there. Farmers still work on their fields, planting the same old, boring crops. They are still harvesting wheat, asparagus, endives, apples,… as usual. They still don’t do manioc. Or sweet potatoes. Grapes growing outside still don’t have that wine quality by far and tomatoes grown outside the greenhouse still suck big time. Yuck.

That 2.3 °C extra is probably not entirely true. That ever increasing graph shown in MO magazine might be dramatic, but I have seen this graph before, but somewhat differently. Like this for example:

Temperature record of Uccle

Evolution of the average temperatures in Uccle. Source: KMI

That is how our KMI (“Royal Meteorological Institute” or RMI in English) sees this increase. In the graph we see the real temperatures as being measured, not the anomaly against a previous period. It is similar to the graph in MO, but RMI add some trend lines for clarity. Apparently it is not one big steady increase as it was suggested in the first graph, but there are two distinct step changes, followed by a plateau. One step change around 1910 and one at the end of the 1980s. Apparently something happened there and it is not a change in the measurements. It is surely not the hallmark of CO2 either. Or is it? CO2, as a magical gas, is there anything it can’t do?

Another clue is in the link that was provided with the doom-graph. It links to the MIRA environment report. In it a bit more nuance. At the end they state that, maybe, just maybe, it is possible that Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) could something have to do with that.

Sounds obvious. Although the instruments are sited according to regulation, it is in the close neighborhood of Brussels. In a village that had only a couple farmers in the 19th century and is now grown to the size of a small city. Well, the people from MIRA are looking into it and will come with a report at the end of this year.

This is not the first study in this regard. There were others like for example Van Weverberg, K, De Ridder, K, Van Rompaey, A in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (2008) and Rafiq Hamdi (RMI) Estimating Urban Heat Island Effects on the Temperature Series of Uccle (Brussels, Belgium) Using Remote Sensing Data and a Land Surface Scheme in Remote Sensing (2010). They came to (substantial) effects. “0.15 °C per decade” or “45% of the overall warming trend is attributed to intensifying urban heat island effects rather than to changes in local/regional climate”.

That the RMI did their own research and came to the conclusion that there were UHI effects, was a bit surprising to me. As far as I know, they always claimed that there was no UHI effect (because Uccle is situated in southern direction and the prevailing wind comes from the other side)…

Maybe our influence on temperature is much lower than we think it is.

Weather is not climate, unless we say so

Plants in my garden suffering from four, euh, two months of "drought"...

Plants in my garden suffering from four months of “drought”…

Since about six months the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News), seemed to be slowing climate alarmism. I first noticed this when reading their reporting on Haiyan. The reporting on it was surprisingly balanced. But yesterday they apparently couldn’t resist. They wrote an article about our warm winter and warm spring that we are experiencing now, interviewing their (alarmist) weatherwoman (from their paper edition, translated from Dutch):

[…] The weather has lost its bearings. According to official KMI terminology, it is ‘abnormally’ warm now for already five months. And except for February there was also much less rainfall than normal since December. […]
“It is no longer news that the earth is warming”, said Jill Peeters, our weatherwoman. “But when you see these numbers, then it is only becoming clearer. The average temperatures used by KMI, are over the past thirty years. If you were to compare with the start of the measurements, then the differences would be even more extreme”. […]

What happened to global warming? Belgium is roughly a whopping 0.006% of the earth. I have to admit that there are more countries than Belgium with this weather, but she forgot to mention for example the United States, where they had their coldest winter. If our warm winter is some kind of evidence that the earth is warming, why is the current cold winter in the United States or our “winter that never ended” just from last year, not evidence that the theory is not coping well? She has no problem with that (translated from Dutch):

The earth is warming up, but within that upward trend there will always be variability.

Here you have it. When it is a warm winter, apparently it is more evidence of global warming. When it is a cold winter, it is just natural variability… In that sense global warming can never be falsifiable and is always true. No matter what the observations are.

I agree that the temperatures rose in the last thirty years and even more in the last 160 years. But this doesn’t necessarily means that humans were the primary cause or that it is catastrophic in nature. It could as well be a recovery from the Little Ice Age. Looking at the longer term datasets cycles of about 60 years become visible. So her definition of 30 years for climate is only a measly half of one cycle, more specifically the upwards part of it. When one takes the satellite dataset (that should be the most accurate globally) temperatures didn’t rise much from the end of the 1970s on and it didn’t rise at all for a decade and a half now. Although we pumped an unprecedented amount of CO2 in the atmosphere during that period.

That would let the temperature rise dangerously.

By 2100.

Or so.

There seemingly wasn’t enough hyperbole until that point in the article. This is how she concludes (translated from Dutch):

The weatherwoman hopes that the weather makes a jump again. “And I’m talking mostly about the drought. If the coming months bring so little rain, then we really will really suffer a long heat wave. We should not hope for that. Nature is in full bloom, but therefor she needs plenty of water, and there is too little of that now.

While it had rained less than normal in most of those months it is not that it didn’t rain. She said that “except for February there was much less rain than normal since December”. This gives the (false) impression that it was much too dry in this period (except for one month). This is her own data:

Month Average (mm) Precipitation (mm)
December 2013 81 77.1
January 2014 76.1 70.1
February 2014 63.1 66.2
March 2014 70 18
April 2014 51.3 20.1

December 2013 and January 2014 were slightly below average, February 2014 was above average and only the two last months rainfall were well below average (before that, November 2013 was extremely wet, almost doubling the average for that month).

A couple months with below average rainfall is nothing special in Belgium. It happened before, it certainly will happen again. That is what averages are. Sometimes less, sometimes more. By the way, most projections for Belgium are about more precipitation in the future and we are told to worry about that. Now we should start worrying about droughts in the future too? Unless climate is changing within the time span of a couple months, the chance that this “drought” will last for long is very small. Even before her article went to press, a rain zone crossed our country and even more rain is forecasted for next week. So much for the drought.

I remember vividly the times that global warmers were saying that “weather is not climate” when they got stuck for an explanation. Now they even have to resort to the variability of weather to make their case…