Why Do Climate Change Claims Consistently Get a Fact-Checker Pass?

It is almost impossible to read a media story any more about severe weather events without seeing some blurb about such and such event being the result of manmade climate change.  I hear writers all the time saying that it is exhausting to run the gauntlet of major media fact checkers, so why do they all get a pass on these weather statements?  Even the IPCC, which we skeptics think is exaggerating manmade climate change effects, refused to link current severe weather events with manmade CO2.

The California drought brings yet another tired example of this.  I think pretty much everyone in the media has operated from the assumption that the current CA drought is 1. unprecedented and 2. man-made. The problem is that neither are true.  Skeptics have been saying this for months, pointing to 100-year California drought data and pointing to at 2-3 other events in the pre-manmade-CO2 era that were at least as severed.  But now the NOAA has come forward and said roughly the same thing:

Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.

"It's important to note that California's drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state," said Richard Seager, the report's lead author and professor with Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal but was reviewed by other NOAA scientists.

"In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state's climate record, and it's a safe bet that a similar event will happen again," he said.

The persistent weather pattern over the past several years has featured a warm, dry ridge of high pressure over the eastern north Pacific Ocean and western North America. Such high-pressure ridges prevent clouds from forming and precipitation from falling.

The study notes that this ridge — which has resulted in decreased rain and snowfall since 2011 — is almost opposite to what computer models predict would result from human-caused climate change.

There is an argument to be made that this drought was made worse by the fact that the low precipitation was mated with higher-than average temperatures that might be partially attributable to man-made climate change.  One can see this in the Palmer drought severity index, which looks at more factors than just precipitation.  While the last 3 years was not the lowest for rainfall in CA over the last 100, I believe the Palmer index was the lowest for the last 3 years of any period in the last 100+ years.  The report did not address this warming or attempt to attribute some portion of it to man, but it is worth noting that temperatures this year in CA were, like the drought, not unprecedented, particularly in rural areas (urban areas are going to be warmer than 50 years ago due to increasing urban heat island effect, which is certainly manmade but has nothing to do with CO2.)

Update:  By the way, note the article is careful to give several paragraphs after this bit to opponents who disagree with the findings.  Perfectly fine.  But note that this is the courtesy that is increasingly denied to skeptics when the roles are reversed.  Maybe I should emulate climate alarmists and be shouting "false balance!  the science is settled!"


  1. Stephen_Macklin:

    For the Same reason Rolling Stone ran the UVA rape story. Confirmation Bias.

  2. August:

    One of the things I am going to enjoy is burying these bastards with their own concerns. I don't know if you've heard of Alan Savory, or Mark Shepard, or Greg Judy- yes they all probably believe this crap, but they also have a plan that doesn't require government. We can sequester carbon in soil. Plant trees, graze cattle in a particular way to mimic the way ruminants used to in the wild- as a for instance, the huge buffalo herds were part of why the Great Plains were what they were.

    Mark Shepard says we can offset the carbon in the atmosphere in just fifteen years. I don't care so much about the carbon- I started looking at this from the food quality angle- but nothing would be so fun as to tell government to shut up because we already solved that problem.

  3. HenryBowman419:

    Why Do Climate Change Claims Consistently Get a Fact-Checker Pass?

    Because if your sacred text is the Book of Goran, you don't question its dogma.

  4. Sam L.:

    It is Received Truth! and SHALL NOT be denied!

  5. johncunningham:

    the so-called media are in actuality Party operatives with bylines. only the Party line is to be mentioned. there is no room for doubt or opposing views.

  6. FelineCannonball:

    The report, if you bother to read it, ignored the compounding influence of temperature. And was not peer reviewed. You get a better picture of the state of the science by reading a little more. For instance:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477-95.9.S1.1 (page 10)


  7. skhpcola:

    "Peer reviewed" doesn't confer more truth to an article or paper. It may confer more validity, to those that are seeking confirmation of their bias, but peer-reviewed papers and articles are proved to be fallacious frequently.

  8. FelineCannonball:

    I didn't use the word truth and in fact science never addresses "truth." I did say you get a better idea of the state of the science by reading more. That included seeing where a report is incomplete, or where controversy might exist, misstatements, misinterpretations. Peer review might have helped the authors clarify a few issues, such as:

    One can say that the NOAA report specifically addressed precipitation as the only drought parameter. But, if you look at water stress as reflected in tree rings (link above), this drought looks to be more significant than if you just look at total precipitation. Precipitation timing and evaporative stress are additional factors that make this drought a 1200 year drought and not a 100 year drought. Basically the measured tree rings are skinnier than any in the last 1200 years.

    One can say that the blocking ridge is expected to decrease winter precipitation in some forward models (other link) and not others. This is therefore a point of controversy.

    So by simply reading more you get a better idea of the state of the science and how the NOAA report might be a little incomplete.

    Like Coyote, I applaud journalists for digging a little deeper where contemporary articles appear to show controversy. Sometimes they're just talking about different things. Sometimes there really is controversy that science is trying to tease out.

  9. skhpcola:

    I agree, I was just pointing out that "peer review" isn't magical or reliable in the realm of scientific research. Done properly, it does improve the accuracy and pertinence of a paper, but that doesn't hold true within the inbred and self-serving and science-y AGW sphere. AGW "scientists" are infamous for being mendacious circle-jerkers.