Odd-ball winter weather caused by Global Warming: NWF

Put this in the column:  you knew it was coming…
Watts Up With That:  NWF’s winter weather wackiness

As Steve outlined in the WWF and the EPA Endangerment Finding, the IPCC relied upon the World Wildlife Fund’s  production of non-peer-reviewed literature as a climate science authority.  Anthony reports on the IPCC being riddled with WWF citations.  Not to be left out, our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have put out another timely piece on Confronting Global Warming.

The title of the newest contribution is “Odd-ball Winter Weather:  Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Northern United States” and the PDF can be downloaded from their website.   It is a well-manicured report with glossy photos of wildlife, folks enjoying ice fishing and skiing, and snowplows.  Here is the introductory paragraph to get a flavor of the quality of the report:

Global warming is having a seemingly peculiar effect on winter weather in the northern United States. Winter is becoming milder and shorter on average; spring arrives 10 to 14 days earlier than it did just 20 years ago. But most snowbelt areas are still experiencing extremely heavy snowstorms. Some places are even expected to have more heavy snowfall events as storm tracks shift northward
and as reduced ice cover on the Great Lakes increases lake-effect snowfalls. Even as global warming slowly changes the character of
winter, we will still experience significant year-to-year variability in snowfall and temperature because many different factors are at play.

A few brief comments:  (1) Throughout the report, there is unscientific language in the headlines similar to “seemingly peculiar” like “odd-ball”, “erratic”, “surprises”, “patchy”, and “thrown for a loop”.  It is clear that the audience of the report is the layperson in the public, but using such terminology obfuscates the scientific message being made.  (2)  As the first paragraph highlights, there have been changes in winter weather during the past 20-years, a rather short time period to be making proclamations about trends or climate change for that matter.  Also, the equivocal nature of the final sentence needs to be translated:  global warming “slowly” changes the character of winter… year-to-year variability and different factors are at play =  natural climate oscillations and modes of large-scale variability trump the changes associated with global warming during the past 20-years.

Recent odd-ball (sic) weather events.

Caption to the wonderful graphic uses the familiar weather events as “examples” of what global warming is expected to bring.  This smattering of weather events runs the gamut.  Record cold, warmth, snow, lack of snow — it is all there.  All weather events if defined as extreme are therefore expected.  Unexpected is the terminology that pervades every unemployment report or bit of economic news — and now, seemingly peculiar weather events.  Taken individually, these events are easily explained by synoptic variability combined with the large-scale climate modulator du jour such as El Nino or the North Atlantic Oscillation.  Ascribing them to potential characteristics of global warming grossly overlooks the real culprit here:  the tilt of the earth away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere = winter.

The rest of the article is puff about skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowplowing, and homelessness — all important socioeconomic concerns.  But this is not hard science, but speculation about feedbacks outside of the climate system into the economy.  But the more important question is how the media is covering this very timely report:  confronting global warming during a brutal winter in the Northern United States even during an El Nino.  It is so extreme that in Florida there is a national guppy shortage due to the recent cold snap.  Two major outlets have run with the story.

First up is the Washington Post (online edition…the print edition used the Headline “Winter offered as proof of warming”),  “Harsh winter a sign of disruptive climate change, report says”

Since the winter is only a month old, it is doubtful that the report’s scientists could have conducted the necessary research to understand why December 2009 – January 2010 has been anomalously cold in the US.  But leaving that aside and the fact that the report leaves out such connections, let’s return to the Post.

This winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

That’s not fact, that’s speculation.  What long-standing patterns, huh?  The Washington Post quotes the lead author, a Harvard trained climatology PhD:

“It’s very hard for any of us to grasp how this larger warming trend is happening when we’re still having wintry weather,” said National Wildlife Federation climate scientist Amanda Staudt, the new report’s lead writer.

Straw man alert!  No one said that wintry weather would stop!  The grossest analogy is such:  in North Dakota, a few degrees warmer in winter means the difference between 20 below zero and 17 below zero.  Winter will always be cold, and some will be worse than others depending on, for instance, high pressure blocking events over the North Pacific or North Atlantic.  Nothing remotely close to that level of explanation exists in the report.

Second is the Detroit News. Study:  global warming means wacky weather near the Great Lakes.

In coming years, global warming will have a bizarre, seemingly incongruous impact on winters here in the Great Lakes region: shorter, milder cold seasons coupled with bigger winter storms.

That is the consensus among researchers involved in a National Wildlife study titled “Oddball Winter Weather: Global Warming’s Wake-up Call for the Northern United States.”

In coming years or now?  And, this consensus is among two researchers of the NWF study.  Wacky, bizarre, wild.

Regardless of the veracity of the claims in the NWF press release parroted by newspapers around the nation, non-peer-reviewed literature such as this is important for raising awareness of particular issues.  However, it should not be used for policy and definitely not infiltrate the hallowed IPCC.  The lack of ANY meteorological or climatological explanations relating winter to natural variability (non-global warming) reflects a distressing bias in the NWF report.  Using only 20-years worth of data to prognosticate future climates is indeed oddball.


  1. timetochooseagain
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    AGW has turned everybody into whiners about a little cold weather.

    Sure, in some places, like here in Florida, it got truly unusually cold. But the fact of the matter is that this winter wasn’t half as bad as the late seventies. The winter of 1979 was the single coldest in the entire record back to 1896:


    1983 had the coldest December and 2009 was, by contrast, 14th.

    January figures for 2010 aren’t in yet, but I doubt that this winter will prove to match those times.

    Of course, if you don’t believe those data, UAH has the lower 48 at -1.46 for December 2009, and December 1983 at -2.59:


    • P Gosselin
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

      “The winter of 1979 was the single coldest in the entire record back to 1896”. You also refer to the late seventies, and 1983.
      So the cold is occurring at the end of the temperature record, and not at the begiining when it was supposed to be colder.

  2. John A. Jauregui
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    snip – breaking many blog rules: politics, angriness, piling on

  3. Earle Williams
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

    Maybe I should consider moving to western Canada. Wacky oddball climate-changed-induced weather doesn’t appear to happen there.

    It all sounds like the TV Guide narrative of an I Love Lucy episode.

    Maybe NWF has some ‘splaining to do. Hilarity ensues…

    • Leo G
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

      Oh No Earl, Brrr, really cold on the left coast… you don’t want to come here.

      Actually, that was last year, this year we are having a very mild winter so far. Went golfing last week actually. The heather is in bloom, about 2 weeks early, but the Japanese cherries, still not showing much. OIf course the last time we had this mild a winter, a lot of the early flowering trees started to bloom early, then were mercilessly cut off by nature with a very cold snap in Feb.

      I don’t get this story, this to me is just weather, it changes from year to year.

    • Eileen R
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

      Actually, it got really wacky out here on the Canadian prairies. One morning, I woke up to discover my city was the second coldest place on earth, after some science outpost in Siberia.

      We’re used to cold weather in Canada, but that week was something else.

  4. Harry
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

    I can only speak for the Western Washington event in January 2009.

    Snow in Western Washington at Sea Level is an uncommon event. It happens..but it’s normally gone by noon. The ‘Snow Melt’ in question that caused the flooding was ‘Sea Level’ snow…not ‘mountain melt’

    • Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

      I think it was both, Harry (you’re not my dad, are you?? His name is Harry and lives here in WWA)

      On Whidbey Island we ended up with about a foot of snow over a few days (about 12 times the average for that area). I thought it snowed even more in the western Cascades during the same period (which was around Dec 18th 2008). So, yeah, there was a lot of snow melt in the Skagit Valley and along the coast, but there was also significant mountain snow melt once it warmed up to “normal” temps.

      • Harry
        Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

        The official summary
        From the preliminary rainfall amounts, this rain event does not look to qualify as a 100-year event or even a 50-year event….This event was certainly significant, and had significant impacts (look for our newsletter in early February for more details), but the preliminary rainfall data at stations with long records shows that the rainfall was not unprecedented, despite the fact that the streamflow was record-breaking or near record-breaking.

        Then from the Offical February after action report…

        Click to access 2009Feb.pdf

        In addition to the heavy rainfall, warm temperatures that melted snow still on the ground from December are what made this a significant flooding event.

        I live just west of the cascades..at 26 feet above sea level…snow on the ground past noon the day following a snowfall is rare…but that was the case at my house and surrounding areas in January ’09.

        The ‘odd event’ for here was having snow that lasted more then a day at sea level. It normally just rains all winter.

  5. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

    I’ll make two quick comments

    1. The Western WA red dot on the graphic you provide references Jan 2009. Dec. 2007 was very similar but even more severe. Why not pick Dec. 2007?

    2. WWF seems to be violating a key rhetorical rule. On many occasions some have mentioned “weather” and, almost like a mantra, the retort has been “Climate is different. It’s not weather”. Won’t WWF get in trouble from their side or won’t matter as long as it gets popular play?

  6. justbeau
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Its hard to model warming. Imagine forecasting all climate changes. Yikes.
    Eco-NGOs sometimes peddle piffle. But it might be a little sad if they stopped trying to do their best.

  7. RomanM
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    Do the authors of these reports not read and understand the numbers they write?

    In the “odd-ball weather graphic” depicted above, it says that because of the 2009 December record snowfall in the Washington, D.C. area, “it is estimated that local retailers lost about 2 billion dollars in business”.

    Really? Two million people in the metropolitan Washington area each failed to spend $1000 – money which they would gladly have parted with – not only during the storm but afterward as well? Unprecedented!

    • BarryW
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

      We’ve had “odd-ball” snows in the DC area my whole life. Yes it was a record for December but in 86 we had a heavy snow on Veterans day 1987. It takes willful ignorance to make statements like that. Winters like 1957/58, 1977 (the Chesapeake bay froze), 1979, 1987 all had large snowstorms. Go back in time and you’ll find the Knickerbocker Storm in 1922.

      D.C. gets it’s worst storms from costal lows that form over Hatteras and move up the coast. I only start worrying when I see a storm forming down in Texas or the south moving east. We’re just going to miss one this weekend that is not supposed to make the northward turn and go out to sea, but the area south of us is supposed to be hit hard.

      • Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

        Not to mention the 95 and 96 storms. One of the, I forget which, was over 30 inches over two days.

        And yes, Roman, the DC metro area has a lot of rich folks, so I don’t doubt that number one bit. Having said that, even 12 inches would cause a similar problem in that area.

        • AMac
          Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

          Re: Jeff Alberts, Jan 28, 2010 at 10:37 PM —

          The mid-December 2009 snowstorm got a lot of play in the DC media as an unprecedented event. It broke records for December, because the bigger early January Blizzard of 1996 was in, well, early January.

        • Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

          Yeah, I know, I was there for the 96 storm. I was just trying to point out (apparently unsuccessfully) how useless these records are.

        • Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

          Oh, and the one in 95 was in March, I think.

    • Mike B.
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      Roman, there is no question that the statement about lost sales at retailers is utter rubbish.

      First of all, this is what I do. I study, model, and report on retail sales.

      Here’s what happens during weather events to retail sales. Most severe weather events are forecasted at least a few days in advance. In some cases, retail sales are pushed earlier (hurry and get your shopping done before the storm hits, topping off gas tanks, buying milk and bread, etc). Some retail sales are actually stimulated (snow shovels, snow blowers, salt, warm clothing, and on-line purchases). Some sales are delayed (particularly during the holiday season; you by junior’s video game at Best Buy as soon as the roads are cleared). About the onlly thing on the retail side that truly “disappears” as a result of a bad winter storm is some portion of restaurant sales.

      I know they eat out a lot in DC, but $2 billion is a lot of surf and turf.

      • RomanM
        Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

        Mike B.

        About the onlly thing on the retail side that truly “disappears” as a result of a bad winter storm is some portion of restaurant sales.

        Two billion buys a lot of burgers! I don’t know if they qualify as “retail”, but I suspect that there would be losses due to cancellation of travel and/or accommodations as well. Even accounting for allowing some paid ‘idle” time of retail employees, I still can’t see permanent costs of that order of magnitude.

        Having spent eight years of my college schooling in Washington in the 60’s and undergone two substantial snowfalls of a similar magnitude during that time, I find the reference to this storm as a “climate change” event a spurious exaggeration so it doesn’t surprise me that they would piggy-back a second extreme overstatement as a writer’s embellishment. Glancing at the monthly snowfall record for D.C. since January 1888 indicates that such events are not extraordinary.

  8. TerryS
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    However, it should not be used for policy and definitely not infiltrate the hallowed IPCC.

    Hands up all those who think it WILL appear in the next IPCC repor in one form or another,


    • David A
      Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

      What is a really neat trick is the two billion dollar loss to a “cold” event, can now be labled “climate change”

  9. WillR
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:25 PM | Permalink

    Your link to the page is wrong.

    It should end in “.aspx” not “.ashx”

    • WillR
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

      Re: WillR (Jan 28 20:25),

      And the extension seems to be suspect. When I downloaded from the page I changed it to end in PDF — now I can read it — fwiw.

  10. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    The NWF seems to have missed the fact that the cold weather and heavy snow was not limited to North America. Both Europe and Asia have had severe weather this winter.

  11. Mark T
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

    I wonder if they bothered to check the variance/standard deviation of the measurable quantities to see if there is any real anomaly? Random fluctuations are not limited to certain magnitudes, and if the “light snow” and “heavy snow” years (or rain, or whatever) are within the normal range, what exactly is the problem?

    I know that places in CO have a hundred or more inch standard deviation in snowfall.


  12. Ken Smith
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    This story reminded me of a podcast featuring Raj Pachauri that I listened to while laying shingles in the summer of 2008. I remember vividly this exchange, which wnet a long way toward nailing down my status as a climate “skeptic.” I went back tonight and made a transcript. I hope it will be widely circulated, along with the reference.

    Thanks, Ken Smith

    California Cool: Low Carbon Economy Panel
    The Commonwealth Club of California San Francisco, CA
    Event Date: 06.27.08
    Speakers: Greg Dalton,Ray Lane,Mary Nichols,Dr. Rajendra Pachauri
    URL: http://fora.tv/2008/06/27/California_Cool_Low_Carbon_Economy_Panel

    MODERATOR: “How is the IPPC responding to the many concerns voiced by scientists that scientific inquiry does not support humans as the cause of global warming?”

    PACHAURI: “Well, you know I’m sure when Newton discovered that the fall of the apple was the result of gravity, there were several who disputed that. I mean, new knowledge is always opposed.

    “I was asked this question by a bunch of skeptics in New Zealand early this month and I recited two lines from Goldsmith’s poem The Deserted Village where he talks about the teacher, about whom, he said,

    ‘In argument he possessed wondrous skill,
    Evan though vanquished he could argue still.’

    “The point is you have a transparent, comprehensive, extremely widespread process involving the best scientists and experts from all over the world telling you that climate change is for real.

    “And this is not something that the authors working on IPCC reports have invented. This is based on peer-reviewed literature. That’s the manner in which the IPCC functions.

    “We don’t pick up a newspaper article and based on that come up with our findings. This is on the basis of very rigorous research which has stood the test of scrutiny through peer reviews.

    “Now, if, despite that there are people who believe that human beings are not responsible, well, I wish them luck. I suppose they would at some stage become part of history, like the Flat Earth society. There is one that exists even today, and these gentlemen, and ladies, if there are any among them . . . ladies are generally smarter in these respects . . . . They get together once a year and try to convince each other that the earth is still flat.”

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

      Ken, thank you for that quote. Annex 2 was adopted by the IPCC in 2003 and allows them to cite from the “gray literature” which I suppose includes publications by WWF. I think this was a bad decision because it looks like the IPCC was intentionally planning to include claims unsupported by the peer-reviewed literature. It surprises me Pachauri would make the claim the AR4 is based on peer-reviewed literature when they went out of their way to avoid that restriction. Integrity isn’t what it used to be.

  13. Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

    First it was “global warming.” Then it was “climate change.” Now it’s “climate disruption.” CACD?

  14. Eric (skeptic)
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    A lot of the references are to “USGCRP 2009” which is almost as breezy and glossy as this report. There are equivocal statements in USGCRP turned into unequivocal statements in NWF, for example “At the same time global warming is shifting storm tracks northward.(15)” in NWF may refer to some model possibilities in mentioned USGCRP.

    • ryanm
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing this out. What happens indeed is that these compendiums or reviews are referenced as ultimate authorities and take on a sort of mythical or hallowed status, such as the IPCC.

  15. Doug Badgero
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

    Convenient, a scientific hypothesis where every extreme is blamed upon the same cause. It brings to mind perhaps the funniest thing I have ever read on CA……sorry I don’t remember who to credit.

    “Science is sooooooo…….much easier when it’s done a priori.”

    • Earle Williams
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 3:21 AM | Permalink

      I’ll stick my neck out and guess it was Bender.

    • Tom C
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

      Should be a postiori.

  16. Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for pointing this out. What happens indeed is that these compendiums or reviews are referenced as ultimate authorities and take on a sort of mythical or hallowed status, such as the IPCC.

  17. MattN
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    There is nothing odd about an ice storm in NC in December. That’s what we get in December. Always…

  18. wally smee
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

    We used to see lots of really weird anomalous conditions. I think back to London in the 1800’s when black smoke clouds hovered over the city for months. Apparently lots of people got sick but eventually it all cleared up and hasn’t been seen to that extent since. Something similar happened to regions of Pennsylvania where more deathly air hovered in the air for long periods of time. Many hard-working local people got sick with what were then considered uncommmon respiratory illnesses. That eventually disappeared as well. I heard that the same thing is happening in regions of China but I don’t really know because I haven’t been there myself. What I have heard is that the air smells bad in places like Shanghai (and the water is foul too). Go figure!

    I hope this all passes. Perhaps it is just the randomness of the earth.

    • Doug Badgero
      Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:45 PM | Permalink

      The subject of your sarcasm is a completely different debate.

  19. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

    This unscientific cherry picking is not limited to north of the Equator. Here is an Australian example that some might view that way, from the Bureau of Meteorology 2009 review:


    Text: “Based on preliminary data, the overall Australian mean rainfall total for 2009 was 453 mm, slightly less than the long-term average (1961-90) of 464 mm. Above-average rainfall in January and February, especially in the northern tropics, was followed by dry conditions from March onwards, with the March-November total being the 10th lowest on record for Australia. A dry year in the southeast and southwest of mainland Australia has prolonged the multi-year meteorological drought in those regions.

    During July to October 2009, serious rainfall deficiencies were experienced over large areas of Queensland and isolated parts of NSW, consistent with the development of an El Niño event during this time. The unusually dry and warm winter was associated with a series of dust-storms across eastern New South Wales and southeast Queensland in September and early October.”

    So we have the second wettest decade in 110 years and much of the talk is about drought.

    This leads me to quote poetry too, especially where it goes wrong. Robert Frost, for example, in “Maple” –
    “His mother’s bedroom was his father’s still” (Sounds like a cupboard drinker).


  20. Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

    Just dugg


  21. Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    “Reoord snowfall of nearly 2 feet in Washington DC”

    Actually, the official total was 16.3″ at Reagan National Airport. It was a record-setting DC snowfall, just for the month of December (not for winter).

  22. TerryMN
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

    Weather is not climate. Except when it is.

  23. Robert
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    I remember when I was young, every time we had some “unusual” weather just about everyone would comment how it had never been so cold, or so hot, or so snowy, etc. However, being the son of a weather technician allowed me to access historical weather data for our local area (thanks Dad!).
    Sure enough, most of the so-called “unusual” weather had occurred before at some point(s)in the(short) historical record. People just have short memories, and can be easily convinced that some weather events are extremely unusual.
    The climate change industry has simply exploited this phenomenon and dressed it up as science.
    Effective propaganda? You bet. Good science? Not!

  24. davidc
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:40 AM | Permalink

    During the devastating bush fires in Victoria some time ago, there were floods up north in Queensland (about 3000km away). I heard a reporter commenting on this on radio saying that this was EXACTLY what the climate models had predicted.

    • MarkF
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

      A few years back, I think it was the fickle Dr. Weaver who was quoted as stating that (whatever weather it was) was “consistent with global climate change”. Nobody seemed to appreciate that it was also consistent with NO climate change. Sigh…

  25. jamie
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    After the fact analysis linking everything and anything to global warming.

    This article is one of the worst written articles I have ever seen. How it got published does not make sense. How does one make a complaint against such blatant alarmist propaganda?

  26. stephen richards
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

    A green party spokesman in UK proposed this scenario yesterday. The warmer the planet the more volatile the weather/climate and yes, therefore more snow.

  27. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    I just finished reading: Gross & Levitt, Higher Superstition. It concerns the attacks on science by the academic far left (deconstructionists, Deep Ecology types etc). they argue that the attacks on science reflect a desire to make ends more important than means. If the result of your “scholarly” paper is to promote the downtrodden or attack the establishment (including science) then you get a pass for being inconsistent, lacking supporting data, and hand-waving. That is, if you are virtuous you need not be rigorous or scientific. This report is in that category. Since their heart is in the right place, it doesn’t matter what they say or how self-contradictory or illogical they are. I really recommend the book.

  28. Dave L.
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

    Donna Laframboise has just posted a detailed analysis of references to Greenpeace publications in the 2007 IPCC Report:

  29. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 7:51 AM | Permalink

    Karl Popper famously in his Principle of Demarcation used Freudian analysis as an example of a pseudoscience, because everything could be explained post hoc, but nothing predicted. Just saying.

  30. P Solar
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    “World Wildlife (Wrestling) Federation’s ”

    very funny but once was enough. Please critisise WWF for what they say or those that use their material instead of peer-review papers for their fake references.

    This is basically trying to smear and demeanour WWF by name calling. It’s rather childish and degrades the generally rigorous nature of this site.

    While there does seem to be a denailist tinge to some comments posted here Steve has built up a very credible image by hard work and objective analysis. Please don’t damage that effort.

    Steve, please consider removing that silly comment from the article.

    best regards.

    Steve: I agree.

  31. P Solar
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    BTW it’s World Wildlife Foundation not federation

    • ryanm
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:09 AM | Permalink


      • AMac
        Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

        Please consider noting Changes and Updates when they are made to the post (excluding typos etc.). Strikeouts work.

        Sometimes comments (and remarks elsewhere) that made sense at the time they were made, seem stupid or incorrect when read at a later date–in the changed context.

        Get-me-rewrite is a feature of some pro-AGW-Consensus blogs that should not be emulated.

  32. Frank K.
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    “Throughout the report, there is unscientific language in the headlines…”

    Unscientific language also pervades the “peer-reviewed” climate literature. My all-time favorite in this regard is:

    Climate change and trace gases”

    The lead author is none other than Jim Hansen. Here’s part of the opening paragraph, which gives you a flavor for his writing style:

    “Palaeoclimate data show that the Earth’s climate is remarkably sensitive to global forcings. Positive feedbacks predominate. This allows the entire planet to be whipsawed
    between climate states. One feedback, the ‘albedo flip’ property of ice/water, provides a powerful trigger mechanism. A climate forcing that ‘flips’ the albedo of a sufficient
    portion of an ice sheet can spark a cataclysm. Inertia of ice sheet and ocean provides only moderate delay to ice sheet disintegration and a burst of added global warming. Recent
    greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of our control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures.”

    Note the use of the scientific terms “whipsawed”, “albedo flip”, “cataclysm”, “burst of added global warming”, “humans and other creatures”.

    And don’t forget to check out the end of the paper where Hansen talks about the “amber waves of grain” in reference to biofuel energy…

  33. Paul Zrimsek
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Wonder where they got the notion that there’s ordinarily “protective sea-ice” in the Bering Sea in October.

  34. Ruth
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    The first assertion, that spring has started earlier recently, also does not seem to hold up to review:


  35. ClimateQuoter
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Robert Gibbs said that the cold was caused by climate change too:

    (Responding to a question about record cold) “One only had to step outside of here, or visit where I used to work in Chicago to understand that climate change is, and the record temperatures that climate change is likely causing, is with us.” – Source

    If they claim climate change when it is warm, and climate change when it is cold, when don’t they?

  36. R Rodger
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Possibly the urban heat effect can also melt snow in places where some people seem to remember it being more snowy in years past.

  37. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    “As Steve outlined in the WWF and the EPA Endangerment Finding, the IPCC relied upon the World Wildlife Federation’s production of non-peer-reviewed literature as a climate science authority. Anthony reports on the IPCC being riddled with WWF citations. Not to be left out, our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have put out another timely piece on Confronting Global Warming.”

    So ryanm what is a layperson such as I to conclude about the IPCC and WWF relationship? The IPCC advertises its organization as responsible for an uber-review compendium of peer-reviewed literature on climate science. They do officially acknowledge that the organization recognizes certain “worthy” gray and non-peer reviewed literature, but, of course, in the frame work of a selection process for this literature by those versed in the processes of peer-reviewed literature. This being the case; does the IPCC’s prestige of being operated by peer-reviewers lend weight to an otherwise credential lacking organization such as the WWF?

    Or might I conclude that the peer-reviewers of the IPCC and the IPCC have lost credibility by referencing to a substantial extent the “findings” of the WWF? Or does this relationship merely confirm that the IPCC has an agenda and are actively marketing it? While the IPCC, and the scientists involved with its reviews, make claims about a neutral view of the science, what does the WWF claim?

    When I observe that organizations, e.g. the IPCC and WWF, see absolutely nothing beneficial coming out of AGW/GW, I do have to question their neutrality. When cold and snowy winters are, out of hand, blamed on AGW, one does wonder about an agenda.

    I also blame more the peer-reviewing and peer-reviewed scientists operating under the auspices of the IPCC than I do those in the non-peer-reviewed literature who were referenced in the IPCC without fact checking.

    • ryanm
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

      Hi Ken, no hurricanes to talk about anymore. In many scientific journals, reviews of certain topics are solicited by editors. For instance, a review of the effects of El Nino on Atlantic hurricane activity will then include the vast array of literature and references as “expertly” digested and chronicled by the author. These are very useful and important resources for researchers who want to know what is out there on a topic on both sides of the issue without the advocacy associated with gray literature by WWF, NWF, and Greenpeace. These reviews require a thorough understanding of a lot of journal articles and years of research.

      NOAA, NCAR, and other outfits also put out these compendiums which are essentially glossy photo reviews of many topics in an omnibus report. In general, these are based upon solid references but tend to reflect the prevailing view of the lab or the scientists who are the lead authors of the given chapters. Ditto for the IPCC.

      So, the best situation would involve the IPCC doing the dirty work and generating the chapter reviews from scratch without relying on gray-literature summaries, which are agenda-driven.

      The IPCC is an incredible report and is invaluable in many respects. Instead of waiting for AR5, a community-wide re-review could take place online that would clean up a lot of the glaring weaknesses — and make suggestions for improvements that then could be implemented into AR5.

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

        Ryan, I am awaiting a thread on hurricanes so that I can post my more complete analysis on Kim et al. (2009).

        I happen to agree with you that some advocacy sources (I include the IPCC here) can be a valuable source of information on some climate science issues and with the proviso that one knows that they tend to be providing evidence for one side of the case to be made. Full disclosure then requires searching for other evidence from other sources. I think that proviso issue is clearer in the case of RC, but my problem with the IPCC is that the need for that proviso is not made clear or admitted.

        Another problem that requires reader awareness with the IPCC was pointed to by Roger Pielke Jr, who noted that the IPCC group reporting costs of hurricane damage misrepresented a paper that he had published on the subject and in effect went against the conclusion of that paper. Therefore, if one uses the IPCC uber-review for information, one must go to the cited sources for confirmation of evidence and author’s conclusions.

        Of course, if one has to check and recheck sources that the IPCC uses then one has to question the benefits and efficiencies of the “gathering” together of papers that the IPCC performs.

  38. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    I can predict the future using the (recently) honored scientific principle of extrapolation based on very noisy data. The brief background is that Dr. Phil and the CRU Crews made a discovery with respect to the divergence problem that was too horrific for the general population to know (similar to others with friends in high places that have been keeping the secret of the aliens ensconced at area 51.) They stitched in the instrumental data starting ~1960 in order to show a less alarming scenario.

    Now that WWF/NWF have released their breakthrough research the truth can be told. My prediction is that there will be another WWF/NWF report subtitled “And Now, For Our Next Trick…” that will unequivocally demonstrate that Siberian tree rings caused the 1962 Columbus Day Storm in the PNW.

    • TGSG
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Permalink


      I was 10 when that storm came through. I lived on the Washington coast, near the mouth of the Columbia river, and it was one of the most interesting storms of my life. Hiding in the kitchen, away from the large windows in the living room. Fun times.

  39. EdeF
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    This article may do some good. Here’s how, for awhile now we have been told that global warming is heading in one direction, and that is warmer winters, hotter summers. No need for municipalities to have as large a snow-removal budget. Shelve those aircraft de-icers. Get ready for more cooling centers and forest fire equipment. Unfortunately, some local gov’t agencies bought that argument. Several years ago early January I sat on the tarmac at Heathrow for 5 hours waiting for my plane to be de-iced. I think they had one de-icer circa
    1954 that was doing its best. Luckily, I had a good book and the time went by fairly well and the American Airlines crew was great. We have read here about towns in Ohio that had to spend well over their budget for snow removal. A precautionary tale. It may be good for localities to keep in the back of their mind that they may need to be prepared for multiple types of weather extremes.

  40. Joe Crawford
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Most of the information published by the environmental groups such as the WWF have one objective, that is to increase donations and funding. Their existence, like that of most of the climate research groups at our universities, is highly dependent on the level of ‘concern’ they can instill in the mind of the public.

    • George M
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

      Over on WUWT, someone pointed out that WWF (don’t know about NWF) is a UN funded NGO. Does anyone know any actual numbers? How much depends on donations and how much comes from the UN?

  41. deadwood
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    According to the WIKI Answers web site the WWF (wildlife) sued the WWF (wrestling) back in 2001 over the use of the initials. The WWF (wrestling) changed to the WWE in 2002 as a result of the suit.

    Assuming the history is as represented by the WIKI Answers site, I do not see a problem with Steve or anyone else poking a little fun at the name.

    • Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

      Did a quick search on this to refresh my memory. Yes this suit did happen. The trial was held, apparently, in Britain. The judge ruled for the World Wildlife Fund [International based in Switzerland renamed World Wildlife Fund for Nature] despite the plaintiff’s failure to show damages. The World Wrestling Federation changed its logo to WWE and the main name to World Wrestling Entertainment. See this: http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pubs.html?id=128 for some more background. Never mind that the wrestling show company had been operating in the US for years.

  42. potentilla
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    Some events for the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held in Cypress Bowl within a few kilometres of the ocean and not far from the city centre of Vancouver. Cypress Bowl is notorious for being a marginal ski area because strong Pacific south westerlies in the winter always bring rain and warm weather to the Vancouver area. Furthermore, in January 2010 Vancouver, like much of the Pacific northwest, is feeling the effects of El Nino so temperatures have been above average.

    Not to be outdone by the US NWF, the David Suzuki foundation claimed on CBC radio this morning that they had “predicted” in a report a year ago that ski areas would suffer from lack of snow from global warming. Now with the Cypress Bowl “example” their prediction about ski areas is “coming true” and they are claiming credibility in their overall global warming prediction.

    Unfortunately the interviewer did not ask why there is plenty of snow at Whistler even though that area is also experiencing El Nino. Whistler, of course is where the main ski events will be held and is not a marginal ski area though some years are a challenge at low elevations on the mountain.

    • Alf
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

      Potentilla: When I first heard that Cypress bowl has been selected for Olympic events I could not believe my ears. I have been wondering were records for snowfall on the north shore mountains could be obtained. It seems to me that in the 40 plus years that I can remember there were some years that there was little or no skiing on either Grouse or Seymour.

    • JT
      Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

      I lived in Vancouver for several years attending two universities. Cypress Bowl, Grouse Mountain and Seymour are well known to be highly variable in terms of snow fall and snow melt. Putting the Olympics there was asking for trouble.

  43. Keith Herbert
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    If one were to compare snow and rainfall in California over only the last 20 years, they would miss 3 of our biggest anomolies: 82-82, 76-77 and 23-24. And if one compares this year with last year, it roughly averages out to the overall yearly average.

  44. MichaelnotMann
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    Note the Colorado Snowpack figures. These figures are always highly variable, and have less to do with temperature and more to do with precipitation and when it arrives. And by highly variable, let me say I was commuting back and forth to Ft. Lewis College, Durango, CO in 1979-1980 over an arm of the La Plata Mountains. The previous decade ( the ’70s) had been a drought decade with snowpacks regularly running up to 50% below normal. In the winter of 79-80 snowpack went to 400% of normal. Flat-roofed buildings that had been built by California immigrants during the previous decade were collapsing like houses of cards. I missed a significant percentage of classes due to road closures.

    Colorado snowpack tends to be bi-modal. It’s either dry or wet. It’s also a big state. It can be like saying “it’s raining in the Northeast” and your single datapoint is Nantucket Island. Not necessarily representative.

    Colorado has been through at least two feast and famine cycles since then. If this is the best they can come up with…

  45. MichaelnotMann
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Minor revision: that was the winter of 78-79, although 79-80 was also a wet one.

  46. jack mosevich
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    Here is a report of freaky weather in upstate new york from a very reliable source which will certainly be quoted by the IPCC:

  47. dave
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Wow, what wholly weak words. Warming wasn’t wrecking winter. World’s wobble would wreak weird, wacky weather. WWF was wrong with warning.

  48. Bill S
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

    I find it remarkable that the term “man made” was never used nor is carbon dioxide mentioned. However “warming pollution” is noted four times.

  49. Faustino
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

    Letter in The Times, posted here because I’ve been unable to access comments on some more relevant earlier blogs.

    Sir, Dr Vicky Pope’s defence of the robustness of “the science” of climate change is too comprehensive (Commentary, Jan 28). It is high time for the Met Office to recognise that the surface temperature record is deeply flawed: not just the discredited 1,000-year “hockey stick” that was the iconic centrepiece of Al Gore’s film, but also the more recent data. The leaked University of East Anglia e-mails reveal the obsessive mentality of scientists who have put truth-seeking second to pursuit of a mission.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “mistakes” that Dr Pope refers to are no ordinary errors. They show a deliberate disregard for the principles of scientific objectivity. The IPCC had every reason to know that its account of the Himalayan glacier melting was misleading, just as it had every reason to know that its predictions of hurricane frequency and intensity were both unsubstantiated and implausible. On more than 25 occasions, the IPCC cites essays by WWF or Greenpeace as though they were serious academic studies.

    The basic physics tells us that greenhouse gases have some warming effect. How material, how lasting, how much offset or accentuated by natural influences is unknown at this stage of scientific understanding — the temperature record certainly suggests no immediate cause for alarm.

    Computer models will not give us the answer. They can only regurgitate what is programmed into them.

    Lord Leach of Fairford
    London EC3

  50. Xerxes12
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Dr. Amanda Staudt of National Wildlife Federation was interviewed by Fox News in 2008 in a bit titled “Climate Scientist Describes the New Type of Hurricane” — http://bit.ly/9HDYzt LINK.

    She explained that global warming has increased the destructive power of hurricanes by 50% and that wind-speeds and rain-fall are projected by scientists to increase.

    • ryanm
      Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

      That claim is nonsense. She is simply parroting Emanuel (2005) Nature paper which has been “revised” since.

  51. Slartibartfast
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Agh. They’re cherry-picking:

    1983, in my hometown, Christmas Eve, all the churches were closed because we had a record low of -18 degrees (this is northern Indiana, not northern Minnesota), with wind chill to -100.

    A year or two prior to that, we had record snowfall that stacked hard-packed snow to a depth of about 4′ everywhere, with drifts up to the garage eaves.

    Oddball weather happens everywhere, and all the time, not just in the last decade. Even floods are nothing new.

  52. Slartibartfast
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    Oh, here‘s some more floods:

    Four of the greatest floods of the Ohio River Valley occurred in 1884, 1913, 1937, and 1997.

    Wow. They’ve been happening even before AGW started driving the climate bonkers? How?

    • Earle Williams
      Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Permalink


      What, you haven’t heard of ‘chronoconnections’?


  53. dan
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    Part of the reason for the record flooding in Fargo, ND and in the Red River valley in ND is the draining of land for farming. Lots of pot holes that would normally hold run off for a while are drained into the river. It’s as flat as it gets here so it doesn’t move very fast. It’s funny when the president is going for a political advantage and blames our harsh winters on global warming.

  54. Peter Carpenter
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 3:13 AM | Permalink

    Hi Steve McIntyre and fellow rationalists.

    I well understand the pre-occupation with the Northern Hemisphere Winter as severe as it is.

    However, any insights as to those of us at 38 S (Melbourne Vic Australia) in respect of current and anticipated climate trends?

    Is current Northern Hemisphere experience in any way a predictor for the Southern Hemisphere vice versa etc ?

    Peter carpenter

  55. Meridian
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 6:09 AM | Permalink

    Oh man.

    I grew up in Alaska. Born there in 1975. As far back as I can remember the Iditarod has always started in Anchorage, they run out to Eagle River then truck the dogs to Wasilla to start the real race. They’ve always had to truck snow into Anchorage for the ceremonial start because Anchorage is a city, they plow the snow away all winter. The starting point has never moved and is not moved now, see it yourself on the official website: http://www.iditarod.com/calendar/

    By pure coincidence I am now in Centralia, WA, which is also on this map’o’lies. Yes we flooded last year, and the year before that.. because the levees broke. Same reason New Orleans flooded. Happens. They’re still not fixed in Centralia and we’re extremely lucky we didn’t flood this year. Of course it rains a lot, that’s normal. It’s raining right now. Washington is famous for it. Duh.

    OMG IPCC drives me absolutely insane with anger.

  56. Dan Pangburn
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    snip – blog policies prohinit attempts to prove or disprove AGW in a few paragraphs

  57. Dan Pangburn
    Posted Feb 1, 2010 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Some folks may be interested in what I discovered.

    A simple model accurately predicts average global temperatures since 1895 (i.e. over 114 years…and counting) without any need to consider the effects of change to CO2 level or any other ghg. The model, with an eye-opening graph, is presented in the October 16 pdf at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. (Replace all references to PDO with ESST which is short for Effective Sea Surface Temperature).

  58. Jimchip
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    This is Cliff Mass’ take on the topic, “In this wacky report they claim that global warming is causing “oddball” weather across North America. Check out this figure from their brochure:…”

  59. Posted Dec 19, 2010 at 1:05 PM | Permalink


    2010: Another record breaking winter. So what happened to global warming?

    By Patrick Henningsen
    21st Century Wire


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