Our Indian summer (autumn?) over at last?

Yes, it is cool – 12C at 7.30 this morning – here in The Gong and in Sydney. Been some spectacular seas lately too. Check this from The Illawarra Mercury.


Photo by Jon Harris: Werri Beach last Wednesday

See El Nino bows out after driving year of record heat as La Nina lurks in the wings.

Globally, the past 12 months have each set a record for that month, with four of the past five months smashing records for how much temperatures have departed from the long-term norms.

The El Nino was one of the three biggest on record, similar in size to the 1997-98 and 1982-83 events, Karl Braganza, head of climate monitoring at the bureau, said.

“The last 12 months to April have been the warmest on record for Australia,” Dr Braganza said. “And this month’s been pretty warm too.”

See details for April in Sydney from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Sydney in April 2016: Warmest April day on record

April was a very warm month for Sydney with locations in both coastal and western regions recording their warmest April day on record. Many areas recorded the warmest maximum and minimum temperatures for at least 20 years, with Sydney Observatory Hill temperatures ranking in the top five warmest on record. It was mostly dry across the metropolitan region with the exception of some coastal fringes which recorded above average rainfall.

  • Warmest April day on record for several locations
  • Fifth-warmest maximum temperatures
  • Equal-warmest minimum temperatures
  • Equal-second-warmest mean temperatures
  • Heavy rain day at the start of the month, dry and mostly sunny overall

Any of you remember my old sparring partner Kevin from Louisiana? He arrived with this 2006 post: Does Tim Blair still do global warming jokes? Some of the other comments there are classics, by the way. Kevin stuck around for several years, proving to be quite interesting and definitely human at various times. I note he appears to have stopped blogging. Anyway, one thing Kevin said was a simple way to refute “global warming” was to judge from your skin. Trouble with that is that all your skin can sense is the here and now, in other words weather. Climate being the average of weather events over a period, usually thirty years, requires rather more sophisticated instruments. Mind you, the skin test here in The Gong until a few days ago would certainly incline one to credit “global warming.”  Of course the other issue is that my skin “measures” just one spot on the globe. Somewhere else and it would suggest “global cooling” perhaps.

Let me commend Real Climate again. It has the advantage of actually being written by real climate scientists. There is a discussion thread called Unforced variations. And there are blog posts, the latest being Scientists getting organized to help readers sort fact from fiction in climate change media coverage.

While 2016 is on track to easily surpass 2015 as the warmest year on record, some headlines, in otherwise prestigious news outlets, are still claiming that “2015 Was Not Even Close To Hottest Year On Record” (Forbes, Jan 2016) or that the “Planet is not overheating…” (The Times of London, Feb 2016). Media misrepresentation confuses the public and prevents our policy makers from developing a well-informed perspective, and making evidence-based decisions.

Professor Lord Krebs recently argued in an opinion piece in The Conversation that “accurate reporting of science matters” and that it is part of scientists’ professional duty to “challenge poor media reporting on climate change”. He concluded that “if enough [scientists] do so regularly, [science reporting] will improve – to the benefit of scientists, the public and indeed journalism itself.”

This is precisely what a new project called Climate Feedback is doing: giving hundreds of scientists around the world the opportunity to not only challenge unscientific reporting of climate change, but also to highlight and support accurate science journalism…

For an example of how it works, see how 14 scientists recently analyzed a piece published by Bjorn Lomborg in The Telegraph and rated its overall scientific credibility to be “low to very low”. Articles like this one are particularly misleading because they sound reasonable and scientific at first glance, due to the author’s reference of scientific studies. But when scientists –some of whom actually wrote the articles cited– were invited to provide feedback, they explained that the author had misrepresented scientific research to reach unsupported conclusions…

Do also explore our own John Cook’s Eureka Prize winning site Skeptical Science.

Lastly, for those wondering about who runs Skeptical Science, the website is maintained by John Cook. I studied physics at the University of Queensland but currently, I’m not a professional scientist – I run this website as a layman. People sometimes wonder why I spend so much time on this site and which group backs me. No group funds me. I receive no funding other than the occasional Paypal donations…

My motivations are two-fold: as a parent, I care about the world my daughter will grow up in and as a Christian, I feel a strong obligation to the poor and vulnerable who are hardest hit by climate change. Of course these are very personal reasons – I’m sure everyone comes at this from different angles. I go more deeply into my motivations in Why I care about climate change

Skeptical Science has evolved from a small blog into a community of intelligent, engaged people with a commitment to science and our climate.

Finally a couple of news items. The first from Huffington Post is in fact written by someone who mostly writes sports journalism, but it is a pretty good summary of recent weather: Sydney And Melbourne Copping Record May Heat.

First up, some dramatic statistics to illustrate the unprecedented Australian temperature anomalies being experienced in Australia this month. Then we’ll hear from an expert on why it’s happening.

  • Sydney is a whopping 4.9 degrees above average for May. Sydney’s average May daily maximum temperature is usually 19.5. The average is 24.3 degrees so far this month.
  • One more time for emphasis, Sydney is almost FIVE DEGREES ABOVE AVERAGE for a whole month. Wow.
  • In fact, the Sydney maximum has topped 20 every day in May so far. Tuesday hit 28. The COLDEST day of the month was 1.3 degrees ABOVE the average.
  • Hot streaks do not usually last this long. Not even close.
  • Melbourne temperatures are also way up this month. It’s May 2016 average of 20.3 degrees (to date) is 3.6 degrees above the long term May daily average of 16.7.
  • It’s a similar picture across Australia. Canberra is nearly four degrees above average so far this May, Hobart and Brisbane three degrees, Adelaide nearly two degrees, and Darwin and Perth both one degree.
  • The fact that it’s much warmer than usual across Australia is very much in keeping with the long term Australian trend (depicted below), as well as global data showing that the world just had its hottest ever seven months — and its hottest April by a huge margin

Sadly our current government is rather pathetic, just one aspect of the disappointment one has with Malcolm Turnbull who once called that current policy “bullshit”.

But hang on! Look at Malcolm Turnbull’s blog!

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, “bullshit.” Moreover he knows it…

Second, see Climate policy report hailed by Greg Hunt written by former Liberal candidate. Mr Hunt is our ultra-beige Environment Minister.