Tuesday, July 25, 2006

But what effect will these record temperatures have on the spread of bird flu?

From the Thunderer column in The Times:

Not what I call a hot story
by Ross Clark

CAN THERE be any headline more disappointing than the words: “Britain sizzles as heatwave breaks records”? It is usually followed by a report about the hottest Tuesday in Bognor Regis for four years. Admittedly this week’s “record” temperature — 36.5C at Wisley, Surrey, on Wednesday — was a little more substantial. But even so, the news was received in my house with a large yawn.

This, supposedly, was the highest temperature recorded in Britain in July. But that is only if you discount the 38.1C recorded in Tonbridge on July 22, 1868. This record is faithfully listed in my dog-eared copy of The English Climate by H. H. Lamb, of the Meteorological Office, (published 1954) but has now been struck from the records on the basis that the thermometer and its housing is not now considered to have conformed to modern standards. Of course it didn’t: it was built in the 1860s, that’s why.

The real reason the 1868 heatwave has been wiped from the historical record, of course, is that it is highly inconvenient for the global warming lobby. How can you scare people into thinking that every hot summer day constitutes yet more evidence of man-made meteorological doom when actually it was even more sizzling back on that balmy day in Tonbridge when gentlemen were briefly driven to remove their stove-pipe hats?
Logically, of course, if you strike out one Victorian record you should strike them all out.

Yet, whenever it suits them, members of the global warming brigade are more than happy to quote dubious anecdotal evidence to try to prove their point that we are all slowly being fried.

The reason weather records keep getting broken, both in Britain and the world at large, is not so much that the world is becoming warmer — or, as is alternatively asserted in the case of a record freeze, the climate is becoming more extreme. It is because there are many more recording stations than there used to be, t increasing the chances that an extreme climatic event will be recorded. Moreover, compared with old thermometers, mod- ern recording equipment is capable of registering very brief increases in temperature of a few seconds’ duration.

I’ve got to go now and turn down my electric fan. It is almost getting chilly in my office. Hold the front page! It is the coldest day in Cambridgeshire since last Sunday.

It has been well-observed that a consequence of our 24-hour news culture is the wildfire viral spread of half-understood and context-free here-today gone-tomorrow memes, especially memes predicting global disaster. Journalists interviewing journalists about reports originating in newsfeeds written by journalists based on their interviews with other journalists.

The upshot is that nearly all ‘news’ is nonsense. The BBC have had no new updates in their Bird Flu section since the beginning of July. Now that summer’s here, we’ve got global warming again.

I have a radical solution: Olds™. All domestic news should be reported with a good 10 years’ worth of hindsight; all science, technology, international politics and military reporting should be given at least 20 years to mature, and nothing at all should be said about the climate until 500 years have passed. Bulletins need last no longer than two or three minutes.

So a sample of today’s Olds™ might be: “Good evening, here are the Olds. There was no Millennium Bug. Turns out we should have got rid of Saddam properly first time around. Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash that was a pure accident: sad, but don’t go mad over it. Good night.”


Blogger Oroborous said...

That is a splendid idea.

At the least, it should be a prominent feature alongside "news".

However, any analysis, whether of "news" or "olds", is necessarily a product of the analyst's worldview, and is thus subject to debate.
For instance, I wouldn't say that Princess Di died "accidentally". While it may not have been a malicious conspiracy, it's fairly predictable that if one rides in a vehicle travelling in excess of 100MPH, driven by a man both drunk and under the influence of drugs, and one does not wear a seatbelt, then death is a likely result.

July 25, 2006 5:04 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Strewth, you're right. Better make it a hundred years. And even then we're going to disagree.

Today's news: "We know nothing. Good night."

July 25, 2006 5:29 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

When I lived in the South and the Midwest, I used to be amused when reports would come from Europe about heat waves, with cows keeling over dead in Denmark from temperatures in the hellish 80s F.

Heck, I have been amused by reports from St. Louis this past week about the horrible suffering of the populace.

As a boy in Tennessee, I recall a 9-day period in which the temperature never went below 100 F, even at night. No air conditioning in those days, either, at least not in Madonna Acres.

July 25, 2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Luxury! When I were a lad we lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o'clock in t'morning, clean t'bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t'mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out and when we got home, out Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt...etc

It's all relative. Anything above 30 degrees C is unknown territory for us. It's like when I did the tour of Boston and heard all about the 'historical' buildings...

July 26, 2006 1:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

It's all relative. Anything above 30 degrees C is unknown territory for us.

Nearly as foreign a shore as a functional shower.

It's like when I did the tour of Boston and heard all about the 'historical' buildings...

That got a laugh.

July 29, 2006 10:40 PM  

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