Historical perspective on the Russian heat wave

by Paul Farquharson

From about the fifth century A.D. onwards,  the Western tradition of history writing preserves abundant descriptions of weather and climate phenomena in sources such as Chronicles,  Annals and Histories.  If this material is left out of our understanding and memory of climate,  then contemporary extreme events may be mistaken for unique or unprecedented events.

Of course, descriptions of natural phenomena from Chronicles,  Annals and Histories need to be critically evaluated to ensure that they are not fabricated or exaggerated or chronologically misplaced due to scribal conjuring or error (see Bell and Ogilvie,  1978).

Extreme events are part of the patterns we call “Climate.”  Examples abound in historical writings,  and the following are a tiny selection,  mostly from the British Isles,  with a few more recent events to start with.  All dates are A.D.

1911.  A scorching summer in England (Nicolson,  2006).

1703.  The great storm of 26/27 November which devastated southern England and Wales (Brayne,  2002),  and which if repeated today would cause damage valued in excess of £10 billon (Doe,  2006,  p 202).

1540.  An excessively hot summer in at least England and parts of western Europe (Hall’s Chronicle,  Henry VIII,  year 32,  p 841).

1348.  Almost continual rain in England from late June till late December (Chronicle of London From 1089 to 1483,  Edward III,  year 23,  p 60).

1129.  A very hot summer in Ireland dried up watercourses,  ruined crops and killed cattle (Chronicum Scotorum,  p 329: Annals of Inisfallen,  1129: 9,  p 293).

1063 or 1064.  Extreme heat in Baghdad from October till December,  and in the following January the Tigris river froze and a large amount of snow fell on Baghdad (Chronography of Gregory Abu’l-Faraj,  p 216).

1052.  A great wind struck Ireland and England on 21 December,  and was followed by an intensely windy midwinter (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,  p 182: Annals of Inisfallen,  1052: 4,  p 213).

773.  Great drought and “heat of the sun” greatly reduced the grain harvest in Ireland (Annals of Ulster,  vol. 1.  p 227).

683/84.  A freezing winter in which the narrows between Ireland and Scotland were frozen or filled with sea-ice (Annals of the Four Masters,  vol. 1,  p 291: Chronicum Scotorum,  p 113).

588 or 589 or 591.  A hot and dry summer recorded from Ireland,  with slight chronological errors (Chronicum Scotorum,  p 63:  Annals of Ulster,  589: 3,  vol. 1.  p 95: Annals of Inisfallen,  591,  p 79).

The above is prelude to remarks about a recent publication by James Hansen,  titled :  Perceptions of climate change: the new climate dice.  This paper includes the following text on page 1:

We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were “caused” by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming.

The above statement,  as far as the Russian heatwave of 2010 is concerned,  may well be falsified by Russian historical records.  Between 1223 and 1430,  there are several events recorded in Russian historical texts that,  in their essentials,  resemble the Russian summer heatwave and fires of 2010.

The years and events are —

1223.  “It was very hot and many woods,  forests and marshes burned,  and the smoke was so dense that people could see nothing.  The smoke above the ground was so dense that birds could not see to fly in the air,  so would fall to the ground and die,  and all kinds of wild beasts entered the cities and towns (because of the forest fires),  unnoted by the people.  Everyone was seized by fear and fright.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 2,  year 6731,  pp 282-283.)

1298.  “The same year there was a great drought and the forests,  swamps,  marshes and fields burned.  There was great need for everything,  and many cattle died.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6806,  p 86.)

1325.  “The same year there was a great drought and many marshy places dried out and the forests and marshes burned up.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6833,  p 118.)

1335.  “The same year,  for our sins,  there were great fires in Russia;  Moscow,  Vologda,  Vitebsk were burnt,  and Yurev of the Nemtsy [Germanic foreigners] was entirely burnt down…”  (Chronicle of Novgorod,  A.D. 1335,  A.M. 6843,  pp 129-130.)  [Note that his account only mentions urban fires.]

1364.  “The same year there was a bad drought throughout the whole country,  the air was filled with smoke and the (dry) earth burned.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6872,  p 194.)  [This account and the two that follow may all be the same event,  due to chronological errors in the texts.]

1365.  “The same year there was a portent in the sky.  The sun was the colour of blood;  and black spots were on the sun,  and fog remained half of the summer.  Then there was great heat,  and it was so hot that the forests and marshes burned,  and the rivers dried out.  Some watering places dried out completely and everyone was terrified,  alarmed and greatly aggrieved…The same year there was a conflagration in Moscow because there was great drought and great heat;  and at that time a storm with a tornado arose,  spreading fire everywhere,  and many people were killed and burned,  and everything burned up and disappeared.  It was called the “Great Fire”,  which started near the Church of All Saints and which spread everywhere,  carried by the wind and the tornado.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6873,  pp 194-195.)  [This account,  and the one of 1371,  mention the sighting of sunspots,  a testament to the quantity of smoke in the air.]

1366.  “There was a portent in the sky…The same year there were drought and extreme heat;  and there was smoke in the air,  and the earth burned and the grain was very dear everywhere;  and there was great famine throughout the land,  people dying because of it.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6874,  pp 197-198.)

1371.  “The same year there was a portent on the sun.  There were black spots on the sun which looked like nails and there was such deep darkness that people could not see two yards ahead of them.  Many people would fall,  hitting their faces,  or bump their heads against each other,  and birds in the air could not see but would fall to the earth from the air,  striking men’s heads.  And so the beasts — such as bears,  wolves,  foxes and others — which could not see would walk into the towns and cities,  mixing with people.

“There was a bad drought and great heat,  and it was so warm that people took fright and trembled.  Many rivers dried up and even the marshes dried out and would burn,  and the earth burned,  and there was fear and trembling.  Grain was very costly,  and there was famine throughout the whole land…The same year there was a conflagration in Novgorod the Great.”  (Nikonian Chronicle,  vol. 3,  year 6879,  p 213.)

1430.  “The same autumn the water was exceeding low;  the soil and the forests burned,  and very much smoke,  some times people could not see each other,  and fish and birds died from that smoke;  the fish stank of the smoke,  for two years.”  (Chronicle of Novgorod,  A.D. 1430,  A.M. 6938,  p 193.)


The above descriptions from medieval Russia include one,  of 1355,  that only mentions the burning of urban centres.  But it would be unlikely for such a cluster of urban fires to occur without a dry and prolonged,  or intense,  summer season.  Urban fires otherwise tend to be single events within a given year within a primary historical source.

Apart from that,  the other accounts describe excessive heat,  dry conditions,  forest and marsh fires,  confused and disoriented wildlife,  limited visibility,  and great and prolonged palls of smoke that on two occasions dimmed the sun so that sunspots were visible to the naked eye.

See http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/08/russian_wildfires.html for graphic images of the 2010 Russian fires,  as a comparison.  In their essentials,  the medieval events appear to resemble the 2010 event.

So,  between 1233 and 1430 there appear to be at least six events that resemble the Russian fires of 2010.  This assumes that the events of 1364,  1365 and 1366 are the same event,  and this also omits the event of 1335,  which only mentions urban fires.

The Russian heatwave and fires of 2010 can only be seen as unprecedented in the absence of historical documentation.

Finally,  I have no idea of the frequency of this type of extreme events after 1430,  since I’m not familiar with historical sources from that period.


Primary sources.

Annals of Inisfallen (MS. Rawlinson B. 503).  Trans. S. Mac Airt,  Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies,  Dublin (1988).

Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters from the earliest period to the year 1616.  Trans. J. O’Donovan,  seven vols.,  Hodges,  Smith and Co.,  Dublin (1854),  reprinted by AMS Press Inc.,  New York (1966).

Annals of Ulster.  (TO A.D. 1131).  Part I,  Text and Translation.  Trans. and Eds. S. Mac Airt and G. Mac Niocaill.  Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1983).

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  Ed. and trans. M. Swanton,  J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd,  London (1996).

Chronicle of London From 1089 to 1483,  Written in the Fifteenth Century,  From Manuscripts in the British Museum.  Photoreduced reprint by Llanerch Publishers,  Felinach (1995),  original published by Richard Taylor,  Printer,  Shoe Lane,  London (1827).

Chronicle of Novgorod.  trans. R. Michell and N. Forbes,  Camden Third Series vol. 25,  Camden Society,  London (1914).

Chronicum Scotorum,  a chronicle of Irish affairs,  from the earliest times to A.D. 1135;  with a supplement containing the events from 1141 to 1150.  Trans. W. M. Hennessy,  Longmans,  Green,  Reader and Dyer,  London (1866).

Chronography of Gregory Abu’l-Faraj,  1225-1286,  the son of Aaron,  the Hebrew physician commonly known as Bar Hebraeus.  trans. E. A. W. Budge,  two volumes,  Oxford University Press (1932),  reprinted by Philo press (1976).

Hall’s Chronicle Containing the History of England during the Reign of Henry the Fourth and the Succeeding Monarchs to the end of the Reign of Henry the Eighth…carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550.  Printed for J. Johnson;  F. C. and J. Rivington;  T. Payne;  Wilkie and Robinson;  Longman,  Hurst,  Rees and Orme;  Cadell and Davies;  and J. Mawman.  G. Woodfall,  Printer,  Paternoster-row,  London (1809).

Nikonian Chronicle.  Trans. S. A. and B. J. Zenkovsky,  3 vols.,  The Kingston Press,  Princeton,  New jersey (1984 and 1986).

Secondary sources.

Bell W.T. and Oglvie E.J. (1978).  Weather Compilations as a Source of Data for the Reconstruction of European Climate During the Medieval PeriodClimatic Change 1,  pp 331-348.

Brayne M. (2002).  The greatest Storm.  Sutton Publishing,  Phoenix Mill.

Doe R. (2006).  Extreme Floods.  Sutton Publishing,  Phoenix Mill.

Nicolson J. (2006).  The Perfect Summer.  John Murray,  London.

Biographical note:  Paul Farquharson is a postgraduate student in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Australia

JC note:  Paul emailed this essay to me, which I was obviously interested in because of the 2010 Russian heat wave.  I would like to see much more of this sort of study that provides information  about historical extreme weather/climate events.  This essay is a guest post, and implies no endorsement of its statements by me.

160 responses to “Historical perspective on the Russian heat wave

  1. We’re simply witnessing the failure of climate researchers in understanding, let alone grasping the historical perspective they’ve been so keen to glue to their works (hockey stick and all).

    ALL science faculties MUST include a mandatory science class. Otherwise rather than progressing science we will see the sad repeat of the same mistakes over and over again.

  2. On the cold end of things there was the June freeze in the US cornbelt. If this this event lived in our memory, global warming would seem like I good idea.

    During the night of Saturday June 4 1859 the severest summer frost fell known to the recorded annals of the State [Ohio]. An uncommonly low temperature which had prevailed during the two next preceding days culminated in this disaster. The cold and frost were general, extending to northeastern Illinois, to all of Indiana except the southwestern portion, to greater part of Ohio, and to the western portions of Pennsylvania and New York. The destruction of growing crops was enormous, but by no means uniform. Vegetables of the same kinds were destroyed and spared within the same enclosure. The ruin of the wheat crop was in some districts utter and complete, in others partial. The work of destruction was performed in belts and streaks In Northern Ohio the wheat was badly damaged, the green potato hills were changed to black spots, and the grapevines cut down to the old wood. In Central Ohio the corn was cut to the ground and small fruits and vegetables were well nigh annihilated. At West Jefferson, Madison County, ice was formed one quarter of an inch thick the Osage orange and other shurbs were withered and the tops of the locust trees wore turned black as though singed by fire. In Northwestern Ohio ice was formed.
    From: History of the city of Columbus, capital of Ohio, Volume 1
    By Alfred Emory Lee, W.W. Munsell & Co

  3. Thanks, Professor Curry, for bringing attention to past weather extremes like those that might be used today to frighten citizens into endorsing ill-founded solutions.

  4. See the following for 802 pages of historical weather events researched and written by James A Marusek. http://www.breadandbutterscience.com/Weather.pdf
    It is a facinating read…

  5. I remember wondering when the NYT’s published a speculative front page feature story which all but concluded that RHW was caused by “global warming” , but by what mechanism? After a peer reviewed paper was published a few months later declaring the heatwave a product of natural variability, the NYT’s remained strangely silent. I wrote them several letters, all studiously ignored of course, asking why the answer to what caused the heat wave now that we had it, wasn’t worth reporting given all the attention they’d given the subject previously. The only possible conclusion is that it’s fine for them to print speculative articles that support the case for global warming, but actual facts are off limits if they do not.

    • pokerguy- Isn’t this blog so much more informative and pleasant than SA?
      And by the way, I love your responses to sault. LOL!

  6. Judith,

    Interesting that you did not bring up cities created and lost through history that had vast acreage of farming and water resources that are now rock and deserts.

  7. Paul, thanks for the historical perspective.

    Alarmists now trying to use selected weather events to ‘confirm’ AGW is one of the more insidious recent developments. They co-opt any heat/cold/wet/dry/stormy news item into the propoganda. The “unprecedented” weather usually turns out to be anything but if the records are consulted.

    On the Russian heatwave, NOAA dismissed Hansens view, saying it was a normal blocking high event, and not tied to global warming:

    It’s difficult to know whether to spend any more time on Hansen now that he’s gone all Venusian on us. In an earlier thread (http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/16/feedback-in-climate/) Chris Colose wrote:

    “A runaway greenhouse requires a large enough supply of solar radiation to sustain (some speculations, some of which Jim Hansen provided in his “Storms of my Grandchildren” book, that a large amount of CO2 could trigger a Venus-like syndrome, are not actually possible).”

    Hansen now seems to be phishing for any weather event to support his doomster scenarios.

    • Hansen has made his fortune from CO2. He now wants to deny these same benefits to the poor of the earth to protect his grandchildren. Low cost coal fueled the industrial revolution.

      All that is required to reduce CO2 and end world poverty is to find a lower cost alternative. All that CO2 taxes will accomplish is to take money from the poor and give it to the rich. This reduces the incentive to find an alternative. Why would the rich want to end taxes from which they benefit.

      • Fred, nuclear fission reactors might supply our energy needs, . . .
        if the industry is required to encapsulate the radioactive waste (a concentrated form of energy) and use it to power steam generators, etc.


        Hansen’s story seems credible unless you have also seen the video of NASA’s Administrator admitting in 1998 that NASA hid data in 1995 that would have confirmed a 1983 report that Earth’s heat source is the iron-rich remains of a supernova – not the stable heat source assumed by AGW advocates.

      • WHT –

        You don’t think for one moment that the “alot” might have just been a typo? I have to ask, “What are you smoking?” and/or “Do you think you have too much time on your hands?” in regards to why you picked that out and wrote on that, instead of making a pertinent on-topic comment?

        Maybe it is time to get a life.

      • Fred –
        Re cheap energy, I have one word for you.


        As in tomorrow’ energy – coming soon to your local Chinese city – and maybe in the next 50 years to your local American community.

        Google “Thorium LFTR.”

      • Feet2thefire, those people that tell other people to get a life are what we call concern trolls.
        My point was that anecdotes have little meaning outside of a statistical sense. More and more I am thinking that ignorant skeptics are driven by a thought process based on coincidences and anecdotes, as opposed to deeper statistical meaning.

      • “My point was that anecdotes have little meaning outside of a statistical sense. More and more I am thinking that ignorant skeptics are driven by a thought process based on coincidences and anecdotes, as opposed to deeper statistical meaning.”

        And it’s ignorant to ignore history and precedent to try to sell people on an idea. Statistics is only as good as your data set, so if you’re throwing out history, people are going to notice you’re gaming the system. These events happened, they exist in the public memory; and the will be called upon to gauge any new events that happens. Pretending otherwise will just make you look ridiculous.

        People reason through precedent, history, and experience. No wonder the public sees some advocates as out of touch.

        I should also point out to you that abstraction, i.e. math/statistics, are not reality. Take a lesson from the medicinal field where reality has a way of throwing our theories and statistics straight out the window, habitually. Hopefully it’ll help you gain a better perspective. This is an act of studying history. You can learn so much from that.

      • It’s very difficult to make largely qualitative data into something quantitative that has a chance to be verified & validated. Since most of the skeptics are always howling about V&V of models, I thought I would mention this sticky point again. So the two strikes against applying V&V are subjectivity of the data source and the lack of a quantitative calibration.

      • ferd berple,webhubtelescope and ged :

        I am against demonizing Hansen. Just because he he is genuinely concerned, does not mean that he is right. He is not evil if he is proved wrong. There is some interpretation involved in science.

        On the other hand, since headlines these days are largely anecdotal (one needs many years to demonstrate an event is unusual) it is acceptable to use historical anecdotes to demonstrate one’s point in a debate.

        Just because you can’t put a number on something does not mean it is not helpful in understanding. These historical anecdotes are useful, even if their only result is tempering of scientists’ catastrophic warnings.


    • I am posting this video of Hansen going on about his tipping points and runaway climate change apocalypse scenarios. It may be a violation of Dr. Curry’s posting, but I am not certain. If it is offensive to her, I apologize and invite her to delete it. I am not trying to spam this blog with unwanted video. I simply could not find a response to my earlier inquiry regarding this.
      I post this with no further comment:

      • This is too choice to pass up.

        cui bono wrote:

        “I read alot.”

        My theory for the appearance of this spelling idiom for “a lot” comes from people spending too much time on the Internet. It is not a spelling mistake as much as a statistical indicator on how someone has acquired information. The younger one is, the more likely this idiom will appear, as they get used to seeing it spelled this way. They may also enjoy annoying the hell out of people with the choice of this spelling.

        To read more on people’s opinions:

        As for the rest of the top-level post, I am not at all interested in anecdotes. Anecdotes have nothing to do with science. A real statistical analysis would be to find out the demographics of the people that spell the word “a lot” versus spelling it “alot”. And then do the same with the spelling of “a little” versus “alittle”. What it would all mean in the grand scheme of things, I don’t know, but at least it wouldn’t be a eff’in anecdote.

      • WHT, will we’re at it, I don’t like seeing wanna (want to) typed out. However, I am increasing seeing it even from Mann in a recent statement.

      • Jim D, I think “wanna” comes from rock lyric slurring — “So you wanna be a rock and roll star”, “Wanna be starting something”, “I wanna be sedated”, etc :)

        The equivalent rock idiom for “alot” would be “whole lotta”, as in “Whole lotta love”, “Whole lotta rosie”, etc.

        It has to slide off the tongue to qualify.

    • cui bono –

      Alarmists now trying to use selected weather events to ‘confirm’ AGW is one of the more insidious recent developments. They co-opt any heat/cold/wet/dry/stormy news item into the propoganda.

      Just out of curiosity –

      Do you read WUWT? Do you remember whether he ran any posts last winter about weather in the U.S.? You know, like about the amount of snow pack in the Sierras, unusual snowstorms, or unusual cold weather?

      Have you happened to read WUWT this winter? Has Anthony run any posts about the weather in the U.S. this winter – you know, about how it’s been a bit warm on the whole?

      Do you think that the behavior you described is unique to “alarmists,” or might your description also apply to some “skeptics?” Or do you think that the contrast at WUWT w/r/t posts on the weather – more stories on an unusually snowy U.S. winter versus (so far) fewer stories on an (so far) unusually warm U.S. winter – must be pure coincidence?

      • Or there is the interesting case of ‘skeptics’ who rail about proxies, but then gleefully accept historical references to weather events as convincing proof of something.

      • Michael –

        …but then gleefully accept historical references to weather events as convincing proof of something.

        Yeah. I like that too. Part of the overall pattern of “skeptics” who say that they don’t doubt that the earth is warming yet consider any metrics for measuring temperature to be invalid. As far as I recall, not many “skeptical” “denizens” that I’ve seen present an internally consistent argument in that regard (David W. being a notable exception – in that the only measurement he trusts as valid returns a result that he feels shows no long-term warming).

        It’s also interesting that in reports such as this one, there are five incidents from the 1300s, when historical records might just be a tad more dodgy than those in more recent times, but only one from the 1700s, none from the 1800s, and only one from the 1900s 0 a period over which we might consider the record-keeping to be increasing in reliability by just a tad.

        It almost makes me think that there’s something selective about the process used to analyze patterns in data. But that couldn’t be – because they’re not “alarmists.”

      • randomengineer

        IIRC there were news items posted to show the contradiction of claims that English kids would never know what snow looked like, etc.

        Since I can summarise the intent in one sentence I’d say that the import of his list of posts seems to have been clear enough.

      • randomengineer

        It almost makes me think that there’s something selective about the process used to analyze patterns in data.

        They were looking for major heat waves comparable to 2010.

      • RE —

        Since I can summarise the intent in one sentence I’d say that the import of his list of posts seems to have been clear enough.

        Did you mean “can’t?”

        I agree that this kind of research is important. I also think that its importance can be, and sometimes is, overemphasized for partisan purposes. My point was also that claims made by some “skeptics” about who does what undermine claims about some “vast asymmetry” in the impact of tribalism.

      • Anthony did a post on the unusually late snow melt we had on the West Coast of the US. IIRC It was in the context of a family outing with unexpected snow levels.

        My wife and I had a scooter trip planned for late spring that had to be delayed into July as the necessary mountain passes opened late. Normally the passes thru Mt Rainier NP open by memorial day. Last year they didn’t open until late June.

        We broke the record in Seattle last year for most consecutive days without tempuratures exceeding 75 degrees.


        As far as this winter being ‘unusually warm’ I think that would be from the perspective of the East Coast. It’s unusually cool in the Pacific Northwest but that is to be expected in a LaNina year. In ElNino years I can reliably expect to be BBQ’ing foe Easter. In LaNina years planning a memorial day BBQ is a gamble.

      • randomengineer

        My point was also that claims made by some “skeptics” about who does what [snip]

        The alarmists claim that the English kids won’t know what snow looks like (AGW is warming and warming means no snow) so Watts posts articles to the contrary.

        You might want to rethink contending that there’s a claim being made by Watts, unless of course the action of posting articles showing a claim is wrong is somehow redefined as a “claim” which is torturing English beyond comprehensibility. (Next, let’s talk about what “is” is.)

      • harrywr2 –

        Yeah – I was trying to backpack in the Sierras last summer; access as late as early August was extremely limited. I had to can one planned trip and plan another for lower altitudes in the Desolation Wilderness – and even there trail access was extremely limited.

        I think that would be from the perspective of the East Coast.

        Maybe – but my impression was that there have been unusually warm temps in the Plain States and the Great Lakes regions. Hard to say because my go-to site for winter weather – WUWT – has been unusually quite this year for some reason.

      • RE –

        You might want to rethink contending that there’s a claim being made by Watts

        The “claims” I was referring to were those from some “skeptics” (like that of cui bono above) about “alarmists” using weather events to support claims about climate.

      • randomengineer

        The “claims” I was referring to were those from some “skeptics” (like that of cui bono above) about “alarmists” using weather events to support claims about climate.

        And you are still wrong. The articles on the Watts site specifically posted to counter claims made by alarmists show cui bono’s contention to be correct.

      • RE –

        The articles on the Watts site specifically posted to counter claims made by alarmists show cui bono’s contention to be correct.

        Oh. Ok. Sorry. I get it now.

        The “warmists” made us do it.

        It took me a while to understand your point, because I’ve never seen that kind of rationalization before.

      • randomengineer

        Oh. Ok. Sorry. I get it now.

        No. You don’t.

        If alarmists didn’t make claims that winter is going to be snowless then “skeptics” wouldn’t need to bother with posting anything to the contrary.

        You live in some sort of alternate reality where skeptics make claims and the white hat wearing climatologists debunk them. This is backwards. In this reality the alarmists are making the claims and the skeptics are replying.

        Here’s an example:

        Hansen (alarmist) — the russian heat wave is unprecedented.

        Farquharson (reply) — ummm….no.

        Joshua — Farquharson is a skeptic and making a claim!

        randomengineer — WTF?

      • Wow, I get to cross swords with the fabled Joshua. :-)

        Yes, I read WUWT. I read alot. How about you?

        I think you are missing the background environment to any climate discussion. The alarmists are blaming humans for unnatural climate change. The sceptics are pretty much saying BAU.

        Many times over the last 20 years alarmists have said that a specific aspect of the *weather* confirms AGW (see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html for an infamous example; Time magazine has taken your view in recent staements – mild winter = AGW; Hansens heatwaves; last years tornadoes; Hurricane Katrina. The list goes on…).

        These are supposed to be signs of impending unprecedented warming.

        The equivalent of this would be WUWT or any other site claiming that a burst of snow and cold weather means the Interglacial is over and NY and London are about to be buried under a mile of ice.

        The alarmists are the ones supporting the AGW hypothesis with all the policy changes that implies, and pointing to weather events as evidence. The sceptics point to countervailing weather events as evidence that this hypothesis is unproved (some) or downright mistaken (some).

        There is no equivalence. The burden of proof is on you, and Hansens use of Russian heatwaves is wrong, wrong, wrong.

        Next time the snow falls here in the UK, I will immediately write to my MP demanding we set fire to all the coal seams in the world to offset the new Ice Age.

      • cui bono –

        I think you are missing the background environment to any climate discussion.

        Thanks for the benefit of the doubt there. Unfortunately, I find that rare among some “skeptics” at Climate Etc.

        No, I’m not missing the background environment. Please see my comments to pokerguy below. I understand the reasons why “skeptics” would be tempted to point to short-term weather trends as an argument w/r/t long-term climatic trends. But that doesn’t validate the practice of doing so. My point is that it is invalid in either case – and that if someone who is otherwise quite capable of valid reasoning, and who self-describes as being skeptical, engages in that kind of rhetoric it is more than likely a sign of biased reasoning.

        And as for background environment – I see the relevant factors as being more bilateral than I suppose that you see. I see a long history of attacks against the notion of AGW – some of it clearly, IMO, invalid from a scientific perspective. While I don’t think that such attacks justify tribalism among “realists” – as might be evidenced by usage of short-term warm weather trends to support theories about long term climate change – it is instructive background as to why tribalism, on both sides, seems to predominate in much of the debate.

        IMO – to assess the “background environment” as originating in certain claims by specific people about short-term weather trends, is likely to be influenced by confirmation biases. I see the “background environment” as being much more bilaterally affected and influenced by partisan influences (be they political or other partisan orientations) on both sides.

      • Joshua,

        I think it is like having a hypothesis that the sun shines 24 hours a day on a spot on the equator. The pro-hypothesis group shout at 2 o’clock in the afternoon “It’s still shining and, btw, phew it’s hot here!’. At midnight, the sceptics have some fun at the believers expense.

        More importantly, weather events signify zilch. Even the frequency of weather events signify zilch, given randomness and the paucity of reliable records. In a perfect world, they should not be cited by either side. But what do you expect given the catalog of predictions (no more snow!) or warmist hysteria everytime the weather gets, er, interesting?

      • randomengineer

        cui bono

        Note that you and I are making observations regarding a general rule, that is, alarmists claim X thereby prompting skeptics to reply.

        The MO of Joshua replies is as follows: he responds to you and when called on it parses his words to the effect of “I said *some* skeptics” which then makes his post utterly pointless. After all, SOME skeptics are liable to say damn near anything, and… so? It’s as if he thinks the general rule is obviated — or worse, defined — by an exception. (It’s as if the word “exception” no longer exists. Doesn’t “exception” imply that this is not part of a general rule?)

        For the casual reader — the general rule is that alarmists make absurd claims relating any and all weather events to AGW, and “skeptics” respond with aritcles showing otherwise. The guest post herein is exhibit A; Hansen makes aburd claims re the Russian heatwave and the writer responds with “no, this isn’t necessarily true.”

        Folks, this is pretty simple. I would expect that a child can see this for what it is. Does anyone here think that the writer of this guest post would collate data on Russian weather history and make claims about it out of the blue? Of course not. Clearly this is a response to a claim.

      • Randomengineer:

        Totally agree.

      • The believer trolls are able, with out much effort apparently, to not only miss the point of skeptics commenting on weather but to turn the idea on its head and blame the skeptics for pointing out that weather has not changed, despite the predictions that weather would be changing.

    • WHT: cui bono wrote: “I read alot.”

      Hmm. The problem is that English is suffering from it’s own version of Greshams Law, where bad usage drives out good. After riling at the same mistake a dozen times, one unconsciously starts using it.

      However, the use of slang is quite useful when I wanna make a point (sorry Jim D). :-)

      • Hmm. The problem is that English is suffering from it’s own version of Greshams Law, where bad usage drives out good. After riling at the same mistake a dozen times, one unconsciously starts using it.

        Now you opened up a can of worms. Constant repetition of false, misleading, or irrelevant facts is the mechanism for how news gets delivered these days, with the obvious example of Fox News. This has been going on for years.

      • WHT

        Talking of news, I just read that my house is potentially under attack from the Russians:

        Never mind sea levels in 100 years time. I need a bomb shelter..now. :-)

      • randomengineer

        WHT — …with the obvious example of Fox News.

        Right, linking to a MoveOn site equates to truth.

        Partisan hack much?

      • I’m in UK, so not in a good position to discuss Fox News.

        Meanwhile, we’ve got incoming at 17,000 mph – I thought it would be good for a smile. Oh well…

      • WHT:

        “Constant repetition of false, misleading, or irrelevant facts is the mechanism for how news gets delivered these days, with the obvious example of Fox News.”

        OTOH, we get the BBC. It’s coverage of AGW is not well regarded by sceptics, as you probably know, and your words above could just as well apply.

      • Concerning repetition, I know it when I see it. That link was from 2004, when people started noticing this constant repetition. It also occurs in politics of course, in terms of negative campaigning.

        BTW, randomengineer, I notice that you repeat the same thing over and over again whenever I or other rational thinkers make a comment on this blog. It basically amounts to the same refrain, and never relates to any issue with some fundamental analysis I have made. Again, this happens over and over again.
        And in comparison, I never see you going after the real crackpot skeptical commenters on this blog. See the pattern? Repetition in condemnation of rational thought, and silence and condoning of repetitious crackpot garbage?

        Look, I am trying to advance the yardsticks on our understanding of climate science and energy (i.e. the etc), and it is frustrating when the same taunts come up every time I make a comment versus the silence toward the crackpots.

        Repetition of claims with selective silence is really a form of propaganda. That creates what some have referred to as a “Mighty Wurlitzer” effect.

      • randomengineer

        WHT — …whenever I or other rational thinkers make a comment on this blog.

        Rational as in tinfoil hattery or partisan hackery?

      • Web, Life is too short to debunk every kook. Judith allows them to post and I ignore them. But its obvious to most that they have “issues.” Some kooks are so dispicable that they must be countered, e.g., 9/11 truthers. But most are just Keepers Of Odd Knowledge.

      • WHT,
        IRT repeating false claims and facts, take a look in a mirror, pal.
        The bs you sell regarding peak oil ranks much higher than anything posted here, except possibly the sky dragon promoters and the most extreme AGW apocalypse hustlers.

      • WHT,
        IRT repeating false claims and facts, take a look in a mirror, pal.
        The bs you sell regarding peak oil ranks much higher than anything posted here, except possibly the sky dragon promoters and the most extreme AGW apocalypse hustlers.

        In this business, sitting at the edge, you don’t know which way you will fall. I have a long standing interest in why people believe weird things, and often you don’t know what is weird until it passes.

    • Didn’t I tell you all that Chris C was a sensible chap?

    • Hansen, of all people, should know better than to talk of a Venusian climate crisis. He was an astronomer on the Pioneer Venus project before he transferred to GISS in 1978 because “The composition of the atmosphere of our home planet was changing before our eyes.” I too was around in the seventies but my eyes somehow missed all that. Venus, it is known, does not have plate tectonics and an astronomer connected with the Venus probe should know this. So what’s the climate connection? It is very simple: radioactive heat that on earth is vented by plate boundary volcanism simply builds up on Venus until the crust thins, buckles, its pieces sink, and a new crust is formed every 500 million years or so. There was no opportunity for an ocean to form and the Venusian carbon dioxide atmosphere is not a product of a carbon cycle gone bad but the result of outgassing from these periodic convulsions. Why he thinks he can still push his carbon dioxide fairy tale is beyond me.

  8. History is not a friend to the AGW movement.

  9. incandecentbulb

    The author says, “… If this material is left out of our understanding and memory of climate, then contemporary extreme events may be mistaken for unique or unprecedented events.”

    We see this in every aspect of life. Ignorance breeds ignorance and crime. Charlatans and flimflammers take advantage of ignorance and then cheat, lie and steal. It is in this light that global warming alarmism can be seen as nothing more than a hoax and scare tactic.

    • I agree, as long as there is a distinction between the social movement and the science AGW feeds off of.

  10. Provincialism — a lack of sophistication or perspective.

    Far too many practitioners of AGW have demonstrated repeatedly a lack of sophistication or perspective. Just ignorant provincials unable to imagine that there might be a great big complicated world out there beyond the walls of their cloistered church.

  11. randomengineer

    The US spends billions on studying the climate, and the study of the last two millenia is crucial to any claims of an unprecedented present, yet nobody in charge of this had the presence of mind to hire a historian or history prof to see if the paleo reconstructions made historical sense?

    Who would have guessed that?

  12. On August 18th the Russian Heat Wave of 2010 ended, abruptly, with rain. The rain cleansed the air, washed the buildings and streets of soot, and ushered in a cool period. People with asthma could breath easily without resort to their inhalers, and everyone was grateful. The “unprecedented heatwave” was no such thing. And Hansen demonstrates yet again how profoundly ignorant he is; how profoundly naive and careless journalists have become; how easily governmental agencies such as the Department of Energy and the EPA can be maneuvered into square peg regulations.
    Chronicles may be “dry” reading. Russian literature provides the individual’s impact. As “climate scientists” attributed resistance to their leadership by the great unwashed to ignorance of their science, I can only attribute ignorance of the climate cabal to historical events as the great unread.

    • Feodor Dostoevsky
      From Crime and Punishment (Преступление и наказание), 1866. Modern spelling.
      В начале июля, в чрезвычайно жаркое время, под вечер, один молодой человек вышел из своей каморки, которую нанимал от жильцов в С-м переулке, на улицу и медленно, как бы в нерешимости, отправился к К-ну мосту.
      In early July, during a spell of extraordinary heat, towards evening, a young man went out from his garret, which he sublet in S. Lane, [entered] the street, and slowly, as though in [the grip of] indecision, began to make his way to K. Bridge.

  13. Hansen was doing something more statistically significant than this. He looked at the global temperature record, defined a mid-century climatology, and found that relative to that, three-sigma seasonal average hot events, which should occur once every few centuries at a given point or, equivalently, cover a few tenths of a percent of the land area in a given year, occur more often now by covering significant percentages of the land surface every year.

    • The so-called global temperature record is a joke, nor are heat waves seasonal events.

      • I suppose this means scafetta’s model which reconstructs a joke is a joke about a joke?

        and the LIA is colder than a joke? the mwp warmer than a joke?

        Yes, the 30s were not warmer either. that was a joke.

      • David Wojick, so you are saying you don’t trust the measurements of the 2010 Russian heat wave, or that it was exceptional in some way, and what are the implications for Texas last year if you don’t trust the measurements? Was it also not provable to be exceptional? I haven’t heard this view of these events expounded before so it needs a little filling out.

  14. Large swings in temperatures from one year to the next are present throughout the 350 year long CET records:
    the last one was from cold 2010 to mild 2011.

  15. Dear Judith,
    This is the first time I write a note, first to thank you for your incredible work as a…global..teacher for the benefit of all of us.
    Second, about extreme events, as discussed by Paul, I have prepared two slides to advertise the book of the French Fuster, published in 1845. He was completely ignored by the famous French warmists. He is compiling the number per century of extreme climatic events, including winter, summer, rain, dryness and what he call severe vicissitudes. And his table, which runs from the 4th to the 19th centuries, completely invalidates the conclusion that both the warming and the frequency of severe meteorological events observed over the last 50 years have been increasing as a result of man made CO2. How should I proceed. to send you the slides. As an example, to morrow, I’ll send the number per century of both severe winter and severe summer, using the style of Paul. They decorate 4 very quiet centuries (IV, V, VI, VII) and the most violent XVIII century.

    • Maurette, thanks very much for your comment. Pls email to me your material curryja at eas.gatech.edu, I would like to work up a guest post on your material.

      • Recently came across Brazdil et al in Climate Change 05 “Historical Climatology in Europe – the state of the art”. Worth a look IMO.

      • This link


        is very large but is fascinating reading and makes a good case that the “unusual” weather experienced in the 20th and 21st century is not unusual by historical standards. Also, with instant communication, cell phone cameras and the other 21st century accoutrements, weather events that would not have been noticed, let alone documented, become “breaking news” almost instantaneously.

        The weather history summary starts in 1 AD and ends in 1900. As the author, James Marusek writes

        “This chronology begins at 1 A.D. A few of the source chronologies actual date some weather events as far back as 1,800 B.C. I have left these out of this chronology because the further one goes back in time, the less certain the dates. This is because these chronologies use calendars (such as AM – Anno Mundi), and the events in many cases were derived using a variety of ancient calendars systems. And date uncertainty is introduced in calendar conversion. This is also due to the inexactness within the narrative descriptions. Why is a chronological listing of weather events of value? If one wishes to peer into the future, then a firm grasp of the past events is a key to that gateway. This is intrinsically true for the scientific
        underpinnings of weather and climate.”

      • Chuck –

        thanks for the link – it’s more like a book!

        Looks fascinating, though, and a nice resource to have on hand.

  16. Joshua,

    It’s pretty hard to resist trumpeting cold and snow, when a foundational prediction of the AGW modelers has been that snow would soon (by the end of the last decade I believe), be a rare and exciting event. It’s just too funny that 4 of the snowiest NYC winters (over 40 inches) have occurred n the past 10 years. Last year, January was the snowiest on record. Of course with all that, your side is now coming up with all sorts of post hoc theories to explain. Too funny again.

    The long range forecasters I follow, and who’ve been beating the AGW modelers with their perpetual warm bias season after season, year after year, predicted that this would be a much more moderate winter than the last few (although in fairness no one was predicting this warm that I know of). I’ll be more than willing to bet you that next winter is a resumption of the recent cold and snow. Anything up to 500 bucks would be fine with me. If you’re willing, we can work out the parameters. Or if you’d rather not let it ride on one season, I’ll be happy to come up with some sort of longer term bet. Perhaps that would be fairer to all.

    I’m at your service.

    • pokerguy –

      It’s pretty hard to resist trumpeting cold and snow, when a foundational prediction of the AGW modelers has been that snow would soon (by the end of the last decade I believe), be a rare and exciting event.

      Well – I understand the temptation, but it seems to me that if people are true skeptics, rather than combatants in a tribal war – they should be able to resist that temptation. A true skeptic would recognize the invalidity of such a temptation, and their baseline skepticism would prevail.

      I’ll be more than willing to bet you that next winter is a resumption of the recent cold and snow. Anything up to 500 bucks would be fine with me. If you’re willing, we can work out the parameters. Or if you’d rather not let it ride on one season, I’ll be happy to come up with some sort of longer term bet. Perhaps that would be fairer to all.

      I only bet on sure things (which explains why I offered Don a bet recently). Any short-term bet (pretty much circumscribed by my lifetime – I’m no spring chicken anymore) would not be consistent with my views on climate change. And even if I do turn out to achieve immortality – I’m not confident enough about long term trends to risk any of my precious and hard-earned dead presidents without appropriate odds. In case I do live for another 75 years or so, I’d be willing to take such a bet if we adjust the odds to reflect a prediction that it is likely (I’m not so sure about the 90% confidence level of the IPCC) that somewhat more than 50’% of future warming would be anthropogenically caused. We’d also have to factor in any natural variables with a very high level of confidence – not exactly an easy task.

      • You chickened out on that bet, joshy. I am still waiting for you actually specifically state what the bet is, and for you to find a “moderator’, whatever that means. You are a dumb little childish putz. We can revisit that episode and the several lies that I proved you told, about what I had said during that little discussion. You employed your usual tactics. The same BS with which you attempt to hijack every thread. No wonder nobody likes you. Even Fred.

      • Make that “mediator”, whatever that means, in josh’s little message board gambling proposal.

      • Don – Please don’t attribute sentiments to me I haven’t expressed and don’t hold.

        On the subject of betting: A few months ago on this blog, I was frustrated enough by someone’s obviously false persistent claim to suggest a large bet on the issue. Within a few minutes, I recanted and stated that I regretted the bet offer. My reason, as I stated, is that betting as a means of ascertaining truth is extremely unreliable – it tells us more about the person than the issue. I was afraid that if my offer had been allowed to stand, it would have set a bad precedent (or a bad example, if there had been earlier ones), even though I had no doubt that I was right on the particular point. I see it as a form of combat rather than a means to arrive at accurate conclusions. Having set a bad example, I now feel free to criticize it, and I hope the practice won’t continue.

      • Fred, I didn’t say that you have expressed those sentiments. But it is obvious that you avoid interacting with little josh. Everyone can see that. If you want to disprove my observation, then pay some attention to josh. Get involved in his thread hijacking. Show him some love. (Don’t take everything so seriously, Fred. And please try to inject a little humor into your dour droning.)

    • pokerguy,
      The trolls are impervious to reflecting on the failures of AGW predictions. They will simply find ways to blame the skeptics.

  17. I just forgot to illustate in my last comment what Fuster means by extreme winter: From 821 to 822 our frozen largest (French) rivers could support four-wheeled waggon during more than 30 days.

  18. incandecentbulb

    Love of AGW Theory Means Never Having To Say You’re Histrionic

  19. The temperature, during the past ten thousand years, has cycled from warm to cool to warm to cool many times.
    in more recent times we had the Medieval Warm Period, followed by the Little Ice Age, followed by the Warm Period that we are in now. This will be followed by another cool period. The Oceans are warm, the Arctic is open and the snows have started to rebuild the snow packs and glaciers. The ice will advance and cool earth until the Oceans cool and the Arctic stays frozen year round again.

    • Once again a very nice impression of “Chauncey Gardner”. Note the similarities:

      President “Bobby”: Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
      [Long pause]
      Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
      President “Bobby”: In the garden.
      Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
      President “Bobby”: Spring and summer.
      Chance the Gardener: Yes.
      President “Bobby”: Then fall and winter.
      Chance the Gardener: Yes.
      Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy.
      Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
      Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
      Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
      President “Bobby”: Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time.
      [Benjamin Rand applauds]
      President “Bobby”: I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.

      Herman Alexander Pope, I don’t know what you are smoking or what your motivation is, but most of us reading this blog have been around the block and know when our leg is being pulled.

      And on the Crackpot Index scale, you get 20 points for naming something after yourself, “Pope’s Climate Theory”, or whatever you call it. And you also get the maximum possible bonus, 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions. Spouting vague and nebulous pablum like Chance the Gardener won’t cut it, and you might want to provide some way to make this quantitative before you reach an all-time record crackpot score. But I have a feeling you won’t, because this theory is just your idea of an elaborate joke.

      • concrete testable predictions
        My concrete testable prediction is that the temperature, for as long as anyone who is reading this lives, will stay inside the range that it has been in for the past ten thousand years. As of right now, my concrete testable prediction is extremely right with data well inside the range of the past ten thousand years. Would you like to make a concrete testable prediction that temperature will get outside of the range of the past ten thousand years in our lifetime?

    • Except that the US has had minimal snowfall this winter. Almost nothing untill this last weekend.
      There is a hole in your theory, in that the vapor pressure of water and ice are nearly the same at the temperatures encountered in the arctic.


      • It seems that this winter has been warm and minimal snowfall in many parts of NH (I may be wrong). In my part of the Balkans, after a few cold and snowy winters, this one has been very warm.

        We live in interesting times. I think the global temperature plateau (not a pause) will last maybe until ~2013-15 (sc24 plateau) and then global cooling will take over. It will probably be steeper than the 1980/90s warming. The effect of such a long cycle as the sc23 (~12.5 years) doesn’t stop with the end of the cycle. It depends on the current temperature level (~sea ice extent) and thermal (energy) inertia of oceans/ice/fresh water and of course on oceanic/atmospheric oscillations/dynamics. The cooling usually really starts only after the plateau of the next cycle. By the way, global sea ice “anomaly” is now positive:

    • As of right now, my concrete testable prediction is extremely right with data well inside the range of the past ten thousand years.

      So your theory is nothing more than an assertion that the future will remain the same as the past.
      And for that, you name the theory after yourself?
      To quote a phrase from another movie : “Alert the media!”

      • Yes, the future will stay in the same range as the past Ten Thousand Years. History is, by far, the best Model for the Future.

      • Herman, why would the temperature stay the same as in this short time span when CO2 levels will become the highest since 50-100 million years ago by the end of this century?

      • Jim D
        CO2 is a trace gas and it has a trace effect. Earth don’t really care about CO2 for Temperature control. Earth does really care about CO2 because more CO2 makes green things grow with less Water. More CO2 is a huge plus. Less CO2 can destroy life as we know it.

      • Herman, if you want to use the past as a guide, you really need to look into the Cretaceous climate when CO2 levels were more than double the value now. Sea level was much higher and much of the area that is now temperate was tropical in a climate sense.

      • Earth has evolved and the most recent past ten thousand years is the best forecast for the next ten thousand years. Look at the data. It is in a new stable cycle.

      • CO2 is a trace gas and it has a trace effect.
        More CO2 is a huge plus.

        Could you reformulate that in a way which isn’t contradictory?

      • Could you reformulate that in a way which isn’t contradictory?

        Since I have been requested not to type lol, I offer this comment:


      • I missed a trick:

        CO2 is a trace gas and it has a trace effect.
        Less CO2 can destroy life as we know it.

        Apparently my brain was unable to comprehend how these sentences could be part of the same paragraph so ignored the second one on my first read through.

  20. There was severe cold in Peru in the summer of 2010

    see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-10749124

    “The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in more than half the country due to cold weather.

    Most of the areas affected are in the south, where temperatures regularly drop below zero centigrade at this time of year.

    However, this time temperatures have dropped to as low as -24C.”

    So hot in one part of the world, cold in another. Lets all run around in panic.

  21. Hansen fell of the good sense wagon a long time ago. It is hard to think that he really believes all the stuff he shovels out. Then again, that’s how he makes his living. Follow the money.

    OTOH: “Love of AGW Theory Means Never Having To Say You’re Histrionic”

  22. Nice article Paul, thank you.

    A few months ago I wrote an article for WUWT that cited numerous examples of warm events during the Little Ice Age to illustrate that this period shouldn’t be seen as one continously cold 400 year long epoch.

    In it I also wrote about the more recent Russian Heat waves from 1831 onwards


    I think there are around six more accounts of such heatwaves prior to this date and post the period Paul refers to, in other words it is a fairly regular occurence.

  23. Joshua,

    Look, I understand your reluctance to bet. If you’re not comfortable risking your money at this stage in your life then I wouldn’t be comfortable taking it. But it’s worth noting that when things get on a financial footing, the true believers suddenly seem a lot less sure. I’ve tried to get several of my warmist friends to accept a bet without success.

    UNderstand that I’m not taunting you in any way, but the willingness to wager is a pretty valid bottom line test of one’s conviction it seems to me. I’m not a young guy either….61 in March…but if you’d consider something on the order of 5 years I’d very willing to do that as well. I picked the $500 figure because it struck me as big enough to mean something without hurting anyone too much, but if you want to make it less that’s more than fine as well.

  24. Historical records are subjective. Your list gives one indicator, the scorching summer in England, 1911, that can be checked. The Met Office gives the CET index in order of warmth of months.

    In 1911 July and August were indeed hotter than in recently preceding years. Both averaged 18.2°C. But for August, since then it was exceeded in 2003,1947,1975,1997,1998 (in order of warmth). In 1998 it reached 19.2 °C.

    And in July hotter years subsequently were 1934,1989,1921,1995,1976,1983,2006. In 2006, it reached 19.2 °C, 1.5 °C hotter than the “scorching” 1911.

    • Typo – 19.7 °C in July 2006.

    • The intergration of historical facts with meterological records,ie from more then a single record, are a robust and rigorous constraint on spurious rhectoric of which Hansen is a persistent recidivist.

      A fine example is Thordason and Self 2003.

      The summer of 1783 was characterized by extreme and unusual weather, including an unusually hot July in western Europe, most
      likely caused by perseverance of southerly air currents. The following winter was one of the most severe winters on record in Europe and North America. In these regions, the annual mean surface cooling that followed the Laki eruption was about “1.3!C and lasted for 2–3 years. We propose that the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere aerosols from
      Laki disrupted the thermal balance of the Arctic regions for two summers and were the main mechanism for the associated climate perturbations. Eruptions of Laki magnitude have occurred in the recent past in Iceland and will occur again. If such an eruption were to occur today, one of the most likely immediate consequences would be disruption to air
      traffic over large portions of the Northern Hemisphere.

      eg (The Morning Herald, London, 2 September 1783)

      We have experienced here the greatest heat ever remembered in this
      country. According to a report from the Imperial Observatory on the
      28th ult. (July) the Reamur’s thermometer was at 22! (= 27.5!C), on
      the next day it rose to 23! (= 28.8!C), the 30th to 24! (= 30.0!C), the
      31st to 25! (= 31.3!C) and on the 1st fell again to 14! (= 17.5!C).

      July 1783 is also the second warmest on record in England
      after 1995 [Kington, 1978; Manley, 1974; Parker et al.,
      1992] (see also East Anglia Climate Research Unit Central
      England Temperature data set at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk). It was
      also very warm in Scandinavia [Ho´ lm, 1784; Melanderhjelm,
      1784]. This heat wave occurred when the intensity of
      the Laki haze was the greatest in Western Europe. Records
      from 20 European stations in the late 1700s [Jones et al.,
      1985] show that in the western part of Europe the 1783 July
      surface temperatures are 1.0 to 3.0!C higher than the 30-year
      mean centered on 1783 (Figure 9). July temperatures were
      near or just below the norm in eastern and southern Europe.

      Similarly Grove 1998 2007 suggests that spurious assumptions are constrained by historical facts eg

      In recent history the severity of the El Niño of 1997 and 1998, as well as the La Niña event that followed on from it, has tempted both politicians and scientists to suggest that the 1997–98 event was the worst known in history. Similar hasty claims had been made for the El Niños of 1982–83 and 1991–95. The historical as well as the prehistoric record tend to suggest otherwise. Indeed the documentary evidence suggests that, even in the last thousand years, very much stronger and longer El Niño events have been experienced globally, and particularly during the Little Ice Age between about 1250 and 1860. There are in fact many problems involved in reconstructing the conditions and severity of El Niño events that took place before the instrumental period.

      The pyschological inference is well detailed in the literature eg Godfrey 2001.

      It is a recognized characteristic of human psychology that people will find patterns in the world around them, whether or not those patterns
      result from coherent underlying causes. “The tendency to impute order to ambiguous stimuli is simply built into the cognitive machinery
      we use to apprehend the world. It may have been bred into us through evolution because of its general adaptiveness . . .” (Gilovich 1993,
      Ch. 2). While this powerful human capacity to find order in nature has served and continues to serve us extremely well, it also sometimes leads
      us to falsely impute meaning to chance events. Gilovich nicely illustrates this problem using thestatistics of consecutive hit or missed shots in
      basketball (the “hot hand”), where statistical independence
      can reasonably be assumed. When dealing with the non-independent statistics of the atmosphere, the problem of “detecting” spurious
      patterns is amplified by the statistical relatedness of data that are nearby in time or space or both (see Livezey and Chen (1983), for a good example), and here our instinctive tendency to read too much into apparent patterns must be guarded against especially strongly

      • Wow!

        It is a recognized characteristic of human psychology that people will find patterns in the world around them, whether or not those patterns result from coherent underlying causes.

        That looks like the work of an anti-“skeptic” talking about AGW-cabal conspiracy theorists.

        You know, a skeptic.

    • Nick

      The summer of 1911 remains remarkable as unusually it was hot dry and sunny over most of the uk not just the cet area and the hot weather lasted from may through until September

      Weatherwatch: 1911, a summer to remember
      guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 20 July 2011

      Certainly 1911 was a summer to remember. On 22 June, a year after he succeeded his father Edward VII to the throne, George V was crowned in Westminster Abbey. And weather records were being broken in a heatwave that ran for four months, from May through to the middle of September.

      July was particularly warm, with temperatures peaking at 36C on the 22nd, in the Surrey town of Epsom. Scotland also baked in the summer sunshine, with temperatures reaching 32C in Perth. Southern Britain was bathed in almost permanent sunshine, with no measurable rain being recorded in London from 1 July to the 25th. And during the month the East Sussex coastal resort of Eastbourne recorded just under 384 hours’ sunshine – an average of more than 12 hours a day.

      The opening day of August saw a brief fall of rain, but the rest of the month continued warm and sunny, with temperatures staying in the low 30s across much of the south.

      September was also very warm, until the heatwave finally broke on 13th. Thus ended what would be the hottest, driest and sunniest summer since records began, until the drought year of 1976.

      A century later, most of the records of that long, hot summer have been broken. The July high was finally beaten on 19 July 2006, when the thermometer peaked at 36.5C at Wisley in Surrey.

      But one record still proudly stands: those 384 hours of sunshine on the East Sussex coast.

    • In the CET temperature records, 1911 does stand out, with both July & August averaging 18.2C. For July, there were 6 years in the record before 1911 that were as warm or warmer – but for August, 1911 was a record at the time. As Nick Stokes points out, there are a number of years since 1911 when the temperature reached or exceeded the 1911 values for ONE of the two months, but only one year (1995) where both months exceeded 1911.
      Interestingly, taking both months together, 1911 was warmer than 1976, which is probably regarded as the stand-out summer of the last 150 years.
      The claim that the summer of 1911 went on for a long time is not borne out by the temperature data – it may have been dry, but it was not particularly warm in May and June – this is an area where 1976 is clearly unusual – the June 1976 average of 17.0 is unsurpassed in the whole CET record. 1976 really was a long hot summer – accompanied by a memorably severe drought.
      It is curious that although 1995 is the year with the highest combined average temperature for July and August – and there was an associated drought – it has not stuck in the collective consciousness in the way that 1976 has done.

  25. “The Russian heatwave and fires of 2010 can only be seen as unprecedented in the absence of historical documentation.”

    Part of the entire propaganda approach to AGW has been to eliminate historical evidence of any natural variability and present the past as very stable and generally perfect for life everywhere with such things as the LIA being presented as very local events. This is done with both the temperature record and the CO2 record. Any information about extreme variability is suppressed. That we are lead to believe that today’s conditions are “unprecedented” is a key feature of the process.

    The people must be made to fear current and projected in order to facilitate their willingness to give up billions and billions of dollars of their hard earned wealth. Without really directly saying so, people such as Mann imply to the average person that if they simply get enough money and give it to the right people, their grandchildren won’t die. It’s criminal, in my opinion.

  26. HadCRUTv4 apparently is to show 2005 & 2010 above 1998 temps.

    • randomengineer

      What, they didn’t have enough computing power in 2006 to manipulate the data?


      This is the sort of thing that drives me nuts, altering data years after the fact.

      • Me too.
        But you have to remember they’re desperate. Without some new manipulations Hadcrut3 will show 15 years of cooling next month and that is surely unacceptable

      • randomengineer – the new dataset is not as a result of manipulation but of the inclusion of additional data from Russia and other higher longitudes, something that HadCRUTv3 was notably lacking.


        However, I fully expect the denier stance to be as yours – FRAUD, MANIPULATION, ALTERING DATA!

        All of it bollocks.

      • So improving data collection is now a BAD IDEA according to the ‘skeptics’.

      • Yes, RandomEngineer, you should be grateful – they are breaking with established professional climatology tradition by not hiding this data.

      • When someone figures out how to deal with subjective qualititative anecdotal data, then historical reconstructions will make some great strides. As it is, everyone is familiar with the “in our day” stories: “When I was a kid, it was fifteen miles to school. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. And we liked it!!”.

        Louise’s link really shows the only valid data to use, that of the objective quantitative statistical variety.

      • randomengineer


        Inclusion of additional data makes sense, at least on the surface. I don’t follow this stuff closely enough to know what manipulations they do, but I have seen where the 2001 era GISS graphs show station X in 1994 had a temp of Y and then the 2004 data shows X has a completely different temperature.

        I don’t know how the physical measurement taken at a specific date can change, but I can see where adding gridwork and other fun interpolations can make any and all data malleable.

        As for HADCRUT I don’t know if they change past data like GISS does, but I don’t have any trust in the process.

        If the changes are simply in adding new data that was previously locked up, that’s fair enough, although you’d think there ought to be a time limit on adding data years later (2005 for pete’s sake!) since policy etc was already recommended based on the earlier data. If they can add to the data 7 years after the fact, then they should be disallowed from being able to influence or even answer scienfitic questions where policy is concerned since they are already N years out of the loop by definition. e.g.in 2006 the gov’t asks them about the global temp and CRU should tell them WE DO NOT KNOW, PERIOD and keep their mouths shut until they do have all of the data (say 2012 for example.)

        In short if you claim the right to manipulate data years after the fact then this is strictly academic, if you want to use the data to influence policy then you don’t do this until it’s utterly final (years afterward.)

      • There are millions of records of data that have not been digitized.
        as collections expand you will see monthly changes in the major indicies.
        I think you will also see BEST increase their station count shortly.

        The data changes. the number changes,
        Most changes tend to cool the past and warm the present. That has to do with spatial bias in the existing data.

      • randomengineer


        You need to be clear re spatial. Stands to reason that if more data fills in the gridding then this is missing spatial gap being addressed. Yes? If so then this speaks to changes in regional averages, thus possibly changing the global average. This makes sense.

        But that’s not what I’m talking about. If the 2003 report of east bumfiddle TN shows Aug 1931 as 78 degrees then that’s the east bumfiddle temp for Aug 1931, period, and the 2008 report *must* show the same thing. Grids be damned, that there was new data for upstate NY is meaningless to what was recorded in east bumfiddle. It was either 78 degrees in Aug or it was not, and if that’s what was recorded and then massaged etc for TOBS then it’s DONE. Finito. No more changes can be possible.

        What I see happening is that the aug 1931 east bumfiddle temps change from 2002 to 2009, and there is no reason for it.

      • Random, you have no idea what time of day the temperature of east bumfiddle was taken. That can add a systematic bias, for which a more comprehensive analysis can correct by back-dating.

        Backdating is used all the time as an analysis technique for historical fossil fuel use. Early estimates are uncalibrated, and later data improve on the initial estimates.

        Sometimes this is borderline hopeless, such as with early atmospheric CO2 measurements, which are all over the map, likely due to a complete lack of systematic calibration.

      • Random, as technology advances, access to more remote surface stations will provide a much clearer picture of Russian temperatures.



      • randomengineer

        WHT — Random, you have no idea what time of day the temperature of east bumfiddle was taken. That can add a systematic bias, for which a more comprehensive analysis can correct by back-dating.

        Correct, which is why it makes sense to account for TOBS in the data analysis and prep.

        However, once this has been done, THAT’S IT. There is no reason to constantly go back to east bumfiddle to muck about with the temp after you mucked about with it to correct it.

        That’s why it’s OK to see that that the reported value in 1987 was say 76 degrees and the data was finally parsed in say 2001 and adjusted for TOBS to 77. Now that this has been adjusted, there is no excuse for east bumfiddle to report *anything* other than 77 in later reports, but that’s what we are seeing — east bumfiddle in 2003 reports 1987 as 77.4 and in 2007 reports as 78.2.

        This is simply wrong.

    • Paraphrasing Richard Muller – CRU is an outlier.

      Versus the earth, it’s been running cold. GisTemp will be the new king series. I switched to GisTemp a long time ago. Always best to go with the smartest guys in the room: Lacis and Hansen!

    • Louise, imagine if you had a carpenter who measured twice and cut once. I just hate it when carpenters manipulate the raw data like that. You should too.

      • …and cut according to the shortest of the two

      • That sounds wrongheaded. If the two measurements don’t agree, which is rare for a skilled carpenter, he will measure again to break the tie. In the case of reliable automated systems, a triple modular redundancy configuration is common, as that has a built-in tie-breaker (assuming common mode errors don’t exist). You don’t need the tie-breaker when the first two measurements match and you have a human in the loop.

      • You don’t do irony, do you?

      • If taking another measurement requires climbing back up the ladder and reaching over to hook the measuring tape, the need for a third number to break the tie might seem less important. If cutting the piece of wood too short isn’t likely to be seen except by someone who’s looking for errors (in other words, doesn’t affect the overall outcome to a significant degree), but cutting it too long would mean it wouldn’t fit and thus require climbing back down off the ladder to make a second cut, a third measurement might not be worth the time involved.

        In other words, as a former carpenter I’d say that motivated reasoning often affects the decision-making process. Shocking, I know.

      • Look, all you have to do is add a hair…

        Or is it subtract a hair?

        The point is, the retouched raw data should be left out of these manipulations.

  27. @cui bono

    Doesn’t surprise me. And HadCRUTv5 will likely show years contemporary with its release to be even warmer than 2005 and 2010, as that will likely be the entire purpose of it. I don’t think anyone really places any great deal of trust in the various manipulations done by the various databases. We need a “source of truth”; a repository of raw data that all groups use to generate their various versions of things.

    As it stands today, each database has a different set of raw data which have been adjusted in different ways. It’s a mess.

    • “As it stands today, each database has a different set of raw data which have been adjusted in different ways. It’s a mess.”

      That’s not remotely accurate

  28. Here is Bastardi’s take on 2011-2012 Winter. This was made in October I believe.

  29. @crosspatch.

    True. Statistically insignificant. However, it’s already giving new life to the ‘it’s still warming’ brigade. See http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/.

    Looking at the whole report from the UK Met Office (a source of some jocularity in the UK) they have a whole section on whether individual weather events (eg: the Pakistan floods) can be attributed to climate change. See:


    While they say “Mis-attribution, eg by blaming every extreme weather event on climate change, could lead to poor adaptation decisions” they are still going to try to give probability attributes to events.

    I don’t think (ok,ok, my gut feeling) that we know anything like as much as we would need to for this sort of attribution to be anything other than nonsense. Besides, it’s costing me (as a UK taxpayer) money, whereas at least Hansen provides nensense attributions for free!

    • randomengineer

      …whereas at least Hansen provides nensense attributions for free!

      Free for you perhaps. As an Estados Unidos taxpayer I’m paying the bugger.

  30. As a former historian I take chronicles seriously, since they are an important source of knowledge about human life. They are subject to all sorts of errors, too, and these errors can be corrected. As to climate, I am reminded of being shown over a wonderfully made Roman reservoir from the second century CE in what is now Libya. Roman North Africa supported then a population estimated at 8 million, about half of whom were involved in some way in agriculture, producing mostly wheat and olive oil for Rome. The climate then must have been much more sympathetic to agriculture. Today the reservoir is surrounded by sand. These big climate shifts seem to me an most obvious influence on human history, but no one is suggesting that humans caused the desertification of North Africa.

    Incidentally, the pressure on the Danube frontier that the Roman Empire experienced for three centuries seems to have been caused by continuing good seasons further East, leading to population growth and the movement of tribes west. They didn’t cause the good seasons, but human history was much affected by them. usw, as the German historians like to say.

  31. The following was (re)posted to WUWT in the summer of 2010, another list of chronicles of Russian heat waves and fires. I can’t vouch for their authenticity, but the links embedded should be traceable for those interested (and able to read Russian):


    In a recent Guardian article relating to the Russia fires, there was an interesting post by Trofim, indicating the fires a not all unusual.

    Trofim’s post:
    Here are some interesting historical accounts of forest and peat fires in Russia dating back to the 13th century. There occur every few decades. I can’t be bothered to translate it all, but have translated a selection. If you have any doubts, you can find yourself a translator.
    As for death rates, one can only guess.


    1298: There was a wholesale death of animals. In the same year there was a drought, and the woods and peat bogs burnt.

    1364: Halfway through summer there was a complete smoke haze, the heat was dreadful, the forests, bogs and earth were burning, rivers dried up. The same thing happened the following year . . .

    1431: following a blotting out of the sky, and pillars of fire, there was a drought – “the earth and the bogs smouldered, there was no clear sky for 6 weeks, nobody saw the sun, fishes, animals and birds died of the smoke.

    1735: Empress Anna wrote to General Ushakov: “Andrei Ivanovich, here in St Petersburg it is so smoky that one cannot open the windows, and all because, just like last year, the forests are burning. We are surprised that no-one has thought about how to stem the fires, which are burning for the second year in a row”.

    1831: Summer was unbearably hot, and as a consequence of numerous fires in the forests, there was a constant haze of smoke in the air, through which the sun appeared a red hot ball; the smell of burning was so strong, that it was difficult to breathe.

    The years of 1839-1841 were known as the “hungry years”. In the spring of 1840, the spring sowings of corn disappeared in many places. From midway through April until the end of August not a drop of rain fell. From the beginning of summer the fields were covered with a dirty grey film of dust. All the plants wilted, dying from the heat and lack of water. It was extraordinarily hot and close, even though the sun, being covered in haze, shone very weakly through the haze of smoke. Here and there in various regions of Russia the forests and peat bogs were burning (the firest had begun already in 1939). there was a reddish haze, partially covering the sun, and there were dark, menacing clouds on the horizon. There was a choking stench of smoke which penetrated everywhere, even into houses where the windows remained closed.

    1868: the weather was murderous. It rained once during the summer. There was a drought. The sun, like a red hot cinder, glowed through the clouds of smoke from the peat bogs. Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.

    1868: a prolonged drought in the northern regions was accompanied by devastating fires in various regions. Apart from the cities and villages affected by this catastrophe, the forests, peat workings and dried-up marshes were burning. In St Petersburg region smoke filled the city and its outlying districts for several weeks.

    1875: While in western europe there is continual rain and they complain about the cold summer, here in Russia there is a terrible drought. In southern Russia all the cereal and fruit crops have died, and around St Petersburg the forest fires are such that in the city itself, especially in the evening, there is a thick haze of smoke and a smell of burning. Yesterday, the burning woods and peat bogs threatened the ammunitiion stores of the artillery range and even Okhtensk gunpowder factory.

    1885: (in a letter from Peter Tchaikovsky, composer): I’m writing to you at three oclock in the afternoon in such darkness, you would think it was nine oclock at night. For several days, the horizon has been enveloped in a smoke haze, arising, they say, from fires in the forest and peat bogs. Visibility is diminishing by the day, and I’m starting to fear that we might even die of suffocation.

    1917 (diary of Aleksandr Blok, poet): There is a smell of burning, as it seems, all around the city peat bogs, undergrowth and trees are burning. And no-one can extinguish it. That will be done only by rain and the winter. Yellowish-brown clouds of smoke envelope the villages, wide swaithes of undergrowth are burning, and God sends no rain, and what wheat there is in the fields is burning.

  32. Hi Judith

    You asked for more examples of extreme events. In my article ‘the long slow thaw’ that you carried here -a reconstruxctiion of CET back to 1538-was a section containing mostly British weather events

    There are many hundreds of contemporary descriptions dating from 1407 to 1670-which dovetail neatly with the dates cited in this article. There are some 100 links at the end to varioius sources including old books and records. They are well worth looking at.

    Separately to this list I am sure you are aware of Hubert Lambs book’ ‘Historic storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe’ citing storms from 1509 onwards. Some of the events drescribed make our modern day storms look puny.

    The Two days that I spent in the archives of the Met office (set up after all because of great storms and loss of life over 150 years ago) researching ‘the long slow thaw’ reinforced the enormous number of truly epic events that make any claims that today’s ‘weather’ is ‘unprecedented’ rather hollow.

  33. Persuant on the early posts above, there are three broad categories :-
    alarmists, people whose hidden agenda is to say there is CAGW no matter what the facts are. This would include most government-funded climatology (since CAGW benefits government, and government funds close to 100% of all climate science), blogs like RealClimate and some of our friends here like Joshua and lolwot.
    deniers, people whose hidden agenda is to say there isn’t CAGW no matter what the facts are. I’ve seen one or two here, but can’t remember their names just now.
    skeptics, people who would like to know what the facts are, whatever they are. Most bloggers here.

  34. For those of you interested in climate change and its offset in historical sources I strongly recommend a coming publication of Prof. emeritus (archeology) Bo Gräslund. I heard him talk on the matter a year ago, and it was extremely interesting. Basically he manage to re-frame the Norse saga tradition talking about the deadly Fimbul-winter and Ragnarök (armageddon) by comparing the sagas and (old Finnish folklore) with Mediterranean official sources (annals) from Late Roman period and the Bysantine AD 536-537.

    He then found that all these very different types of sources described the same phenomenon – a permanent eclipse for 18 months, something very consistent with what happens when a major volcano erupts (ice-core data confirms such an eruption during this time. Location unknown though). He also knew from archeological findings that during this time, the Scandinavian countries suffered mass death never heard of ever after (worse then Black death).

    Could it be that this mass death is the source of the mythological Fimbul-winter and Ragnarök? That’s what Gräslund started to believe. But to be able to make a convincing connection he had to re-interpret the Sagas and its mentioning of Fimbul-winter. His line of reasoning was that a long and very cold “winter” couldn’t have caused the mass death. People had lived in Scandianvia for a long time and these humans were of course used to handle extreme cold, at least to avoid extermination.

    So what could have caused the mass death? Gräslund’s answer: Not horrific winter(s), but horrific summer(s) causing extreme failure of croups making the winters extremely deadly! Bottom line was that the eclipse (ash clouds) had a huge impact on farming over a period of many years, which effected Scandinavia on a much larger scale than Mediterranean countries. The mass death that came with it was then manifested in the sagas as the mythological Ragnarök and the deadly winters CAUSED by “eclipsed” SUMMERs were called Fimbul-winter! (I believe dendrochronlogy also confirms that trees almost didn’t grow at all for many years in Scandinavia).

    This inter-disciplinary explanation of Gräslund was not “thinkable” by historians and archeologist since they were looking for “winters” and not “summers” in their efforts to deconstruct the origin(s) of the Fimbul-winter. Why look for answers in Mediterranean sources when these parts of the world don’t experience difficult and extreme winters? :-)


  35. Jim Hansen was ‘in control’ when the Russian heatwave hit.

    ”We have taken over control of the mechanisms that determine the climate change.”
    Jim Hansen 2003


  36. Judith,

    Interesting how the temperature data models being studied missed huge tracts of science by way of having to follow a certain procedure in staying in confined data areas.

    Makes you wonder how many people outside the system was correct and massively dismissed to keep the consensus together.

  37. Michael and Joshua fail to recognise that historical primary evidence,such as weather diaries like those of Thomas Jefferson, recording temperatures in 1816, the ‘year without a Summer’ or widespread reports of crop failures and food riots in the French Revolution, were records of events that took place, not subjective annecdotes directed by personal or political motives. As such, they offer what military map readers would call a cross bearing and can therefore be useful references to climate scientists, more useful, I’d say, than misused proxy date :-)

    • randomengineer

      Speaking of maps.

      A common aphorism is “the map is not the territory” which those who downplay historical information and hold proxies as superior don’t seem to have heard of. For you history challenged types, try google.

  38. incandecentbulb

    Historical perspective on the Russian heat wave:

    Consider this from Ponder the Maunder–

    Dalton Minimum- 1790 A.D -1820 A.D.

    Napoleon Bonaparte was another one of history’s well known generals who faced the extreme cold of the Little Ice Age. During Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, only 30,000 of the 600,000 troops survived on the way back to France in the Winter of 1812.

    The extreme cold of the Dalton Minimum was worsened by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, which cooled the temperatures even further because its debris went into the atmosphere, blocking the suns rays. The following year is known as the year without a summer and caused a large migration of people from New England to the west.

  39. The late Senator Patrick Moynihan used to call politicians’ campaign promises to reform welfare as “boob bait for the bubbas.” Referring to climate extremes to promote either side of the AGW debate is essentially the same thing. I remember the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed a lot of elderly people who had no AC but were afraid to open their windows in bad neighborhoods. Soon after Washington Metro cars had advertisements from green groups trying to spread climate panic based on the heat wave. And then there’s Hurricane Katrina, a category 3 storm that caused poorly-maintained levees to fail and inundate a below-sea level city. And never mind the politican mismanagement of not evacuating the vulnerable parts of the city. Again, the Climate Fear Machine was all over it. Now it’s the Moscow Heat Wave. Seems I remember that last winter Oklahoma set its all-time record low temperature (-31 Fahrenheit) but I haven’t heard much about that. Hmmm.

  40. I have learned that claims about the relative importance of extreme weather events that are based on statistics leave quite a bit to be desired. I learned this while living through the “thousand year flood” of 1973, the “thousand year flood” of 1982, and the “thousand year flood” of 1993, all of them in St. Louis, MO, USA. By the way, a “thousand year flood” is one that is expected to occur once each thousand years.

    • A politician;s thousand year event is probably not as conservative as a climatologist’s. They probably went with a smaller version that some paid consultant suggested because it was cheaper to build the infrastructure for it. Listen to the climatologists is the moral of that story.

      • Jim D

        A politician;s thousand year event is probably not as conservative as a climatologist’s.

        Depends on the political motivation of the climatologist.


      • There are objective methods, and they can show their work, like Hansen did. Anyone could repeat his method to verify his idea of a three-sigma event.

      • Jim D | January 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
        “There are objective methods, and they can show their work, like Hansen did. Anyone could repeat his method to verify his idea of a three-sigma event.”

        How does he define his event space? Does he cite physical hypotheses in defining his event space?

  41. Paul Farquharson deserves our thanks for providing this interesting and vital historical perspective. Perhaps information like this could be included in the IPCC reports as background to discussion of extreme events.

  42. Correcting Theo Goodwin, a thousand year flood has a 0.1% chance of occuring any year, not “expected to occur once every 1000 years”. There is more than a subtle difference.

    With regards to floods on the Mississippi, have they corrected the flow data since all the flood control levees, stopbanks and river diversions went in? From what I have read, these made big floods a lot more likely as there were no floodplains and wetlands to act as a buffer. A quick websearch indicates it is recognised as a problem but I couldn’t find if it has been corrected.

    • The short answer is no. Constant work on levees and various other things render the comparisons among 73, 82, and 93 pretty meaningless.

  43. Well done Mr Farquharson. History tells us much more about our planet than the ramblings of scaremongers.

    I am not sure whether a study of building construction and clothing would also indicate climate at various periods?

    • randomengineer

      I am not sure whether a study of building construction and clothing would also indicate climate at various periods?

      Of course it does. In the MWP the clothing was similar to today in respect to layer count and looseness, whereas by the onset of the LIA as things got colder layering was vogue. Anyone who studies costuming etc re the renaissance era (and before) can tell you this.

  44. Thank you Paul Farquharson and Judy for this very interesting article. At least 20% of the comments were also interesting and I have many links to follow.

    I was reminded of a talk I heard at the AGU conference in 1993. A young woman was discussing climate in England based on the historical christmas cards which were available over the years. Turned out, snow was a rather rare thing in England until people started traveling to Switzerland and using those images on their cards.

    I think the problem in climate science is that there is a strong need to quantify everything. If you cannot put a number to your datum, it is irrelevent and ignored. It is difficult to plot a “drought”. But in terms of getting a “feeling for the organism (earth)”, it is very important.

    The challenge is to make this information available to the majority of people via a newspaper or TV news. Maybe weather presenters could add a little more depth to their presentations (more time on the program). The goal is not to respond to what someone like Hansen says (this makes Hansen the news, not the climate), but to teach more about weather and climate in general.

    I wonder what kind of job the woman with the Christmas Card presentation has now.

    • rmdobservation

      Our view of snowy winters in Britain was as a result (partially) of Charles Dickens as I observed in this tongue in cheek article where I followed his life against a background of the changing climate. This from my website;

      “Article: Has Charles Dickens shaped our perception of climate change?
      Charles Dickens. Victorian winters. A Christmas Carol. Ice fairs on the Frozen Thames. Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold. Dickens has irrevocably moulded the climate views of generations of Anglo Saxon peoples as TV, Films and plays all promote his image of icy winters in that era. Is this view of Dickens winters correct? We take a look at his life through the prism of climate.



  45. Steve Goddard has been accumulating newspaper clippings of extreme weather going back to the 18th century


  46. Baa Humbug

    It would be nice to see Steve posting again at WUWT.He has many interesting things to say but perhaps tried to say them too often in his previous stints there and perhaps the quality control suffered.

    Personally, I write three or four historical articles a year as the research takes so long. I couldn’t write one a week. My next one is ‘historical variations in Arctic Ice part two-I have some 1000 references and trying to sort them out will take a couple of months.

    I must make a note to pop over to Steves place more often, but I dont know if we will ever see him back at WUWT again.

  47. Thanks for the references, climatereason and Baa Humbug. I will have a look at them.

    I am involved in a project which digitizes handwritten temperatures from the 1800’s. In the corner of one of the pages, the observer had written “earthquake 11pm”. I was intrigued and found a historical website that had newspaper clippings from New York from the 1800’s. I was actually able to find a second reference to that earthquake. There’s an enormous amount of resources on the internet and sitting in people’s attics.


  48. rmdobsevations.

    Went to your site, good critique of Donna’s book.

    You may have seen me mentioning here that I spent two days at the Met office researching information for my article ‘the long slow thaw.’

    I read many contemporary books and anthologies and was startled by the numerous periodic references to earthquakes and the Aurora borealis. Both rare things in Britain. I don’t know if anyone has done a study to determine if there is any relationship-unlikely as that may seem-but the correlation was very noticeable.

    As you say there is a lot of information out there if you look.


  49. HI PAUL.
    You have been an inspiration for me, also your insights on the social tension between CAGW advocates and sceptics proved true.
    I hope it doesnt go to the extremes though.
    Loved the post.
    Another one bits the dust.