HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsCommentary: Heat-Waves: Past, Present, and Prospective
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Commentary: Heat-Waves: Past, Present, and Prospective

By William Balgord
Modern-day journalism relies on a sorely abridged memory when it comes to meteorological events that happen within the lifespans of average readers. The statement applies to a Mr. Issam Ahmed of AFP, who in turn relied on NASA administrator Gavin Schmidt as his principal source of information for a piece on the heat-wave currently gripping the southwestern US. 
Statements of a questionable nature appear in Mr. Ahmed’s piece. The prospect of multiple days of 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix seemed to alarm him. Yet two decades ago I and other passengers aboard a continuing flight from LA to New York City chose to remain onboard as our plane sat on the tarmac at Phoenix International. The temperature outside hovered around 112 degrees. None took the opportunity to de-plane. 
As Arizonans are well aware, temperatures in excess of 110 deg. F. are not unusual for Phoenix and other cities in the desert Southwest during July and August.
Interesting, and in the same context, is the fact that the US all-time high temperature of 134 degrees F. was set in Death Valley, California in 1913, a long- and well-established climate benchmark. The import of this singular occurrence should help put to bed stray notions that extreme weather events in the 21st Century are unprecedented.  So far they aren’t. 
The grand-daddy of US heat waves in modern times occurred during a sequence of years in the 1930s—the decade known as the Dust Bowl of “Grapes of Wrath” fame. Persistent, severe drought accompanied by repeated heat-waves and dust storms struck across the greater portion of the United States beginning in 1930-31, becoming most severe in 1934 and 1936.   
A total of 14 state all-time high-temperature records were established in those blistering weeks of July, 1936, at a time when air-conditioning was nearly unheard of.  
But NOAA, NASA and a nexus of governments around the world, hungry for US foreign aid dollars, have colluded to alter earlier temperature records, arbitrarily lowering the temperature records of past periods (prior to 1950) in order to defend their precious climate-change narrative.  
NASA’s Gavin Schmidt can offer little evidence to support the flimsy assertion that this particular heat wave in 2023 is in any respect uniquely extreme. There is no definitive instrumental data, only rank speculation on the part of the eager climate-change-model-promoting alarmists, to support such notions. In fact, this 2023 summer’s heat-wave falls within the broad envelope of natural variation. 
Individual greenhouse gases (particularly CO2) are often lined up as the usual suspects in the ongoing terror-narrative as presented by the alarmist crowd. We’ve heard the story retold many times, and after 35+ years of fervent doom-saying, still the predictions never quite come true. 
It was 2009. Then US Senator John Kerry predicted that the Arctic Ocean would soon be devoid of sea ice, and as early as summer 2013. Ten years have since passed, and as with many pronouncements by the loquacious former senator and other notable climate alarmists, the deadlines come and go without materializing.  
The Arctic Ocean, in fact, never fully melts by summer’s end and continues to refreeze—in totality—each passing winter.
Another target of dire warnings, the East Antarctic ice sheet, has added mass over the past decade, despite claims to the contrary. Antarctica has remained abundantly ice-covered for more than 30 million years and shows no signs of melting any time soon.  
But climate alarmists have become cleverer, now postponing the final day of reckoning out to the year 2100, when their erstwhile detractors will have passed from the scene and won’t be able to call out false prophecies.  
Did our greening planet really experience the three hottest days on record a week ago?  If properly informed, an honest expert would answer a resounding “No!” 
For a number of practical reasons, including the fact that it is not possible to know for sure what is, less attempt to construct, a “global average temperature”, there is grossly insufficient data to provide even a respectable estimate of the idealized value. As yet, experts have not been able to come up with a satisfactory definition for what might be agreed on as  “the global average temperature.” 
The question whether the planet’s surface is getting warmer and, if so, by how much (and how rapidly) is not answered by the results obtained by compiling existing ground-based observations that contain positive bias from urbanizations.   
And as if the previous weeks have not witnessed enough hyperventilating on the part of the alarmists, here comes another spectacular claim that July 3, 4, 5 of this summer have set consecutive record high temperatures on a global scale, despite the stubborn fact that fully 70% of Earth’s surface lacks any permanent network of monitoring stations and the necessary records to go along with it. 
Both the climate-change industry and components of the media complex of journalists who follow the issue are caught up in a “Camelot complex.” These interested parties believe that the year 1950, with a carbon dioxide concentration at less than 350 ppm, represents the best climate ever to exist on Planet Earth. And by what objective standards?
Science writer Seth Borenstein of AP fame finds himself over his head in a local climate-change controversy. His piece on the overheated buoy in a back bay near Key Largo, Florida on July 25, exposes his perennial urge to scoop the competition.  
My correspondence with a fellow geologist sheds further light on the high temperature value measured in the shallow-water cove in Manatee Bay. The initial version had appeared in USAToday, and quickly followed up in the Tampa Bay Times, whose staff uncovered additional information casting doubt on conclusions in the earlier article. 
Mr. Borenstein may not realize it, but the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and portions of the Atlantic Ocean reach temperatures every summer season that are fully capable of spawning hurricanes and sustaining them once formed. The primary reason why fewer major hurricanes may develop in a given season is attributable to intervening atmospheric conditions such as invading Saharan dust or the southern jet stream that develops during the El Nino phase of the ENSO pattern in the Pacific Ocean (it may arrive in time for 2023). Both factors tend to interfere with the development of tropical storms. 
Ocean water lying just offshore south of the tip of the Florida peninsula (at 32 deg C) converts to about 89 to 90 deg. F. That’s plenty warm enough for bath water at the Borenstein household, but considerably short of the reported 101 degrees F. in his buoy story. It’s my impression that bird-bath water left in the July sun at Key Largo could easily reach the named 101 deg. temperature. Mr. Borenstein, ensconced in his air-conditioned office, should know better.
Warm water, indeed, but I recall that the saline brines and very warm oceans documented in the geologic past produced extensive evaporite deposits (salt beds now sold as Morton Salt). Those environments may easily have exceeded 101 degrees F. on whatever time scale you may prefer.  
Shame on the mainstream media for attempting to deceive viewers into believing the present-day ocean near the Florida coast is on the verge of coming to a boil. It’s not even close to a simmer. 

William D. Balgord, Ph.D.  heads Environmental &Resources Technology, Inc. in Middleton, WI and Fort Pierce, FL, and is a Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

Originally published by Townhall. Republished with the permission of the author.

For more on heatwaves, click here and here.

William Balgord
William Balgord
William D. Balgord, Ph.D. (geochemistry) heads Environmental &Resources Technology, Inc. in Middleton, WI and Fort Pierce, FL, and is a Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.


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