Friday, July 27, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Arson, Not Climate Change, Suspected In Devastating Wildfires In Greece








Global Wildfires Are Declining, Royal Society Study Finds

In this newsletter:

1) Arson, Not Climate Change, Suspected In Devastating Wildfires In Greece
ABC News, 25 July 2018
 
2) New Study: Decline In Heat-Related Deaths In Spain – Despite Rising Summer Temps
Barcelona Institute for Global Health, 24 July 2018


 
3) India Sees Sharp Fall In Heat Wave Deaths
CNN, 25 June 2018
 
4) Heat-Related Deaths Have Declined By 70% In The U.S., Despite Global Warming
Alan Barreca et al, Journal of Political Economy, February 2016
 
5) Global Wildfires Are Declining, Royal Society Study Finds
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
 
6) Christopher Booker: Claims That Heatwave Is Down To Climate Change Are Just Hot Air
Christopher Booker, Daily Mail, 26 July 2018
 
7) And Finally: The Truth Behind The Baffin Bay Starving Polar Bear Video Is Worse Than We Thought
Polar Bear Science, 26 July 2018


Full details:

1) Arson, Not Climate Change, Suspected In Devastating Wildfires In Greece
ABC News, 25 July 2018


Multiple fires in different areas outside the capital of Athens seemed to ignite at once, leading investigators to probe whether they were deliberately set.

"Fifteen fires were started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told reporters.

He said the Greek government has requested drones from the United States to "detect any suspicious activity."


An aerial view shows damage caused by a wildfire near the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 24, 2018. 


The fires exploded Monday afternoon in the forests near the seaside towns outside Athens. Fanned by winds of up to 60 miles per hour and fueled by parched vegetation, flames quickly grew into infernos that swept across the region, leveling homes, trapping victims and prompting thousands of people to flee for their lives.

The death toll climbed to 79 people and nearly 200 were injured, the government fire service said in a report Wednesday.

Full story
 

2) New Study: Decline In Heat-Related Deaths In Spain – Despite Rising Summer Temps
Barcelona Institute for Global Health, 24 July 2018


Contrary to expectations, global warming has not given rise to an increase in heat-related mortality in Spain

Summer temperatures in Spain have risen by more than 1ºC since 1980 due to climate change. Despite this increase, and contrary to expectations, deaths related to heat have declined rather than increased. This trend suggests that the Spanish population has been adapting to the change, reducing its vulnerability to summer temperatures. These were the conclusions of a study coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, an institution supported by the “La Caixa” Banking Foundation.










The study, published in PLoS Medicine, analysed data on daily temperatures and deaths in 47 provincial capitals in Spain for every summer from 1980 to 2015.

The results of their analysis reveal two opposing trends: on the one hand, a progressive increase in the mean summer temperature of 0.33ºC per decade; and, on the other, a gradual decrease in heat-related mortality risk over the same period. The result of these two opposing trends has been a slight decrease in heat-related mortality of around half a percentage point per decade.

“It is usually assumed that climate change will be accompanied by an increase in heat-related mortality, especially in places where the mean age of the population is increasing,” explains Hicham Achebak, lead author of the study and researcher at ISGlobal and the Center for Demographic Studies (CED) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

“In our study, however, we observed that this does not necessarily happen if–as in the case of Spain–the temperature increase is offset by a sustained and generalised decline in vulnerability to moderate and extreme temperatures.”

According to ISGlobal researcher Joan Ballester, senior author of the study, “We are becoming less vulnerable to heat thanks to society’s adaptation to higher temperatures and also to the socioeconomic development we have seen in recent decades.

Improvements in housing stock, the popularisation of air conditioning, advances in health services, and awareness campaigns are all factors that may have contributed to the trend we are seeing. However, we still don’t know whether this downward trend will continue if climate change becomes more intense in the future.”

Deaths from respiratory causes are the one important exception to the general downward trend observed in both heat-related mortality and vulnerability to high temperatures; these have risen continuously since 1980, particularly among women. “This trend could be due to the aging of the population and an increase in the incidence of certain chronic diseases, among other things,” explains Hicham Achebak.

Analysis of the data by sex also revealed the existence of a gender gap: there are more heat-related deaths among women than among men. This difference was also observed in the data on vulnerability to moderate and extreme temperatures. Although it has decreased over time, the gender gap has persisted and has been observed every year throughout the last four decades.

The team is currently carrying out the same study on data from Europe as a whole, and the results of that study are expected to be available in the coming months.

Reference

Achebak H, Devolder D, Ballester J (2018) Heat-related mortality trends under recent climate warming in Spain: A 36-year observational study. PLoS Med 15(7): e1002617. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002617.

Full story
 
3) India Sees Sharp Fall In Heat Wave Deaths
CNN, 25 June 2018


The death toll from the intense heat that strikes India each year between March and July has dropped drastically over the past three years, according to the latest data from the National Disaster Management Authority.

In 2018, 13 people have died from exposure to extreme temperatures.

Just three years ago, in 2015, the figure was 2,422. Last year, the national toll was less than 250.

Heat waves have long plagued India and fueled a seasonal surge in deaths. There are more than 1.7 million homeless people on the streets, and fluctuating electricity supplies regularly affect temperature-control technologies, such as fans. Combined with poor access to drinking water, this means many people across the country succumb to extreme heat or cold.

Government agencies classify a heat wave by how far a day’s temperature exceeds the average temperature for that time of year in a region. The Indian Meteorological Department has set the mark at about 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average temperature.

Taking a proactive approach, the National Disaster Management Authority launched a series of initiatives in summer 2016 to turn the situation around.

Roofs were painted white to reduce heat absorption; state governments adjusted working hours to avoid exposure during extreme hot weather periods; drinking water kiosks were opened, supplied by water tankers; and special shelters were opened for the homeless, according to V. Thiruppugazh, the authority’s joint secretary.

Hospitals were also stocked with rehydration solution and other supplies to assist those with heatstroke.

“Deaths have come down also because we have tightened the surveillance system through integrated disease surveillance projects,” Thiruppugazh said. Especially vulnerable people who were known to be in poor health were monitored closely.

The number of people known to have fallen ill because of extreme temperatures has come down from almost 40,000 cases in 2017 to a little over 1,000 in 2018.

Full story

See also: 
India witness a decline in heat-related deaths in 2017 
 
4) Heat-Related Deaths Have Declined By 70% In The U.S., Despite Global Warming
Alan Barreca et al, Journal of Political Economy, February 2016


Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century

This paper examines the temperature-mortality relationship over the course of the twentieth-century United States both for its own interest and to identify potentially useful adaptations for coming decades.

There are three primary findings. First, the mortality impact of days with mean temperature exceeding 80°F declined by 75 percent. Almost the entire decline occurred after 1960. Second, the diffusion of residential air conditioning explains essentially the entire decline in hot day–related fatalities. Third, using Dubin and McFadden’s discrete-continuous model, the present value of US consumer surplus from the introduction of residential air conditioning is estimated to be $85–$185 billion (2012 dollars). […]

Conclusion

Using the most comprehensive set of data files ever compiled on mortality and its determinants over the course of the 20th century in the United States or any other country, this paper makes two primary discoveries about mortality during the 20th century.

First, we document a remarkable decline in the mortality effect of temperature extremes: The impact of days with a mean temperature exceeding 80° F has declined by about 75% over the course of the 20th century in the United States, with almost the entire decline occurring after 1960. The result is that there are about 14,000 fewer fatalities annually than if the pre-1960 impacts of mortality still prevailed.

Second, the empirical results point to air conditioning as a central determinant in the reduction of the mortality risk associated with high temperatures during the 20th century. Specifically, the diffusion of residential air-conditioning after 1960 is related to a statistically significant and economically meaningful reduction in the temperature-mortality relationship at high temperatures.

Indeed, the adoption of residential air conditioning explains essentially the entire decline in the relationship between mortality and days with an average temperature exceeding 80 °F. In contrast, we find that electrification (represented by residential electrification) and access to health care (represented by doctors per capita) are not statistically related to changes in the temperature mortality relationship.

Full paper
 
5) Global Wildfires Are Declining, Royal Society Study Finds
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, May 2016


“Global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago.”

Global trends in wildfire and its impacts: perceptions versus realities in a changing world



Wildfire has been an important process affecting the Earth’s surface and atmosphere for over 350 million years and human societies have coexisted with fire since their emergence. Yet many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses.

However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends.

Instead, global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago. Regarding fire severity, limited data are available. For the western USA, they indicate little change overall, and also that area burned at high severity has overall declined compared to pre-European settlement. Direct fatalities from fire and economic losses also show no clear trends over the past three decades. Trends in indirect impacts, such as health problems from smoke or disruption to social functioning, remain insufficiently quantified to be examined. Global predictions for increased fire under a warming climate highlight the already urgent need for a more sustainable coexistence with fire. The data evaluation presented here aims to contribute to this by reducing misconceptions and facilitating a more informed understanding of the realities of global fire.This article is part of themed issue ‘The interaction of fire and mankind’.

Full paper: Global trends in wildfire and its impacts: perceptions versus realities in a changing world. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Jun 5;371(1696). pii: 20150345. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0345.

see also:  NASA Detects Drop in Global Fires

Scientists find a surprising result on global wildfires: They’re actually burning less land
 
6) Christopher Booker: Claims That Heatwave Is Down To Climate Change Are Just Hot Air
Christopher Booker, Daily Mail, 26 July 2018


We shall continue to have abnormally hot summers from time to time, just as we did in 1976 and 1846, way back before global warming was invented.



There is at least one thing about this summer of 2018 on which we can all agree: the past months have unquestionably been swelteringly, abnormally hot.

And not just here in Britain, but in many other countries right across the northern hemisphere.

In the UK, our own heatwave began in May and has continued relentlessly ever since. In Japan, where one city claimed the highest temperature ever recorded in that country, topping 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Centigrade), the heatwave has been declared ‘a natural disaster’.

Meanwhile, wildfires in Greece have killed at least 80 people, leading to claims that this has been the worst disaster of its kind seen in Europe since World War II.

There have been numerous other claims of temperature records being broken, all the way from California to Armenia and Azerbaijan (although here in Britain we have not so far seen anything to equal the 101.3f — 38.5c — that was recorded near Faversham, Kent, on August 10, 2003).

But more sober experts have raised question marks over the reliability of these temperature measurements, because of the siting of the thermometers which recorded them.

In every case, it turned out, they broke the golden rule that such thermometers must not be placed near heat-retaining structures or surfaces, such as in the centre of large cities, near airport runways or on Tarmac car parks.

This is because their readings are then distorted by the so-called ‘urban heat island effect’, which can exaggerate temperatures by up to 2 degrees Celsius or more.

One comical example of this was on June 28, when the UK Met Office rushed to announce that the 91.7f (33.2c) reached at Motherwell made it the hottest temperature recorded in Scotland.

Only when it was pointed out that its thermometer was in the middle of a Tarmac car park did the Met Office hastily withdraw its claim, with the rather sad explanation that the reading had been distorted by a ‘car left nearby with its engine running’.

But all these excitable little mishaps notwithstanding, it has certainly been abnormally hot. Above all, this raises the question: how unprecedented has this summer’s heat really been? And, secondly, how long was it going to be before certain climate scientists came round to telling us that this was unquestionably proof the world is in the grip of man-made global warming?

At last this week they have come in on cue, with Peter Stott, head of climate change predictions at the Met Office, and Rowan Sutton, head of atmospheric science at Reading University, both making that point loud and clear.

As Professor Sutton told us on yesterday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, thanks to climate change we can expect summers like this one to become more frequent. And even if we curb our carbon dioxide emissions in accord with the famous Paris climate agreement of 2015, this will continue for decades to come.

Perhaps it is time, therefore, to start looking at some proper historical evidence in order to gain a more balanced perspective on what is really going on.

For a start, here in the UK we have the longest-running set of temperature data in the world, the Central England Temperature Record (CET), which goes back to 1659. And this shows that June of this year was only the 18th warmest June in more than 350 years — the hottest being as long ago as 1846.

So this kind of summer heat is far from unprecedented. In fact, as people have begun to observe, the nearest parallel to what has been happening this year was the celebrated ‘drought summer’ of 1976.

That was the year when, as older folk vividly recall, the heatwave lasted virtually unbroken for three months, until rain finally came at the end of August. And, according to the CET, those daily temperatures 42 years ago frequently beat this summer’s figures hands down.

But there is another striking parallel between this year and 1976 — as there also is with that other heatwave summer of 2003 when the highest single temperature ever recorded in Britain was set.

In each case the cause of the prolonged heat has been a large area of high pressure that has sucked in hot air from the Sahara (when my next-door neighbour returned to Heathrow this week, she found her car covered in this desert sand).

This in turn has been caused and prolonged by a movement of the jet stream (which dictates much of the northern hemisphere’s weather conditions) because of cooler ocean temperatures in the Atlantic. This movement has kept lower-pressure weather formations containing moister and cooler air parked further out in the Atlantic to the north-west of Britain and Europe.

Sweltering

Although the causes of this cooler Atlantic are an entirely natural cyclical shift, the global warming-obsessed Met Office became so excited by that heatwave in 2003 that the following year it produced a report based on computer models, called Uncertainty, Risk And Climate Change.


This predicted that baking summers would soon be so frequent that by 2040 more than half of Europe’s summers would be hotter than 2003.

But the same 2004 report predicted that by 2014, global temperatures would have risen by 0.3c. In fact, during those ten years, temperatures recorded by weather satellites did not rise at all. Neither, until the past few weeks, have we seen a single summer to compete with the sweltering 2003.

We need to recall such facts, if only to remind ourselves that there are those so convinced of their particular theory of how climate works that they will leap on any evidence which seems to confirm that they and their computer models are correct.

Full post
 

7) And Finally: The Truth Behind The Baffin Bay Starving Polar Bear Video Is Worse Than We Thought
Polar Bear Science, 26 July 2018

Susan Crockford

Remember that video of an emaciated Baffin Island polar bear that went viral last December? In an unexpected follow-up (“Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong“; National Geographic, August 2018 issue), photographer Cristina Mittermeier makes some astonishing admissions that might just make you sick.



It turns out they didn’t just come across the dying bear the day it was filmed: it was spotted at least two days earlier by Paul Nicklen. He must have had a satellite phone with him when he saw the bear but the only call he made was to his film crew — he made no attempt to find a local conservation officer to euthanize the bear, which would have been the right thing to do.

The bear’s emaciated, near-death stagger1 was simply too tantilizing to pass up (video needs action: an emaciated dead bear would not been nearly as effective). Mittermeier claims they knew when they filmed the bear that he was sick or injured, but Nicklon presented it as an effect of climate change regardless.

Mittermeier now says National Geographic simply “went too far” with their video caption (“This is what climate change looks like“), that she and Nicklan “lost control of the narrative.”

Actually, what they lost was their humanity…

Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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