Summer of the Shark, Climate Edition

My new column is up, comparing coverage of this summer’s heat wave to “Summer of the Shark”

Before I discuss the 2012 global warming version of this process, let’s take a step back to 2001 and the “Summer of the Shark.”  The media hysteria began in early July, when a young boy was bitten by a shark on a beach in Florida.  Subsequent attacks received breathless media coverage, up to and including near-nightly footage from TV helicopters of swimming sharks.  Until the 9/11 attacks, sharks were the third biggest story of the year as measured by the time dedicated to it on the three major broadcast networks’ news shows.

Through this coverage, Americans were left with a strong impression that something unusual was happening — that an unprecedented number of shark attacks were occurring in that year, and the media dedicated endless coverage to speculation by various “experts” as to the cause of this sharp increase in attacks.

Except there was one problem — there was no sharp increase in attacks.  In the year 2001, five people died in 76 shark attacks.  However, just a year earlier, 12 people had died in 85 attacks.  The data showed that 2001 actually was  a down year for shark attacks.

This summer we have been absolutely bombarded with stories about the summer heat wave in the United States.  The constant drumbeat of this coverage is being jumped on by many as evidence of catastrophic man-made global warming….

What the Summer of the Shark needed, and what this summer’s US heatwave needs, is a little context.  Specifically, if we are going to talk about supposed “trends”, then we should look at the data series in question over time.  So let’s do so.

I go on to present a number of data series on temperatures, temperature maximums, droughts, and fires.   Enjoy.

7 thoughts on “Summer of the Shark, Climate Edition

  1. Steve D.

    ‘The answer, increasingly, is a qualified yes.’

    Oh give me a break! The answer is a self obvious no. You could just as easily argue that cold temperatures were caused by global warming.

    A hot summer or cold winter does not a trend make. A record cold winter could easily happen during a warming trend and a record hot summer during a cooling trend.

  2. Steve D.

    If I was a supporter of CAWG, I would especially want to smack these people down for being so stupid and making my theory look likewise.

  3. Neil Pickup

    Is this catastrophic man-made global warming also causing the wettest summer anyone in England can remember?

  4. NetDr

    Waldo will enjoy this !!

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it. ” Voltaire
    .
    CO2 causes
    Volcanoes [No joke, just after the Iceland volcano there were peer reviewed studies
    linking it to global warming]
    Earthquakes [Same thing after the Japan earthquake]
    More snow
    Less snow
    Heat waves
    Intense cold
    ( ICS) Irritable Climate Syndrome
    Floods
    Droughts
    More extreme weather
    Less extreme weather
    Melting ice

    Fewer hurricanes
    More cloud
    Fewer clouds
    Stratospheric warming
    Stratospheric cooling
    etc. etc. ad nauseum.
    The science is settled.

  5. Steve D.

    ‘More snow
    Less snow’

    You forgot: the same amount of snow.

    When I was about eight years of age, I remember reading a short book my sister gave me called: ‘Test your ESP’

    I recall the author suggested buying a set of special cards (not a regular deck) and you had to have someone shuffle them, look at them and place them face down in front of you. Then you guessed the color and shape on their hidden side before your helper flipped them over. You were supposed to run several trials and record the results. So if you guessed the card correctly, that could be clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis or precognition; four types of physic powers. Allowing yourself the opportunity to use multiple methods of ESP would increase your chances of getting it right.

    They claimed that if you scored correctly more often than by statistical chance alone, you had positive ESP. In other words an extra sensory method of figuring out which card was which. They also claimed that if you scored below normal you had negative ESP, which meant that somehow your mind had to know the correct answer for you to be able to give the wrong answer more often than random variation would allow.

    And if you guessed exactly as you should have, based on chance alone (akin to tossing a coin ten times and getting exactly five heads and five tails)…well I betting all of you can guess how the author explained that result.

    Even at eight years of age, before I had ever heard the word unfalsifiable, I was able to figure out the logical problem with the book’s claim.

  6. NetDr

    More than chance = ESP

    Less than chance = Negative ESP

    Exactly chance ???

    What did the study say about that?

  7. Steve D.

    Exactly chance = equal amounts of positive and negative ESP.
    In fact that argument actually made more sense than the other two. Think about it this way; if you flipped a coin one hundred times what are the odds that you would get exactly fifty heads and fifty tails? It’s very low. Therefore if it happens, it must be caused by ESP.
    On the other hand, if you flipped a coin one hundred times what are the odds that you would get exactly forty nine heads and fifty one tails? That’s also very low. Therefore if it happens, it must also be caused by ESP; etcetera
    ‘Where’s Waldo?’
    I volunteered him to look into the task of converting the entire world’s electrical production to nuclear energy, remember? So he’s probably pretty busy. His report is due on your desk by Monday. Get ready world!

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