Australia's Extreme Climate Hysteria

Sierra Rayne
Now that Tony Abbott's government has slashed government spending on climate change-related programs, the climate hysteria is ramping up in some quarters.  At The Guardian, Alex White writes that "Australia's extreme budget meets extreme climate."  Well, Australia naturally has an extreme climate, but the question is whether anthropogenic climate change is making it more extreme.

In the Huffington Post, Reese Halter states the following about climate change in Australia while discussing threats to global bee populations:

2013 was Australia's hottest year ever recorded. At 2 degrees (F) above the long-term average it easily surpassed 2005 as the hottest year. Every month in 2013 was 0.9 degree (F) above the normal dating back to the inception of continuous record keeping in 1910. Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year in the last decade -- 2011. Australia experienced the hottest spring on record and on January 2, 2014 South Australian temperatures were in excess of 120 degrees (F).

Yes, "2013 was Australia's hottest year ever recorded."  So what?  News flash: records for heat and high precipitation can never decline over time, and records for cold and low precipitation can never increase over time.  We will always be setting new records of some form or another, and during warmer than normal periods (as we are currently in most everywhere), we will undoubtedly set more heat records than cold records.  During cooler than normal periods (as existed during the first half of the 20th century), more low temperature records will be broken than heat records.

The year 1917 was the coldest on record in Australia.  Was that a sign of the impending ice age?  Nope.  Trotting out the latest record being broken somewhere is a classic case of cherry-picking, and terribly uninformative science journalism.

There has been no statistically significant trend in Australia's average annual temperature since at least 1980, or since before Olivia Newton John came out with her worldwide hit "Physical."

Has Australia just experienced the hottest spring on record?  Indeed it has, but the spring of 2010 was much colder than normal and that of 2011 was only slightly above normal.  The winter of 2012 Down Under was the coldest since 1989, and that cold winter of 1989 was the coldest Australia has experienced since 1943.  The autumn of 2011 was the coldest since 1949; both 2011 and 2012 had autumn temperatures well below normal.  There hasn't been a significant trend for autumn temperatures in Australia since before 1970.

Summertime temperatures in 2010 and 2011 were below normal, and there hasn't been a significant trend in Australia's average summer temperature since at least the mid-1970s.

We can play the cherry-picking game all day long, but it's the trends that matter.  And the trends are pretty clear.  There have been no significant trends in average annual, summer, autumn, or winter temperatures in Australia for at least several decades.

The Australian government also maintains a time series of climate extremes.  There have been no significant trends in any of the following extreme heat climate indicators since 1980: number of very hot days (annual count of days with maximum temperature >40°C); number of hot days (annual count of days with maximum temperature >35°C); number of very hot nights (annual count of nights with minimum temperature >25°C); number of hot nights (annual count of nights with minimum temperature >20°C); the average hottest day (annual maximum value of daily maximum temperature); or the average hottest night (annual maximum value of daily minimum temperature).

Here are maps of the trends in number of very hot days and the hottest day around Australia since records began in 1910.

See a general extreme heat crisis emerging over the past century across the continent?  I sure don't.

Now that Tony Abbott's government has slashed government spending on climate change-related programs, the climate hysteria is ramping up in some quarters.  At The Guardian, Alex White writes that "Australia's extreme budget meets extreme climate."  Well, Australia naturally has an extreme climate, but the question is whether anthropogenic climate change is making it more extreme.

In the Huffington Post, Reese Halter states the following about climate change in Australia while discussing threats to global bee populations:

2013 was Australia's hottest year ever recorded. At 2 degrees (F) above the long-term average it easily surpassed 2005 as the hottest year. Every month in 2013 was 0.9 degree (F) above the normal dating back to the inception of continuous record keeping in 1910. Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year in the last decade -- 2011. Australia experienced the hottest spring on record and on January 2, 2014 South Australian temperatures were in excess of 120 degrees (F).

Yes, "2013 was Australia's hottest year ever recorded."  So what?  News flash: records for heat and high precipitation can never decline over time, and records for cold and low precipitation can never increase over time.  We will always be setting new records of some form or another, and during warmer than normal periods (as we are currently in most everywhere), we will undoubtedly set more heat records than cold records.  During cooler than normal periods (as existed during the first half of the 20th century), more low temperature records will be broken than heat records.

The year 1917 was the coldest on record in Australia.  Was that a sign of the impending ice age?  Nope.  Trotting out the latest record being broken somewhere is a classic case of cherry-picking, and terribly uninformative science journalism.

There has been no statistically significant trend in Australia's average annual temperature since at least 1980, or since before Olivia Newton John came out with her worldwide hit "Physical."

Has Australia just experienced the hottest spring on record?  Indeed it has, but the spring of 2010 was much colder than normal and that of 2011 was only slightly above normal.  The winter of 2012 Down Under was the coldest since 1989, and that cold winter of 1989 was the coldest Australia has experienced since 1943.  The autumn of 2011 was the coldest since 1949; both 2011 and 2012 had autumn temperatures well below normal.  There hasn't been a significant trend for autumn temperatures in Australia since before 1970.

Summertime temperatures in 2010 and 2011 were below normal, and there hasn't been a significant trend in Australia's average summer temperature since at least the mid-1970s.

We can play the cherry-picking game all day long, but it's the trends that matter.  And the trends are pretty clear.  There have been no significant trends in average annual, summer, autumn, or winter temperatures in Australia for at least several decades.

The Australian government also maintains a time series of climate extremes.  There have been no significant trends in any of the following extreme heat climate indicators since 1980: number of very hot days (annual count of days with maximum temperature >40°C); number of hot days (annual count of days with maximum temperature >35°C); number of very hot nights (annual count of nights with minimum temperature >25°C); number of hot nights (annual count of nights with minimum temperature >20°C); the average hottest day (annual maximum value of daily maximum temperature); or the average hottest night (annual maximum value of daily minimum temperature).

Here are maps of the trends in number of very hot days and the hottest day around Australia since records began in 1910.

See a general extreme heat crisis emerging over the past century across the continent?  I sure don't.