When I first saw the news that the 2012 US drought probably wasn’t caused by global warming, I knew the global warming misinformers confusionists would blow the story and get caught up in all kinds of anti-science conspiracy theories. Naturally, that’s what they’ve done.
Of course, NOAA was quite haphazard with this report, knowing full well how much the professional and amateur doubt manufacturers blow up this kind of news to an absurd degree.
Thankfully, I knew that Dr Joe Romm of world-renowned Climate Progress would do a good job responding. And he has….
NOAA has issued a report on a small part of the recent brutal droughts that have hit the United States over the past few years. The report — “An Interpretation of the Origins of the 2012 Central Great Plains Drought” — is needlessly confusing, scientifically problematic, and already leading to misleading headlines.
Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has sent to reporters a Commentary on the report, which I repost below. He concludes:
“This report has some useful material in it describing aspects of the drought in 2012 in the central US. But it is quite incomplete in many respects, and it asks the wrong questions. Then it does not provide very useful answers to the questions that are asked.”
Dr Romm has some more insightful commentary: “Indeed, it seems odd to do a 44-page report on the drought in the Central Great Plains (in the spring and summer of 2012) when so much of the Great Plains — and Southwest — have also been in a brutal extended drought that continues to this day….”
“A variety of leading experts explained how human-caused warming worsened the 2011 drought (see Warming-Enhanced Texas Drought Is Once in “500 or 1,000 Years … Basically Off the Charts,” Says State Climatologist). And numerous scientific studies have projected that global warming will dry out the Southwest and at least parts of the Central Great Plains”
For a more detailed debunking, one that delves into the science much more, read the full Climate Progress post.
All in all, though, I think this situation teaches us three things: 1) we should look at the actual scientific reports we are reporting on(!), 2) we should be familiar with the science we are reporting on (or at the very least consult some top scientists in the field when such stories pop up), 3) global warming confusionists will keep twisting the science until they get findings it doesn’t show, and 4) seriously, don’t feed the trolls.
Any more thoughts on lessons learned from this story?