Was there anything more ridiculous during last week’s European heatwave and global warming concerns than the BBC’s climate editor traveling from London to Spain (and back) to report on the high temperatures?
Addressing the Alicante spectators, Justin Rowlatt, the Corporation’s prophet of doom, said: ‘We’re getting the blast of heat in Spain today, it’s going to hit Italy. It’s already very hot in Italy but it’s going to get hotter there, and finally it will end in Greece. All accentuated, exaggerated by the effects of climate change.’
Luckily for some, many viewers may have thought, as they sat in cooler Britain. In the south of England, daytime temperatures peaked last week at 25C, but across much of the country, temperatures struggled to break above 17C, well below the seasonal average. It is not uncommon for the Mediterranean to be hot in the summer and Britain much cooler. That is, after all, why millions go there on vacation every year.
However, it seems that we are no longer allowed to enjoy the prospect of a hot summer’s day, be it in Britain or on the Mediterranean. Sun-kissed beaches, for Rowlatt and his ilk, are a harbinger of doom and a symptom of the rapidly mounting ‘climate emergency’.
What’s more, it encourages us to feel guilty, partly because of all those carbon emissions spewing out from planes on vacation.
Armageddon: The BBC’s wall-to-wall reporting on the European heat wave, with Justin Rowlatt, top right
Hence the irony, and hypocrisy, of Rowlatt making a return trip (believed to have been on a gas-guzzling plane) to Spain when he could have sent the same message from London, or the BBC could have used one of its many correspondents in Spain.
It must be emphasized that climate change is a problem, but there is evidence to suggest that it is not the apocalypse that the eco-lobby wants us to believe. It is true that the incidence of heat waves has increased in recent decades as the world has warmed. Average maximum daily summer temperatures in Britain, for example, have risen by one degree Celsius in the last 60 years, with most of that increase occurring between the late 1980s and early 2000s.
However, the trend in summer temperatures has been flatter in the two decades since, according to the State of the Climate Report published by the Royal Meteorological Society. In Spain, according to a study from the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the maximum daily temperatures in summer have increased a little more, 1.9 °C since 1960. But none of this justifies the hyperbole of last week. There is nothing unprecedented in the temperatures recorded in Europe. The continent’s record of 48.8C -in Sicily two years ago- has not been surpassed nor has the second highest temperature (48C in 1977).
Further away, the world record for high temperatures (56.7 °C in Death Valley, California, in 1913) has not been broken.
As with Covid, fear is being used to try to convince us that the heat is more dramatic than it is. An analysis of the weather maps shown on television over the last week proves it. During last year’s heat wave, these maps showed areas that experienced 40°C in deep red. Now, these areas have turned an eerie pink, or white. Even Great Britain was represented on some maps as red.
Another move has been to quote ground temperatures, rather than air temperatures. During heat waves, the temperature of the dry and dusty ground can reach 60°C, which can be up to 20°C warmer than the air temperature. The burning trees movie also sends the message promulgated by climate activist Greta Thunberg that “the world is on fire.” However, according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System, 2023, so far, has been an average year of forest fires in Europe, with a total of 150,000 hectares burned.
In the worst years, 500,000 hectares have burned in mid-July. Additionally, wildfires have been, for millennia, a natural part of the ecosystem in many climates. Some plants, called pyrophytes, need fire to germinate.
Last Tuesday, Sky News’ Kirsty McCabe told viewers ready for a Mediterranean holiday: “They won’t be able to have the traditional beach holiday, they’ll want to stay inside.”
ROSS CLARK: How many times have we been told in the past week that last year’s heat wave killed 60,000 people in Europe? (Pictured: Firefighters in a burning pine forest in La Teste de Buch, near Arcachon, southwestern France, 2022)
In reality, temperatures on the coast, as usual, were more moderate than inland hot spots. In the Algarve, at 3:00 p.m. that day, they ranged from 21C to 29C, the Costa Brava from 27C to 29C, and the Costa del Sol from 27C to 31C. There was no reason why someone couldn’t enjoy the beach as usual.
How many times have we been told in the past week that last year’s heat wave killed 60,000 people in Europe? The figure is derived from a study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, published in the journal Nature Medicine last week.
And yes, it is true that hot spells tend to see above average ‘excess deaths’. But what the report omitted was that, each year, deaths from heat are greatly exceeded by deaths from cold weather, and that cold extremes are falling as the Earth warms.
The most comprehensive study of temperature-related deaths globally was conducted by Monash University, Australia, in 2021. It concluded that five million deaths annually could be somehow attributed to extreme temperatures (with other underlying causes), but that deaths from extreme cold outnumbered those from extreme heat by more than ten to one. This was true even in Africa.
Furthermore, while deaths from high temperatures increased by 0.21% between 2000 and 2019, deaths from extreme cold fell by 0.51% during the same period. The net result, as the world warms and we experience fewer cold temperature extremes, is that the world is seeing fewer temperature-related deaths per year. This point is rarely mentioned because it doesn’t fit with the fearmongers’ narrative that we’re headed for climate Armageddon, and that it’s all our fault.
ROSS CLARK: In fact, as temperatures rise in Spain, the country’s excess mortality has gone in the other direction (Pictured: Valencia, Spain)
Sure, climate change is real, and the world is seeing an increased frequency of extremely high temperatures. But no, the world is not becoming uninhabitable. After all, it was Spain that gave us the concept of a siesta to avoid the hottest part of the day. Air conditioning, storm warnings, flood defenses, and technological advances help humanity deal with extreme weather.
In fact, as temperatures have risen in Spain, the country’s excess mortality has gone in the other direction. Similarly, in New York, where summers have been known for centuries for their oppressive temperatures. Since the 1960s, deaths attributable to heat have been reduced by two-thirds.
Higher-than-normal temperatures might be expected to be a prerequisite for those who preach climate catastrophe. But according to the BBC, even this year’s below-average July temperatures in Britain are a symptom of man-made climate change.
Ten days ago, in an online explainer, titled Where Has the UK Summer Gone? – BBC weather presenter Ben Rich wrote that our current ‘lower temperatures’ and more precipitation are due to a pattern of blocked air circulation over the North Atlantic. Still, he concluded that “some studies suggest that climate change could make locked patterns more common.”
In other words, we are all at risk of going to hell in a handcart or, in Justin Rowlatt’s case, traveling 1,800 miles round-trip by plane.