Hot and Bothered About Heat Waves

Steven F. Hayward29 Jul, 2023 4 Min Read
Come on in, the Hunga-Tonga's fine.

It is hard to know who is getting the most satisfaction from this summer’s heat waves: air conditioning services, or "climate change" fanatics. According to the New York Times this week, “We Know What’s Causing This Heat,” as though Times readers needed to be told what to think about the weather. More normal people might well be skeptical of such a categorical conclusion from the same paper that just last week featured Paul Krugman filing a column entitled “Why We Should Politicize the Weather.”

Krugman is rather late to the idea, as the weather has been getting more politicized for a long time now. This week’s Times story asserts: “Extreme weather was around long before humans were burning fossil fuels, of course. Yet over the past couple hundred years, man-made emissions have heated the planet. And when the world is warmer, heat waves, hurricanes, droughts and fires all get more intense.”

In fact the most recent (2021) report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not support the common claims about drought, floods, hurricanes and other severe weather events. Not only does the last IPCC report find no clear trends, it offers “low confidence” in predictions of future trends.

The one exception is longer heat waves, which the IPCC says with “high confidence” have already begun. And yet the current heat waves both in the United States and in Europe, while lasting longer than average in some places like Arizona, is setting few new record highs. In the U.S., the EPA’s own “Heat Wave Index” for the continental states shows that the 1930s was by far the hottest decade of the last century.

The exploitation of this summer’s heat waves is yet another example of the situational “truth” of the climate campaign. Whenever an unusual cold weather anomaly occurs that cause some people to say “what global warming?,” the climate campaigners stamp their feet and assert, “Weather is not climate!” Which is correct, except for when extreme heat waves offer convenient scare headlines apparently.

What's the problem?

Curiously the media has neglected to report several studies in the scientific literature over the last several months that posit the dramatic Hunga-Tonga volcano eruption in the South Pacific last year, which is estimated to have injected 40 trillion gallons of water vapor (a significant warming agent in our climate system) into the upper atmosphere might, in the words of Nature Climate Change, “increase the net radiative forcing. . . increasing the chance of the global surface temperature anomaly temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees C over the coming decade.”

Science magazine separately reported that the Hunga-Tonga eruption may have increased upper atmospheric water vapor by as much as 5 percent, while a European study thought the increase in water vapor might be as high as 13 percent. While this effect will be temporary—just as Mount Pinatubo’s 1992 eruption cooled the planet by almost a degree for 18 months on account of its massive ejection of sulfate particles into the high atmosphere—might it account for slightly elevated heat waves this summer? (Hunga-Tonga emitted less than 2 percent as much sulfate as Pinatubo, which is why it does not portend any offsetting cooling effects.) You can count on this possible factor in this summer’s heat being suppressed in the media and by the climate enforcers.

Does anyone trust the scientific community after our experience with Covid? The most recent revelation that leading scientists published a paper concluding Covid arose from natural causes while privately communicating among themselves that they strongly suspected it leaked from a lab is yet another instance of politics driving “science.” Like Covid’s mortality figures, the climate science community is constantly revising the estimated global temperature record as “new data” is generated and computer models are “refined,” but somehow the revisions always go in one direction: lowering temperatures from several decades ago and raising recent temperatures, thereby providing a more dire picture of the “climate crisis.” Notice that we’ve progressed from “global warming” through “climate change” to the current “climate crisis" and even "climate emergency."

In imitation of Anthony Fauci, the "climate science" community recently mounted a ferocious campaign to suppress a peer-reviewed study that disputed the claim that climate catastrophes are showing up already. The European Physical Journal Plus has buckled to the pressure and announced it is retracting the study, though as of this writing you can still find it on their website, so read fast: “A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming.

And as with Covid, the media is happy to play along, repeating uncritically the claims of the advocates, and attacking any dissent. Heat waves have always been a banner headline subject for the media going back to the 19th century. “Sweltering Cities: An Appalling Death-Toll on the East,” reads the Chicago Tribune headline from July 12, 1887, including 62 deaths from heat stroke. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on July 21, 1901: “For thirty-one consecutive days the temperature in Kansas City has risen above 90 degrees. On most of the days the temperature has reached or exceeded 100 degrees, and during the past twelve days the 100-degree mark has been reached regularly… Most of the street thermometers register 110 in the shade each day, and if exposed to the sun would record 120.” And on and on.

The difference today is the media has the "climate change" narrative to amplify heat wave stories, and the media loves a villain. Which brings us back to the New York Times story “We Know What’s Causing This Heat.” One of the few sensible things Noam Chomsky ever said was that if you want to understand the world, read the New York Times backwards; that is, start at the end of the story and read up. The very end of the Times story on the heat waves mentions lawsuits filed against fossil fuel companies, seeking damages for "climate change."

“The science is there to make those claims in court and draw those connections,” said Michael Burger, the executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Much harder, he said, will be pinning the warming that led to a specific weather event on a single company. 

Given that the entire green energy racket depends on government subsidies and mandates to be “profitable,” we can see the same kind of motivation that led the medical community to exploit Covid. In the end, as usual, it all comes down to money. This latest hot flash over hot weather is just another instance of the climate propaganda machine trying to filch ever more greenbacks out of our pockets.

Steven F. Hayward is a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and lecturer at Berkeley Law. His most recent book is "M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom." He writes daily at


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15 comments on “Hot and Bothered About Heat Waves”

  1. You can support a viable rail network by having coal trains running on railroads hauling coal to power plants and other large-scale users such as metallurgy. Particulate pollution's recovery cost can be spread over a larger base for economy plus there are trace rare-earths and other minerals to be recovered. (When Weirton Steel installed pollution-control equipment ca. 1970 they found the value of the materials recovered more than offset the cost of installing and operating it--making pollution-control a mini profit-center!) The United States is the Saudi Arabia of Coal with 27% of the world's bituminous AND over 90% of its anthracite just within the borders of the Continental US!

  2. A short history of Climate Change:
    In the beginning there was Global Cooling.
    Unfortunately that didn't last and the Earth began to heat up.
    So Global Cooling begat Global Warming.
    There would be droughts, the end of snow, more tornadoes, hurricanes, you name it
    Unfortunately there were also floods, a lot of snow and fewer the other things.
    So Global Warming begat Climate Change.
    Very cold winters? Climate Change. Very warm winters? Climate Change. Very hot summers? Climate Change, Very cool summers? Climate Change. Floods? Climate Change. Droughts? Climate Change.
    Average summers, winters, rainfall, number of hurricanes, tornadoes, et al.
    Climate Change, just not yet. But it's coming, any day now, any day, just wait. Soon, very soon. It's close. Real soon. Just wait...

  3. Its been hotter then this in the past long before cars Jets or Backyard BBQ's its just there was no Eco-Freaks like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club that goodness

  4. Hey, bflat879,
    How about taking your explanation of the 1930s and apply it to the period from 1940 to '45. There was something going on that put a lot of carbon in the air, and, yet, the temp curve falls consistently.

    You'd think that WW2 would have had a bigger effect if man-made carbon is so bad.

  5. I'm 71 and recall summers where we had temps of over 100 for over a MONTH - rarely dipped into the 70's at night! So far this year I don't recall a SINGLE DAY of 100 or more - and this is in the "sunny South"! Sure it's HOT - that's why they call it SUMMER - it's sort of like "simmer" but You takes the place of EYE! Think about that for a few minutes and you'll come to the same conclusion as I did after I typed it - makes very little sense but as much as the "climate crazies"!

  6. I can only shake my head at the pure illogic of a poster such as bflat879. I think a more appropriate nonsensical conclusion to be drawn about the 30's is that if there had been no depression, there would have been no WW2 since the earth would have been destroyed by the emissions of a more productive industrial economy.
    Seriously, can someone please tell me how we got from "greenhouse effect" to "greenhouse gases" to "carbon dioxide" to "carbon emissions" to "carbon footprint"? Oh wait I know, the last step in this RNA chain is "carbon tax".

    All scientists know that the most prevelant greenhouse gas by far, by many orders of magnitude, way more than CO2 (which does not even show up on the graph) is - wait for it - water vapor. So the only way to stop climate change is to place large sheets of Saran Wrap over the Great Lakes and other similar bodies of water. Reminds me of that "artist" who was installing large amounts of fabric in France. SOmething like that is needed to stop global warming and to save the planet.
    Meet you at the swimming hole this weekend and we can start one pond at a time. It takes a village idiot, don't forget.

  7. Just imagine if the world wasn't in the middle of the depression, in the 30's and was putting many more tons of CO2 in the air, what the 1930's would have looked like. Almost everything, at that time, was carbon intensive.

  8. So, here's my theory on warming. What do we have a lot of now, that we didn't have 100 years ago? The answer is asphalt. What is the significance of that? Asphalt absorbs heat, during the day, and gives it off at night. Why is that significant? Because, areas that didn't have asphalt used to not get as warm during the day and cooled off faster in the evening, thereby lowering the temperature at start-up the next day. Is that the only reason ? Of course not but it does help explain the longer period of warmth and the warmer nights. I wish the people at MIT would actually do some research on this and come up with a better paving solution than asphalt, perhaps just find a way to change the color.

  9. Longer-term records show that heat waves in the 1930s remain the most severe in recorded U.S. history (see Figure 3). The spike in Figure 3 reflects extreme, persistent heat waves in the Great Plains region during a period known as the “Dust Bowl.” Poor land use practices and many years of intense drought contributed to these heat waves by depleting soil moisture and reducing the moderating effects of evaporation."

    I always thought my parents were kinda naive to suppose that the New Deal fixed not only the economy, but the climate. But I see EPA backs them up.

  10. Back a few decades ago there were vocal champions of people like me proclaiming boldly "Drill Baby Drill" and "All Of The Above". Are there any such voices today? I don't hear any. Without such champions there will come the day when I'll be unable to heat my home when winter brings Cold Waves.

  11. There should be little future debate as to the ethics and principles of our highly educated. From subjects such as Climate Change and Covid Source and Covid Vaccine efficacy, it has been established that the average plumber or electrician is more to be trusted than any of the inhabitants of the Halls of Ivy.

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