Another reason to be glad you weren't around in 1936

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The Summer of 'Six, hot as blazes almost everywhere, was sultry enough to sweat the skepticism out of even the most diehard global warming deniers. But it was only the second hottest summer since the United States began keeping records in 1895. The wilted palm still belongs to the coal-powered, Hitleriffic, Depression-stricken, Alf Landon-happy summer of 1936, when air conditioning was as rare as television. So says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a handy-dandy weather review. Some highlights:

* While the July heat wave wasn't enough to make this summer a record setter, the period from January through August was the hottest on record, topping the previous record set in 1934.

* Above-average rainfall in August helped ease dryness, flaking, and itching in much of the 40 percent of the country that is effected by suffering from drought conditions.

* Nationwide energy consumption was 10 percent higher than would be expected under average conditions.

* Globally, this was the third-hottest summer since record-keeping started in 1880.

Whole report.

Related: Congratulations to Dennis Stazer, winner of this year's NOAA Mark Trail Weather Radio All Hazards Award.

Ronald Bailey threw in the sweaty towel on global warming back in the relatively balmy summer of 2005.

Cheer up, Earthlings. Even the Martians have to cope with climate change.

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  1. ARRRGHHH!!! Tim, you know better than to use Effected when you mean Affected, as in “the 40% of the country AFFECTED by drought conditions.” Please, the misuse of effect for affect turns me into the Grammar Hulk, who goes around smashing things and screaming “Impact not verb . . . ” It’s hell on the insurance rates, so please, save me from myself. Thanks, kjc

  2. Lets not miss the larger point- we have been keeping records for a geologicaly insignificant time. Imagain a data set of 4 billion years. Your pick a random 100 years and you happen to find on that is really hot at the end. However the “end” is just the randomly assigned time that happens to be today. It is only really hot compared to the other 100 years of records, not the whole 3.9999999 billion data set. It has been much cooler and much warmer in the past. I think anthroporgentic climate change is a reasonable hypothosis, but irrelevent compared to the natural variation in climate. Also I am not sure that hotter = worse. There are a lot of bad things about cold.

    For the past few million years the normal condition of the earth is much colder then today, with brief (K of years) warm spells like the one we live in. Are we going to hamstring human progress to save a warming of a couple of degrees to later face the prospect of a drop of 10 C back to a “normal” ice age condidtion?

    As far as the 10% energy use increase in summer, so what. More energy is used in winter to keep house warm (i.e. to stay alive) then to keep them cool (to stay comfortable).

    BTW I just moved from New Orleans to North West PA so if it got 3c warmer I would be happy.

  3. In 2001 Cal-Tech scientists found evidence of marked global warming on Mars, as compared to measurements taken back in the 70’s probes.

    In 2002, MIT astronomers reported that there have been very substantial increases in atmospheric pressure and some temperature increase on Pluto.

    The point is, when it comes to global warming on earth, there are a lot of factors we still don’t fully understand.

  4. Karen, allow me to play “Grammar Rick Jones” and calm you down a bit. “Impact” can be a verb, when one is talking about astronomical bodies: “The meteorite impacted the surface of an increasingly warm Mars.”

    Keep a sharp eye out for “Grammar Thunderbolt Ross.”

    Kevin

  5. “anthroporgentic”

    I know what you mean.

  6. Comparing 2 ‘hottest’ years doesn’t give a real feel for actual trends….try finding those instead.

    2006-7 is shapping up to be an El Nino year anyway.

    Comparing Earth with any other planetary body is amatuerish, as they are so different as to be irrelevant. Imply that energy form the SUn is changing as a cause needs to be followed by evidence.

  7. “anthroporgentic”

    I know what you mean.

  8. Yep, I looked up “impact” in the Bible and couldn’t find it. So, therefore, it’s not even a word, let alone a verb.

    So Grammar Hulk, how do you think we got so many of our so-called verbs, or even nouns and adjectives, in the first place? While thinking through that pick up any old introduction to linguistics or history of English text. Time for a drink.

  9. Tim, you know better than to use Effected when you mean Affected

    Obviously, I do not. The effected/affected distinction has always eluded me and will, I suspect, continue to elude me. I also notice that grammar hulks are better at pointing out misuses of this rule than explaining the logic of the distinction-and that these same hulks inevitably also object to using “impact” as a substitute. Anyway I have corrected the error (or rather, as Fowler advises in these out-of-the-frying-pan situations, I’ve replaced it with something completely different), and I thank you for pointing it out.

  10. Imply that energy form the SUn is changing as a cause needs to be followed by evidence.

    OK.

    Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

    A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.

    Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: “The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

    Sorry, link is ridiculously long. From the Telegraph. Google up “sun solar global warming”

  11. USA must confirm Kioto declaration.

    As we stand on the threshold of a new millennium, environmental degradation is still increasing and natural resources are being depleted, threatening the foundation of our life and that of future generations. In the 21st century, things must change. We perceive a vital need to take the lead to achieve sustainable development, demonstrating political leadership as we provide models for the global community.

  12. I think the problem people have with “impact” as a verb is that it has strong connotations of a physical collision, and thus seems to be a very crude way of thinking and speaking about how things generally affect one another. An extreme case: a proposed bill in Maine I once saw was at first entitled something like An Act to Study How Brain Injuries Impact Maine Citizens (the bill also required that the Commissioner of Human Services “spearhead” the study).

  13. The summer of 1936 may have been hotter than the summer of 2006, but the growing threat posed by the Nazis, firmly in control of Germany’s industrial might, paled in comparison to the Islamonazicommieterrorfascists that we face today.

    Or so I’m told.

  14. RC:

    There is a huge flaw in your assertion, in that there isn’t an ounce of blame that can be attributed to the evil of capitalism and industry, which has spread like a cancer over this world for more than a century.

  15. t:

    Say a body is found to harbor small areas of cancer.

    Is it better to aggressively deal with these malignancies early, or it is better to just hope that they don’t spread?

  16. MNG-

    It’s better to cut the small tumors out or use the smallest effective dose of radiation or chemotherapy.

    Using too much radiation and chemo will kill the patient. I fear that we may be destroying ourselves with our over-reaction to terrorism.

  17. t:

    My point is that if you deal with the malignancy early, than the body can withstand aggressive measures.

    If one waits too long, than it spreads to the point that aggressive action would be much more traumatic to the subject.

  18. Landon? Bah. I’m a Lemke man.

  19. Good movie about 1936: Grapes of Wrath.

    Bad movie about global warming: Too Hot Not To Handle (out this week on DVD.)

  20. Mr. NIce Guy,
    The “Evils of Capitalism?” are not inherent to Capitalism, but rather the schizophrenic nature of Corporatism. Which is always looking only towards maximizing the next quarterly earnings report no mattter what.

    (and if any are curious, I changed my posting name from (Climatologist-defending) Sam to ‘Sam-Hec’, because we seem to have another ‘Sam’…who should probably differentiate himself to Sam-Harv, given his email address or something.)

  21. Mr. NIce Guy,
    The “Evils of Capitalism?” are not inherent to Capitalism, but rather the schizophrenic nature of Corporatism. Which is always looking only towards maximizing the next quarterly earnings report no mattter what.

    (and if any are curious, I changed my posting name from (Climatologist-defending) Sam to ‘Sam-Hec’, because we seem to have another ‘Sam’…who should probably differentiate himself to Sam-Harv, given his email address or something.)

  22. I think the problem people have with “impact” as a verb is that it has strong connotations of a physical collision, and thus seems to be a very crude way of thinking and speaking about how things generally affect one another.

    Then the grammarofascists should stop harping on the indecipherable affect/effect distinction, which seems to reverse based on whether the verbs are transitive or not. People started using “impact” because they couldn’t figure out the difference between “affect” and “effect,” and now they’re being told that’s a bigger crime than the original (which it probably is).

  23. Simplest explanation I can offer:

    In the most common usages, “effect” is a noun and “affect” is a verb. You affect other things by your actions. Your actions have an effect.

    (There’s also the “effect a change” verb usage, but it’s rarer and rather pretentious.)

    Considering that Americans (at least) only ever seem to pronounce the words differently in order to make that distinction, it’s really a PITA that they’re two different words. Unfortunately, once you’ve had the distinction successfully drilled into your head, you can’t escape noticing misuses.

  24. Be strong, Tim.

    This has clearly uffected you.

  25. Just to screw with our heads even more, affect can so be a noun.

    1. Feeling or emotion, especially as manifested by facial expression or body language: “The soldiers seen on television had been carefully chosen for blandness of affect” (Norman Mailer). 2. Obsolete A disposition, feeling, or tendency. – American Heritage Online

    Engrish sure are screwy!

    Kevin

  26. Just to screw with our heads even more, affect can so be a noun.

    As I said, most common usages, the ones throwing Tim. 🙂 That’s actually a meaning I wasn’t familiar with.

  27. The point is, when it comes to global warming on earth, there are a lot of factors we still don’t fully understand.

    Like… the sun ‘n stuff.

  28. Imply that energy form the SUn is changing as a cause needs to be followed by evidence.

    I agree. However, the sun does play a major role in a planets climate. In fact, I’m a little stunned I even had to write that. Everything that occurs on this planet is, in the end solar energy. What CO2 in our atmosphere does is play with how that solar energy is trapped or receieved. The only question remaining is, to what extent? We already have enough evidence to prove that the sun has a major affect on climate. What we don’t know for sure is what changes on Mars are occurring due to solar changes as opposed to changes which might occur regardless of a warming or cooling.

    It is not, however, unreasonable to surmise that an increase of activity in the solar cycle could be responsible for some portion of a planets warming. If there is an increase of solar activity, it could likely have an affect on all the other plaets in said system. To what ends though, no one can say.

  29. Wow, someone has got to tell this country’s research climatologists about this “Sun” thing, because I’m fairly certain that none of them have ever attempted to incorporate it into their research in any manner.

    And what about water vapor, the reflectivity of ice, and the existence of volcanoes. Do you think climatologists are aware of those?

    Man, this is hard. I’m going to go lie down.

  30. Paul,
    The sun did increase energy output a little from 1910-1940, but has remained mostly the same since. Some more obscure attributes (magnetic fields, UV light) of the sun may be changeing and affecting the Earth, but I hve seen no real facts on those things.

    Additionally, Mars is a VERY different planet. It does not have oceans to absorb and redistribute heat; with no powerful earthlike magnetic field, it is more susceptible to energies we are not; much of its ‘ice-pack’ is actually CO2 ice with a lower melting and evaporation points; it’s orbit is much more eliptical, and thus it’s solar exosure varies more extremely. Also we have only been watching Mars in detail for a very short time, the study in question only looked at a small spot on mars for a few Earth years; remember that Mars’ years last 2.1 earth years. It is a poor proxy for Earth’s climate change, as are Jupiter and Pluto.

  31. “Also we have only been watching Mars in detail for a very short time”

    Whereas we actually have fossil, ice core, trapped air, and other sources of data about the pre-history of Earth’s atmosphere.

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