Climate change question of the day

The news tells me that the US is suffering the biggest drought since 1956.  Does that mean that anthropogenic global warming was as bad in 1956 as it is today?  And if the Dust Bowl drought of the 1920s was even worse (and the news article doesn’t mention it), does that mean AGW was worse in the 1920s?

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  • Ruth H

    I found this today.  I believe it to be true because my mother told me the summer before my birth, and I am a twin, the drought and heat were so bad the trees all lost their leaves.  They did recover.  In the link inside this article it shows the Oklahoma temp that summer to be 120!  Can you imagine being pregnant with twins in that heat.  My mother was a saint.

  • David Foster

    Now, Book, you’re trying to think like a scientist. Don’t you know that’s now only allowed for *certified* scientists? Your role is to keep quiet until the approved and certified ones tell you what to think, and then repeat it while stressing your “faith in science.”

  • Indigo Red

    Not sure it tells us much of anything really. The article says, “The report is based on a data set going back to 1895 called the Palmer Drought Index…” leaving readers to understand that the index has real data from 1895 onward. However, Wayne C. Palmer, the author of the index, lived 1916-2000 and was using largely anecdotal data and extrapolated data from heat and precipitation records (which were sporadic and erratic until after WWII) and then introduced an algorithm to compensate for the unknowns like soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and recharge rates all of which adds up to guesswork with a college degree. What we do learn from the article is that valid drought records go back only as far as 2000 and that’s not enough evidence to determine anything.

    What I can say is that here in Auburn, CA, just west of Sacramento, although the 1950s summer temps were no higher or lower than the 2000s, there were more summer days of 100F or higher. That trend continued through the 50s, 60s, 70s and started to lessen through the 80s into today. For example, 1951-1960 experienced an average of 15.3 days between May and Sept with temps of 100F and above with a high of 108F in 1960 while 2001 – 2010 averaged 4.8 days of 100F+ temps with a high temp of 107F in 2006. Interestingly, two years since 1951 had no summer days of 100F — 1994 & 2011 (99F & 94F respectively.)

    Since 1850, regional temperatures were extrapolated from tree ring data until 1962 when the weather station system was completed, but was complicated by placement of stations in places that locally increased or decreased temps and wind reading such as under shade trees or on blacktopped surfaces and recent discoveries about tree rings indicating that trees will grow big rings in periods of drought and small rings in periods of deluge again making any interpretation just guess work.. The weather station system has been largely replaced by satellite data beginning in 1972, but even that system has early drawbacks because of an inability to measure surface temps through cloud cover.  Anyway climate is measured, we just don’t have enough valid hard evidence to determine global warming, cooling, or just-righting (the Goldilocks Effect.)