The Hottest July
Jude Wanniski
August 25, 1998


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Cooling thoughts from Dr. Singer

When I read in the NYTimes a few weeks ago that this July was absolutely the hottest July in recorded history, I naturally e-mailed Dr. Fred Singer, my old friend from the Reagan administration, who is a one-man truth squad stomping out fake science like the kind practiced by our esteemed Vice President. Fred's report appeared on his Website: as "The Week That Was August 3-9, 1998."

* * * * *

A Report from the Science & Environmental Policy Project:

Vice President Albert Gore took to the podium again on August 10 to announce once again the hottest month in the history of the Earth.

Actually, most scientists haven't had a chance to examine Gore's July data yet, but last month his claim that June was the hottest ever required later qualification. Dr. John Christy of the Earth System Science Laboratory, University of Alabama, Huntsville, took a look at the June temperatures over the United States. It turned out that, despite the heat wave in Texas, June was COOLER than average, as many people across the country have noticed. Summer temperatures here in Washington, D.C., were typical. According to Bob Ryan, local NEC weathercaster and former president of the American Meteorological Society, D.C. temps are running nearly 2 degrees F cooler than average for this time of year.

Something IS driving up global "average" temperatures, but it isn't global warming and it isn't affecting most of the United States. As the satellite data show, the warmer temperatures are virtually all in the tropics, between 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude, or roughly between San Antonio, Texas, and Santiago, Chile. If the Earth were experiencing greenhouse warming, as the computer models forecast, the tropical temperatures would remain relatively steady and most of the warming would be at the higher latitudes, such as over D.C. Warmer temperatures in the tropics point to the waning effects of the recent El Nino.

Indeed this is confirmed in a July 16 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and written up in the July 31 issue of the journal Science. NOAA scientists point to the El Nino as the culprit behind the heat wave in Texas, and say they expect its effects to linger for another 6 weeks. NOAA scientists report being "surprised" and "puzzled" by how the El Nino has tracked over the past several months, indicating that their computerized attempts to forecast its behavior were wide of the mark. Something to think about.

In any case, the possibility that droughts and heatwaves might be natural events doesn't seem to faze Mr. Gore, who mistakenly believes he looks manly at these near-weekly global warming press briefings. We've got news for him. The number of major media reporters who still think these things are exciting has dwindled to about four. In any case, for readers who'd like some interesting historical data on heat waves, forest fires, and other extreme weather phenomena in the United States, the National Center for Public Policy Analysis has pulled together a very good report. You can access it at
http://www.nationalcenter. org/NPA206. html. It puts recent claims by Mr. Gore (and the Sierra Club) in a useful perspective.