White lies: Daily Telegraph’s excitement over bumper snow season skates over facts | Graham Readfearn
It’s been cold in parts of eastern Australia for the past few weeks and with heavy snowfall on ski resorts that must mean this whole global heating issue is a misfire, right? not ?
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said an early start to the snow season had come ‘despite dire global warming predictions of snow vanishing’ with a headline stating ‘Alarmists had a cold snap’.
The report juxtaposed conditions in a snow-covered village of Thredbo with excerpts from CSIRO reports from 2003 and 2008 and past quotes about snowfall.
Let’s look at what history has said, and hasn’t said, about snowfall trends.
The story included a caption that read: ‘Children just won’t know what snow is – University of East Anglia experts 2020.’
The quote referred to is actually from the year 2000 (the main text of the story was the year) and repeated the phrase about children and their experience of snow.
The origin of this quote is a 2000 report in the British newspaper The Independent, when Dr David Viner, a scientist from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, was talking about future winters in Britain (which apparently we have to point out is on the other side of the world and has nothing to do with Australia).
But putting that aside, the Daily Telegraph only published part of the quote. In the story, Viner also said winter snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in the future. The Daily Telegraph certainly seemed excited.
So what happened to snowfall in the UK? The most recent UK climate assessment found 2020 to be “one of the least snowy years on record” and the number of heavy snowfalls has declined since the 1960s.
The Daily Telegraph said CSIRO had warned Australia to ‘prepare for shorter ski seasons’ with ‘snow cover reduced by 54% by 2020’.
In fact, the report included a range and referred to the area of the Australian Alpine region that would have at least 30 days of snow cover, and that this area would decline by as little as 14% and as much as 54%.
The Daily Telegraph report did not include a response from CSIRO, but Temperature Check approached Kevin Hennessey, who was co-author of the reports referenced by the newspaper.
Hennessey, along with current CSIRO climatologist Dr Michael Grose, compiled a summary report of the impacts of climate change on Australian snowfall for Temperature Check.
The summary indicates that the projections are based on an average over a 20-year period (2011 to 2030) with 2020 as the median year. So to make a fair comparison between projections and actual snow conditions, we will have to wait until all data is available after 2030.
But as a 2012 CSIRO article pointed out – and not mentioned by the Daily Telegraph: “These projected trends will be superimposed on a large natural variability from year to year. The number of good snow seasons should decrease while the number of bad seasons should increase.
But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been more research done since 2012 or that we can’t say anything about snowfall trends.
A UN climate report earlier this year, also not mentioned in the Daily Telegraph, said annual maximum snow depth at Spencers Creek had fallen by 10% and the length of the snow season had shortened by 5% between 2000 and 2013, compared to 1954-1999. . Snow depth had also decreased at Rocky Valley Dam, Mount Hotham, Mount Buller and Falls Creek.
The Australian government’s official state of the climate report, compiled by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, said maximum snow depth had fallen in Australia’s alpine regions since the 1950s.
Sky Climate News
Earlier this week, The Guardian covered a UK report which identified Sky News Australia as a central global hub for video content attacking climate science, climate policy and renewable energy.
As if to prove the point, Sky News Australia aired segments on YouTube juxtaposing the snowfall with these CSIRO reports. Many have gained over 10,000 views.
They also made a point of blaming the ‘greens’ for the current energy crisis in Australia rather than, say, Russia’s war on Ukraine, the rising cost of coal and gas, blackouts at coal plants or the cold snap.
Sky presenter Andrew Bolt delivered a rant titled ‘Global warming is not the big threat we’ve been told’, which has been viewed over 190,000 times on YouTube.
“If the global warming alarmists and carpetbaggers were right, none of this would be happening,” Bolt said, pointing to the cold snap and heavy snowfall.
What about the weather?
Cold spells are often used by climate change “skeptics” to attack climatologists or to claim that the risks associated with global warming are exaggerated.
Dr John Cook, of the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, was co-author of a study last year that used special software to track the opposing climate arguments of 33 blogs and 20 think tanks.
He told Temperature Check that there was “a transition away from science denial arguments” but, he said, “the cold weather argument is a gatekeeper.”
“It’s a persistent argument and it’s not going away,” he said, and the stiffness of the argument was due to its simplicity.
He said: “Simple myths like ‘cold weather disproves global warming’ are easier to understand than talking about the second law of thermodynamics.”