Quote of the Week – “weather is not climate”, flaming edition

Quote of the Week – “weather is not climate”, flaming edition. Is a book about weather really about weather? Anthony Watts decides to showcase a climatologist’s response to a tangential question about Mike Smith’s book Warnings – The true story of how science tamed the weather, which recounts the history and technology of weather prediction (well, in the USA anyway). Professor Eric Steig responds that he hadn’t read the book but noticed a link on the author’s web page to a classic denialist misdirection about “weather” and “climate”.

Ooh! He’s jumping to hostile conclusions! That’s enough for Anthony to declare war.

But why is Anthony taking such an interest? Well, the author’s website does disparage “consensus” and has collected blurbs from a typical assortment of denialists (Pielke Sr. and Jr, Thomas Fuller). How unfortunate though that the book author leaps into the fray at a review of his book with a pretty straight-forward attempt to misrepresent climate predictions as “weather forecasts”:

Mr. Steig says, “No one is claiming they are predicting *weather* 100 years from now (or even 10 years from now!).” I suggest, he read p. 118 of the 2009 National Climate Change Assessment. It makes a WEATHER forecast for the number of heat waves to occur in Chicago during the period 2070-2099.

So, a weather forecast would be about particular weather events in a particular place and time. A climate prediction may include an estimate of the frequency of particular weather events without making a forecasts. Let’s repeat that in the form of an example for Anthony’s ditto-heads: a weather prediction is “there will be a 35°C heat wave tomorrow in Chicago” (or even “next April 20th”). A climate prediction is “in fifty years Chicago springs will probably endure twice as many heat waves.” Is there a difference between those statements? Yes.

So… Anthony’s Quote of the Week reveals a denialist eager to misconstrue weather and climate. Good one!

P.S. Anthony, repeating that Eric Steig must be “angry” because his Antarctica paper  has been “effectively rebutted” doesn’t make either claim true. Dr. Steig has an amusing take on the matter over at Real Climate.

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