The Wapo (Tagline – Where Journalism Dies in Darkness) has an article about how Climate Change Glowball Worming is harming Virginia, The article is risible on many levels and is pretty much a regurgitation of a PR from the Natural Resources Defense Council without querying any of the rather iffy things that the NRDC claims. Therefore it needs a good fisking to set the story straight.

Washinton Post
Journalism Lies for Darkness

[Full disclosure I’m what is generally known as a “Lukewarmer” climate skeptic – i.e. I think the earth has warmed in the 20th century and humanity (and CO2 emissions) may be responsible for some of that warming, however I don’t think future warming is likely to amount to much and is highly unlikely to be catastrophic]

Climate change adversely affecting Virginians’ health, study says

Nice headline making a strong claim. People in your area are getting sicker thanks to climate change. Can’t wait to see the evidence.

The klaxon sound of a government alert went off on cellphones all over Northern Virginia at 3:35 a.m. Monday; the National Weather Service had issued a flash-flood warning for the region. Hours later, the state climatologist fielded phone calls about tornado watches and warnings in the central part of the state.

Good dramatic opening. Not got a lot to do with climate change (or health for that matter). In a temperate place like Virginia the largest cause of flash flooding is humans covering the soil with concrete and tarmac and then creating drains to get the water away from where it has fallen on said concrete/tarmac. Tornados also have little or no connection with climate change and, anyway, are not increasing in frequency in the US as a whole.

Such warnings may become more frequent in the future, and they may have major implications for human health, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 48-year-old environmental organization.

Good that there’s a lot of “May” in that sentence, because – see link above – there’s little or no actual evidence that they will become more frequent.

The study, “Climate Change and Health in Virginia,” warns that as heat waves increase, the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths in Virginia will grow. Coastal flooding, which already threatens Norfolk and the Hampton Roads area, is likely to worsen as sea levels rise, potentially impeding emergency medical services. Allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer, and asthma attacks are increasing in the southeastern United States.

There are three claims here. 1. More heatwaves. 2. Sea-level rise 3. More pollen. It would be nice if the reporter put some numbers behind the claims (e.g. heatwaves – defined as N days of temperatures above M degrees – have increased in frequency by X% over the last Y years), the fact that she doesn’t suggests that this is all based on models and predictions. Asthma is increasing everywhere but the causes are unclear. It probably isn’t pollen though.

“Climate change is already affecting the health of Virginians, and it’s getting worse,” said Juanita Constible, the lead author of the NRDC report. “Extreme events are where we’re more likely to see circumstances overwhelm officials’ ability to respond.”

Nice quote. But again some actual data would help.

The NRDC is not alone in spotting the risk. The National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated report by more than 300 experts, also cited sea-level rise, increased temperatures and greater competition for water in its 2014 look at the southeastern United States. (The 2018 report will be released late this year.)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that the NCA didn’t actually mention health at all.

Philip J. Stenger, the state climatologist and director of the climatology office at the University of Virginia, said the NRDC report “brings up a lot of important points. We’re not going to simply warm up everywhere although temperatures are rising. . . . The idea that we could be facing more intense allergy seasons is likely. . . . Overall, these are issues that should be looked at.”

I don’t think this quote quite backs up the story. In fact the scientist does a pretty good job of dampening the alarmism while putting out a desire for funding studies “just in case”.

The study points out that Virginia’s summer temperatures have risen one degree Fahrenheit since 1895, raising the risk of death from the heat by about 2.5 percent. Those most affected are often the most vulnerable: the elderly, children and people with chronic illnesses.

Finally a fact. The average temperature has increase by a whopping 1 degree fahrenheit in 120 years. No wonder people are now dying of heatstroke in their thousamds! Er not.

One Norfolk tide gauge reports the equivalent of 18.2 inches of relative sea-level rise in the past 100 years, more than twice as much as the global average, the report says. Local land is also sinking, which makes evacuation and emergency routes dicey. And the report warns that as sea levels rise, so does the risk of saltwater intrusion on local aquifers, which could endanger drinking water.

Another fact. Yippee. 18.2 inches in a century. That’s actually quite a lot. But if it is twice the global average then the likely cause is something more local the “Glowball worming”, which is after all by definition GLOBAL. As the next sentence says “Local land is sinking” which I’m going to guess is related to the flash flood issue i.e. humans are draining rainwater away so quickly the land is drying out and shrinking. This has nothing whatever to do with a global threat although it is, I guess, a local piece of “climate change”. It isn’t a difficult thing to fix – see New Orleans, the Netherlands, the fens of East Anglia and all the countless other places around the world where man has drained marshes to make fields and land for houses.

Longer growing seasons for vegetation mean earlier periods when pollen is in the air, and higher pollen counts, the study says, causing allergy and asthma patients to suffer. Mosquito- and tick-borne infections also are increasing as the insects find new places to live. The NRDC’s Constible, who lives in Loudoun County, said she has contracted Lyme disease three times since moving there in 2009.

Longer growing seasons are actually a benefit to the environment. They mean MOAR FUD on less land, and thus allows for more land to be left wild. The rest of this paragraph is brought to you by the letters DDT and the name Rachel Carson. Prior to DDT usage Washington DC and the neighboring parts of Virginia were a malarial swamp. DDT killed most of the insects carrying all sorts of diseases (including Lyme disease). Now we don’t spray with DDT so the insects are back and biting us.

She and her co-authors called for more efforts to cut carbon pollution, which drives climate change, by reducing traffic congestion, using wind and solar energy rather than coal, oil or natural gas, and tracking temperature-driven increases in reports of allergies, as called for in the state’s 2008 climate action plan.

Carbon pollution? I think that phrase is missing something critical like “dioxide”. Carbon pollution is what you get when you don’t burn things right and ash does everywhere. This is not something that anywhere in Virginia suffers from. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is the greenhouse gas that everyone is all worked up about. It is unclear to me how reducing traffic congestion reduces CO2 pollution unless the planned way to reduce traffic congestion is to forbid large sections of the population from operating a private vehicle. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the person advocating this does not plan to be one of those who doesn’t get to use a vehicle herself. No it’s other people who need to be banned so she can drive on empty roads in peace and tranquility.

I also notice a complete absence of “nuclear” in the list of alternatives to coal etc. This strongly suggests that the person is virtue signalling and not actually trying to fix the problem. Any number of actual thinking environmentalists from George Monbiot on down, have embraced nuclear power because it is the only way we have at the moment to mass produce electricity without using fossil fuels.

Finally because this is clearly of equal import, she wants someone to track increases in allergies but only those caused by increases in temperature. That means no tracking of allergy increases because the temperature of Virginia has not in fact risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last 120 years (see fact a few paragraphs up).

The fact that the Washington Post saw fit to publish this article shows how low its standards are. The article is almost entirely fact free and the author makes absolutely no attempt to question what she has been spoonfed by the NRDC. The Post and its editors should be embarrassed by this junk.