There’s No Such Thing As A ‘Global Heat Wave’


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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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  • “Global heat wave” is a made-up term used in headlines to drive web traffic.
  • What reports really mean is heat waves that are occurring simultaneously over different parts of the world.
  • “So, ‘global heat waves’ is neither a scientific term nor a good description on what has been happening,” according to Cliff Mass, a climate scientist at the University of Washington.

Read the news lately and you’ve probably come across headlines about the “global heat wave” that’s wreaked havoc from Japan to Europe to North Africa, which outlets attribute to man-made global warming.

If this is the first time you’ve heard the term “global heat wave,” you’re not alone. That’s because it’s a made-up term used in outrageous headlines to drive web traffic.

“‘Global Heat Wave’ appears to be a new term invented by some folks in the media and climate advocacy groups,” Cliff Mass, a climate scientist at the University of Washington, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

July has seem blistering heat over much of the Northern Hemisphere, including record-highs in California and Canada. Triple-digit warmth was linked to heat deaths in Japan ,and sizzling temperatures contributed to massive wildfires to spread in Scandinavia. It is summer after all.

But the term “global heat wave” evokes images of heat dome cooking the entire planet. What they really mean is heat waves occurring simultaneously over different parts of the world. (RELATED: Obama Climate Regs Will Have ZERO Impact On Future Warming, So Why Is The Left Fighting So Hard To Keep Them In Place)

“Heat waves are inevitably localized affairs, usually associated with anomalous high pressure,” Mass said in an email. “So, ‘global heat waves’ is neither a scientific term nor a good description on what has been happening.”

When asked if there was such a thing as a global heat wave, National Center for Atmospheric Research climate scientist Kevin Trenberth said, “No, but there is global warming: that really means global heating and it is manifested in many ways, one of which is heat waves and wildfires.”

Likewise, Cato Institute climate scientist Ryan Maue has been critical of headlines claiming a “global heat wave” abounds and the scientists who lend their voices to such outlandish claims.

Aside from the fact it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, Maue noted the Northern Hemisphere’s temperature is currently equal to the average of the last 18 years. He also noted that Northern Hemisphere land temperatures were currently below normal overall.

That’s not to say there aren’t ongoing summer heat waves. Media outlets, however, took extreme temperature events in parts of the world and turned them into an all-encompassing “global heat wave.”

The Washington Post went so far as to say the “headlines you see touting a global heat wave are not hyperbole.” the paper claimed with a straight face that “most of the Northern Hemisphere, where it is currently summer, is hotter to much hotter than normal.”

Axios’ Andrew Freedman reported that “2018’s global heat wave is so pervasive it’s surprising scientists.” Freedman quoted several scientists to bolster his claim about how “unusual” current weather patterns are.

“Even for somebody who understands extreme weather and how climate change effects extreme weather, what’s happening this summer is incredible,” Bernadette Woods, chief meteorologist at Climate Central, told Axios.

The “global heatwave” talking point has even been repeated by Democratic lawmakers looking to score political points against President Donald Trump.

This article won’t likely convince other news outlets to drop their “global heat wave” talking points, but the question they should ask themselves is whether or not they help or hurt their cause.

“It hurts because those where it is not hot dismiss it,” Trenberth told TheDCNF. “They say it is weather, without realizing that there is always weather, and regions above and below normal.”

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