Cool Summer Throws Ice on Global Warming Alarmists

Published November 1, 2004

It’s been a disappointing summer for global warming alarmists.

Hollywood, Mother Nature, and the media just haven’t cooperated. Even with the unusual situation of four successive hurricanes pounding Florida, global warming hysteria seems to be on ice for now.

The summer began with so much promise for the climate control crowd, with the release of the global warming disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” Although the movie made plenty of money, global warming activists wanted much more than that. They hoped it would foment global warming hysteria in the same way that “The China Syndrome” and “Silkwood” contributed to public sentiment against nuclear power plants.

Instead, the movie was so over-the-top in its portrayal of implausible weather phenomena that no one–not even the usually global warming-sympathetic media–took it seriously.

Then, unlike the movie, the real “day after tomorrow” turned out to be pretty nice.

Unusually Cool Summer

Across the United States, temperatures this summer were cooler than normal. Aberdeen, South Dakota, for example, experienced its coolest August in 115 years, with an average temperature seven degrees below normal (63.4º vs. 70.5º F).

Michigan officials attribute a dip in visits to state parks and other outdoor attractions to cooler weather.

“The water temperature along the [Lake Michigan] beach usually is in the 60s from Memorial Day to Labor Day, reaching the low 70s during the hottest days of July and August. Except for a few days in early July and again in mid-August, the water temperature never reached 70 this year,” a Michigan official told the Associated Press.

During the month of July, Portland, Maine never topped 82 degrees, the coldest high temperature ever recorded for the month. The average daily high was four degrees below normal, at 74.6º F.

An apparent heat wave in Monterey, California, which garnered significant attention during early September, was “actually fairly typical, it just seems to stand out because we’ve had a particularly cool summer so far,” a National Weather Service spokesperson told the Monterey County Herald.

It’s difficult to get people worked up about “global warming” when it’s too cool to get in the pool.

Hurricanes Part of Natural Cycle

The final indignity of this summer forced upon the global warmers came with media reports on Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Though stronger, more frequent hurricanes are the sort of severe weather activists want us to believe are attributable to global warming, meteorologists and the media just aren’t cooperating.

The Miami Herald interviewed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist Stanley Goldenberg and reported on September 8, “Research Goldenberg conducted with NOAA scientist Chris Landsea, private expert William Gray, and others found distinct patterns of low-activity hurricane periods and high-activity periods, each of which endured for decades. These patterns, unrelated to the current concern over global warming, are caused by regular cycles of oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, such as unusually warm water in hurricane breeding grounds.”

The New York Times reported on September 5, “Global warming is not a significant factor in this year’s storminess, experts said. While some climate models predict that warming might eventually mean somewhat stronger hurricanes, that effect is expected to be very small compared to the natural hurricane cycle.”

The Washington Post began a September 3 article with, “Bad luck, not global warming, is the best explanation for the arrival of two severe hurricanes on the Florida peninsula in three weeks, several experts said yesterday.”

These reports must be particularly bitter pills to swallow for the activists since the Times, Post, and Herald don’t typically pass up opportunities to promote the agenda of global warming alarmists. As the summer fades into fall, so too will fade the season for global warming polemics.

Steven Milloy ([email protected]) is publisher of, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and author of Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).