New Jersey Sierra Club Misrepresents Climate Data

Published March 1, 2009

Continuing a trend of environmental activist groups misrepresenting data that contradict claims of global warming in individual states, New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel played fast and loose with key climate data in a December 26 article in the Asbury, New Jersey Park Press. Official government data show his claims to be false.

Drought on Decline

Without providing supporting data or evidence, Tittel claimed global warming is causing increased drought conditions in New Jersey. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) precipitation records for the state show no increase in drought conditions.

According to NCDC records, New Jersey is receiving an average of six inches more rain per year than it did a century ago. In each of the past six years—and eight of the past nine—New Jersey has had more precipitation than its twentieth century average. (See Figure 1.)

In addition, the increase in precipitation has been true for all four seasons, with the greatest increase occurring in the autumn drought season. (See Figure 2.)

The data show global warming is not causing increased drought, but in fact is eliminating drought.

Flood Claims Contradicted

Tittel claimed global warming is simultaneously causing both more droughts and more floods. His flood claims, too, have been contradicted by scientists.

Although reliable long-term flood data specific to the state of New Jersey are difficult to come by, scientists have such data for the nation as a whole. These data show more precipitation is occurring in a moderate, benign manner. Scientists H.F. Lins and J.R. Slack reported in a leading climate science journal, Geophysical Research Letters, that the moderate increase in precipitation for the United States as a whole has meant “the conterminous U.S. is getting wetter, but less extreme.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.