Wet Basement? Blame Global Warming!

Crazy as it sounds, that is pretty much the headline on this Minneapolis Star Tribune story: “Wet basement last year? Blame climate change.” The article is a great example of the propensity of ill-informed journalists to attribute just about everything that happens to “climate change.” The subheading reads: “Twin Cities waterproofing contractors say climate change has led to unprecedented demand for their services.” I sincerely doubt that. I am pretty sure that what contractors are saying is that there is an enormous demand for their services because last spring was really, really wet.

Drew Gardner lucked out when he joined the family concrete-and-waterproofing dynasty with a company of his own in 2013. One year later Minnesota had one of the wettest springs in state history, and his business could barely keep up with the phone calls.

Basement contractors were so deluged that they are still catching up today. “It was nuts — we couldn’t put it in fast enough,” Gardner said of a spring that saw 22 inches of rain from April to June.

In the winter and spring of 2014, Minnesota had lots of snow, followed by lots of rain. This was good: among other things, the precipitation filled up Lake Superior, which had been low because of…global warming.

So the Star Tribune tells us that last year’s wet spring was due to climate change. One problem with that: this winter, we didn’t get much snow, and this spring, we haven’t had a lot of rain. The Strib admits that “this spring has been unusually dry,” and quotes a waterproofer who says we are in a “drought.”

So if climate change leads to wet years and wet basements, how come one year later we are in a drought, with basements as dry as a bone? Did the climate stop changing? Don’t be silly: it’s volatility!

[C]limatologists say homeowners should get used to volatility — wild swings in weather will be more common as climate change begins working its effects on the atmosphere.

Sure: if we get a lot of rain, it’s a sign of global warming. If we don’t get a lot of rain, it’s also a sign of global warming. But there is a testable proposition here, the claim that precipitation trends are becoming more extreme. Is that true? No.

This graph shows annual precipitation in the Twin Cities from 1859 through 2014. It is blindingly obvious that precipitation totals have not become more extreme in either direction. On the contrary, the year-to-year swings haven’t been as wild in recent decades as they were prior to the 1920s. Check out what happened between 1910 and 1911! Click to enlarge:

MSPPRCP

I see this kind of thing, which we see everywhere, as a sign of desperation on the part of warmists. 2014 was a wet year: global warming!! But wait–2015 is a dry year! Volatility!! I think any normal person will say, weather varies from warmer to colder and wetter to dryer, just like it always has.

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