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One of deniers’ recurring responses to the incredible, record-breaking, “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change” heat the Pacific Northwest is experiencing this summer is to downplay it by pointing to the 1930s. If things were hotter and drier in the past, then how can climate change be making it hotter and drier now? they rhetorically and illogically ask.

For example, Roundup-Refuser, professional denier, and non-founder of Greenpeace Patrick Moore, recently quoted a post from conspiracy monger and perennial censorship victim by “the Nazis at Twitter,” Tony Heller, pointing out that in July of 1936 there were a lot of states and weather stations experiencing temperatures over 100 degrees. Moore added that “heat spells are not new” and that “the 1930s were often warmer than today when CO2 was at about 300 ppm compared to today’s 417ppm.”

Heller also tweeted on Wednesday that in “July 1934, 80% of the U.S. was in drought.” The tweet was accompanied by a graph from NOAA, who Tony believes is hiding inconvenient climate data, even as he uses it as the proverbial cherry tree from which to pick data to back his crackpot conspiracies.

Anthony Watts, denier who years ago kicked Tony Heller off his site for being so blatantly dishonest, penned a similar denial screed for his Heartland Institute paycheck. He noted that “more high temperature records were set during the first half of the twentieth century than during the past 50 years,” and later pointed specifically to “25 of the record highs” that were “set or tied in the 1930s alone.”

(Watts went on to describe how Portland experienced a record temperature drop, but “this all-time record cooling didn’t get much press because it goes against the groupthink narrative that ‘climate change’ causes only bad things.” Apparently it didn’t strike Tony that the reason why a record cooling of 52°F was possible was because of the record warmth that drove temps to 116, and “regression toward the mean.”)

Anyway, as you may be wondering, no, these deniers largely don’t address the giant flaw in their argument — that the current heatwave has nothing to do with human activity because it’s not worse than the 1930s heatwaves.

Because as you may know, if you’ve read The Grapes of Wrath or watched a Ken Burns documentary, during the 1930s there was this lil ol’ thing called the Dust Bowl.

Over-enthusiastic new farmers devastated the topsoil across the west and triggered drought and heatwaves across the country. It remains one of the most devastating examples of how human activity can change the climate.

That’s why it’s such a surprise to see it being invoked by deniers as a way to downplay the record-breaking heat that has baked the Pacific Northwest. They’re citing an example of a human-caused climate disaster to prove a climate disaster can’t be human-caused.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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