Is it the ‘hottest week ever’ or is that just political hype?

By Seth Galinsky
August 7, 2023
Hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India, June 19, where over 100 have died from heat-related illnesses. Deaths weren’t caused by “climate change,” but from lack of electrical power, air conditioning.
Hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India, June 19, where over 100 have died from heat-related illnesses. Deaths weren’t caused by “climate change,” but from lack of electrical power, air conditioning.

A barrage of articles in the liberal media, from the New York Times to London’s Financial Times, assert that this month’s heat waves are the hottest ever. For these forces, every disaster — from hurricanes to forest fires — is presented as proof that “global warming” is dragging humanity toward destruction.

Is this true? Or is it panic mongering to take our eyes off the real threats to the environment and humanity by the capitalist rulers, and to tout Democrats’ “green-energy” schemes to bolster the prospects of President Joseph Biden in the 2024 election?

The first two weeks of July were “likely the Earth’s warmest on human record, for any time of year,” the New York Times claimed July 20. Why does the Times say “likely”?

To cover up what it can’t prove. Over much of the last century and a half, whether starting in 1850 as the Times does, or 1880 — when NASA dates the start of modern weather record keepingaccurate records were limited or nonexistent. By the end of 1849 there were just 150 volunteers in the U.S. sending weather information to the Smithsonian Institution. An official weather service wasn’t established until 1870.

And that leaves out the rest of the world, especially Africa, Asia and Latin America where there was little or no record keeping. Today there are 90,000 land-based meteorological stations.

NASA notes there is not enough data between 1850 and 1880 “to estimate average temperatures for the entire planet.” And the space agency says scientists “reconstruct” temperature estimates for before 1850 “from proxy records like tree rings, pollen counts, and ice cores.” In other words, it’s an “educated” guess.

But even today, with the expansion of weather stations, comparisons are to a large extent guestimates. “Instruments are not perfectly distributed around the globe, and some measurement sites have been deforested or urbanized since 1880, ” NASA admits. Temperature in cities can be 10 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside.

To get around the problem, NASA explains climate scientists use “algorithms” to come up with their statistics.

One state that liberals point to as proof of their claims about the impact of climate change is Arizona. Officials say heat-related deaths have risen over the last few years. But the Arizona Republic notes that the high temperature of 119 degrees so far this month is just the fourth-highest registered at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. In 1990 — 33 years ago! — it hit 122.

A July 17 article by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman gets at some of the real reasons behind the climate hysteria. Titled “Why We Should Politicize the Weather,” the article targets what Krugman calls “the environmental extremism of the Republican Party.”

“If the G.O.P. wins control of the White House and Congress next year,” he warns, “it will almost surely try to dismantle the array of green energy subsidies enacted by the Biden administration.” In other words, vote for Biden or you will cause the planet’s destruction.

Liberal purveyors of impending doom want to make sure air conditioning stays on for them, while working people in the semicolonial world are denied fossil fuels and nuclear power that could satisfy their unmet needs for electricity.

There are nearly 775 million people in the world without access to electricity, overwhelmingly in semicolonial countries. Some 2.3 billion cook with the most primitive fuels. And only 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world have access to air conditioning.

Wind and solar power, for the foreseeable future, are incapable of providing energy on the scale needed.

Advancing the interests of workers and farmers, and the worldwide fight for socialism, requires “closing the enormous gap in economic, social, and cultural conditions among working people of different countries, and toilers of city and countryside,” Socialist Workers Party leader Steve Clark says in “Farming, Science, and Working Classes” in New International magazine no. 13.

There is a warming trend in the world today. The world temperature average has gone up 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit since the rise of industrialization. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide play a role in that. But that doesn’t mean the collapse of civilization. The world has lived through alternating ice ages and warmer periods over millennia.

Climate change is a “challenge to all humanity created by humans themselves,” John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate czar, claimed July 17. But it’s not true that “we are all in this together.” Rising sea levels, which are a byproduct of long-term rises in temperature, affect working people disproportionately. Hundreds of millions live in coastal flood zones because they can’t afford to live elsewhere. But these aren’t “climate” problems. These are social problems that can be resolved by building housing for working people away from flood zones. But that’s not profitable for the capitalist rulers.

Working people and our unions need to be at the forefront of struggles against the poisoning of the air, water and land that is inherent under capitalism. We are the only social force capable of confronting the rulers’ profit-driven plunder of the environment and fighting for fellow working people around the world to have access to the electricity they need.