It was completely predictable that that one sweltering Tuesday, July 19, would be used as the final warning by climate alarmists. Weatherman Gerrit Hiemstra tweeted that ‘within a few decades this will be the average summer weather’, unless we ‘stop burning oil, gas, petrol, diesel, kerosene. The choice is ours. If we continue to drill for oil and gas, we will know what our future is: look outside.’
Hopefully Hiemstra knows more about the weather than about the climate, because this is complete nonsense. The thermometer peaked that Tuesday in De Bilt at 35.5 degrees, and a few degrees higher in South Limburg. In 2050, the average peak temperature in summer will not be 35 degrees, not even 30 degrees, but about 25 degrees. Now it is 23 degrees.
And note: this is the temperature at the hottest of the day. During this alleged foretaste of the heat apocalypse, the average temperature over the entire 24-hour period was only 27 degrees, as it cooled drastically at night. Averaged over all days and nights in June, July and August, the temperature in the Netherlands has been around 18 degrees in recent decades, and due to further climate change, it may just touch 20 degrees in 2050.
In terms of risk for residents of an area, that peak temperature during the hottest part of the day means almost nothing. If it cools down sharply after sunset, residents can also keep their homes cool without air conditioning, simply by ventilating well at night and keeping everything closed during the day.
But imagine: Gerrit Hiemstra will announce a heat wave tomorrow that will last two weeks, with a temperature that is day and night at the peak level of July 19 in Maastricht, so 39 degrees. Will everyone die without air conditioning?
No, not yet. What really matters to indicate the danger of heat is the ‘wet bulb temperature’. This is the temperature that a thermometer indicates when it is wrapped in a wet rag with good ventilation. The evaporation of water from the cloth simulates the sweating of a human being. The wet bulb temperature depends on the temperature and humidity of the air. The drier the air, the more evaporation, the lower the wet bulb temperature. At a wet-bulb temperature of 35 degrees or more, a person can no longer lose his body heat through sweating, which can be fatal after just a few hours.
Heat wave of a day
How close was the July 19 heat wave to that fatal limit? According to the KNMI, the minimum relative humidity that day was 21%. On a sunny, dry day, this minimum will approximately coincide with the maximum of the temperature. Then you can look up in a graph that the wet-bulb temperature in Maastricht peaked at 22 degrees. Miles away from the fatal border, so.
The effect of water evaporation on heat is gigantic: with a relative humidity of twenty percent, the fatal limit is only reached at 60 degrees air temperature. That also explains why recent heat waves such as those in India, with peak temperatures around 45 degrees for a week, but with relatively low humidity, do not cause mass deaths.
Qatar or Nijmegen
This assumes, however, that you can stay out of the sun and not have to do heavy physical work – such as building a football stadium in Qatar, or running the Four Days Marches in Nijmegen. And of course it is unpleasant, trying to sleep when it is 35 degrees in your bedroom. You really need a fan to keep the evaporation going.
It remains a bizarre phenomenon that a heat wave that came down in one day – the kind of weather that is routine in traditional tourist magnets such as Spain, Greece or Thailand – is labeled a foretaste of ‘disruptive climate change’ in the Netherlands.
What has been disrupted in the Netherlands on 19 July? What gets disrupted when this happens not just once every few years, but a few days in a row or a few times a year? Because that is the increase in such heat waves that will cause climate change in the Netherlands. The annual fall leaves on the trail cause more disruption. One winter morning with snow and sleet too.
A sad example of the hyperventilating climate alarmism that so-called quality media pour out on us was the ‘analysis’ in NRC that was published that same day.
Characteristic of such prose are the vague cries of alarm that must convince the reader of the urgency of the climate crisis, and the incestuous citation of other climate alarmists, such as the above tweet by Gerrit Hiemstra. NRC also cites an article in New Scientist: ‘This is a game changer in terms of heat waves’, although it was published well before 19 July.
And then: ‘All over Europe heat records were broken these weeks, people are dying in many countries. Thousands of hectares of forest have been destroyed by fires in southern Europe. Here, weather records, dying people and forest fires are tied together in the same breath, without any substantiation or specification.
Winter peaks are more deadly
Heat waves have always caused peaks in deaths among the elderly – which are, by the way, much smaller than the annual winter peak in deaths – but the number of heat deaths in countries such as Spain and France has already been shown to decrease drastically due to relatively simple policy measures. That actually comes down to looking after vulnerable elderly people a bit more, which wouldn’t be a bad idea even without climate change.
And of course it is nonsense that heat waves cause forest fires. A forest does not spontaneously catch fire when it becomes 45 degrees in the afternoon; the probability of forest fires is determined by the amount of dry, combustible material that has accumulated there, and that is largely determined by how hot and especially how dry it has been in the preceding weeks and months. This happens every year in southern Europe, and it remains to be seen whether an abnormal amount of forest burns down there this year.
Fear as a business model
The NRC editor also called someone himself: Maarten van Aalst, who offers this vague cry of fear: ‘Things are going to happen that we cannot imagine’. Climate fear is Van Aalst’s business model. He is a professor of climate resilience at the TU Twente, and his chair is fully or partially paid for by the Red Cross, where he is also director of the climate center. Yes, the same Red Cross that has shifted the focus in fundraising from concrete emergency aid to victims to climate mobilization in third world countries.
There was nothing unimaginable about the July 19 heatwave, just as there is nothing unimaginable about climate change in general. The changes that will occur are gradual and statistically predictable. If this is what the Netherlands will notice from climate change, it is particularly reassuring.
The cool eye of science journalist Arnout Jaspers don’t get carried away by hypes and tunnel vision. Every week in Wynia’s Week. Are you already a donor? You can HERE become. Thank you!