White lies: Daily Telegraph’s excitement over bumper snow season skates over facts | Graham Readfearn

It’s felt cold in parts of eastern Australia in recent weeks, and with heavy snow falling over ski resorts, which means this whole global heating thing is a dud, right?

Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph said an early start to the snow season had come “despite dire global warming predictions of vanishing snow,” with a headline declaring, “Alarmists given big chill”.

The news story juxtaposed the conditions in a snowbound Thredbo Village with segments from reports from CSIRO from 2003 and 2008 and past quotes about snowfall.

Let’s look at what the story said and what it didn’t say about the trends in snowfall.

The story included a subheading that reads: “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is – East Anglia university experts in 2020”.

The quote referred to was actually from the year 2000 (the main text of the story got the year right) and repeated the line about kids and their experience with snow.

The origin of this quote is a 2000 news story in the UK’s The Independent newspaper, when a scientist at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, Dr. David Viner, was talking about future winters in Britain (which we have to point out is on the other side of the world and has no relevance to Australia).

But putting this aside, the Daily Telegraph only ran part of the quote. In the story, Viner also said that winter snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in the future. The Daily Telegraph certainly appeared to be excited.

So what has happened to snowfall in the UK? The most recent UK climate assessment found that 2020 was “one of the least snowy years on record,” and the number of heavy snow events hasdropped since the 1960s.

The Daily Telegraph said CSIRO warned Australia to “prepare for shorter ski seasons” with “snow coverage reduced by as much as 54 percent by 2020.”

Daily Telegraph

The report included a range and referenced the area of Australia’s Alpine region that would have at least 30 days of snow cover and that this area would fall by as little as 14% and as much as 54%.

The Daily Telegraph report didn’t include any response from CSIRO, but Temperature Check approached Kevin Hennessey, a co-author of the words the newspaper referenced.

Hennessey and current CSIRO climate scientist Dr. Michael Grose compiled a summary report of climate change impacts on Australian snowfall for Temperature Check.

The summary said the projections were based on an average over 20 years (2011 to 2030), with 2020 as the middle year. So to make a fair comparison between the projections and the actual snow conditions, we’ll need to wait until all the data is in after 2030.

But as a 2012 CSIRO paper pointed out – and not mentioned by the Daily Telegraph: “These projected trends will be superimposed on large natural year-to-year variability. The number of good snow seasons is expected to decline while the number of poor seasons is likely to increase.”

But that doesn’t mean there’s been no more research done since 2012, or there isn’t anything we can say about trends in snowfall.

A UN climate report earlier this year, also not mentioned in the Daily Telegraph, said annual maximum snow depth at Spencers Creek had fallen by 10% and the length of the snow season had shortened by 5% between 2000 and 2013, relative to 1954-1999. Snow depth also fell at Rocky Valley Dam, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller, and Falls Creek.

The Australian government’s official State of the Climate Report, compiled by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, said maximum snow depth had fallen in Australia’s alpine regions since the 1950s.

Sky Climate News

The Guardian earlier this week covered a UK report that identified Sky News Australia as a central global hub for video content attacking climate science, climate policies, and renewable energy.

Sky News Australia has been pumping out segments on YouTube juxtaposing the snowfalls with those CSIRO reports as if to prove the point. Many have gained well over 10,000 views.

They’ve also been keen to blame “greenies” for Australia’s current energy crisis rather than Russia’s war on Ukraine, the rising cost of coal and gas, outages in coal plants, or the cold weather snap.

Sky presenter Andrew Bolt delivered a rant under the headline “Global warming ‘isn’t the great threat we were told’ that gained more than 190,000 views on YouTube.

“If the global warming scaremongers and carpetbaggers were right, none of this would be happening,” said Bolt, pointing to the cold snap and the heavy snow.

What is it about the weather?

Bouts of cold weather are often used by climate change “skeptics” to attack climate scientists or to claim the risks from global heating are being overblown.

Att the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, Dr. Last year, John Cook was a study co-author who used special software to track climate-contrarian arguments from 33 blogs and 20 think tanks.

He told Temperature Check there was “a transition away from science denial arguments,” but said, “the cold weather argument is a keeper.”

“It’s a persistent argument, and it’s not going away,” he said, and the argument’s stickiness was down to its simplicity.

He said: “The simple myths like ‘cold weather disproves global warming’ are easier to understand than talking about the second law of thermal dynamics.”

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.