Tag Archive for: Associated Press

Welcome to Climate Psychotherapy

Two nights ago I started to hug my wife. “Not tonight,” she said. 

“What’s wrong,” I asked. “Headache?”

“No,” she sighed. “Climate change.”

The temperature in the room dropped about 10 degrees.

“I see what you mean,” I said.

Ironically, the next morning, I opened the New York Times to an article by Brooke Jarvis. The title: “Climate Change Is Keeping Therapists Up at Night: How anxiety about the planet’s future is transforming the practice of psychotherapy.”

It began with the experience of one psychotherapist to bring issues into focus. He said that many potential patients are looking for someone to talk to about climate change, only to be told (by others, not him) that they are overreacting.

Climate Psychology Alliance of North America and Eco-Anxiety

Enter stage left a group of about 100 “climate-aware” psychotherapists who call themselves the Climate Psychology Alliance of North America. According to Jarvis, they primarily deal with three types of issues:

  • Acute trauma of living through climate disasters
  • Fear of a collapsing future
  • Psychosocial decay from disruptive changes.

Collectively, they call it “eco-anxiety” or “a chronic fear of environmental doom.”

It’s not clear from the rest of Jarvis’ story whether the psychotherapists have reached any consensus yet about how to treat this emerging malady.

Conflicting Info About Breadth of Concerns

Jarvis cites a nationally representative 2022 survey of more than 1,000 people from Yale and George Mason University. Researchers found that a majority of Americans (64%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming.

However, Jarvis does not report that the same research also found about 90% of Americans experience no distress at all about global warming.

Should psychotherapists bring climate concerns up even when clients don’t? That’s not clear either.

But the climate psychologists agree that they should validate their clients’ climate-related emotions as “reasonable, not pathological.” The climate shrinks believe they should make clients feel their fear is a “rational response to a world that’s very scary.”

Link between Eco-Reporting and Eco-Anxiety Not Examined

While not denying climate change, I also personally believe the threat may be artificially exaggerated.

The New York Times article does not examine eco-reporting that contributes to eco-anxiety. Some days, I’m afraid to open a newspaper because I may find Republicans can’t elect a speaker…due to climate change. (Just joking.)

Comments on the New York Times article seemed polarized. About half felt eco-anxiety was justified. The other half felt it was manufactured by media.

In that regard, I have previously posted about the Associated Press policy of taking money from foundations with interests in renewable energy to hire 20 reporters who focus on climate change.

Before the Internet undermined local newspapers, news organization sold advertising to generate revenue that paid employees. Ads clearly showed client’s logos. News organizations jealously guarded their editorial integrity; news almost never crossed the line into advertising.

That’s no longer the case. Now, 20 reporters are looking for any way possible to connect random weather events to climate change…using the most tenuous of threads. And if they can’t find one, they say, “So-and-so worries that climate change may make his problem worse in the future.” But they present no real statistical proof.

Not to make light of anyone’s feelings or circumstances, as I scrolled through other headlines this morning, I learned that…

Such stories are rapidly becoming a parody of themselves. Regardless…

Repetition Makes Claims Rise to Level of Assumed Truth

Through sheer repetition of such claims day after day, people assume their truth. Individual events such as a flood, drought, freeze, heatwave or windstorm may or may not exemplify larger trends. But reports rarely present actual proof they do.

Rather, they quote people who have suffered some kind of weather-related damage and who fear such events may become more common in the future…due to climate change.

Of course, who can disprove the future? That’s pretty safe ground for a reporter.

I asked one of the area’s leading psychotherapists in Houston to review the New York Times article. She replied, “Climate change didn’t come up once in my 40 years of private practice.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/22/23

2245 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Lee, Climatology, Data Truncation and the News

Noon, September 16, 2023 – An Associated Press headline this morning trumpeted “Climate change could bring more monster storms like Hurricane Lee to New England.” I immediately went to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) website to see the most current conditions. Lee had been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone with 75 mph winds.

But it still covers a lot of territory. As of noon, Lee is producing 1-2 foot storm surge and tropical-storm-force winds in portions of Maine. NHC gave the northeastern tip of Maine a 5-15% chance of flash flooding. They predict 1-4 inches of rain over portions of the state that receive rain, though the extreme eastern tip may get up to 6 inches.

Satellite image shows Lee’s influence stretching from maritime Canada to New Jersey.

Does Climate Data Support AP Claim?

Next, I went to NHC’s Climatology page to see how unusual hurricanes are in New England. Because of the colder waters, they’re certainly not as frequent as hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. But they’re also not unusual as you can clearly see from the image below. It shows hurricane tracks going back to 1851.

Red lines show hurricanes with the winds from 64-90 mph.

Next, I looked at the points of origin for Atlantic storms in the 10-day period each season from Sept. 11 – 20.

Going back to 1851, we can see that dozens of storms have followed Lee’s path .

In fact, during September, there’s at least a 70% annual chance that a hurricane will affect this region (see below).

Lee’s track is THE most common for named storms in the Atlantic during September (red area).

Data goes from 1944 to 2020, but is normalized for 100 years. 1944 was the year NOAA started tracking hurricanes with aircraft.

The AP article related higher than normal sea surface temperatures to BOTH climate change and the risk of being affected by a hurricane in New England. It’s true that temperatures ARE above average off the New England coast this year. But it’s also true that temperatures cycle above and below an “average.” You can’t assume that sea surface temperatures ALWAYS increase.

This 28-second animation of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies from 2002-2011 shows how temperatures vary monthly and annually around the world as well as off the coast of New England.

Starting point of animation is August 2002. Note below-normal sea-surface temps off New England coast.

During the decade covered by the animation, SSTs varied from above to below average five times by my count.

It’s fair to relate one stronger than normal hurricane to higher than normal sea surface temperatures. But it’s not valid to assume that hurricanes will continue to get stronger when sea surface temperatures decrease.

The Curse of Data Truncation

And that brings me to my gripe – data truncation in reporting. “Truncation” means “cutting short,” for instance, when you pick start or stop points in an analysis to prove the trend you allege.

Example: you point to above-normal SSTs (this year) and one waning post-tropical storm. Then you conclude that “climate change could bring more monster storms like Lee.”

The implication: climate change is linear and temperatures are going straight up. Therefore, we can expect more monster storms in New England – where Lee will not even make landfall.

Reporting Turned into Advocacy

AP is a great news organization. But on the issue of climate uncertainty, they have crossed the line between reporting and advocacy. AP even admits it.

To their credit, in 2022, AP announced “a sweeping climate change initiative.” They hired 20 additional journalists to supplement existing staff already dedicated to covering climate change. Their mission: “to infuse climate coverage in all aspects of the news…”

To help finance its climate coverage, AP accepts backing from several foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, which admits, “Our focus is on scaling renewable energy.”

I’m not saying that AP or the Rockefeller Foundation deliberately misled people to further an agenda.

However, I can promise you that writers write about what clients want them to write about. And if they don’t, well, hundreds of other writers are lined up ready to take their jobs.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s just the way the world works.

Other News Sources Delivered Different Interpretation

Everyone should read critically and consult multiple sources. Triangulate on the truth. Had you read someone else’s coverage, you would have reached totally different conclusions. In that regard, I note several stories posted AFTER AP’s story on Lee that did not even mention climate change once. See CNN, CBS, New York Times, NBC, Reuters, USA Today, or Fox, for instance.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/16/2023

2209 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

NOAA Now Tracking Rapid Intensification of Storms

Earlier this week, Hurricane Delta blew up from an unnamed tropical depression into a hurricane in a matter of hours. An Associated Press story by Seth Borenstein discussed a possible trend of rapid intensification of storms. Delta set a record, going from a 35 to 140 mph storm in just 36 hours.

Storms Gaining 35 mph in < 24 hrs

Borenstein says, “Over the past couple decades, meteorologists have been increasingly worried about storms that just blow up from nothing to a whopper, just like Delta. They created an official threshold for this dangerous rapid intensification — a storm gaining 35 mph in wind speed in just 24 hours.”

This NOAA water vapor image of Hurricane Delta makes the storm look like a giant splash in the atmosphere.

Delta was the sixth storm this year and the second in a week to reach that threshold for rapid intensification. Harvey was also such a storm.

Borenstein interviewed an MIT hurricane scientist named Kerry Emanuel. “This is not only happening more often, it is more dangerous,” said Emanuel. ““If you go to bed and there’s a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and you wake up the next morning with a Category 4 about to make landfall, there’s no time to evacuate.”

Why So Many?

Some scientists attribute the trend to global warming, which they say increases sea-surface temperatures and makes rapid intensification possible.

Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Linder said, “Rapid intensification is due to a number of possible local factors. They include warm sea surface temperatures, light upper level winds, high moisture levels and storm structure. Some of this, especially sea surface temperatures, could be affected by climate change. El Niño and La Niña could affect the wind shear patterns making such intensification more likely at certain times. However, much of this is storm dependent on conditions with a particular storm.”

Whatever the reason, rapid intensification is an alarming trend. As our neighbors in Louisiana will confirm, it calls for a higher level of alertness.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/9/2020

1137 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 386 since Imelda