Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Can't Believe We Have to Remind You of This Every Year: Climate =/= Weather!

Anyone who resides on the east coast or watches the Weather Channel can tell you that this winter has been a particularly snowy one. Conservatives pundits and politicians (particularly on Fox News, shocker) have been having a collective orgasm because this obviously means that global warming is a myth and Al Gore can go cry in his mansion now. Senator Jim DeMitt of South Carolina (oh South Carolina, is there nothing to which you can't add a little bit of stupid?) tweeted "It's going to keep snowing until Al Gore cries 'uncle'". This fantastically laid out argument appeals to modern America's infantile idea that what is happening now must be what has been happening and what will be happening. It also appeals to the conservative base's hatred of that elitist institution known as "science".

Weather and climate are not the same thing. The fact is, these storms are an expected and documented consequence of global climate change. To put it simply, as the air over large bodies of water warms, more water is taken up as vapor. Once it hits a cooler land mass, it will condensate and fall as precipitation. If the weather of that land mass is below freezing, it will snow. It shouldn't take an environmental science major to explain this (although, hey, I am one).

A complete distaste for science is a disturbing, and relatively new, development in conservativism. Stupidity, which was once something both sides could agree was detrimental, is now a virtue. Conservatives don't need to be bothered with trivial things like "facts" when they've got their anger and their blissful ignorance to comfort them. Of course Earth is 6,000 years old, of course the dinosaurs were too busy smoking pot to get on the ark, and of course the planet is fine. After all, it's lasted 6,000 years.

10 comments:

Bill said...

the Daily Show had a pretty funny segment on this, with Aasif Mandvi telling John Stewart that all the signs have been pointing to a consistent cooling trend that's been going on since August, meaning that we'll probably be in an ice age by next year.

Tim Ryan said...

I think I saw that. And didn't another correspond (Samantha Bee, maybe?) say there was obviously a darkening trend due to it being night. I loled.

Rabi Abonour said...

Thomas Friedman got it right when he said that what we are experiencing is not "global warming," but "global weirding." People aren't smart enough to realize that, as you say, climate and weather are different. They see an unusually rough winter and think that it is a sign that global warming is bunk, when in fact exactly the opposite is true.

Bill said...

And let's not forget that on the other side of the planet, it's an unusually hot summer again

Rabi Abonour said...

The other side of the world isn't America, so I hardly see how it is relevant to anything.

N. Smith said...

Don't confuse ignorance with fear. The truth of climate change has been sold with fear, and denial is a natural reaction to fear... especially when no viable solution has been put forward.

If you want to convince the recalcitrant that climate change is real and get them on-board, you need to be able to present a comprehensive solution to the problem that is feasible in the real world. Until then, people will be too scared to believe.

Keith Lokkins said...

"To put it simply, as the air over large bodies of water warms, more water is taken up as vapor. Once it hits a cooler land mass, it will condensate and fall as precipitation. If the weather of that land mass is below freezing, it will snow."

Based on this comment it seems you believe that all of Earth’s large bodies of water are getting slightly warmer every year and that is how global warming's definitive impact can be seen on a yearly basis? As an Environmental Science major I think you could agree with me on the fact that climate change isn't something that is going to occur or be visible on a yearly basis. For instance, here in Washington we've experienced the warmest winter since the late 1800s. Yet, the snowfall over the last two winters was something near quadruple that of the yearly average.

Yes, I think everyone can agree that the planet needs to be taken better care of but I highly doubt the sky is going to fall anytime soon. Besides the cleanest, most-efficient form of energy we currently have is also the most feared and hated in this country. Maybe ignorant conservatives aren't the only ones afraid of science.

Henry Vasquez said...

That's a good point, Keith, which is why there are liberals like myself that support the creation of nuclear power plants in addition to solar and wind investments. France serves as an excellent example of how nuclear energy can effectively provide for a large percentage of the energy needed for grid power. The pervasive stigma of nuclear must be remedied.

When those on the left attack nuclear power, some ignore the science behind effective disposal methods (I'll admit that), but many see the large centralized investment costs and regulation challenges as prohibitive factors (making them less "free-market" friendly). A discussion of the latter is definitely worth having.

There are plenty of people within the Democratic Party that hold views that I disagree with on a number of issues (guns, school vouchers, nuclear energy, protectionism). However, we can usually advance the discussion to the normative level by establishing certain factual building blocks. Denying climate change renders moot the entire discussion of new energy policies.

Brian said...

A lot of people on the left support nuclear energy, including our President, if I'm not mistaken.

Tim Ryan said...

"If you want to convince the recalcitrant that climate change is real and get them on-board, you need to be able to present a comprehensive solution to the problem that is feasible in the real world. Until then, people will be too scared to believe."

Cap and trade is a perfectly legitimate starting point which has been labeled as "cap and tax" and part of the widescale socialist agenda. So yes, there is fear, but it's the right that nurtures it instead of offering solutions.