Monday, March 26, 2012

Aha, It's Hot Out!

When there were blizzards in the Eastern US, extending all the way down to Washington, DC, the argument was immediately made that the cold and snowy weather proved that global warming was bogus. Supporters of global warming cried foul, saying things like, “weather is not climate,” and “you can’t draw conclusions from…” You get the drift.

Now we have warm weather in that same part of the country and the climate change supporters are, of course, using that as proof that climate change is real and that it is happening very rapidly. Their recent cries of “weather is not climate,” and “you can’t draw conclusions from…” are long forgotten.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment says today that “2011 should have been cooler because of a La Nina but the warming trend owing to climate change was so powerful that it produced another record-breaking hot year.” Actually, La Nina doesn’t historically affect overall global temperatures. It does push the jetstream to the north and tends to produce warmer and dryer conditions in the US, which is precisely what it did last year. It also produces colder conditions in Europe, and it did that as well in 2011.

And, while there were some heat records broken in the US in 2011, globally it was not a record breaker. The hottest year on record was 1998, with 2010 coming in second. The year 2011 was cooler globally than several years early in the last decade. Even this year, while the Midwest and Eastern US was having record warm temperatures last week, Interstate 8 in San Diego County was closed due to snow and ice, something which hasn’t happened in more than ten years.

There is plenty of real evidence for global warming. The ocean is becoming more acidic. That is measurable and is happening as we speak. We don’t have to make conjectures about it, we don’t have to use guesses. We know it is happening, we can document it, and there is essentially no question that it is caused by the oceans absorbing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. We should be using that evidence rather than wild guesses about the weather.

Sea level is rising. We can document that also, and we know why that is happening as well. It is happening because the oceans are warming up and because ice packs are melting. The melting ice packs are right in front of our eyes, and we can measure the rate at which they are disappearing. Even a high school freshman can comprehend why they are melting. We should be using that as evidence rather than saying that a hot day in Podunk, Iowa is proof of anything.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the difference between heat and temperature, but for today, I can never understand why our side decries an argument used by the other side and then turns around and uses precisely that same argument to support our point. We claim that cold weather doesn’t prove anything but that warm weather does, and we sound like idiots. How are we going to convince anyone with that kind of brainless debate?

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