A Climate Trend

I hear that recently the east coast has been buried under a phenomenon that occurs just about every winter, but has hit this year with unprecedented severity.

I speak, of course, of anti-global-warming cartoons, an endless series of which all ask the same question: “If global warming is real, then why is it so cold?”  There tend to be a large number of these in the winter and they taper off in the summer as, presumably, it gets hot and people start to assume global warming is real again, but there’s been a whole slew of them so far this year, since a blizzard hitting Washington D.C. is too good an opportunity to pass up.  Admittedly the irony of a global warming hearing being canceled due to weather conditions is rich.  However, the essence of the irony is that global warming is happening and it snowed anyway–we’re getting the worst of both worlds–not that the snowstorms show that global warming isn’t happening.

Of course the snowstorms show no such thing.  In the first place, localized low temperatures on the east coast don’t indicate a worldwide temperature trend.  “We know that folks on the East Coast — especially in New York and D.C. — tend to think the world revolves around them, but this is ridiculous,” jokes Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars.  In the second place, weather is a chaotic system, meaning that even small changes can have huge, unexpected results.  Climate change models predict more and more aberrant weather events, including snowstorms, as the New York Times reports.

It’s difficult to even know where to start when someone brings up the “If global warming is real, why is it so cold?” question.  Surely such a question is too inane and obviously irrelevant for the general populace to put any stock in.  Alas, apparently not.  Scientists are justified in greeting the objection with a collective sigh of despair and some comment about the state of our public school system, but if the question is being offered in earnest, it must be answered in earnest too.  NASA has a good introduction to climate and weather that should dislodge the objection from the mind of anyone who was actually looking for information rather than being a mere talking point parrot.

Alas, the parrots chatter on.  And they keep drawing cartoons.


Cartoon by Pop Culture Comics.


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