why is global warming so cold, redux

Another winter, another season of explaining why global warming doesn't mean you'll be broiled alive in your own sweat.
arctic ice
Photo by Alexey Trofimov

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it’s been cold. Really cold, just like it was last year. And the cold is making global warming denialists and agnostics wonder once again how it could possibly be freezing and snowing in the middle of winter as witnessed by the deniers’ visceral reaction to a December blizzard and a whole lot of Google searches on why it’s cold as the planet is warming up registering on my dashboard. While it’s rather odd to point out that the middle of winter in areas which have been getting snow and ice over the last few tens of millions of years would be cold in late December and early January, it seems that it has to be done again, especially as verbal knives get sharpened for another attack on scientists and environmental activists.

As noted a few times already, the issue of global warming is a more a political game than a scientific inquiry at this point, which is why we had the Climategate uproar and New World Order conspiracy theories on the part of the denialists and the tale of a sinister geo-engineering plot from environmentalists.

And as politics is defining the issue and what to do about it, many of the participants in the debate seem to be losing their ability and will to talk about global warming rationally, so much so that snowfall in the middle of winter is now some sort of proof that the planet can’t possibly be warming up by several degrees over the course of a century. Isn’t it obvious that winter weather in Northern climates should be cold and that a single year is not enough data to make projections of our planet’s climate dynamics over the next few hundred years? But nevertheless, media agencies are more than happy to make predictions about what an unusually hot or cold week says about the planet’s climate and unleashing zealots from both sides of the debate since that’s what drives ratings.

Believe it or not, global warming that scientists consider to be taking place is not going to turn the planet into a barren desert and the Earth isn’t going to be tropical from pole to pole as it was once upon a time. Instead, it’s going to get five to six degrees warmer and require a bit of hard work to adapt to the changing conditions. How do we know the warming isn’t just a part of the natural cycle? After taking a look at ice cores from the Arctic, we clearly see a sudden spike in carbon dioxide and an increase in global temperatures as the Industrial Age got underway.

Of course it takes time for higher concentrations of greenhouse gases to alter the climate while the heat builds up and highly energetic global patterns start changing. This is why the warming was slow and steady for the last century and is projected to accelerate over the upcoming one. And this is where we have an enormous problem in communicating the issue to the public thanks to gloom and doom from environmental groups who want to create instant changes by force and regulation instead of accepting the fact that the trillion dollar infrastructure project they have in mind won’t be accomplished overnight or even a few decades.

This is when global warming denialists target an impractical and inefficient solution and weave into all sort of conspiracy theories, channeling their distaste for green activists, liberal groups, regulation and governments, and wielding aggressive mantras in reply to any call to clean up our act for a better future. They believe that a greener, cleaner world will emerge all by itself from the goodwill of benevolent markets and corporations who only have our best interests in mind because when they fail to do the right thing, we send them into ruin. And then they say environmentalists are naive and think too highly of government intervention, while they talk about allowing nature to take it’s course as they fill the skies with greenhouse gases and burn fossil fuels with wild abandon. Just as nature intended apparently…

# science // climate / climate change / environmentalism


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