why global warming is so cold, revisited

Another year, another mandatory post about how global warming actually works and why a warm planet can still have snow and ice.

snowy peaks

Right now it’s January, and you know what that means, right? It’s the annual post inspired by the sudden rash of searches for why it’s cold in winter if the world is actually warming up, and the media is playing their newly discovered source of instant views and ratings: climate peek-a-boo. Apparently, any sign of snow now means that there can’t possibly be a warming trend in our planet’s climate, just like a few years ago, every heat wave was a sign of the impending doom by global warming, and people like me have to make a post explaining all the errors with such a cartoonish approach to such a complex topic and explain why listening to those whose doomsday predictions fill environmentalist essays or conspiracy theorists with a partisan bent about the very complex matter of our changing climate is like holding The Day After Tomorrow to be a scientifically accurate portrayal of how global warming will play out, complete with alien hurricanes that instantly freeze anything that happens to be in their eyes’ path like some sort of bizarre science-fiction freeze ray. It’s just plain wrong.

What do the deniers expect? That a slight warming by a fraction of a degree will shut off snowfall? That every day must now be warmer than the last or there can be no such thing as a warming trend? But really, why do I even try to bother? The last time we went through this, the comments filled up with people not even remotely interested in what the post actually said, instantly accusing me of supporting ideas I was actually criticizing. It seems as if they just browsed for a few key words and let loose with their pre-stocked rants.

And their fevered passions run so high, some denialists are even threatening scientists with death for what environmentalist groups attribute to them rather than what they really say, and support using taxpayer money for witch hunts by crusading right-wing darling wannabees who buy into a half-baked New World Order conspiracy which was first spewed by professional political ignoramus and chicken hawk John Bolton. Even when they land on a blog such as this one, which criticizes cap and trade solutions to global warming as little more than just an expensive greenwashing measure, sheer inertia keeps them doing their best Glenn Beck impressions. What the posts actually say about dealing with global warming becomes secondary to the fact that the author says that there is such a thing, and must therefore be one of those evil communist environmentalists employed by the secret armies of the UN. Facts be damned, they’re going in guns blazing.

And at the same time, environmentalists aren’t making things any better. Whether by appropriating studies to fuel their far-reaching solutions to pollution and environmental neglect by threatening us with extinction and sounding alarms that are best left alone, they’re constantly overplaying their card. Global warming isn’t a good thing but it’s also not going to kill us all a century from now. Humans will be very much around and while we face problems like declining populations and major political readjustments in several generations, whatever we have to do to keep our cities above water will eventually get done.

For all their grand efforts and green talk, environmentalists’ biggest accomplishment was to turn eco-friendliness into a luxury product usually sold to young, well educated couples rather than the de facto standard for new generations of cars, houses, and electronics. By turning global warming into a political issue of right vs. left and bestowing the mantle of eco- messiah on Al Gore and celebrities which host Save The Rainforest concerts to which they fly in their private jets, they managed to raise awareness of a problem while doing nothing to solve it, and instantly doom it to a fate of a political football discussed with partisan politics and breathless hyperbole rather than facts. Yes, the world is warming up. But we have time to adapt to it and we will. The hysteria is totally unwarranted, much like the right wing nightmares of imaginary UN squads taxing the U.S. out of business.

# science // climate change / environmentalism / global warming


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