Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let's Talk About the Weather

"Hey, so much for global warming -- look at all this snow! and so much for global globalness, look how flat it is out there!" — Stephen Colbert on Twitter.
TV's funny people are doing a pretty good job of mocking the moronic global warming deniers who point to snow falling in D.C. and say global warming is a crazy liberal myth:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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However, between jokes and interviews with random celebrities, could somebody in the media please put some scientists on? Because what really needs to be made clear is that the early warning signs of global warming include downpours, heavy snowfalls, and flooding:
An increase in global temperatures will lead to an intensification of the hydrological cycle. This is because an increase in surface air temperature causes an increase in evaporation and generally higher levels of water vapor in the atmosphere. In addition, a warmer atmosphere is capable of holding more water vapor. The excess water vapor will in turn lead to more frequent heavy precipitation when atmospheric instability is sufficient to trigger precipitation events. Intense precipitation can result in flooding, soil erosion, landslides, and damage to structures and crops.

Parallel to the likely increase in heavy precipitation events in winter, increased temperatures will also amplify the drying out of soils and vegetation due to increased evaporation in the summer. This is likely to result in more severe and widespread droughts where and when atmospheric conditions do not favor precipitation (see Droughts and Wildfires).
These predictions are consistent with current U.S. weather phenomena. Notice I said "weather" and not "climate"? Weather is not climate. A single weather event does not tell us much about global climate. Just as the above Daily Show video lampooned the debate, both sides tend to make this same mistake.

But it's no wonder the conversation is muddled. We have energy industry lobbyists writing EPA amendments, astroturf groups funded by ExxonMobil, and some pretty janky logic from global warming deniers.

The deniers must know they won't win the argument on scientific merits, so they prefer a faith-based argument. The dumbest one goes something like "it is the height of hubris and arrogance to say that man's pitiful technology could affect the world."

Luckily, the reality-based community remembers a whole slew of man-made eco-disasters: rainforest destruction, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Chernobyl, the Bhopal pesticide factory leak, the Love Canal toxic landfill, the Pacific garbage patch, herbicidal warfare in Vietnam, the shrinking Aral Sea, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What thinking person could seriously claim we don't impact our environment?

But Republicans and Fox News pundits don't need science and logic. Like rabid Punxsutawney Phils, they stick their heads out, see it's snowing, scream some shit about Al Gore, and then stick their little heads right back up their asses. We can laugh now, but our future generations will suffer.

1 comment:

fabutastic said...

We should create the Theory of Global Dorkening: As the weather gets more extreme, reporters and pundits around the world become less able to process rational thoughts.