Every winter, like clockwork, climate change denialists, contrarians, skeptics, or whatever they are being called these days, pour out in droves to make the case that the onset of cold weather is the surefire signal that global warming is a hoax. The argument they make is quite simple, probably the reason why they are experiencing such short-term success with their campaign strategy.
The basic argument goes like this: This week the weather is cold or last week it snowed, therefore, global warming is a hoax. We can all remember a few years back when Senator Inhofe paraded his ignorance out onto the front lawns in Washington by building an igloo out of the freshly felled snow and declared the domicile Al Gore’s new home.
What Senator Inhofe and most of the rest of the climate change denialists are capitalizing on is the complex nature of climate change and Americans’ unwillingness to embrace complexity. Rising global temperatures due to a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere happens slowly over time, over the course of decades and centuries, and its effects vary from region to region.
According to this logic, the largest oil spill in humanity’s history, no problem because microbes have eaten all of the oil; numerous species dying in droves in a seemingly coordinated die-off, no problem because they happen all of the time and are only a problem because of the reach of modern technology and the fact that the media is reporting them; escalating environmental disasters such as floods, fires, and disease outbreaks, no problem because climate change is a hoax.
A story in the Independent today highlights another story written some ten years ago by the Independent. The highlighted story is one that made the claim in March of the year 2000 that snowfalls would become a thing of the past in only a few years’ time. Obviously, snowfall has not become a thing of the past, so climate change denialists have seized the article and are now passing it around amongst themselves in the contrarian echo chamber making the claim that because it still snows and one headline from one newspaper said that it wouldn’t snow any more, therefore climate science is bunk.
This line of reasoning ignores the complexity of climate science. It ignores the fact that glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates; it ignores the fact that Arctic ice cover is shrinking every summer; it ignores the fact that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and therefore rain and snow events will be thicker than annual averages in the past; it ignores the fact that plant and animal species are migrating to account for climate changes; it ignores the desertification of other regions of the globe; it ignores ice core records and satellite data of temperature trends over longer periods of time; it ignores basic common sense.
What Inhofe and others of his mindset are doing is purposefully clouding the distinction between weather and climate. Republicans and the contrarian machine that they have created regularly seek to capitalize on the simplicity of most Americans who think weather and climate are the same. If the weather is cold this winter how can the globe be warming? If Winter follows Fall which follows Summer, how can the climate be changing?
Weather is what is happening presently; climate documents trends over the course of decades, centuries, and millennia.
Climate science is complex. The fact the scientists can not assess all of the changes that will happen as a result of chemical additions to the atmosphere, does not discredit the fact that climate change and its ensuing biodiversity loss are real. While climate change denialists jump on the winter events in the Northern hemisphere, cold in the U.S. and Europe, they all but ignore the summer events in the southern hemisphere, epic floods in Australia, because the facts don’t fit in their storyline. Heavy snow fits into the climate change storyline. Epic floods, glaciers retreating, species migrations and extinctions, cold winters, changing ocean currents, melting ice caps all fit into the climate change storyline.
Where was the climate change denial machine this past summer when temperature records were being broken across the northern hemisphere. I’ll tell you where they were; they were silent, biding their time waiting until winter when their storyline would make more sense.
The simple fact of the matter is that climate change science is based on research and modeling based upon the best information that we can gather on the various affecting variables. Climate change denial is based solely on semantics, seizing the wording of climate science and mass marketing soundbites in an attempt to spread disinformation to the extent that the issue becomes clouded. There is an entire climate denial industry funded solely by those industries and individuals who seek to profit from our continued reliance upon polluting greenhouse gases. The same strategy was employed by the tobacco companies when officials began investigations of the health risks associated with smoking; it took several decades for common sense and rational reasoning to break through tobacco’s disinformation campaign.
The cold weather that we are experiencing in some regions of the U.S. and across Europe this winter, atmospheric scientists say, is the result of less ice and snow cover in the Arctic. A bubble of atmospheric pressure over the Arctic has pushed colder air down into more southerly latitudes. Canada has been experiencing an unusually warm winter so far because the colder air that usually sits over Canada is being pushed south into the U.S. by the atmospheric bubble. This is according to researchers who are in those locations looking at the data; but deniers tend to believe politicians with bachelors degrees in Economics over climate scientists with PhD.s because the science does not support their story.
The denial machine will implode, just like the tobacco industry’s disinformation campaign did because reality does not support their basic arguments. Americans’ reading and math scores for the past several decades have fallen precipitously off a cliff relative to the rest of the world, which may be the reason why Americans are lagging behind the rest of the world in understanding the complexity of the climate issue. We have become a nation of simpletons easily duped by disinformation campaigns carefully crafted using focus groups to determine the maximum hype using the fewest words. This strategy will fail because reality is making climate change real to more and more people each year.
Climate change knows no boundaries, and until Americans as a whole can begin to see outside of their own borders to a larger functioning global ecosystem, they will continue to be confounded by the complexities inherent in a system as chaotic as the climate.
From the looks of it, the disinformation campaign is not coming to an end any time soon, and neither, for that matter, is the very real fact that our global climate is changing dramatically.
Read more @ EarthPulseDaily.
Don’t beilieve the hype over climate headlines, INDEPENDENT
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past, INDEPENDENT (March 2000)
A ‘Bulge’ in Atmospheric Pressure Gives Us a Super-Cold Winter Amid Global Warming, NYT
Dynamic climate is a lesson of ice core records, ENERGY COLLECTIVE
Nitrous Oxide, a Greenhouse Gas, Three Times Higher in Rivers than IPCC Estimates, SOLVECLIMATE
Climate change reveals disease as national security threat, MCCLATCHY
Comparing all temperature records, SKEPTICAL SCIENCE
Glacier shrinkage will hit European Alps hardest, GUARDIAN
Canadian study sees global warming for centuries, REUTERS
The extremely leisurely pace of American democracy and the urgency of our predicament, ENERGY BULLETIN
Record heat hit Northeast U.S. in 2010, LIVESCIENCE
Climate shifts are changing new weather normals, NYT
Floods threaten Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, REUTERS
Floods steal precious topsoil and future goes down the drain, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Species loss tied to ecosystem collapse and recovery, SCIENCEDAILY