Year 4, Month 2, Day 16: If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now

Time Magazine takes another whack at the argument from personal incredulity:

As the blizzard-bound residents of the mid-Atlantic region get ready to dig themselves out of the third major storm of the season, they may stop to wonder two things: Why haven’t we bothered to invest in a snow blower, and what happened to climate change? After all, it stands to reason that if the world is getting warmer — and the past decade was the hottest on record — major snowstorms should become a thing of the past, like PalmPilots and majority rule in the Senate. Certainly that’s what the Virginia state Republican Party thinks: the GOP aired an ad last weekend that attacked two Democratic members of Congress for supporting the 2009 carbon-cap-and-trade bill, using the recent storms to cast doubt on global warming.
(See pictures of the massive blizzard in Washington, D.C.)

Brace yourselves now — this may be a case of politicians twisting the facts. There is some evidence that climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm. As the meteorologist Jeff Masters points out in his excellent blog at Weather Underground, the two major storms that hit Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., this winter — in December and during the first weekend of February — are already among the 10 heaviest snowfalls those cities have ever recorded. The chance of that happening in the same winter is incredibly unlikely.

Stupid is as stupid does. Feb. 8:

While the notion that a warming planet could trigger more extreme snowstorms is counterintuitive, the fact is that if nature always corresponded to our intuitions, there would be no science. Our species’ innate intuitive sense of how things work doesn’t include bacteria, DNA, irrational numbers, subatomic particles, or radioactivity — but they’re real beyond any doubt. So, too, are the localized manifestations of a steadily rising global temperature, which include extreme rain and snow, droughts, heat waves, superstorms, and increasingly unpredictable weather everywhere around the planet.

Indeed, many of the processes attendant to global heating are complicated and unobvious, which is why scientific insights are essential. Climate-change deniers, unable to understand the mechanisms whereby a hotter atmosphere turns once-in-a-century storms into frequent occurrences, reject the science entirely, shamefully rendering America’s energy and environmental policies captive to the intellectual failures of our most willfully ignorant and superstitious politicians.

Warren Senders

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