Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Colder Side of Global Warming

It's the second day of spring, and, after virtually no snow all winter, we're getting buried by a freak late snowstorm here in the Midwest. Rush Limbaugh started his program yesterday with a glib one-liner about how this spring snowstorm proves that global warming is a crock. Drudge, a weather porn addict if there ever was one, loves to highlight events that seem to contradict global warming.

Not so fast, my modern day flat-earthers! Wishful thinking is not going to change the data and an erroneous appeal to "logic" won't keep old Rush's south Florida studios above the waterline. The global climate is a complex thing, and complex things often defy the base logic of men like Rush and Drudge.
As several scientists have warned, global warming will be full of surprises. Warming over the past half-century has already brought more erratic and extreme weather. Some climatologists are increasingly concerned about the stability of the climate system itself and the potential for abrupt shifts - to warmer or even much colder states.
Erratic and extreme weather—like record hurricane seasons, November tornados, heat waves and, yes, spring blizzards. Anyone paying attention to the weather at all knows that something screwy is going on. The quotation above offers an explanation. That's from a 2003 Boston Globe article by Dr. Paul R. Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and James J. McCarthy, professor of oceanography at Harvard University and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We're just going to have to decide who we trust when it comes to the global climate: scientists who specialize in the global climate, or right-wing pundits who wouldn't know an isobar from a hole in the ozone layer.
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