The Washington Post Sunday edition devotes a page to the discussion of what impact the current cold snap and immense amount of snow (a record in the nation’s capital) has and should have on the global warming debate generally and legislation specifically. Most of the space goes to the liberal but often thoughtful Dana Milbank, with snippets to others.
Score one for both science and humor when Milbank asserts “As a scientific proposition, claiming that heavy snow in the mid-Atlantic debunks global warming theory is about as valid as claiming that the existence of John Edwards debunks the theory of evolution.”
He’s right of course. For the zillionth time, weather and climate are two entirely different things. A hot year with a drought doesn’t prove the globe is heating up, much less than the alleged heating up is man-made. But the greens make such claims time and again. It’s no more valid for other to say a cold, snowy winter shows the opposite. That’s just the point Milbank goes on to make:
Still, there’s some rough justice in the conservatives’ cheap shots. In Washington’s blizzards, the greens were hoist by their own petard.
For years, climate-change activists have argued by anecdote to make their case. Gore, in his famous slide shows, ties human-caused global warming to increasing hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought and the spread of mosquitoes, pine beetles and disease. It’s not that Gore is wrong about these things. The problem is that his storm stories have conditioned people to expect an endless worldwide heat wave, when in fact the changes so far are subtle.
Other environmentalists have undermined the cause with claims bordering on the outlandish; they’ve blamed global warming for shrinking sheep in Scotland, more shark and cougar attacks, genetic changes in squirrels, an increase in kidney stones and even the crash of Air France Flight 447. [There’s a website that lists over 600 things that have allegedly been caused by global warming, from “acne” to “yellow fever.”] When climate activists make the dubious claim, as a Canadian environmental group did, that global warming is to blame for the lack of snow at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, then they invite similarly specious conclusions about Washington’s snow — such as the Virginia GOP ad urging people to call two Democratic congressmen “and tell them how much global warming you get this weekend.”
Says Milbank, “Argument-by-anecdote isn’t working.”
The Post then asked “political and environmental experts whether the record snowstorms buried climate change legislation this year.” Here are some excerpts:
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN
Environmental Protection Agency administrator from 2001 to 2003; governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001; chair of the Republican Leadership Council
It shouldn’t, but it will. Among the reasons winter storms will make this issue more politically challenging are overreach and simplification – on both sides of the debate. “An Inconvenient Truth” brought the issue of climate change to the fore, but many of the charts implying that the world’s end is near were overly dramatic.
KENNETH P. GREEN AND STEVEN F. HAYWARD
Resident scholar and F.K. Weyerhaeuser fellow, respectively, at the American Enterprise Institute
The corpus of climate legislation was already cooling before Snowmageddon. The cold wind that buried its chances this year didn’t come off the snow burying Washington: It came off horrific unemployment reports, lackluster economic growth, massive Tea Party rallies and vicious town hall meetings. After the breakdown in Copenhagen, the explosion of “Climategate” and the election of Scott Brown, the Democrats’ rapid pivot to focus on jobs was inevitable.
DAVID G. HAWKINS
Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate programs
Sorry, nothing worth excerpting!
DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN
Democratic pollster and author
The recent bout of wintry weather and the overall political climate have almost certainly killed climate-change legislation this year.
The science that supports the causes and effects of global warming has become increasingly open to doubt and question. The weather this winter, particularly in the past week or so, makes it more difficult to argue that global warming is an imminent danger and suggests that global warming may well not be as inexorable a force as some believe.
Further, the political downside to supporting the legislation is unambiguous. Americans are primarily concerned with jobs and the economy. Any significant effort spent on other legislation will reignite charges, originally hurled during the lengthy and unsuccessful health-care debate, that the White House and Democrats in Congress are out of touch with voters’ needs.
Federal global warming program director of Environment America
The snowstorms that ground the nation’s capital to a halt only underscored the need for bold action to fight global warming. Heavier, more frequent snowstorms are just what scientists predict in a warming world, as extreme weather events – whether blizzards or heat waves – become more common.
Well! I guess there’s something to be said for predictability!
White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; chairman of BGR Group
There is global climate science and then there is the Global Warming Movement. The movement hijacked the science a long time ago, and it has had its share of setbacks lately. Its leaders have tried to stiff-arm their way past errors, lies, fraud, pointless tax increase proposals and some really peculiar posing in Copenhagen.
Now they have suffered a coup de grace: public ridicule brought on by a record-breaking blizzard blasting their East Coast home base. The movement was already dead in Congress for 2010 (its climate-change bill has been sidelined), but Snowmageddon buried it. How could it be that heat waves evidenced global warming, but so did a cold wave? The public isn’t buying it anymore.
In November, the public will give a cold shoulder to a bunch of intellectually frozen hypocrites who demand economic sacrifice to solve a problem that voters don’t see or feel. At least for a while, the left will have to think up a new way to dictate a lifestyle for the rest of us. Maybe now the science can continue without the clumsy overreaching of the movement’s priestly class.
And finally, on a different page, uber-environmentalist Bill McKibben argues that, yes, the cold weather and blizzards are the result of global warming. So it goes.