Thursday, December 16, 2010

Climate follies deja vu

Here we go again. Every winter we're subjected to another would-be climate Christopher Columbus saying the cold weather disproves climate change. This column by libertarian Doug Bandow is a typical, if tedious, take on this issue. The argument goes: It's real cold in ___, so (by some logic) global warming is a hoax.

I guess people like Bandow assume climate scientists should just find another job after every winter storm, as they're obviously wasting time and money. But here's what libertarians/conservatives miss: yes, there have been record lows even in a warming world. But--and this is huge, so pay attention--there have been far more record highs. A warming of a little over a degree is not going to eliminate cold weather.

I should point out, as to not be tendentious, that people who accept climate change as real often make silly statements as well. I've heard "the snowstorm proves global warming," which is not a good argument. Nor is every weather event on Earth tied into global warming; there is still a lively debate among scientists as to whether hurricanes have increased in frequency because of climate change, for instance.

I will use a sports analogy, as most deniers are men: if LeBron James goes 2 for 13 a few times, it doesn't make him a bad player. It's not statistically significant. Over the course of the season and his career, James will have a lot more good games than bad.

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