The pathetic thing is that it’s the same old tripe. Emily Yoffe writes “Gloom and Doom in A Sunny Day” and rehashes the same tired old anti-GW tripe.
We start with the use of an idiotic example of misunderstanding climate change to mock global warming:
It was a mild January evening, and people had filled the restaurant’s outdoor patio. As our group walked past the tables, one of my friends said, “This terrifies me.” I don’t know if she was reassured later by the chilly April, but we are all supposed to be terrified of the weather now.
It’s just as stupid when people who are concerned about global warming use the example of a single hot day to exaggerate the concern as when the anti-GW denialists use a single cold day to show how global warming isn’t happening.
We have the false alarmism:
I, however, refuse to see the apocalypse in every balmy day. And I think it’s wrong to let our children believe they’ll be swept away before they get a chance to fret about college admissions. An article in The Post this spring described children anxious, sleepless and tearful about the end; one 9-year-old said she worried about global warming “because I don’t want to die.”
I lack a bit of sympathy on this one, growing up during the cold war outside of DC I remember multiple teachers telling us we’d be the first to be annihilated by nuclear weapons in the event of a shooting war with the Soviet Union. A perfectly true statement, and in the absence of an explanation that such an event was very unlikely, I spent a few sleepless nights thinking about nuclear war myself. Yoffe is correct, it’s important to make it clear to kids that unnecessary fear is unwarranted, but this appeal to “won’t someone please think of the children” is just silly. Kids are going to worry about things they don’t have a good grasp of, growing up involves learning how to deal with risks, threats, and abstract worries like this. That doesn’t mean that for the sake of the children global warming should only be discussed in hushed tones when the little ones are out of the room.
Most pathetic of all is the classic inability to distinguish between weather and climate:
Since I hate the heat, even I was alarmed by the recent headline: “NASA Warns of 110-Degrees for Atlanta, Chicago, DC in Summer.” But I regained my cool when I realized the forecast was for close to the end of the century. Thanks to all the heat-mongering, it’s supposed to be a sign I’m in denial because I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).
Now why in the world should we listen to anyone pontificate on climate change who doesn’t understand the difference between climate and weather? If there is one thing that can hopefully be communicated to people about how climate works, it is that prediction of climate does not mean prediction of weather. Climate is the average of weather. It can be predicted. I, for instance, live in a temperate zone, with average rainfall within a certain range, and average temperatures which remain consistent year to year. Within any given year we may have a month with extremes of rainfall, or heat, or cold. But that doesn’t mean we can’t predict our climate. Changes in climate make certain types of weather more or less likely – but extremes and exceptions are going to occur and don’t mean anything in isolation – a mistake she makes from the beginning to end of this article.
I agree with Yoffe, scaring kids isn’t helpful, nor are some advocates behaving in a reasonable way – just look at the latest tripe from the Independent. Also the links between hurricanes that we’ve experienced and global warming is still tenuous. But that does not mean that global warming will not cause more intense hurricanes – that is quite likely. More heat, more energy in the system, these things cause more extreme weather. There is a simple reason we have hurricanes in the summer months, and while it’s true that we can’t be certain Katrina is due to global warming, at the very least it’s an example of the importance of respecting weather, and not being so arrogant to assume that humans can’t be disastrously affected by poor preparation for extreme weather events. (A good starting point to understand the current knowledge of hurricanes and global warming, as well as some recent developments on the balancing effects of warming on sheer – in the atlantic only – can be found here). Also look forward to a review of Chris Mooney’s Storm World once he gets me my copy – we’ll talk more about hurricanes then.
Alarmism is bad, yes. Purveying classic misunderstandings about climate and science to promote a do-nothing attitude is even worse.