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Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Open Letter

From: FARfetched
To: “Climate change skeptics” and other Global Warming deniers

Undoubtedly, many of you have been strangely warmed by the first Alberta Clipper to come south in about five years. Those video clips of snowbound New Englanders and Chicagoans, even if you’re one of them, have given you that warm fuzzy feeling of vindication… here’s your “proof” that you know better than those intellectuals — what do they know? After all, they’ve only spent their entire careers studying the incredibly complex system we call the Earth’s climate.

Well, here’s a news flash for you, Bubba… have you checked the calendar lately? This is the season known (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) as “winter.” The birds fly south to warmer climes, snow falls in the north, people put away their boats and get out their skis? Remember? It’s cold because it gets cold this time of year. Do you really think that global warming means palm trees will start growing along Buffalo’s Lake Erie waterfront? Don’t be silly.

Winters are a lot less harsh than they used to be, not only in my lifetime but since I moved to Planet Georgia in 1982. Back then, hard cold snaps like this were a yearly occurrence, and below-zero (F) temperatures something you’d see roughly every other year. Not any more — the weather dudes tell us our single-digit temps are the first in 5 years, and we haven’t seen below-zero weather for 10 to 15 years. In Michigan, people now complain bitterly about large amounts of cold and snow that were commonplace when I was a kid.

Don’t take my word for it, look at what’s been happening to global temperatures over the last 160 years or so:

Global temperature rise since 1850

Sure, there are blips either way, but since the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear the trend has been up. This year might be a blip down, maybe not. I noted last year that August was a lot more pleasant than usual; only the first few days were over 90F here.

There’s also that little minor detail about the Arctic ice cap, and how it seems to be getting smaller nearly every year. By the way, the chart above depicts average temperature rises; the Arctic is warming much faster than… say, the southeastern US.

So enjoy your shot of cold weather; it will be gone in a few days. I know I enjoyed a milder than usual August last year; if a few days of bug-killing cold is the price to pay for that, I’ll pay it. None of us know exactly what the weather is going to bring us in two weeks, let alone a month; the farther out we go, the more we have to rely on trends (which suggest warming overall) and computer models (ditto). But I do know that we’ll all be bitching about how hot it is in 6 months or so.


  1. Good morning FAR. Sometimes you wish you could give a nice steaming hot cup of “LOL” to the people who roll down the windows of their SUVs only to tell you that since Global Warming hasn't been proved in a contained experiment in a laboratory setting, it /cannot/ possibly be true and that therefore they need not worry about it. The other big lie these people tell themselves is that any such process would be so slow that we need not worry about it in our lifetimes. Those same clowns, of course, are the ones who leave their luxo-barges idling outside whenever they go into the stores, or letting them warm up for half an hour in the morning when it's cold like this.

    No, folks, sorry, the absence of scientific proof (from a controlled experiment in a laboratory setting) is not in itself proof that the thing is not going down that way. We send people to jail for life on far less definite proof.

    Mercifully, the fact of the economy crashing will probably result in smaller quantities of fossil fuels being burned. Let's look on the bright side of things! :)

  2. Hey Nudge… it was more like a nice big cup of STFU, but either way works. ;-)

    Unfortunately, while you're right about burning less fossil fuel, there's the prospect of gigantic tundra farts really blowing the lid off of things (Google for "arctic methane geysers"). The Russians have already found a couple of them spewing. Certainly, that methane could be captured & used, but then we're back to square one with CO2 issues.

  3. The methane is supposedly 20x more potent than plain old CO2, when it comes to trapping unwanted heat in the atmosphere.

    It is sad, but even if the whole FF-burning misadventure were to end right now, and human population were to return to pre-1850 levels, the damage would continue for decades if not for centuries. So many of the secondary and tertiary effects are not only baked into the cake but moving right along already.

    My boss is a global-warming denialista. Oh, and he just bought another new Sloburban for his solo commute to the office.

  4. Hey guys! Well, here it's a balmy 20 degrees above, a 40 degree swing from yesterday! Whew! Made it through another cold snap! Now, another blizzard, better go check the oil on the John Deere..

    John goes into great detail about methane gas being released in "Atlantis". A great book about CC, and of ancient civilizations past.

    Yup, those nasty feedback loops... no escaping it. Hopefully, some of that "precious cargo" of humanity will make it!


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