Politics Magazine

Weather and Climate

Posted on the 22 March 2012 by Erictheblue

It's been so warm in Minnesota for so long--we had no winter to speak of--that the only locals not talking about the weather are the global warming deniers.  It should be their turn to explain that there's a difference between weather and climate, but they've disqualified themselves with all the stupid fun they have with a cold snap.  So:

A cold, snowy day in April is like when your light-hitting shortstop goes 2-for-4 with a double and a home run.  That's weather.  It doesn't prove that the shortstop is an all-star or that the Earth isn't warming.  Climate is like when the shortstop bats .190 for the rest of the season and Greenland melts into the sea.

Is it possible to discern a subtle shift in the argument?  It seems to me that the pejorative "global warming alarmist" acknowledges, however grudgingly, that the Earth is indeed warming up.  To do something about it, however--that would ruin the world economy.  But then who is guilty of ringing a false alarm?  Yale economist William Nordhaus answers:

The group of sixteen scientists argues that we should avoid alarm about climate change. I am equally concerned by those who allege that we will incur economic catastrophes if we take steps to slow climate change. The claim that cap-and-trade legislation or carbon taxes would be ruinous or disastrous to our societies does not stand up to serious economic analysis. We need to approach the issues with a cool head and a warm heart. And with respect for sound logic and good science.

That's the last paragraph.  In the rest of the article, published in the current New York Review, he demonstrates pretty clearly that "sound logic and good science" recommend action.

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