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10 March 2009

Like Clockwork

If it's winter, then you know we're overdue for yet another Jeff Jacoby column about the apparent absence of global warming. Last year's column came in January, during a cold snap. (Guess what Jacoby wrote when temperatures in Boston soared a week later. That's right: nothing.)

Jacoby cannot abide the fact that there is a growing consensus that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are affecting global climate, albeit in not suddenly. (The federal government notes that global temperatures have risen between 0.6 and 0.9 degrees Celsius. That is enough to affect the climate, but not, of course, enough, to turn Canada into Florida.

While there are a number of opinions about how to stop the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, there is consensus that the increase has a real effect on the climate. And a useful side effect of reducing carbon dioxide emissions is that it will reduce the use of fossil fuels, of which the Earth has only a finite supply.

But for Jacoby, the fact that Canada still has snow is evidence that the scientific community is full of crap.

But it isn't such hints of a planetary warming trend that have been piling up in profusion lately. Just the opposite.

The United States has shivered through an unusually severe winter, with snow falling in such unlikely destinations as New Orleans, Las Vegas, Alabama, and Georgia. On Dec. 25, every Canadian province woke up to a white Christmas, something that hadn't happened in 37 years. Earlier this year, Europe was gripped by such a killing cold wave that trains were shut down in the French Riviera and chimpanzees in the Rome Zoo had to be plied with hot tea. Last week, satellite data showed three of the Great Lakes—Erie, Superior, and Huron—almost completely frozen over. In Washington, D.C., what was supposed to be a massive rally against global warming was upstaged by the heaviest snowfall of the season, which paralyzed the capital.

Every winter Jacoby notes that, golly gee, it's cold in winter and therefore the environmentalists are full of it. But is it really bizarre that Canada, all of which gets snow every winter, happened to have snow across the country in late December? Is it really bizarre that cold snaps hit countries that normally get cold weather? And is it really bizarre that six inches of snow (the "heaviest of the season") paralyzed Washington?

Posted by Tim W at 3/10/2009 12:17:00 AM

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