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Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in Science & Technology | 9 comments

This Is What Global Warming Looks Like

Commenter Davidpsummers responds to my Garfield & Global Warming post from the other day:

The use of partisan tactics has damaged the public understanding of climate change. For example, while blaming a heat wave or other weather event on climate change helps “sell” the idea to the public, the fact is that climate change simply can’t be linked to any one weather event. The quote above, while not explicitly linking the two, strongly implies the connection by having one statement follow the other. This keeps backfiring. After all, if people accept this statement, then they will, say the next winter, accept a statement like “The low last night was -5 F. The proponents of global warming keep pushing their flawed theories”.

Or, to put it another way, if one side shortcuts the science to sell a position, it will (no matter how right they are) validate the other side to shortcut the science to sell their position.

Yes, I intended to strongly imply that there is a connection between the current heat wave and global warming. And yes, yes, I know that “linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time.” But I don’t see that anything I said was a “partisan tactic.”

Fact is the U.S. broke 3,215 daily high temperature records in June. More significantly:

…since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now. [And where I live in Middle Georgia, for the past decade of hot summers, cold winters and drought.]

So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida. …

“What we’re seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer. “It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters.”

Oppenheimer said that on Thursday. That was before the East Coast was hit with triple-digit temperatures and before a derecho — an unusually strong, long-lived and large straight-line wind storm — blew through Chicago to Washington. The storm and its aftermath killed more than 20 people and left millions without electricity. Experts say it had energy readings five times that of normal thunderstorms.

To more specifically address summers’ concern that in winter we’ll use a cold spell to deny global warming, climate experts have explained that a consequence of global warming includes more extreme winters.

Like the birthers who will never believe Obama was born in Hawaii no matter what birth certificate you show them, some will never believe global warming is real. The problem is, they hold the rest of us hostage.

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