Friday, January 03, 2014

Can We Talk About The Weather?

The WSJ editors pine for the good ol’ days when weather wasn’t climate:

In case our California and Miami readers haven't heard, it's cold across most of North America. Very cold. Thursday's high in Minneapolis soared to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, which was toasty compared to minus-4 degrees in Winnipeg. The cold snap is spread across the Continent and includes a major snowstorm in the Northeast, which as usual is freaking out in ways that would make residents of the Twin Cities shake their heads.

Which is exactly what we’ve been doing of late especially when we hear things like “temperatures in New York will plummet into the teens.” My God, how will you poor people ever survive?

Our favorite headline of the week was the CBC report that "Winnipeg deep freeze as cold as uninhabited planet." The Manitoba Museum, a connoisseur of such things, is reporting that on Tuesday Mars had reached a maximum temperature of minus-29 Celsius (minus-20 Fahrenheit), which Winnipeg didn't reach until 3 p.m. that day. The Mars temperature comes courtesy of the Curiosity Rover.

This being 2014, when everything devolves to politics, any spell of cold or heat inevitably leads to explanations of climate change. The conservative websites are having a good time pointing to the cold temps as a repudiation of global-warming models, while the global-warming crowd says even the cold is proof of...climate change. You see, it's all about climate extremes. That's why the liberals no longer refer to "global warming."

Normal human beings who prefer not to politicize the weather report understand that climate change has nothing to do with what is...winter. The average temperature in Winnipeg in December was close to minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it only the fifth or sixth coldest on record. CBC says as recently as the year 2000, the Manitoba capital averaged minus-7.6 degrees in December.

For our part we're looking forward to the weekend NFL playoff games, especially the one in frigid Green Bay (Sunday forecast: minus-3). We long even more for the day when we can gripe about the weather without having to think about Al Gore.

That would be a welcome change. I’m all for a truce in the weather wars. While we can (and should) still argue about the causes and impacts of climate change, we should take weather out of the mix. If it’s unusually hot or dry today or this week, this month, or even this year it doesn’t prove that man-made global warming is taking place. Likewise, if it’s unusually cold today, this week, this month, or even this year it doesn’t refute the arguments for man-made global warming. Same goes for the hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, blizzards and other extreme weather events cited by both sides as evidence of the validity of their position.

Climate is climate and weather is weather. They aren’t the same thing and we should all stop treating them as such. Then we can return to a time when the weather wasn’t tainted by politics and was a neutral conversation topic to help break the social ice.

How about that weather, huh?