Balmy weather in the northeast US


Those of us who live in the northeast of the US have all been remarking on how warm it has been, with temperatures often running at twenty degrees Fahrenheit over normal. Today is expected to be in the mid 60s, about 30 degrees above normal. It is truly strange to see people wearing shorts and walking their dogs past green lawns on Christmas Eve in Cleveland. In response to yesterday’s post, commenters who live in Australia also weighed in with how much of a heat wave they are going through right now.

This year’s strong El Nino is said to be the cause of this spell of unusually warm weather. Science-literate people know the difference between weather, a purely local and short-term phenomenon, and climate, which is determined by large scale and long-term effects, and know better than to point to local events as proof of global warming. For example, last week I was watching Sri Lanka play New Zealand in a test match in Dunedin and noticed as the camera panned over the spectators that people were wearing heavy jackets and huddled under blankets. On checking I found that the temperature in Dunedin that day was just 47oF while in Cleveland it was about 60oF. So on that day, Cleveland in winter was warmer than New Zealand in summer. But that kind of weirdness is due to local fluctuations and not evidence for or against global warming.

But climate-change denialists have no such qualms and have used the occasional blizzards of past winters to ‘refute’ global warming, the most ridiculous example being James Inhofe bringing a snowball to the floor of the US senate to ridicule the idea that the planet was warming. Winter cold and snow also brings with them letters to the editor of the newspapers laughing at the idea of warming.

So since these people cannot tell the difference between climate and weather and think that one data point proves things, will this warm weather cause them to change their beliefs? A hopeful sign is a recent poll.

More than half, or 58 percent, of Republicans surveyed said they approved of U.S. efforts to work with other nations to limit global warming, the poll showed. Forty percent said they would support a presidential candidate who did so.

Sixty-eight percent, meanwhile, said they either somewhat or strongly agree that they are willing to take individual steps to help the environment, such as cutting down on air-conditioning or buying a more efficient car.

Republicans surveyed were split on whether they would support a candidate who believes climate change is primarily man-made, with 30 percent saying they would vote for such a candidate and 27 percent saying they would not.

Republicans were less enthusiastic about fighting climate change than Democrats, but more willing to address it than the party’s presidential candidates. Ninety-one percent of Democrats approve of the United States taking action.

But hard-core denialists won’t budge. With them what we are seeing is an ideological commitment, not unlike a religious belief, because they suffer from CCDD or Climate Change Denial Disorder.

Funny or die has obtained video of the industrialist Koch brothers who have sponsored the creation of a climate change deniers anthem to boost the spirits of the people they have been propagandizing.

Comments

  1. Nick Gotts says

    If we were living in a near-future SF novel, the current unusually warm weather (we have it in the UK too) would be the beginning of runaway climate change making itself evident… Nature’s response to the inadequate Paris agreement.

  2. Kimpatsu1 says

    Once, when in his cups, the leader of Republicans Abroad in Japan admitted to me that he know full well that climate change is real, but if he were to ever admit this publicly, he would have to change his lifestyle and that would never do. Let others make sacrifices, not him.

  3. says

    Normally, the dividing line between warm and cold winter weather in North America is either a straight line or a V-shape (warm in southwest and southeast Canada, cold down to Oklahoma). But a weather map I saw yesterday showed how much change there is: an east-west split. It’s not just bizarre, it’s frightening…or at least, it should be except to the selfish and oblivious.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/12/23/scores-of-eastern-u-s-cities-to-shatter-christmas-eve-warm-weather-records/

    Kimpatsu1 (#2) –

    Which is the attitude in many countries. China and India have been arguing hard against limits on pollution because they want their economies and societies to be just like Europe and North America, and they call “western” countries hypocrites for opposing economic growth. Considering the history of “western” countries preventing development in China and India (and others) for their own benefit, it’s hard to argue against. It’s the tragedy of the common planet.

  4. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    “James Inhofe bringing a snowball to the floor of the US senate to ridicule the idea that the planet was warming.”
    Someone should start a habit of bringing a glass of rainwater every day snow would have been normal.

    BTW, here in 60 degrees North we still don’t have any ice or snow. The Gulf of Finland is about 4 degrees Celsius, i.e. the vertical circulation is still bringing latent heat to the surface from the deeper waters. There probably won’t be any ice in January either. And we used to be the country that built the best icebreakers in the world, because we really needed them…

  5. says

    I wonder how many climate change denialists would suddenly change their tune if doing something about it would make everything cheaper for consumers while making energy producers just as much if not more money than they do from oil.

  6. Who Cares says

    Here in the Netherlands the temperature average in December is 3.7, this year it is on track to be 9.8
    At least we are not beating last year which is currently the record setter and scaringly enough had 0 on the Hellmann number (quick and dirty indicator of how bad is the winter, summing the daily average temperatures from Nov 1st to March 31st if those are below 0 Celsius, a day can still have had freezing temperatures though but not enough to keep the average below 0.)

  7. mostlymarvelous says

    Kimpatsu1

    … he know full well that climate change is real, but if he were to ever admit this publicly, he would have to change his lifestyle and that would never do.

    I understand that people who would have to change their job would be reluctant to acknowledge climate change. But I have no idea why people whose jobs are not on the line think they have to change their lifestyle significantly – though I suppose if they fly somewhere every week they’d have to make some significant changes.

    For most people most of the time, all they need is for the lights and the oven to come on when you hit the switch. Appliances, heating, cooling and other equipment that are more efficient users of power for the same performance as less efficient ones have no impact on anyone’s “lifestyle”. A better built home or business premises that’s more comfortable without spending much, or anything, on heating or cooling looks good from any angle. Hybrid cars, and especially EVs, have performance equivalent to or better than ICE driven cars. Better public transport may not be of any direct benefit to people who still need cars for whatever reason, but the indirect benefits of easing traffic flow when lots of other people shift to public transport are pretty attractive.

    Either they’ve swallowed the line that acknowledging climate change means we’ll end up living in caves gnawing on raw root vegetables – or – there’s something that I don’t know about that affects the “lifestyle” of people like this.

  8. says

    left0ver1under @3

    Normally, the dividing line between warm and cold winter weather in North America is either a straight line or a V-shape (warm in southwest and southeast Canada, cold down to Oklahoma). But a weather map I saw yesterday showed how much change there is: an east-west split. It’s not just bizarre, it’s frightening…or at least, it should be except to the selfish and oblivious.

    Bizarre, to be sure, but mostly confusing. I figure can be frightened later once I’ve wrapped my head around the changes in the weather.

    mostlymarvelous @7

    For most people most of the time, all they need is for the lights and the oven to come on when you hit the switch.

    Yep. And I’d love it if we could do that in more environmentally-friendly ways.

    Appliances, heating, cooling and other equipment that are more efficient users of power for the same performance as less efficient ones have no impact on anyone’s “lifestyle”.

    For people at the low end of the economic scale, upgrading could very well have a sizable impact on one’s lifestyle.

    A better built home or business premises that’s more comfortable without spending much, or anything, on heating or cooling looks good from any angle. Hybrid cars, and especially EVs, have performance equivalent to or better than ICE driven cars.

    Again, only if these things are affordable for ALL people, instead of being pitched as “luxury” items.

    Better public transport may not be of any direct benefit to people who still need cars for whatever reason, but the indirect benefits of easing traffic flow when lots of other people shift to public transport are pretty attractive.

    Better public transit benefits everyone, period. It lets people who don’t drive still be independent, like seniors and disabled people.

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