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Global Warming Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Going To Be Cold Anymore

The most irritating anti-global warming argument to me is the “How can there be warming if I’m buried in snow and freezing?” chestnut.

What bugs me most about it is not how infantile it is – believing weather in one little corner of the world somehow precludes global climate trends is so logically stunted that it indicates a mental capacity of a five-year-old – but that I know most of the people who use such an argument are smarter than that.

The only other explanation for thinking this way is willful ignorance. They have another reason to not want to believe in global warming (most likely politics-based), so they’re willing to grab onto any counter-argument, no matter how intelligence-insulting it might be. Man is that irritating. And depressing.

So explaining the science behind it all is useless, since those who most need to see it will simply refuse to. But what the heck, let’s throw it out there anyway, courtesy of NASA’s James Hansen.

In his latest draft essay, Dr. Hansen says (pdf) 2009 “tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records,” a full 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than in the period of climatology (NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies uses 1951‐1980 as its base period).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2009 summary generally backs up this assertion, saying ’09 was 1 degree warmer than typical, but its rankings are a little different – it places ’09 as only the fifth-hottest on record. (The discrepancies in NASA and NOAA rankings can be attributed to “different treatment for urban heat effects and different procedure for extrapolation to data poor areas,” according to GISS scientist Gavin Schmidt, a regular contributor to RealClimate.org, climate scientists’ online bible.)

The GISS numbers take into account variables such as El Nino, La Nina, sunspot cycles and urban warming, and Hansen also explains why, exactly, it’s been so cold across much of the U.S. in the past few months. (It comes down to surface pressure, which was at its lowest since the mid-1980s, allowing polar air to kick farther south than typical).

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“Global Warming Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Going To Be Cold Anymore”