Furious that global-warming realists have used the snow storms to suggest that global warming isn’t something to worry about, the alarmists are hitting back in a big way, alleging that the snow storms are in fact exactly what we’d expect from global warming. There’s a good example is in the New York Times today. Roger Pielke Jr has a good response to both sides:
What happens in the weather this week or next tells us absolutely nothing about the role of humans in influencing the climate system. It is unjustifiable to claim that a cold snap or heavy snow disproves or even casts doubts predictions of long-term climate change. It is equally unjustifiable to say that a cold snap or heavy snow in any way offers empirical support for predictions of long-term climate change. This goes for all weather events.
Further, it is professionally irresponsible for scientists to claim that some observed weather is “consistent with” long-term predictions of climate change. Any and all weather fits this criteria. Similarly, any and all weather is also “consistent with” failing predictions of long-term climate change. The “consistent with” canard is purposely misleading.
Indeed it is, but it’s misleading in more ways than the obvious. Alarmists have actually been saying for a while that we should expect fewer snow storms. RFK Jr, for instance, was complaining about the lack of snow in D.C. a mere fifteen months ago. Why would they do this? Because the IPCC and the U.S.’s own Climate Change Science Program say so:
EPA TSD ES3 “Rising temperatures have generally resulted in rain rather than snow in locations and seasons where climatological average (1961-1990) temperatures were close to 0C. (32F).”
IPCC FAQ 3.2 Observations show that changes are occurring in the amount, intensity, frequency and type of precipitation. More precipitation now falls as rain rather than snow in northern regions. For a future warmer climate, models project a 50 to 100% decline in the frequency of cold air outbreaks relative to the present in NH winters in most areas.
Of course, as Roger Pielke intimates, the general alarmist line is that their current interpretation is “consistent with” the IPCC conclusions, even when it is at least 90 degrees removed, or, in this case, 180 degrees.
To return to the general point, climate realists should be very careful with pointing to the snow storms as proof global warming has stopped or some other such claim. They aren’t. It’s always amusing when cold weather affects the announcement of a new global-warming agency or something like that, but it doesn’t invalidate the hypothesis. We know, for instance, that the satellite data show that it was actually an extraordinarily warm January globally. Rio is currently suffering a deadly heatwave. All of which suggests we should continue to keep an eye on climate issues, and the best way to do that is to clean up climate science in the wake of climategate. If the alarmists succeed in getting us to debate the snow storms and what they mean rather than the state of climate science, then they’ll have achieved a small victory after suffering defeat after defeat.
And with that, I have snow to shovel . . .