A record 32.4 inches of snow fell on northern Virginia over the weekend, with a second wallop expected tonight. David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner used the blizzard as an opportunity to question an old Robert F. Kennedy Jr. column that cites personal anecdotes to make a broader argument about global warming:
In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.
In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington’s C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.
Freddoso cracks that Kennedy’s “anecdotal evidence seems to be falling flat this year.” He also gibes that Kennedy — a man “who flies around on private plane so as to tell larger numbers of people how they must live their lives in order to save the planet” — should “leave weather analysis to the meteorologists instead of trying to attribute every global phenomenon to anthropogenic climate change.” Freddoso’s post was quickly picked up by numerous blogs, including the Drudge Report, where, as of midnight Monday, it was ranked as the number-one most-read story on the popular news-aggregator site.
Kennedy tells National Review Online that all of this attention over one of his old columns is “ridiculous.”
“Idiots on the right like Rush [Limbaugh] like to point to any cold-weather anomalies as proof that global warming doesn’t exist,” Kennedy says. “They are either deliberately blind to science or trying to protect their corporatist interests.” Kennedy also sticks by the anecdotes from his childhood in Virginia. “It used to snow consistently in McLean — enough to have a ski hill,” he says. “It wasn’t just a single season.”
“Climate change is occurring,” Kennedy says. “A single snowstorm doesn’t change that. Let me put it this way: If you sit on a beach for a few minutes and watch the waves come in, you’ll see lots of waves of different sizes. If you sit there for six hours, you’ll see the tides going in and out. The same is true with global warming: A weather anomaly doesn’t tell the whole story of what is happening. Sometimes you’ll see thicker snowstorms in places you’d never expect, often due to an increase in coastal precipitation and greater evaporation.” RFK Jr. concludes: “It’s like if you hear that a person didn’t die from smoking, now you want to believe that smoking doesn’t cause cancer?”