Climate change deniers from Ted Cruz to Rush Limbaugh are enjoying the hell out of Winter Storm Jonas. To them, the massive, one-in-a-generation snow storm and attendant floods attacking much of the Atlantic coast offers rock-solid proof that climate change is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by a bunch of overly-educated-dumber-than-dirt scientists and their elitist leftist enablers. "Hey, if snow is falling at record levels, how can there be global warming?" they gloatingly ask. One may recall that last year, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe sought to disprove climate change by throwing a snowball on the senate floor. We're happy to report that no one slipped and fell as a result of Inhofe's puerile prank. Donald Trump is another one who believes that snow disproves the existence of climate change; he has expressed this belief in innumerable tweets over the past several years. Despite this weekend's devastating storm, which has dumped historic amounts of snow on Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and much of New Jersey and New York, Texas Senator Ted Cruz holds fast to his belief that meteorologists are lying through their teeth. that climate change is a gigantic hoax.
Recently, The Associated Press (AP) asked eight climate and biological scientists to grade (on a 0-100 scale) the comments of top presidential candidates for their scientific accuracy. To eliminate bias, the names of the candidates were removed from their comments, so the scientists were scrutinizing them merely on scientific grounds. The three Democratic candidates scored highly, the nine Republicans anywhere between fair and deplorable:
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (94%);
- Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (91%) and
- Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (87%);
- Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (64%);
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, (54%);
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich, (47%);
- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, (38 %);
- Former H.P. CEO Carly Fiorina (28%);
- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, (21%);
- Businessman Donald Trump, (15%);
- Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (13%; and in dead last,
- Texas Senator Cruz (6%).
With regards to Senator Cruz, Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, told the Associated Press “This individual (Cruz) understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner.” Now, whether those at the bottom of the list really, truly find little truth in science, or are merely posturing in order to gain political advantage with Evangelicals, Biblical literalists and Luddites, is of little importance. Whatever their reason for dissing, denying or disparaging the findings of 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists is irrelevant; to my mind, their anti-science posture disqualifies them from achieving their dream -- of becoming President of the United States. This issue is so central, so intertwined with matters economic, strategic and ethical, that to ignore its reality is to run with one's eyes tightly shut and one's ears deafened to the sound of reason.
Yes, it is colder than a witch's thorax in New York, New Jersey and much of the Atlantic Coast. But on New Year's Day, it was warmer in Manhattan than it was in Miami. Alaska has experienced its warmest-ever January temperatures. California has been going through a monumental three-year drought -- despite the fact that it rained incessantly for three days earlier this month. Three days of torrential rains cannot undo a three-year drought; a couple of days of sub-arctic snowstorms cannot make up for rapidly eroding permafrost or receding ice floes. Think in terms of neurosis and psychosis. An individual afflicted with bipolarity has good days and weeks; times when they seem happy, optimistic and upbeat. And then, without warning, they become depressed, morose, uncommunicative - even suicidal. Are we to believe that when they are up, happy and positive that the bipolarity has miraculously been conquered? To do so would be both utterly foolish and irresponsible - and potentially lethal. In the same way, to see in a week's worth of heavy rain or a 72-hour cold snap all the proof one needs that there is no such thing as climate change or global warming is both utterly foolish and irresponsible - and potentially lethal. Then too, just as medical science has come up with numerous medications to alleviate the chemical imbalances which have so much to do with bipolarity, so too have climate scientists, environmental engineers and visionary inventors come up with many different ways of alleviating the ravages of climate change. The question is: are we going to be smart enough to take our medicine . . . to listen to both the doctors and pharmacologists, the scientists and inventors?
There is a huge difference between weather and climate. As Robert Heinlein noted in his 1973 novel Time Enough For Love, "The climate is what you expect; the weather is what you get." (So far as I can tell, Heinlein was likely rechanneling Mark Twain, who, speaking before a gathering of Oxford Dons noted that Climate lasts all the time and weather only a few days.) Twain, of course was not a climate scientist. If he were, he might have extended his pity remark by noting "We all live with the weather every day.Thus we understand intuitively what weather is, and that it is above all changeable. Climate is simply the annually recurring patterns of weather, averaged over the longer term."
But for all those who persist in seeing this week's snowstorms as proof that climate change is some sort of gigantic hoax, we turn again to Twain, who was wont to say:
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
And now, if you will excuse me, I've got to turn up the heat and put on a sweater . . . it's 47 degrees down here in South Florida.
It's all part of global warming.
Copyright©2016 Kurt F. Stone