A Tale of Two Winters
by Kiko Matsing
Early winter storm over Illinois in December 2008.
(Image Source: NASA Earth Observatory)
I look forward to this winter with somewhat morbid curiosity. I had visited Montreal once for Christmas, and Mt. Rigi in the Swiss Alps, so I know what winter is like, but I haven’t actually lived this far north to witness the change of seasons. Champaign-Urbana is the small grey patch in the NASA satellite photo just south of the last ‘n’ in Bloomington–a 2.5-hour drive from Chicago on Lake Michigan. Last night, we were pummeled with seven inches of snow. I peered out my bedroom window at midnight to find everything white–and uncannily bright–so I went out thrilled to take photos of my first winter storm.
The winter season of 2006/2007 was one of the warmest on record. This was grave news at MSNBC:
This winter was the warmest on record worldwide, the U.S. government said Thursday in the latest worrisome report focusing on changing climate.
The report comes just over a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said global warming is very likely caused by human actions and is so severe it will continue for centuries.
USA Today reported:
“There’s been weird weather all across the United States,” says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, which was walloped by two major snowstorms last month. He blames an El Niño warming pattern in the Pacific for dry and warm conditions elsewhere.
“Another big player is what we call the ‘long-term trend,’ ” said Heidi Cullen of The Weather Channel. “That’s a euphemism for global warming.”
(from Warm winter wreaks havoc)
Well, what about the unusually bitter winter this time around? Upstate New York was hit with 55 inches of snow, while Florida is all in panic to save their oranges. The Christian Science Monitor explains it this way:
On the surface, it certainly can appear that way. But just because some of us are experiencing a particularly cold and snowy winter, doesn’t refute the fact that the globe is warming as we continue to pump carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere…
“You can’t tell much about the climate or where it’s headed by focusing on a particularly frigid day, or season, or year, even,” writes Eoin O’Carroll in an online blog for The Christian Science Monitor. “It’s all in the long-term trends,” concurs Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Most scientists agree that we need to differentiate between weather and climate. NOAA defines climate as the average of weather over at least a 30-year period. So periodic aberrations – like the harsh winter storms across many parts of the country this winter – do not call the science of human-induced global warming into question.
It’s nice to be reassured that we are still on track towards global climate meltdown.
It seems that the AGW (accelerated global warming) crowd is not averse to forget the distinction between climate and weather when the forecast suits their end-of-the-world predictions. Their statements then become more “nuanced” and “qualified” when the winds go the other way. There is no refuting the faith of the religious. Unfortunately, we have to wait 30-or-so years to see where climate trends go (remember the cooling trend 40 years ago?) to verify/refute the oracles of the AGW prophets. It’s a win-win situation for these grant-fund-fattened scaremongers.
By the way, Trenberth is one of the climate scientists embroiled in the hacked CRU email scandal. He famously said: “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”