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Climate Change and Snow

29 October, 2008

Yesterday, we were hit by a late-October snow storm.  Areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania got 6, 10, 17, even 20 or more inches of heavy, wet, slushy shit snow.  Down here in the valley there was no accumulation.  And, because of the storm, I had the same conversation twice.

Tuesday morning I went for a physical.  Well, actually a blood test and a lung-function test (the test is part of the on-going health screening for World Trade Center responders).  The receptionist told me that the doctors and nurses were running late because of the snow. 

Then she said it.  “Global warming my butt.”

I was bored, so I took the bait.  “What do you mean?”

“They keep talking about the world getting hotter and then we get this stuff.  If earth’s getting hotter, why is it snowing?”

I took a deep breath and said, “Remember, when climatologists talk about global climate change, they are talking about a world-wide average.  Some parts of the globe may actually get cooler while the world average goes up.  At the very least, though, a warmer earth means that there’s more energy in the atmosphere, so you get bigger storms and wider swings of weather.”

She looked at me for a moment and blinked.  Twice.  I think she was surprised at my mini-lecture (and yes, I really do talk like that previous paragraph) as I was wearing a denim shirt, cowboy hat, jeans, an ear ring, and was sporting a gen-X beard.

Then she sighed and said, “Or maybe God is just kicking things back to normal.”

“Have a good day,” I said.  I sat down, opened Foucault’s Pendulum and started reading.

Today, at work, I had almost exactly the same conversation with a coworker, minus the God reference.  The one at work, though, agreed with me about the energy in the atmosphere and global averages.

Why is it that when it is abnormally hot, nobody blames global warming but when it is cold, large numbers of people claim it negates the claims of anthropogenic global warming?

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3 comments

  1. Been there, done that, I feel your pain.


  2. Why is it that when it is abnormally hot, nobody blames global warming but when it is cold, large numbers of people claim it negates the claims of anthropogenic global warming?

    Because at least 50% of the American populace is stupid. I’m waiting for Phillychief to come along and tell me that my estimate is way too low. 🙂


  3. Nan: I hear ya.

    Chappie: Why would you assume that PhillyChief has a better grasp of the idiocitude of the American public? He lives in Philly. You (if I recall correctly) are from the DC area. The only major difference is Philly has home grown idiots while DC has to import them.



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