April 15, 2007


UPDATE: An interesting observation from TigerHawk:

Why doesn't climate change animate the electorate in the United States the way it seems to do in Europe? I believe it is because we have not experienced it in the same way, either at the level of scientifically meaningless anecdotes or long-term temperature trends. . . .

This is not purely a reflection of piles of snow in Duluth and barely cool weather in Ireland. If we look at a generation's worth of actual data, the different impact of changing temperatures around the world probably explains why the issue inspires such passion in Europe and Asia (and among the tiny fraction of Americans who travel to those places regularly), but is a political loser in the United States. . . .

Starting in March, the United States has a very different experience from Europe and northern Asia. In general, the rest of the populated northern hemisphere is much hotter than it used to be. In the United States, the only meaningful changes have been in the southwest, which is thinly populated and only marginally influences American politics. The ugly truth is that we Americans are, in general, enjoying warmer winters without paying the price of hotter summers. In most of (unairconditioned) Europe the winters were much milder to begin with, but the summers are now significantly hotter. Therefore, speaking only for us American humans, climate change seems, so far, like a good deal for us, even if it is a bad deal for them. No wonder the subject generates so much rage in Europe, but not nearly enough concern in the United States to motivate meaningful changes in behavior or move a decisive number of votes.

Interesting. Of course, the other reason it inspires passion in Europe is that it's spun as an anti-American issue. That may also explain why so many Americans are cool to the idea.

MORE: Reader Richard Horn thinks my constant noting of cold weather at global-warming events means I dispute the existence of global warming. Jeez, how many times do I have to point out that that isn't the case?

Indeed, from my perspective we should be doing the same things -- working hard to reduce the use of fossil fuels -- regardless of what you think about global warming. But the self-righteousness and exaggeration of the global-warming advocates does set my teeth on edge, and encourage mockery. As I wrote here: "I don't know a lot about climatology. But I know a lot about media bulldozing operations, and I see one of those in action at the moment on this subject. . . . However, my own position is that it doesn't matter much in terms of policy. We should be trying to mimimize the burning of fossil fuels regardless of whether it's a cause of global warming or not. The rather patent hucksterism -- and outright bullying -- of some global warming advocates, though, will probably hurt that cause more than help it over the longer term."

And it is positively uncanny how cold weather tends to set in whenever there's a big global-warming event scheduled. They're talking about snow here in Knoxville tonight, on April 15th! You know that if this weekend had been unseasonably warm, all the press accounts would be stressing how this was proof of Al Gore's thesis, instead of meaningless noise, which is what any short-term weather fluctuation is.

STILL MORE: Thanks, Bethshan!