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The Fools on the Hill

by: Eric B.

Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:17:13 AM EST


Used to be an annual thing during winter that Detroit News doodler and crackpot conspiracy mongerer Henry Payne would treat us all to one of his darling cartoons in which two people were standing around outside. One of them would either be shivering and have icicles developing on his nose, or they'd be waist deep in snow ... it depended on the weather of the week. The other character would invariably say something like, "I wish global warming would hurry up." The idea was that, because winter produces winter weather, global warming is a myth.

He stopped drawing those cartoons, and I'd thought maybe it was because someone had sat him down and explained to him the difference between climate and weather, and the difference between global mean temperature and normal seasonal, regional variations. I was apparently wrong.

Saving polar bears may be fashionable among rich elites, but Detroit’s jammed shelters this week are evidence that cold weather threatens the poor among us. City shelters reported they were at capacity as the frostbitten homeless took refuge from the bitter cold. Exposure to sub-zero temperatures were blamed for four deaths in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Government’s primary role is to provide public safety, reliable infrastructure, and a safety net for the poor. Yet, the Obama administration’s global warming obsession shows how far Washington has strayed from core services.

A few weeks ago, Payne blamed the president for Detroit's spate of gun violence. Why? Because the president won't forcibly project to minority groups that he is at the head of a traditional nuclear family. Here, when people freeze to death, it's also his fault. Why? Because the president thinks global warming is a serious problem.

The theme was, as is so often the case, picked up by another member of the rightwing echo chamber, that dunderheaded lummox around here known affectionately as Magic Frank.

But severe winter weather, which can't be blamed on man-made global warming, has been even more deadly.

More than 100 have died because of the cold in Poland, 190 have lost their lives in Russia, dozens more have lost their lives from the frigid weather in Belarus and the Ukraine, 17 have died in Afghan refugee camps, while other deaths have been reported in the U.K., Spain, Portugal and France (including three soldiers bound for Mali).

For rebuttal to the first paragraph, we consult science.

In a similar way, the normal ups and downs of weather make it hard to see slow changes in climate. To find climate trends you need to look at how weather is changing over a longer time span. Looking at high and low temperature data from recent decades shows that new record highs occur nearly twice as often as new record lows.

New records for cold weather will continue to be set, but global warming's gradual influence will make them increasingly rare.

But, then, we already knew this.

Eric B. :: The Fools on the Hill
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