The U.S. has been slammed by brutal winter weather recently, which is threatening to bring ice and snow as far south as Louisiana and South Carolina. People have died, orange crops in Florida are at risk, and snow removal budgets have been exceeded in many states (click here or here to read more). Across the pond, Europe and some parts of Asia continue to suffer through one of the coldest winters in the past century. Britain has been brought to a standstill by widespread snow, causing school and office closures across the nation. It is estimated that this weather will cost the country’s economy about 600 million pounds a day (that’s about 986 million Canadian dollars).
And in the midst of the chaos, a surf of the internet shows a multitude of climate change deniers shouting “It’s cold – PROOF that global warming is a scam!!” Wow – they just really don’t get it! Well, some of them do know better and just want to obscure the issue (check out the DeSmogBlog for more info on this); but a lot of them just haven’t done the research that is required to become better informed on this issue. This is what scares me about their nonsense – these “it’s unusually cold therefore climate change isn’t happening” people are simply trying to out-shout the scientists who have studied this topic in depth. It’s the Fox “News” approach to the most important issue humanity has ever faced – don’t do your homework, just shout louder than your opponent.
What is important to remember is that as more and more climate change-inducing emissions accumulate in our atmosphere (such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) our climate will become more and more unstable and unpredictable. The result will be more and more instances of extreme winter weather like parts of the world are now experiencing. There will also be more droughts, hurricanes, etc. That is one of the reasons that Former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern, recently revised his initial estimate that failure to act urgently on climate change would cost between 5 to 20 percent of global GDP, up to 50 percent or higher (a third of the world’s wealth).
Meanwhile, in the Arctic, The National Snow and Ice Data Center recently reported that “Arctic sea ice extent at end of December 2009 remained below normal, primarily in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic. Average air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean were much higher than normal for the month, reflecting unusual atmospheric conditions”.
But those folks at The National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado are scientists – and we all know how unreliable they can be, those people who have devoted their lives to studying our world, collecting data, and analyzing it. Let’s rather get our “facts” on the climate from PM Stephen “Kyoto is a socialist scam” Harper and Senator James “Global warming isn’t real because I got a brain freeze from a slushie” Inhofe (and let’s not forget Glenn Beck, who always subjects his opinions to rational scrutiny before sharing them with the Fox world).
We are all going to have to get used to increasingly unusual and uncomfortable weather, and public budgets, from municipal to national, will be eaten up more and more trying to deal with the fall-out effects of climate change if we don’t act now. Write a letter to your Member of Parliament, and to your local newspapers – spread the word, this weather is just a taste of what is to come if we don’t act NOW to bring our emissions down to 350 ppm.