The Intersection

Tis the Season of Climate Idiocy

My latest Science Progress column takes on those, like right wing columnist Deroy Murdock or Lou Dobbs, who persist in trying to claim that winter weather refutes global warming. There are so, so, so many reasons this argument is dumb; and yet at the same time, who can dispute that the prevailing weather at a given time does highly influence the trajectory of the climate debate?

So while it’s intellectually silly to pretend that winter weather refutes global warming, it was also strategically silly to hold the giant United Nations conference in Copenhagen this December.

You can read the full column here.


  1. #1 Cal Harth
    February 5, 2009

    Excellent column! I have been baffled by the climate-change deniers continued refusal to accept what reputable science shows us. It is frightful that more education amongst Republicans leads to an increase in search for ways to discredit any link between human activity and climate. That is so backwards that I have to wonder how much of their education really sank in.
    I am determined to be optimistic that with Bush gone a more rational approach to climate-change will guide our policies. Maybe it is wishful thinking that Republicans will go along with it.

  2. #2 Joe
    February 5, 2009

    Aww, you forgot to mention the awesome “If Global Warming is Real Then Why is it Cold?”

  3. #3 Ashutosh
    February 5, 2009

    Lou Dobbs is dumb for many other reasons. And as Bill Maher once succinctly put it, “One day, when the skin starts melting off his face, Lou Dobbs will finally realize that it’s not the fault of a Mexican”

  4. #4 Ashutosh
    February 5, 2009

    On another note, that’s the reason I have always thought that “global warming” was something of a misnomer. “Climate change” definitely sounds better for two reasons; firstly because warming is not the only effect of human activities, and secondly because the former phrases just gives more ammunition to deniers like the ones above

  5. #5 Jon Winsor
    February 5, 2009

    Nicely done:

    My sense of how this alienation arises… goes something like this. The climate issue is already highly politicized, so people start out with partisan inclinations. Then, the more highly educated conservatives—people like Deroy Murdock—proceed in a typically “intellectual” fashion to find information about the climate issue that confirms what they already think. For this they go to partisan and like-minded sources, such as Fox News or any number of rightwing anti-science websites.

    Exactly. And frequently someone originally cooked up the spin for those sources as well. It all needs generous amounts of sunlight, preferably in real time. (For example, something like what this post does with the “CRA-caused-the-mortgage-meltdown” meme.)

  6. #6 Sciencefan
    February 5, 2009

    Although I do not have the numbers in front of me, the Weather Channel reports daily a comparison of warmer weather days to colder ones. I believe warmer outnumbers
    colder by about two thirds.

  7. #7 Lilian Nattel
    February 5, 2009

    All I know is that I’m glad my kids are getting a chance this winter to go sledding again because that might not happen much in the future.

  8. #8 Karl Sniderman
    February 5, 2009

    My son lives in Melbourne, Australia.
    Here are some excerpts from his recent letter. He’s talking about several days last week.

    it was really like living in a fan-forced oven; worst run of hot days on record, three days in a row above 44°C (which is about 111-112°F) with extremely low humidity around 10% or less

    Melbourne’s water supply has been cycling down lower and lower each summer for the past 10 years

    southern Australia is turning into a semi-arid zone as the climate belts shift southward, and the formerly reliable, rain-bearing weather that southern Australia used to receive in autumn, winter and spring, has shifted south of the continent altogether (ominously, completely as predicted by global warming climate models). So, what was once a reasonable place to live, with dry summers but reliably moist for the rest of the year, is developing an increasingly uncertain future.

  9. #9 TPL
    February 5, 2009


    Can you read the link below, and explain why we should disregard his conclusions?

  10. #10 Jon Winsor
    February 6, 2009

    TPL, Coby Beck’s blog has a catalog of oft-recycled arguments that purport to refute climate science, including your argument:

  11. #11 Mike Treder
    February 7, 2009

    Here is a simple way to put it…

    ‘Global warming’ means a general average increase in temperatures over the whole world, which has clearly been occurring for a century or more and accelerating in the last few decades. It’s due largely to growing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, which provides a greenhouse effect, keeping more sunlight in and warming the earth.

    ‘Climate change’ is a result of global warming: as average temps increase, weather patterns get messed up and funny things happen, like massive heat waves, droughts, rains, floods, hurricanes, and yes – even record cold spells and blizzards.

  12. #12 marv
    February 10, 2009

    Am I going to have to explain localized effects of back to back La Nina’s to you? I’ll leave it to William Gray. Anyway I’m sure if you show up in New York on March 8th, someone will help you 😉

    Anyway, some useful stuff here but no knowledge of the second law of thermodynamics … so I must move on.

    Now I know who that modeler is.

    Happy Landscheidt Minimum.

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