Emily Yoffe’s muddled explanation of why she’s willing to pretend global warming won’t happen is deeply confused. Consider this statement (a version of which is a common part of the denialist toolkit):

I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).

Of course we can. In northern temperate zones, August 2008 will be hot. In the Midwest, there will be massive thunderstorms bubbling up, dropping sheets of rain, and the clouds will plant mighty roots of lighting into the prairie soil. In New York, it will be muggy. In Chicago, it won’t be quite as muggy, but it will be hotter.

And if we do nothing, August 2080 will be hotter than the average of August 2008 and August 2007.

What Yoffe means, of course, is that we can’t tell her when it will rain in August. But no one is talking about when it will rain in August 2080. That is weather. The broader pattern is climate, and we are pretty good at predicting that, which is why agriculture is able to persist, and why people can make reservations for vacation spots months ahead of time. In December 2008, Florida will have nicer weather than New York, and in August 2007, New Hampshire will have nicer weather than New York.


  1. #1 Fastlane
    June 26, 2007

    It’s just another form of the argument from ignorance that we see so often from creationists, Josh.

    “Science can’t tell us XXXX, therefore, all of science is wrong.”

    The sad thing is that so many of these people actually think these are valid arguments.


  2. #2 Christy Carlson
    June 26, 2007

    You have an understanding for the difference between climate prediction and weather prediction, and this quick blog does a good job of explaining that difference to the critics of global warming and climate change. Remember, Emily Yoffe is a writer for Slate, and this was an opinion piece. But it is opinion that changes the world, and not necessarily opinion based on fact. Good Job!

    — Regional Climatologist, High Plains Regional Climate Center

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