Whatever your beliefs may be regarding Global Climate Change, Global Warming, Anthropogenic Warming, or our naturally variable climate, please be careful to consider all arguments out of the context of the current weather pattern. Current weather is always transient and rarely "average," and this can make the bigger picture of climate harder to see.
We’re having a very mild winter, but it isn’t breaking a lot of temperature records. In Manitoba, our neighbors to the north, they are on a pace to set the record for the warmest winter on record for that province. However, much of Europe and northern Asia are having a very cold winter.
Here in the Fargo area, we’ve had a trend lately of milder-than-average winters and cooler-than-average summers. Interestingly, most letters and emails sent to me on the subject of "Global Warming" come during the mild winters and the subject seems to fade away when our summers turn cool.
Of course, this trend could be about to change. Our weather is prone to do such things. Late-winter and spring could be very cold (or not). This coming summer, we could finally have a heat wave and drought again (or not).
The scientists who study global climate change do so by looking at local weather trends against the background of what’s happening all around the world, and that’s really the only way to do it.
As far as my own thoughts on climate change go… (a blog response to a previous entry asked) My thoughts on global climate change have not changed at all the last few years. I continue to read the scientific journals to gather information on the subject and the scientific community continues to find reasons to support both sides of the issue: either that greenhouse emissions are greatly affecting the climate or that there is little or no effect.
It is crucial that we all understand that the idea of human-induced climate change must be considered against the backdrop a naturally variable climate. Our climate has been anything but static in the past. In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that there have been huge and sudden climate shifts in the past which have had a major impact on life on our planet. And so it is genuinely difficult to prove that any current climate change is being caused by people.
Every new finding that hits the national media (a mild winter, diminishing arctic ice, a bad hurricane season) that suggests it is the result of greenhouse is countered by another finding that suggests it is a natural variation. Unfortunately, these stories are often neglected by the national media because they are less interesting.
To be fair, the sheer volume of research findings the last few years leans to the concept of global warming as a real threat. However, scientific conclusion is never reached by poll.
Clearly, the Earth’s climate is warming up. However, how much it is warming up and why it is warming up are simply not understood.
I have always maintained that our dependency on Middle Eastern oil is a much better reason to reduce fossil fuel consuption that the threat of greenhouse warming.
And likewise, I have always maintained that natural climate change is a much more real threat that human-induced change.
Think what you will. It is a fascinating subject. Just please leave the current weather pattern out of the argument. After all, we’ve had warm weather before. No one was talking about global warming in the hot and dusty 1930s!