No doubt everyone reading this blog knows about the fun that conservatives have been having with the recent snowstorm and its implications for the climate change debate--note, for instance, the igloo constructed by Senator James Inhofe's family as a future home for Al Gore. This is probably inevitable, given the sheer amount of snow that has fallen in recent months, and in such unusual places as Dallas and Baghdad. But it's also unwise. Climate change alarmists are right in distinguishing between "weather" and "climate." Moreover, turnabout is fair play; skeptics may be having their day now, but what happens if we get a few days of hot weather this summer?
If we want to have an intelligent conversation over global warming, we need to ask what it would take to falsify it; after all, what cannot be falsified cannot be properly termed science. And while one can make a strong case that an increase in global temperatures can make snowstorms more likely, what are we to make of interpretations to the contrary? Last year environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. complained that, thanks to global warming, "Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled." A study done at Columbia in 2005 noted a marked reduction in snowfall over North America over the past 150 years. The National Resources Defense Council points out that "[s]ince the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington." And while Great Britain is in the midst of the coldest winter in thirty years, the Daily Telegraph helpfully suggests that "the surprise with which we have greeted the extreme conditions only reinforces how our climate has changed over the years"; after all, during the 19th century "extreme weather" used to occur "every five years or so."
In other words, global warming produces more snowfall and snowstorms, except when it produces fewer of them. Of course, the climate change establishment will respond that climate is highly complex, and not subject to such simplistic analyses. I'm certain that it is, which is why I'm not building an igloo in my front yard. But the American economy is complex, too, and I sure don't want to see it thrown into further confusion, and a deeper recession, on the basis of claims that are not apparently falsifiable--and not, therefore, science.