Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global what?

Record snows in upstate New York, record low temperatures in January on the West Coast. I haven't looked, but I am sure the right wing blowhards are already writing their "pooh-poohs" about global climate change. In their stratified (or is that straight-jacketed) minds, there must be a perfect regression line between atmospheric carbon and temperature to prove climate change, something that looks like this:

Of course, it doesn't work that way. There's too much chaos in weather and climate to reliably place much significance on a single year's weather patterns. Tree lines don't move up or down mountains in response to one year's temperatures (yes, they are moving up). Polar ice doesn't break up and melt because of one hot summer at high latitudes (yes, the ice is shrinking). One needs to be looking at the trends over time - the big picture. In fact global climate change proceeds exactly like this (actual plots of average global temperatures):

But leave it to the know nothings on the right such as Jonah Goldberg to come up with fatuous pronouncements like this:

"But in the history of trade-offs, never has there been a better one than trading a tiny amount of global warming for a massive amount of global prosperity. Earth got about 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer in the 20th century while it increased its GDP by 1,800 percent, by one estimate. How much of that 0.7 degrees can be laid at the feet of that 1,800 percent is unknowable, but let's stipulate that all of the warming was the result of our prosperity and that this warming is in fact indisputably bad (which is hardly obvious). That's still an amazing bargain. Life expectancies in the United States increased from about 47 years to about 77 years. Literacy, medicine, leisure and even, in many respects, the environment have improved mightily over the course of the 20th century, at least in the prosperous West.
" Given the option of getting another 1,800 percent richer in exchange for another 0.7 degrees warmer, I'd take the heat in a heartbeat."

Let's see just how fast sea levels rise, Jonah. Maybe you can make a killing on beachfront property speculation. And Lord knows, there should be lots of cash in building homes in Iowa for the hundreds of millions who will be displaced by the inundation of the coastlines. Oh, that is if the breadbasket of the nation hasn't been desertified.

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