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Climate by anecdote

I must say, Craig is quite correct in this post of his, where he takes aim at this post over at 4&20.

Talking about climate change by using daily highs or even yearly data is a bad idea. It’s simply not the correct way to look at things, as Craig points out, but it’s also confusing. Next summer we could have a cooler summer, a later fire season, etc. Does that mean global warming isn’t happening? Of course not. Once you start using anecdotes, however, you open yourself to those looking to sow doubt about the phenomenon. When someone hears you point at a record daily high and then that winter sees someone point out that a month had a record low temperature, your argument has been negated. You’ve let someone conclude that it’s a wash and now they’ll continue ignoring claims that we need to act. It’s not just that it isn’t “proof” (which should never be used in this context in the first place), it’s that you’ve made a claim that can and will be effectively countered.

Of course, the effects of climate change will manifest itself in our weather. We should be careful how we interpret that, however. We won’t be able to pin a specific hurricane, hot day, or warm winter on climate change. The best we can do is take those events and project into the future. With global warming, we will probably see more days like the last few around here in the near future. That trend is global warming, not a random hot day.

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Categories: Environment
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