January 16, 2004


Itís not often that a weather report makes you laugh like Santa Claus on nitrous oxide:

Residents of the U.S. Northeast shivered through an extreme blast of Arctic air and snow on Thursday as temperatures from New York to Maine plunged toward record lows.

A five-inch blanket of snow grounded more than 225 flights at New York City airports and canceled school for children in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As much as 10 inches of snow fell in Michigan.

And just why are these low, low temperatures so hilarious? Jeff Jarvis explains.

UPDATE. "Coldest day in the city for decades." Ha, ha, hahahahaha!

Posted by Tim Blair at January 16, 2004 09:51 PM

You missed the point, Tim. Global warming is what is causing all the glaciers to melt which then flow into the oceans, reducing their overall temperature which creates a cooling effect on the atmosphere which results in a new ice age.

Global warming is creating global cooling.

Got it?

Posted by: Mark at January 16, 2004 at 10:46 PM

I know, Mark. It's wrong of me to laugh. Won't someone please think about the penguins?

Posted by: tim at January 16, 2004 at 10:53 PM

"We don't control the environment," said Lisa Sabori, a public-relations official for MoveOn.org, the group sponsoring the event.

My nomination for Ironic Flatulence of 2004 (TM), though the year is yet young.

Tim, being an enviro-hippy, I will be happy to show narcissistically-tinged concern for the plight of penguins, whether they live at the South or North Pole. My tears will embrace all of penguin-kind. You may now worship my concernedness. Just as long as you don't make eye contact.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at January 16, 2004 at 11:22 PM

People are arguing that global warming can cause Ireland to be in the running for the 2026 Winter Olympics. And we can win speed skating there!

Posted by: Andjam at January 16, 2004 at 11:25 PM

'"We don't control the environment," said Lisa Sabori, a public-relations official for MoveOn.org,'

but George Bush does! In that case I'm becoming a Bush supporter because I'm sure he'll be pelting the Blue states (are those the good ones with Starbucks on every corner?) with freezing cold and blizzards in the summer and sweltering heat in the winter. If he can control the environment he can do anything!

Posted by: Jack Tanner at January 16, 2004 at 11:47 PM

Wind chill isn't so bad. I'm looking out my living room window and it looks fine. Can't tell what all the griping is about. It's a good thing I got the e-mail from the Lizardoid Zionists about the test of their weather machine. I'm gonna crawl back into bed with a blonde and a bourbon. Life is good.

Posted by: Chuck at January 17, 2004 at 12:04 AM

But don't ya know the record cold temps PROVE global warming! I saw some enviro-bimbo say that on FOX yesterday.

People who support the global warming argument are so very lucky. They get to have it both ways. Record cold temps and record warm temps both prove their arguments.

I remember in the 70's reading (and worrying) about the coming ice age in school. The horrible winter of 78/79 seemed to support that idea. In the weekly reader there was an article about building big hot houses where we all would live and grow food (which seemed kind of cool at the time). Even remember reading a novel about what was left of civilization having to move underground because of the ice age.

Given a choice I'd much rather have Global warming. Ice ages seem so damn cold! Unless of course you want to listen to the liberal argument...Ice Ages will probably be warm thus proving their argument. Uhm...I'm confusing myself.

Posted by: Kelly at January 17, 2004 at 12:58 AM

The cutting edge is now climate variability. Gasbags noticed that they get twice as many proofs a year if they can count both hot _and_ cold extremes. If you've been keeping records for a hundred years, you'll get on the average three record highs a year. What about the three record colds? People will notice this. Well, the climate variability people have that covered. They _both_ prove the theory.

To measure climate variability takes ten times more historical data than measuring temperature trends, as well. We can't measure temperature trends yet, but variability trends are safely far far off in the future, about 500 years, before anything has to be explained to the press. In the meantime everything counts for it.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at January 17, 2004 at 01:06 AM

Wind-chill is cool: it makes for far more interesting NFL playoff games.

And again, for those who lack the "curiosity" to understand these "nuanced" issues, global warming means dangerous warming of the earth, unless its cooling, in which case it means that. In fact, whatever happens, that means global warming.


Posted by: Jerry at January 17, 2004 at 01:09 AM

Tongue Boy, come on -- you remember .... no penguins at the north pole, no polar bears at the south pole. Which is a disappointment to the polar bears and a great relief to the penguins.

Back in the late 1980s we used to joke that there was nothing to fear, as nuclear winter would cancel out global warming. One imaginary problem balancing another.

Posted by: IceCold at January 17, 2004 at 01:27 AM

It's 12 frickin' degrees Fahrenheit here today. (I'm American--I don't deal with that Commie Centigrade crap.)

I do wonder, though--in Queen Elizabeth I's time, they had a mini-Ice Age. Damn the Europeans and their...um...peat-burning!

Posted by: ushie at January 17, 2004 at 01:32 AM

Oh, we can only DREAM of 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

I walked outside this morning and my eyeballs froze over. Couldn't see, fell against the car, and my skin stuck to it.

Wife had to come out with a blowtorch to unthaw me.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at January 17, 2004 at 02:55 AM

Quit laughing, Tim.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at January 17, 2004 at 02:58 AM

Should I mention that it's in the mid-60s here in Arizona? Nah, better not.

Posted by: Jackal at January 17, 2004 at 10:43 AM

Speaking from the very objective vantage point of Southern California, where the temperature is in the seventies and my wife is worried that our fruit trees will be fooled into budding too early, I find it highly amusing that Al Gore chose to make a major "global warming" speech in the midst of record-setting cold weather.

Of course one instance of unusually cold weather does not disprove the global warming thesis. But it has become commonplace to hear the vapid talking heads in the news media attribute every major heat wave to global warming. Not one of them ever suggests that a cold spell is counter-evidence; indeed, we hear people promoting the idea that extreme cold weather is ALSO evidence of global warming.

A theory isn't science unless it's falsifiable. If neither heat nor cold can disprove the global warming theory, what can? What evidence would it take to convince a proponent of global warming that the theory was wrong?

Let's not even go that far. What evidence would it take to convince a proponent of global warming that the theory was open to serious question? What would it take to raise doubts about human activity being a major source of climate change?

It appears to me that the answer is "nothing". For proponents of global warming, the issue is settled, and the Kyoto Treaty is an essential first step towards saving the planet, regardless of how little real impact Kyoto would have or how much it would cost. To them, the risk of global catastrophe from rising temperatures is so enormous and horrifying that it is better to do SOMETHING IMMEDIATELY than to allow ANY delay for dispassionate research and debate.

Just something to bear in mind as people try to avoid frostbite out there on the East Coast...

Posted by: Daniel Wiener at January 17, 2004 at 12:07 PM

Go here for results of lots of dispassionate research and debate:


Also (to David Wiener), when you say "what evidence would it take to convince a proponent of global warming that the theory was open to serious question", what theory? It's not my field, but I think it's fair to say there's no "one theory". The theory that it's happening? There's not much doubt about that. The causes? The consequences? There's some disagreement about those.

Another question is, what evidence would it take to convince a denier of global warming that it exists?

Posted by: Joe at January 17, 2004 at 01:11 PM

Falsifiable evidence, Joe.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 17, 2004 at 02:05 PM

One for the legal eagles out there: under what circumstances would a climatologist pursuing "dodgy" science become liable for negligent misstatement?

Do climatologists have a "duty of care" to follow the scientific method? Are the costs imposed on the economy by following anti-greenhouse regulations too remote to be regarded as damages?

Posted by: wv at January 17, 2004 at 04:21 PM

Joe: Thank you for the link, although I wouldn't characterize that site as one containing "dispassionate research and debate." It looks more like a one-sided advocacy organization.

There are a number of different questions involved in the global warming controversy. The first is whether there is indeed a sustained, long-term climactic warming trend, given that we have such a short baseline of accurate and world-wide temperature data. It's not easy to distinguish short-term fluctuations from long-term trends unless you accurately measure things for a long time.

The second question is whether global warming, if it's occurring over a prolonged period of time, is historically atypical. If there have been many other warm periods over the last few thousand years (or tens of thousands of years) interspersed with cooler periods, then we may merely be experiencing medium-term fluctuations which are natural and must be adjusted to.

The third question is the extent to which human beings are significantly impacting the environment. If global warming exists, but 99% of it is due to non-human factors such as increased solar radiation output, then it's pointless to try to control the warming by modifying human actions. Nor should we be particularly worried by human actions if they turn out to be a minor factor.

A fourth question concerns the consequences of global warming if it exists. Perhaps the net consequences will be beneficial rather than detrimental. There's nothing holy about the status quo which makes it the ideal temperature.

I don't know the answers to these (and other) questions. But someone who propounds a theory to answer one or more of these questions bears the burden of proof to substantiate their theory. The theory must produce meaningful predictions and be falsifiable.

For example, the link you supplied led to an article about possible future hurricane predictions using a supercomputer climate model. Suppose, hypothetically, that a supercomputer model for global warming happened to predict a 100% increase in the number of hurricanes over the next 5 years. That would be a meaningful prediction with serious adverse consequences. If the prediction was wrong, that would falsify the theory. Perhaps the theory could be modified and new predictions made, but the original theory would still be wrong.

I am not aware that any theory of global warming has successfully made meaningful and correct predictions. Those who assert that long-term global warming is occurring, and is not an instance of natural climactic fluctuations, and is substantially the result of human activity, and can be altered by altering human activity, and will have harmful consequences if not prevented, need to delineate exactly what contrary evidence and unfulfilled predictions will convince them that their theories are incorrect. Until they do that, it's not science.

Posted by: Daniel Wiener at January 17, 2004 at 05:50 PM

Okay, let's think about this for a minute.

Algore scheduled a speech about global warming in New York in the middle of January.

And they criticize Bush for not having a plan to rebuild Iraq? Rrrriiiiiight.

Posted by: Darth Cirrocu at January 17, 2004 at 09:36 PM

David Letterman had a go at AlGore and Letterman is so far up the Democrat's arse he hasn't seen daylight for years.

Sign of the times.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at January 17, 2004 at 10:16 PM

Global whingeing is certainly ruining the environment - all that hot air must be causing a rise in global average temperatures. But it has an upside. I look forward to being able to grow tomatoes for 12 months of the year here in sunny Melbourne.

Posted by: Dave Petersen at January 17, 2004 at 10:46 PM

Dave: perhaps try this site:


There is plenty of strong evidence supporting global warming, eg here. (By 'global warming', I mean that the atmospheric temperature has been demonstrating an upward trend over a reasonably long period of time ie decades. Are decades a long period of time? Arguable, but I think they are.)

There is less consensus over whether the temperature rises are significant, and if they are, what effects they are going to have in the short and long term, and what (if anything) we should do about it.

Last, while it's true that a single hot spell doesn't support the notion of global warming in any meaningful way, a single cold snap certainly doesn't disprove it.

Posted by: Joe at January 18, 2004 at 12:34 PM

I still haven't heard from anyone explaining how car manufacturers are managing to ship their vehicles to Mars - and beyond. Or why they aren't sharing the technology.

The March 2003 Astronomy has an article by Peter Thomas titled, "Mysteries of the Martian Poles." Among the other interesting aspects of the article is the repeated mention that the [Mars] polar ice caps "are receding at rates up to 15 feet (4 meters) a year."

Mars Emerging from Ice Age, Data Suggest
By SPACE.com - Scientists have suspected in recent years that Mars might be undergoing some sort of global warming. New data points to the possibility it is emerging from an ice age... "Odyssey is giving us indications of recent global climate change in Mars," said Jeffrey Plaut, project scientist for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory...

Mars is Melting
Dave Smith of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Southern summer on Mars begins September 29th; by then much of the polar cap will be gone."

Still warming Pluto's tenuous atmosphere is expanding and warming even as the planet moves away from the Sun...

more warming
seems several moons and planets are "melting".

Soothed sun to help climate crisis --- In the last century, the Sun is thought to have contributed between 4 per cent and 20 per cent of global warming.
This and the blanketing effect of greenhouse gases [roughly 75% of this effect is due to water vapor - so get those hydrogen burners in production to make more] is believed to have raised the Earth's temperature by an average of 0.7C.
Dr Mark Clilverd, who led the study, said: "This work is speculative and relies on the idea that the Sun shows regular cycles of activity on timescales of 10 to 10,000 years, and that its heat output and activity are related.
"But we believe the work is well grounded and the effect of solar activity on Earth's environmental system will not increase in the way it has during the century.
"We should take this into account when trying to understand the impact of human activity on the climate system."

Posted by: John Anderson at January 18, 2004 at 01:03 PM

Global warming is bunk. The Bundy and Coke test proves this implicitly.

Simply fill to the top a (large) glass with plenty of Bundy, Coke and lots of ice. Wait long enough (if you can), and the ice will melt - however, the glass does not overflow.

Hmmmm.... I think I'll try that again.

Posted by: Thorn at January 18, 2004 at 03:31 PM

Thorn, so you are saying that the ice caps melting won't be a problem?

Anyway, your analogy is bunk, as the ice caps rise above sea level and are mostly on land (ie they are not displacing any water at the moment), whereas your drink with ice is only filled to the top and contains no un-melting solids. Ice decreases in volume when melting to water, so of course your drink does not overflow. But the oceans will rise if Antarctica melts. As it is currently doing, as you would know if you read anything else but Blairisms.

You will know a great deal about non-fake turkeys, though. Credit where it's due.

Posted by: fatfingers at January 18, 2004 at 06:18 PM

Ah hah! A scientific response courtesy of fatfingers. I certainly agree that the oceans will rise if Antartica melts. For instance, Pine Island Glacier will, on current trends of melting, add 6mm to the oceanic levels over the next 600 years.

However, floating ice will, as you so eloquently ponted out, do nothing to raise the oceanic levels.

Fatfingers, if your data was scientifically valid, you would have to agree that the major "greenhouse" gas (as generally defined) is in fact water vapour - yep, I'm going to cloud the issue.

Every global-warming-scaremongering source of information states that carbon dioxide is "an important greenhouse gas". They always neglect to mention the relative importance (and quantity) of other greenhouse gases.

However, I'm sure that you are as aware as I of the constituency of the atmosphere, viz Nitrogen 78%, Oxygen 21%, (yep, that's 99% so far), and the remaining 1% is made up of water vapour (up to 0.7%) and carbon dioxide (up to .005%), and the rest (equalling about .02%) being methane, xenon, argon, hydrogen, helium, krypton, and a few other gases.

Care to disprove me?

It is generally accepted that CO2 atmospheric concentration up until the 1800's was in the order of 250 ppm, and is now 350 ppm (up from 0.00025% to 0.00035%). Do you disagree?

Carbon dioxide is naturally produced, primarily by decaying matter, volcanoes, and combustion. Also, it is produced by you and me exhaling, as well as several other members of our species (and various other species as well). In fact, I'm sure that you will agree that you, fatfingers, exhale 1 Kg of carbon dioxide per day.

With your 1Kg a day of carbon dioxide added to the global greenhouse gases, if you are over 30 years of age, you have contributed over a tonne of greenhouse gases, just by existing.

My gratuitous advice: keep on breathing, and you may reach the one tonne mark eventually.

Care to disprove me?

What is mankind's rapacious industrial or transportational contribution to this natural process? 100 ppm (yes, that's Parts Per Million, or 0.0001%) of the atmospheric CO2. Now, bearing in mind that water vapour (up to 0.7% of the atmosphere, or 7,000 PPM) is the MAJOR greenhouse gas, then it is clear that anthropogenic activities creating CO2 are contributing about 1.5% of the "greenhouse" gas of water vapour.

Do you disagree?

I'm sorry, but my firm belief is that the "Global Warming" scare is purely propagated by those seeking the downfall of capitalist society, and unfortunately the concept has been taken up by scientific Neanderthals.

Indeed, there was no such concept as "Global Warming" prior to 1988 - up until then, it was the equally misguided fear of another Ice Age.

Tell you what, fatfingers, disprove any of my points, and I will personally destroy every Spinning Jenny that I come across in all of 2004!

Posted by: Thorn at January 18, 2004 at 11:11 PM

Bugger! 100 PPM is 0.01%. 250 PPM is 0.025%, and 350 PPM is 0.035%.

Makes very little difference, though, to my previous post.

Posted by: Thorn at January 18, 2004 at 11:18 PM