The nor’easters that have pummeled the eastern seaboard over the last month or so have provided many a fun day for kids unencumbered by the duties of school. Businesses and city budgets have been less enthusiastic as they have seen a notable falloff in customers or a striking pothole in their treasuries. The winter season still has 2-3 more weeks left, according to, so the snow shovels should not be put away just yet. Still another effect of the storms is to revivify the the media brouhaha about Global Warming.
One of the significant qualities of the debate is the tendency to view ‘local’ as ‘global’ when discussing the issue. Cold, snowy winter on the east coast of the US? Surely evidence against global warming. Our tendency to extrapolate personal experiences into general theories is seemingly natural, but we should not let that tendency make us deaf to data that challenges our personal experiences. Indeed, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” has a wonderful sendup of our tendencies to see what is right around us for what is universal:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
Whether or not the world is getting darker, we must consider whether the world is getting ‘weirder’ weather-wise (as defined by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times). Friedman’s points are challenged, and he is not a meteorologist. Yet the number of meteorologists and geologists who study the science find evidence of such weirding, even if they wrestle over the pace and degree of such change.
Part of the argument over global warming that is especially distressing is how both sides have fudged figures and cherry-picked data. Indeed, much of the argument focusses on who came up with the study, not what the study says. For example, the popular spokesman for the problems of climate change, Al Gore,the fact that Exxon continues to support think-tanks to encourage them to challenge, if not outright deny, global change. But as this blog reported earlier, proponents of global warming have suppressed evidence that did seem to make their point strong enough (Ironically, no one seemed to challenge the figures, only that they were not as ‘dramatic’ as the proponents wanted).
Which leads us to what might be the most challenging quality of the debate: the opposite sides are dug in, and as they are not interested in reconsidering evidence, each side knows that the only way to gain attention is to ‘sex up’ their reports – a style of argumentation that has led to. We are not suggesting the debate need to start all over, but some calmer heads should arise. And the inconvenient truth is that any society that invents the new, cheap, power source (be it windmill, waterwheel, steam engine, gas-driven motor, or hydrogen fusion power plant) is the society that surges ahead in the next generation to raise standards of living.
The mid-Atlantic certainly has endured some unseasonably deep snows, from which we are still digging. Frankly, it’s weird to look out the MKCREATIVE Studio windows and see snowpiles eight feet tall.