Every so often, I’ll see someone write or say, “Yesterday was the hottest day on record here in East Somewhereville. It sure shows that global warming is happening.” Inevitably I’ll then read a response from a global warming skeptic, “Well, West Somewhereville was freezing yesterday. So global warming isn’t happening after all.”
To me these kinds of back and forths are completely irrelevant to the real evidence for global warming. The real proofs are the long term trends, not the day-to-day fluctuations. Three of these trends I find particularly compelling:
- Glaciers melting around the globe
- Arctic ice pack shrinking
- Animal ranges moving either to higher elevations or north or south away from the equator.
These are all big, multi-year changes that show the effects of warming in vivid, concrete terms. These aren’t just points on a power point graph.
It could be true that a particularly hot day is due, at least in part, to global warming. But there’s so much other variation in everyday weather that one day’s temp isn’t going to convince anyone of the truth of human caused global warming.
Global Warming or Climate Change
There’s a move afoot to change the way we refer to global warming. Some are suggesting we call what’s happening “climate change” instead.
The reason is that the worldwide changes due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere aren’t consistent from place to place. While many areas will have increases in average temperature, others will experience drops in temp. And still other locales could experience bigger swings in weather patterns. “Climate change” isn’t as sexy sounding as “global warming” but it’s probably a more accurate description of what’s going on.
We humans are in the middle of a giant, unregulated, planet-wide weather experiment. Nobody knows exactly what will happen if we burn all the oil, coal, and natural gas buried in the earth. It’s never been tried before. Scientists are doing their best to track what’s happening and to develop climate models to predict what’s coming. We would do well to pay attention to the ever-growing consensus of these experts that we are in for big changes in the coming years.