East Coast Blizzards: Proof of Climate Change?

Probably, but climate change legislation may still be snowed out

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As the East Coast is deluged with snow for the second time in under a week, climate-change doubting politicos and pundits can't help crowing. The public, too, may be swayed--some say the winter storms could in fact kill what little support there is left for a climate bill this year. But liberals, environmental experts, and at least one meteorologist argue this is precisely the wrong conclusion: severe snowstorms, far from undermining the climate change thesis, could actually be further evidence for it.

  • 'Irony Abounds,' comments conservative Glenn Reynolds, excerpting a reader's e-mail about a climate change colloquium in Pennsylvania being suspended due to snow.
  • Political Backlash "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle,'" tweets Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC). The Hill's Alexander Bolton notes that DeMint isn't the only one responding this way. On top of reprioritizing due to economic worries, "the paralyzing snowfalls have made the prospect of winning support for a climate bill this year even less likely."
  • Don't Be Ridiculous, says progressive blogger Matt Yglesias. He, like many, points to a lack of snow in Vancouver as the Olympics draw near. "If you turn your moron filter off, though, you'll see that unusual weather events all around the world are exactly what you would expect from systemic shifts in the global climate."
  • These Snows Are Actually Evidence of Global Warming, confirms meteorologist Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, which The New Republic's environmental blogger Bradford Plumer picks up on. Masters argues that, in fact, these extreme snowstorms could support the global warming thesis more than detract from it: "It is quite possible that the dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, thanks to the higher levels of moisture present in the air due to warmer global temperatures." As the climate begins to shift, predictions are that intense winter storms will become more, rather than less, common in North America.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.