Right climate for climate change debate?

Schools are already canceling classes for Monday because, as you know, it’s January and it’s cold (this comes just five months after some schools were closed because it was August and it’s hot).

Where’s your global warming now?


(h/t: Scott Olstad)

Stuart Capstick,a research associate in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University, specializes in public understanding of climate change, writes in The Guardian’s environment blog today that fewer people now are using cold weather to feed the skepticism of climate change.

The extent to which people were already sceptical about the evidence base, human causation and impacts of climate change made a major difference to the meaning they placed on the weather. Sceptics tended to agree the winter constituted evidence against climate change, but the study’s results show that non-sceptics were at least as willing to accept the alternative position.

In a further sign of the political polarisation which has come to characterise climate change, people’s underlying worldviews – about seemingly unrelated topics such as discrimination against minorities or the distribution of wealth – in turn predicted the judgements they made about the cold weather.

Meanwhile, in California, the rivers are running dry and the reservoirs are low as a drought continues to plague the region.

Reservoirs Statewide In California At Record Low Levels
And in Australia, another heat wave is hitting the continent. Temperatures should reach 107 degrees and officials are worried about the availability of water.

We’re doing OK in Minnesota, thank you very much.

  • KTN

    On Monday morning, you can walk your dog wearing sneakers, thin gloves and a starter jacket, and then, you can tell us that the cold is just so much hyperbole. But, instead, you will be wearing your LL Bean boots, down jacket, and nice mittens, and then tell us that kids that don’t have such nice things are pussies and need to toughen up, or their parents ought to pony up and get them those nice things to stay warm

    Your ranting about the fake dangers of cold, and wind chill (it’s okay for me to use that term right), is untenable,

    I coach a winter sport for a local high school, and since I spend a great deal of time outside in winter, and have for quite a while, I have a unique perspective of what cold is – and windchill too. This past Wednesday was the coldest so far for my athletes on the hill, even though the temperature was not as cold as other days. Why you ask, because the wind was hooting out of the north at 20+, and that windchill was very real, not imagined or made up by an insufferable wimp.

    If I went for a swim in Lake Superior today, I would not suffer from wind chill, or frostbite, because the water is warmer than 32 degrees, but I would die from hypothermia, so is this a made up phenomenon too, or is it real; I mean really, how can you die when the water is not all that cold.

    Monday morning, if it is in fact -22, any kids outside will be cold, not because they might not have the best LL Bean gear, but because those temps are in fact dangerous to be exposed to. Nobody is going to die (probably), but there is another phenomenon other than frostbite, called frostnip, which can damage flesh just like the “real thing”.

    Frostbite is like herpes, it lasts a lifetime; once the skin is damaged, it is much more susceptible to future damage, at higher temperatures. Better kids get a little frostbite (nip) than do something silly like close school. I mean really, what’s a little skin damage when there is some learnin’ to be done

    Will we cancel training on Monday – probably, not because we lack appropriate gear, but because it’s dangerous. Because some kids might lack appropriate gear and therefore should be forced outdoors regardless of the temps is lacking in insight.

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      I think you just set a record for red herrings and strawman arguments. I never — not once — said anything about the “false dangers of cold.” All of the adjectives you just used to state my position are ones you just made up. My position is clear, dress up for the weather, take reasonable precautions, and you’ll be just fine. I don’t recommend people go out and play, certainly not as something as irrelevant in this weather as high school sports.

      But if you’re asking whether a kid in the suburbs, in concert with mom and dad, can figure out how to dress warmly, sit in a car to wait until the bus comes (or, since they’re already doing that anyway, drive to school) and then make the 10 second run into school, put me down in the camp that thinks they can.

      I’ve never said the temperatures aren’t dangerous to be exposed to. I said it’s possible to adjust to those temperatures and act accordingly.

      And I’ve said that -25 is nothing to sneeze at, which is why all the hollering ab out -60 windchills wasn’t necessary. Dress for -25, because it’s a big deal worth paying attention to.

      So if you want to have an adult conversation, drop the nonsense and take a knee.

      • Inella

        Bob, just tell Jon that you personally need to go on a business trip to Tempe to investigate their unusual weather (should be raining and in the 60’s I was told). You will feel better down there – it was in the 80’s this past week.

        For me, it was the hardest business trip to come back from ever. Loved wearing sandals and short-sleeves outside!

        You are a great guy, you can do it!

        • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

          I had a friend in Phoenix who posted this week that it was a horrible week there… he blew out a sandal when opening the door to get some fresh air. As I said… I HAD a friend there… :*)

          • Inella

            Knew that I should have e-mailed you… :)

  • Starquest

    Alright, break it up you two.

    In my experience the decision to close school because of cold is a very inconsistent thing. I was in kindergarten in December 1983 when morning temps just before Christmas were -25 and colder. School was not canceled.

    Six years later on 21 Dec 1989, the morning low was -26 with a very stiff wind. I vividly remember watching the TV weather telling us that the wind chill (old formula) was -70. My parents were surprised if not a little miffed that school was not canceled. I just thought it was interesting because I enjoy extreme weather.

    But the next day was not as cold (-22). Yet there was so much outrage, and so much egg on the face of the superintendent, that he closed schools. Our secret santa day would have to wait until a sad day in January.

    The coldest day of my entire life, it was -35 on 2 Feb 1996. This was when the MN governor closed the whole state. My school, in Eau Claire, was open.

    • David W.

      I was living in Eau Claire back then and what I also remember was that the daily HIGH temperature didn’t rise above -20F for four days in a row. I went out cross-country skiing one of those days and lasted all of 20 minutes before heading back indoors.

  • boB From WA

    You mentioned the drought in CA. Well it isn’t just there. Here in SW WA the same conditions exist. We’ve been slammed with a persistent high pressure system that is pushing all of the usual winter storms way north into Canada (which in turn is allowing all of the cold air that you are experiencing to drop in to the heartland). Weather experts say they haven’t seen conditions like this in at least 35 years. Parts of western WA and OR are under fire watches due to the dry conditions. A person cannot ignore the science. We ARE experiencing changing weather patterns due to the world heating up.

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      A former colleague who works up in Anchorage says it’s a miserable winter there. Warmth and rain.