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Freak weather: Proof of climate change?
Even in a world where extreme weather is becoming more common, the past week has been truly bizarre.
 
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ven in a world where extreme weather is becoming more common, said Sarah Lyall in The New York Times, the past week has been truly bizarre. In China, now suffering through its coldest, harshest winter in memory, the roofs of houses in Xinjiang collapsed under the weight of deep snow. It was so hot in Australia, meanwhile, that forecasters added new colors to weather maps to show temperatures over 130 degrees. Israel, a desert nation, saw snow turn its olive groves white. In Anchorage, January temperatures hit a freakishly warm 42 degrees and melting snow inundated city streets. “These anomalies begin to add up,” said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. It’s now official that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S., topping 1998 by an astonishing 1 full degree. And just as climatologists predicted, the man-made warming of the atmosphere is producing crazy weather extremes throughout the globe. “Now can we talk about climate change?”

Why bother, when “global warming has ceased”? said Holman W. Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal. Even if 2012 was hot in the U.S., the warmest year on record for the entire globe remains 1998—“and no trend has been apparent globally since then.” Advocates of climate change are fond of cherry-picking data and extreme weather events that support their argument, while ignoring contrary data. Now that global warming has failed to materialize, said James Delingpole in Telegraph.co.uk, activists have moved on to “global weirding,” which allows them to cite any unusual weather as ironclad evidence of climate change. But acting unpredictably is what weather “does, by nature, all the time.”

The denialists’ claim that there has been no warming since 1998 is “blatantly untrue,” said Phil Plait in Slate.com. The rate of warming since then has fluctuated, but nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been since 2000. The proof is visible: Sea ice in the Arctic is vanishing, and glaciers in the Antarctic and Greenland are melting—with catastrophic implications. “Let this be clear: There is no scientific controversy over this.” Unfortunately, President Obama is still waiting for a politically opportune time to address climate change, said Bill McKibben in Salon.com. “Physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables.” If we don’t limit our fossil-fuel emissions soon, we’ll find ourselves in “a planetary emergency.”

 

 

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