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Global Cooling Anyone?
Coldest Winter on record could have been used to score cheap points

By Gordon S. Jones, Chairman, Association of Concerned Taxpayers


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Watching the “Snow Bowl” in Shreveport, Louisiana over the Christmas holidays, I was struck by how easy it would be to write a “global cooling” story.  With six inches of snow on the ground in a number of southern states, I could have made fun of Al Gore and his photo ops in front of “melting glaciers.”   Or I could have poked some gentle fun at the Chicken Little school of junk science, that seizes any uptick in short-term temperatures and uses it to mobilize support for massive new government intervention in society.

There was plenty of other evidence to use.  The Great Lakes are largely frozen over, with freighters caught in the ice and icebreakers working overtime.  And the National Climatic Data Center certifies this winter as the coldest on record—and those records go back more than 100 years.  A foot of snow in Amarillo, Texas; Buffalo, NY getting three weeks of steady snow; the entire Northeast digging out from storm after storm; airline flights cancelled by the score - all could have been used to score cheap shots on the junk science purveyors who have been doing their best to scare the pants off school kiddies for years.

But you know, I didn’t see a single op-ed from conservative columnists arguing that global warming is a myth.  If this had been the warmest winter on record, do you think we would have seen such self-restraint from our leftist colleagues?  Not a chance.

In fact, I’m surprised that one or more of the scaremongers didn’t chime in to argue that the cold winter is evidence for global warming.  After all, they’ve done it before.  It must be awfully easy to be a liberal.  If the weather is warm, that’s evidence for global warming.  If it is cold, that’s because weather patterns are all screwed up because of global warming.

Actually, this winter’s abnormally low temperatures are evidence of nothing at all, other than that temperatures vary in the short run across a fairly broad range.  Climatic change can be verified only across very long periods of time.  And temperatures this century have climbed, but only a very little bit, and that during the first fifty years, before most of the supposed “greenhouse gas” emissions that are supposed to be causing all this warming.

But if you can use computer models, irrespective of measured temperatures, and punctuate them with a few photo ops in front of sweltering Aleuts, then you can ask for more money for research, and more power over people’s lives.

Arguments like that will always develop more political sizzle than calm reasoning from objective facts.

Gordon Jones is Chairman of the Association of Concerned Taxpayers, a 20,000
member taxpayer advocacy group.

© Gordon Jones, 2001

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