From Florida

This is more like April weather than February.

Agreed. It’s hot and humid. It’s not the heat that is unusual, but the humidity. There are too many clouds in the sky for February. This is no longer my favourite month. At least, not this February.

But is this global warming as according to Al Gore, or is it part of a larger and longer cycle that leads to warmer and cooler stretches of weather?

Alan Sullivan argues, hard, that it’s the latter. I wish it were possible to hold a serious and balanced discussion of the two alternatives — and all others in between — so that we could come to a sensible conclusion.

But it’s not. Is it?


2 thoughts on “From Florida

  1. I’m humble enough, in my occasional moments of lucidity, to know that I just don’t have the expertise to judge the evidence. I’ve been reading articles about climate change for years, but climatology just isn’t a field which is easily approachable for the amateur: there’s too much data and the models are too complex. I’ve just posted about my hay-fever, which seems to be starting earlier all the time; but anecdotes are not the same thing as carefully measured data. A couple of years of screwy weather do not a shift in climate make.

    BUT – the broad consensus among those who do have the professional expertise seems to be that climate change is a real phenomenon, and it has been at least for long enough that I was taught about it at school in the 80s.

    The scientific consensus have been wrong before, of course. But I can’t see what kind of ideological bias would be leading all those climatologists to support the idea of climate change, so for the moment I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  2. I am convinced that there is some sort of climate change going on — but is it something that is a deviation from larger, as yet unmeasured patterns, or is it part of a regular cycle?

    Take the so-called “active” hurricane seasons of recent years for example. I’m pretty sure the data is skewed, and here’s why. We cannot know how much hurricane activity there was globally before the advent of satellite imaging of the world. The measurement and prediction of hurricanes is a relatively new field, going back to just after World War II. However, I live in a country that’s always lain in a hurricane belt, and we’ve always observed the hurricane season (which, when I was a child, was June-September, but which has now been extended to the end of November). However, we don’t have hurricanes every year, or even every decade. Further south, in the Caribbean proper, they usually do have hurricanes every decade. For the past ten years or so — sixteen, actually — hurricanes have been forming in the north Atlantic and troubling The Bahamas and the USA. This is not unusual. Historically, big storms have affected the Bahamas in 60/70-year cycles, with smaller blips every 30 years or so. (I know this from the historical record, not the meteorological one, and there are of course gaps — but there are barometer readings from as far back as 1866.) Big hurricanes have troubled our country in the 1790s, the 1860s, in the 1920s-1930s, and in the 1990s-2000s; smaller active periods took place in the 1960s. If the US looks at its historical record I suspect it’ll find a similar pattern for the Carolinas, Florida, and the Gulf Coast.

    So my question is this — is the climate change (which is certainly taking place) something that we have done to the world, something that would have happened anyway, or something that would have happened anyway but that we have exacerbated? Those are the valid options, it seems to me. But politics intervene, and so people like Alan Sullivan will argue till the ice caps melt that this is what would have happened anyway (Sullivan, actually, is favouring the idea that we are moving into a new Ice Age, which some people seem to have been arguing up till the turn of the millennium and then Al Gore’s movie), and people like Al Gore will argue the opposite, that greenhouse emissions are changing the climate of the planet. But what is really the truth? Are we looking at all the evidence dispassionately?

    Of course not.

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