Wow, it was unusually cold last week. In a small fraction of the globe. For a couple of days. And what does that cold snap, that big wiggle in the Polar Vortex that carries high-atmospheric winds around the North Pole, imply about “climate change”, also known as “global warming”, also known as “global weirding”?
The answer is very simple. Nothing.
If you heard anyone suggest otherwise — whether they said that the extreme cold implies that there is no global warming going on, or they said that the extreme cold implies that global warming is happening — you should seriously question anything that person says when it comes to climate change. Because that person does not respect (or perhaps even understand) the difference between anecdote and evidence; between weather and climate; between a large fluctuation and a small but long-term trend. Or between media hoopla and science.
In the interest of an imperfect analogy: Let me ask you this. Are you generally happier, or less happy, than you were five years ago? Answer this as best you can.
Now let me ask you another question. Did you, within the last month, have a really, really bad day, or a really, really good one?
Does the answer to the second question have much to do with the answer to the first one?
Barring an exceptional recent disaster in your personal or professional life, the fact that, say, last Thursday your car broke down, you locked yourself out of your house, your dog vomited on the carpet and you got caught in the rain without your umbrella does not have anything to do with whether you are a happier person than you were five years ago. Being a happier person has more to do with whether you have a better job, a happier family, a better sense of self-esteem, and things like that. And even if you love your job, you know there are going to be really bad days in the office sometimes. That’s just the way it goes. We all know that.
It’s the same with daily and monthly and yearly fluctuations in the stock market compared to the slow but fairly steady century-long growth of the U.S. economy (both curves corrected for inflation.)
So why, when there’s a big fluctuation in the daily, monthly or even seasonal weather, do people jump up and down about what the implications are for the long-term trends in climate? Continue reading