Views and debates on climate change policy
Home | Panelists | Staff Blog | RSS

Rick Edmund

Rick Edmund

Rick Edmund is a United Methodist church pastor in Maryland. He resides on Smith Island, which has been impacted by rising sea-level and in 2007 testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment about climate change and the Chesapeake Bay. ALL POSTS

Winter storms don't debunk global warming

Q: As the controversy swirling around the IPCC deepens at the same time some are questioning the significance of global warming now that large portions of the U.S. are buried under record-breaking snow, what kind of information do policymakers need to make decisions about climate change?

Here on Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay we have recently experienced three storms with blizzard conditions in just two weeks. Much of the rest of the mid-Atlantic area of the United States has seen similar situations, and some areas have accumulated up to 6 feet of snow this winter.

Does this mean that global warming is being debunked? Three U.S. Senators -- Jim DeMint, James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell -- ridiculed Al Gore's contention that the earth is warming based on the terrible winter storms this year. Actually what many scientists have predicted and Al Gore has made public is that any warming of the environment will cause more hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts and storms. Weather in general will become more erratic. The winter we have already gone through on the East Coast upholds the predictions about climate change -- it doesn't undermine them! This point has been made in several articles published by the Washington Post. Dana Milbank, Juliet Eilperin and David Fahrenthold explain what is happening much better than I can, and I urge the Planet Panel readers to seek out these explanations.

Another example for erratic weather comes from the droughts that were straining water resources across much of the United States just a couple of years ago. Today there is only one small place experiencing an "extreme drought" and that is on, of all places, Hawaii. Doyle Rice in USA Today reports that more than 92 percent of the country is drought-free, whereas recently as August of 2007, 50 percent was affected by very dry conditions. The drought conditions "reversed in the most dramatic turnaround since federal scientists began keeping records." If we throw in the difficulties the Olympic Games have faced with overcoming the warmest winter in 73 years, the events of recent weeks do not detract from the predictions of global warming, but actually support them. This conclusion doesn't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the climate is actually changing, but it is a part of the puzzle that seems to fit the overall picture.

Whether we call it "global warming," "climate change" or something else, any fluctuations will not mean an end to winter weather. Not every hurricane, tornado, or rainy season will be catastrophic. But, if the scientists who support the theory that the climate is warming are right, then we need to expect that weather events will be erratic and not fit the patterns of the past. It would be a shame, some might say tragedy, if another victim of this winter's storms is the Senate bill that seeks to reduce the pollutants pouring into the atmosphere and at the same time create green jobs.

By Rick Edmund  |  February 19, 2010; 12:29 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Avoid solutions worse than the problem | Next: A prescription for an economic disaster


Please report offensive comments below.

Anyone who claims the science on global warming is bogus, needs to have an answer as to why the poles are still melting?

So far I don't see any deniers that are able to answer that.

Posted by: fabco | February 22, 2010 4:11 PM
Report Offensive Comment

i fear for the future of this nation...the propaganda program that worked so well in making americans believe we could do no wrong and any military excursions were for the good of the people we meddled with and made us believe we were the bestest in the world at everything,has backfired in that it also created a large population of morons who have a right to vote,or for that matter,run for office.

Posted by: kiler616 | February 22, 2010 5:20 AM
Report Offensive Comment

I look at it as less ice, more water.

We should expect heavier snows and more flooding as the ice melts and releases into the water cycle.

I wager some of that snow in the US east came from Greenland glacial melt.

Posted by: EnjoyIntellectualComplacencyForAsLongAsItLasts | February 22, 2010 3:14 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Obviously winter storms don't debunk global warming.

But let me ask you this... if there was a summer that was particularly hot and dry, would our friends be BAWLING about how we're all going to get killed by global warming?

of course they would.

Posted by: privacy3 | February 21, 2010 7:19 PM
Report Offensive Comment

One should first ask the question "why does a United Methodist Church Pastor get to testify before the Senate?" What particular scientific expertise did he bring to the table?

Policymakers need to know the "science" behind global warming is bogus and they should cease spending billions and trillions of dollars until credible, real science has been conducted. The science should be subjected to valid and credible peer review including a substantial number of skeptics who should be treated without contempt.

Climategate reveals "Warmers" really don't care about scientific evidence after all.

Posted by: krankyman | February 21, 2010 11:25 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The very slight moderation in temperatures the last few years, is likely due to the prolonged solar minimum we are currently in.

While it has moderated the trend line somewhat in recent years, it has not halted the melting of the artic or the glacers. It has not reversed or cancelled out the warming trend.

Doubters will be able to get all the evidence they need, during the next solar max.

Posted by: fabco | February 21, 2010 10:38 AM
Report Offensive Comment

No Harm From Cap-and-Trade? You Lie!

The truth is the truth and lies are lies. Neither politicians nor government nor the media can change that. In Spain, an economics professor calculates that green jobs schemes have destroyed more than 110,000 jobs in that country, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every one created. The CEO of the world’s largest renewable energy company, Eon, is warning the EU that further cuts to CO2 emissions will only raise the cost of energy, putting the region at a competitive disadvantage and driving production overseas.

The truth about global warming alarmists in the business community who say Congress must pass laws immediately to stop the planet from warming is that they are driven more by pursuit of profit than pursuit of science and real atmospheric temperatures. These companies lie for profit and at the expense of American families’ budgets, American’s homeland security, and the quality of the world’s air and water.

You see, they know cap-and-trade will hurt the American economy. That it will cost American jobs. That it will increase our dependency on foreign energy. And yes, they know that it will increase global pollution by moving production to unregulated countries like China. They also know the world is cooling. They know that cap-and-trade won’t lower the earth’s temperature. To those saying otherwise I say simply,“You lie.”

Posted by: AJAX2 | February 21, 2010 9:45 AM
Report Offensive Comment

This is all very simple:

Weather IS climate, if it is hot.
Weather is NOT climate, if it is cold.

Now do you "Deniers" understand?

Posted by: RobertAJonesJr | February 21, 2010 9:12 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The "anti-global warming" crowd are basing their protests on ignoring the data. The claims of no warming in 10 years or 15 years are based on cherry picking the data. Real trends have some noise in them, they dont go smoothly up or down. The cherry picking is based on saying since 1998, the tempertaure has been relatively stable. THAT IS A FALSE CONCLUSION. If you look at a larger window, or impose a Gaussian/Savitsky-Golay/Fourier smooth, or drop 1998 from the data set you see an unambiguous rise in average temperature with time. "No warming in 10years" is replacing observation of data with politically motivated nonsense.

For the willfully clueless, you get lots of snow when there is excess moisture in the air. If it is too cold, the air tends to be dry and snow is minimal.

Now, let's deal with problem instead of ignorantly denying there is one.

Posted by: The_rational_skeptic | February 20, 2010 11:24 PM
Report Offensive Comment

I'm sorry, but only id!ots believe in "climate change", "global warming", or whatever you want to call it.

The people who have purposely misrepresented the facts on climate should be prosecuted to fraud. Anyone who has benefited from these lies should be put in jail.

Algore is at the top of the list along with obozo the liar clown.

Posted by: charlietuna6661 | February 20, 2010 1:51 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Why is it that whenever there is a hot day (greater than 95 degrees) it is because of global warming, but when we get a sustained cold winter it's because "it's the weather you idiot, that's not the same as climate." Weather prediction is accurate for a few days, not for an entire season.

Why is it that whenever there is a severe storm it is because of global warming. Was the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S.(Galveston 1900 due to global warming)? Al Gores's charts showing the increased monetary damage due to storms over time does not factor in that he was using actual dollars for the given year and not correcting for inflation. If you make the correction, there is no trend for increased monetary damage due to storms in the U.S., even with the explosive growth of coastal communities. See the book "Physics for Future Presidents" by Richard Muller, a physics professor at Cal-Berkeley and IPCC panelist, for a level-headed, factual discussion of the issues, and why Al gore does more to damage the claim for global warming than support it by misinterpreting data and playing on people's fears. The book is based on a course he teaches at Berkeley.

Also, remember, ice ages are cyclical, approximately every 100,000 years, but with the warm periods represented by very short spikes of only a few thousand years. During the last ice age, New York and Connecticut were buried under a mile of ice. I think we should be more concerned about the calamity the next time we are buried under ice, than a few degrees of global warming.

Posted by: ramatana | February 20, 2010 1:14 PM
Report Offensive Comment

I will refrain from a long drawn out discussion in support of The global warming issue.

I believe the evidence is quite strong and the "Climate gate" issue is moot (A number of emails cited have been shown as taken out of context to the discussion being had).

I will simply say this:
1. The United States is the only Industrialized country which is debating this issue.
2. The cost of doing nothing and being wrong is much greater than the cost of doing something and being wrong.

Posted by: DansChaostheory | February 20, 2010 12:00 PM
Report Offensive Comment

AGW is truly the theory of everything - everything can be attributed to global warming, whether is snows too much, rains too much, rains too little, is too warm, is too cold, too many hurricanes, too few, etc. What could disprove it? Abnormally "normal" weather? I suppose it would, since we all know that the climate was unchanged for 4 billion years before man.

Posted by: skeptic11 | February 20, 2010 10:54 AM
Report Offensive Comment

15 years of warming have not stopped the world's glacers from melting. Therefore, it has not reversed the trend.

It doesn't matter whether there is global warming or not. We must get off middle east oil to balance trade deficits, and phase out coal for it's other pollution and health risks.

Nuclear critics should check out what Obama can possibly mean by the next generation of safer, cleaner, cheaper, more efficient nuclear reactors before they make up their minds all things nuclear are bad.

Nuclear critics will have to come up with some new arguments. The old arguments no longer apply when you can burn the waste as fuel.

When will we start thinking outside the box? There are other types of reactor designs possible, besides the meltdown prone, fuel wasting, antique model T clunkers we build today.

Arguments against uranium do not apply to thorium. Say no to uranium, and yes to thorium.
Releases in 1982 from worldwide combustion of 2800 million tons of coal totaled 3640 tons of uranium (containing 51,700 pounds of uranium-235) and 8960 tons of thorium. The population gets 100 times more radiation from a coal plant than from a nuclear plant. So in 2004 by burning 4.6 billions tons of coal, we released 5980 tons of uranium into the air and 14720 tons of Thorium. This is like 80 truck size dirty nuclear bombs releasing 1 ton of radioactive material every day, or a Chernobyl twice a week.

Posted by: fabco | February 20, 2010 9:52 AM
Report Offensive Comment

It's not the snow that's debunking global warming, it's the fifteen year decline in temperatures that scientists have admitted to.

15 years is "climate", so I would say the believers are hoisted by their own petard on this one.

"We lost the data that proves us right" is the siren song of the church of global warming.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 20, 2010 9:28 AM
Report Offensive Comment

What matters now is that MANY of the created facts and anecdotes have been revealed as false and misleading.
POLAR BEAR POPULATIONS are growing, not rapidly diminishing. HIMALAYAN GLACIERS are not in the midst of a 30-year disappearing act.
THE FAMOUS HOCKEY STICK cannot be supported by the data (which no longer exists or has been rendered unusable by relocating measurement sites from rural to city or airport locations.
CO2 LEVELS remain high or have increased, but there HAS BEEN NO WARMING over the past decade or longer.
THE MEDIEVAL WARMING PERIOD was Real and may well have had warmer temps than we're seeing now... long before SUV's COAL-FIred Power, or large-scale industrialization.
The linkage between SOLAR ACTIVITIES can no longer BE IGNORED, and correlations between Solar Peaks >warming, and SOLAR Minimums > Cooling are well-supported by the data.
In other words, the twenty-year reign of the POPULAR MEDIA CLIMATOLOGIST (with their False Prophets... making REAL PROFITS) is coming to an end, and Real Repeatable Science that withstands non-manipulated peer reviews and openness - and most of all critical thinking - is on the rise... but the ocean levels are not rising.
There has been an enormous upheaval of awareness levels that a SCAM and highly orchestrated effort to mislead us was attempted, but was caught before it became the raison detre for redistributing the world's wealth from the haves to the have-nots under the guise of climate-caused fairness in the aftermath of man-caused unfairness in the guise of AGW.
The Global Alarmists pushed way too far with way too few solid facts packed in their kits. BUSTED.

Posted by: dbsinOakRidge | February 20, 2010 8:29 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Claiming that the DC area's record snow was CAUSED by global warming hurts your credibility more than anything climate change skeptics could say.

For a region to have extreme weather on a few days in a given year is EXPECTED. The DC area gets a snowfall in the 2-foot range about once every 7 years. Getting even more than that may be unusual, perhaps a 50 or 100 year event, but you need to consider all the other types of possible '100 year events' which did NOT happen in the last year. We didn't have record heat, or record cold, or get hit by a hurricane, or record number of tornadoes, or extreme drought, or tennis-ball-sized hail, or one of dozens of other events which would be "unusual but within the range of possibility" and did not in fact happen. Someone could have pointed to any of those events and try to claim it was the result of climate change.

Heck it would be unusual NOT to have some type of extreme weather in a particular year. If that were the case someone could probably argue that the "extreme mildness" was proof either for or against climate change -- so long as they don't need to subject that argument to a critical analysis.

Posted by: afpre42 | February 20, 2010 8:07 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Forget the snow, there has been NO warming in 10 years!! Why are you people denying the TRUE facts about phony numbers and deliberate misleading information. Did you hear about the wonderful invention that Al Gore made, the internet, well we can read and learn the truth ourselves without you eggheads pushing your politically motivated crap on us!

Posted by: steveiev | February 20, 2010 7:32 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Post a Comment

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company