Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Global Warming and the Maligning of Joy

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on April 29, 2008

One of the sad consequences of the continuing bombardment of Global Warming feardom and the incessant promotion of everything green is that I believe it has led to an atrophyism of genuine happiness for those people who have accepted this as a horrific problem that, unless dealt with, will lead to the death of us all.

That may seem like an overstatement of affairs, but I truly believe that we have now permanently stamped fear and guilt into the average American (and perhaps global citizenry’s) psyche that is simply unhealthy.

Let me be clear here:  I am a huge proponent of conservation of our resources, and a balanced approach towards an environmental view of the planet.   I want clean water, and I favor reasonable legislation and regulation to ensure that abusers of our natural resources are kept at bay, and appropriately punished when necessary.   By “reasonable,” I mean that we should use affordable technology to make attainable changes that will improve the quality of our air, water, and the earth that God has given us to tend.  At the same time, taking drastic measures to make minimal gains at the expense of employment of numerous people is not reasonable.  Stripping property rights away from human beings because of some overzealous Gaia-worship of wetlands is not reasonable.   Never building new refineries, or allowing environmentally sound drilling, or considering nuclear power (which France, of all places, even embraces) is not only unreasonable, but a recipe for sovereignty-suicide.   So, there’s my full disclosure.  Balanced environmentalism, which probably makes neither the uber-capitalist nor the neo-environmentalist happy.  Which tells me I’m closer to right than either of them.

And so it is with the Global Warming debate.  I have, for the most part, stuck to the part of discussion where I present data.   The data shows a long-term warming trend of less than a degree per century.   It shows cyclical fluctuations where, depending on the time period one chooses to review, shows rapid warming, rapid cooling, or flat periods.   The underlying trend is a small positive.   But we’ve been led to believe that the 30 years preceding the previous 8-10 years are vitally important and a predictor of our future, and that there are dire consequences to be had.   Meanwhile, the data shows flatness for the last 8-10 years, and my guess is that most people either don’t realize that, or it has been so successfully poo-pooed as anything credible that most people still think we’re heading to blazes.    The long-term trend that shows modest warming is likewise not considered because, by God, mankind must surely be at fault for something, and the best that we can do to make that case is to show a particular 20 or 30 year period that will convince everyone that the sky’s about to fall.

I do not deny that there is a long-term warming trend.   I am unconvinced that Carbon Dioxide has a whole lot to do with it, and the last ten years shows a significant diversion in Carbon Dioxide versus temperature.   I do not deny that mankind contributes Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere – whether it be significant or insignificant.  

But let me get to the heart of this post:   the difference between me and many others seems to be a semblance of sanity with regard to the issue.   I’m serious.   Allow me to share an anecdote, that unfortunately, is likely all too common.

I live in Wisconsin.  Anybody who is a geek like me and looks at the NOAA weekly temperature anomalies by region will know that, for the last 6 months or so, Wisconsin has been blue.   Blue, my friends, means cold.   It means a below average anomaly.  That would be a negative as it relates to history.   Anyone following Wisconsin weather may also know that we had record snowfall this year.   This is no small feat.   It’s not as if we haven’t had our share of snow in other years, even if recent years have been more mild.    By all measures, this was an old-fashioned, throwback winter.   The snowmobilers were thrilled.  The rest of us…   not so much.

So, move forward through a cool spring to date, and we reach April 22nd.   Finally, for the first time in half a year, the thermometer hits 70 degrees.   As I took my lunch break and enjoyed driving around with my window closed, I thought about how beautiful of a day it was.   And then I arrived back at work.   I parked the car, and started walking towards the office.  Two women who work in the office happened upon my path, and they were returning with ice cream cones from the shop down the block.   Happily, I engaged in delightful conversation.  “Taking advantage of the nice weather, huh?” I said (or something along those lines).    A look of concern came upon the face of one of the ladies, who I will not name.   She shared a little story of her own: “I was just saying that when I was married in April in the 1970s, it reached 70 degrees outside, and I just remember it being so unusual that it was a huge deal.   But now look at it.    I sure hope the earth doesn’t keep warming like this because I want my kids to grow up and enjoy the planet.”

I was dumbfounded.  Being co-workers, and not wanting to debate, I held my tongue but tried to offer some assurance that we would be OK.    But in my head, I’m thinking “Are you freakin’ joking?   We’ve frozen our collective rears off for six months and you’re worried about one 70 degree day?”   Furthermore, I am convinced that it is not that 70 degree days in mid/late April were unheard of, I just think nobody thought anything more than “What a great day!” 30 years ago, and left it at that.

As a little test, I looked through a diary that my wife’s grandmother had written in 1974.  She passed away a few years ago, and as a keepsake item, my wife kept this little diary of hers.   As I paged through April, I noticed that she would sometimes make a note of the weather.   I came upon April 28, 1974:  “It was 85 degrees outside today!  Record-breaking!”    I can only imagine if it had hit 85 degrees outside yesterday.  Some people would have probably jumped off a bridge.   Our collective psyche has been manipulated and maligned.

Fast-forward to yesterday, April 28, 2008.   We received 5 inches of snow and a high temperature of 38 degrees.   Let’s put this in perspective…   On April 22, consternation arose because the high temperature was abouot 10 degrees above normal.   Yesterday, complaints about the snow aside, I heard diddly about how strange it was that the high temperature for the day was 23 degrees below normal.   I guess we’re OK with deviations as long as we’re miserable and cold.   Makes sense to me.  Welcome back, blue chart.  Or maybe even purple, if we’re really fortunate…

I have witnessed this slow transformation of the infiltration of misery as it regards the weather over the last few years.  The nicer it is outside, the more worried people are.  I think the entire flipping world has gone nutso.

For my part, I’m sitting here waiting for new snow to melt, and then stay away.   I kind of like the idea of actually having a growing season for the garden and getting outside biking without the need to wear four layers of clothing.  

Call me whacky.

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