“So much for global warming!”
I must have heard some variation of this comment 10 times during the “snowpocalypse” that buried Washington, DC in snow in early February. The record-breaking weather has caused many climate change skeptics to revive their arguments, prompting heated responses from climate activists like Bill McKibben of 350.org and Al Gore. As a writer for CI, I wanted to add my two cents to this much larger conversation.
The belief that a large snowfall disproves the occurrence of climate change confirms much more about the inaccuracy of the widely-used term “global warming” than it does about the actual state of the planet. The scientific community has shifted toward using the term “climate change” to more accurately explain the fluctuations in temperature, weather patterns and species distribution that are occurring across the globe. Thomas Friedman even coined the term “global weirding”, which he discusses in a recent article addressing climate change skepticism.
But whatever you call it, its wide range of impacts are clear: even as DC sees more snow, large stretches of the African continent are facing serious drought, and glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are melting at a dangerous rate.
And climate change also has many indirect and often unexpected effects. Consider the recent article in “Slate” magazine about the impacts of salting roads and sidewalks on nearby water supplies and ecosystems. For thousands of years, armies would spread salt on the fields of their enemies to kill crops and discourage life—yet today we are introducing it into our environment voluntarily?
Experts predict that climate change will further intensify storms, which, in the DC region, may mean more snow and salt. Heck, even Dallas, Texas got more than a foot of snow this year. And that’s just weird.