Cold weather and climate change


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"Holy cow, men." So began all the October practices of my high-school football team. Coach Dan Dvorak always had a way with words. It seemed like October practices — particularly in 2006 — were always unusually frigid, dipping down below 40 degrees more often than not.

But you could hardly say the same of this past October. According to the Weather Channel, the average high in October was 66 degrees, with an average low of 44. November was even better, with an average high of 48 and low of 31. "Holy cow," indeed.

And then December happened.

It is, as I am writing this, 8 degrees outside. The average daily high has been a paltry 26 degrees. "Freezing my ass off," it seems, is no longer hyperbole.

Point is, this is a humble reminder that rosy weather in November is not proof of climate change. Not gonna lie, I was definitely torn on the beautiful afternoons. The weather was amazing. But it was November, and there was a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that it should not be this warm.

Obviously, it is now a moot point.

Speaking of points — those of you who also remember pointless political events will recall that last year, when the Eastern seaboard was blasted with a few feet of snow, climate-skeptic conservatives celebrated the storm by building igloos for Al Gore.

The so-called "snowmageddon" was championed by gleeful conservatives — for whom it seemed Christmas had come 10 months early or just hadn't stopped since "Climategate" — as further proof of the nonexistence of climate change. (Because lots of snow means that it's really cold?)

I couldn't help but shake my head and remember that weather events, and even weather patterns, are not the same thing as climate — setting aside the fact that warmer winters can actually bring increased snowfall.

And here we are in early December, without more than a dusting of snow on the ground.

Irrefudiatable proof of climate change, right?! (Did I spell that right, Sarah?)

That this wonderful weather was in November serves another point, too. Events do not equal trends, and isolated events are kind of worthless anyway. The country did not experience a dramatic plunge into a tea-saturated Boston Harbor. Iowa City is not Plymouth Colony (yet). President Obama did not signal the advent of a New Left. (Though Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may be the harbinger of … something. Something ominous.)

Julian Assange — or "Assánge" according to the Fox News anchors who haven't gotten the memo that he's Australian, not French — will not be the end of American diplomacy, though he may have set it back a few notches.

Likewise, it turns out I should have just been enjoying the weather, seeing as I certainly am not doing so now. Don't get me wrong, the picturesque moments of snow fall frozen in light on a darkened canvass are breathtaking. But you really only need so many of those moments in a year. (Mother Nature, if you're reading this, I'm perfectly content with the three moments I caught over the weekend.)

As much as I love a beautiful, ice-encased snowscape, I'll take a cool, autumn afternoon any day. And the next time one of those comes my way, I'm going to take care to enjoy it as much as I can, instead of worrying about climate change.

There's a time and place for worrying about a potentially society-destroying phenomenon. A beautiful day, isn't it?

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