Re: Primer

1

Reading any of this makes me want to hide in bed under the covers forever. I'm usually pretty interested in morbid topics, but watching us break global climate is just too awful to contemplate at length.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 1:54 PM
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Sorry, nosflow


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 2:08 PM
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In related news, the insane heat wave in Alaska continues with no sign of letting up. It's already melted most of the snow on the ground in Anchorage and turned everything into a muddy mess. Also, avalanches.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 2:56 PM
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It is possible that global warming would create a trend of extremely cold winters in North America, such as the current snap some of us are experiencing. It's also possible that the current snap is an aberration. Aside from global temperature increase, nobody knows specifically what will happen.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:23 PM
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In other words, one doesn't have to be a climate change denier to remark that the unusual weather most of the country is experiencing is unusual. It might be banal to make that comment, but then we all say banal things from time to time.

I don't think it would serve science well to deny the existence of cold weather.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:32 PM
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but watching us break global climate is just too awful to contemplate at length.

Hence the appeal of the denial industry.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:38 PM
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Appropriate thread for a potential bit of good news arising from the ongoing coldness of the Upper Midwest: The Great Lakes are frozen to a greater extent than they have been in a long time and hopes are up that there will be an ice bridge out to Isle Royale which has not had an outside wolf join the pack since the late '90s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:50 PM
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6: Is there a denial industry? Or is denial just something that conservative pundits throw in with everything else?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:54 PM
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I'm not sure what xkcd is doing, but it would seem stupid to deny that the Great Lakes are frozen. I don't think that the science of climate change is dependent on that sort of denial.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 4:56 PM
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9: This be close reading.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:00 PM
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And to 8; yes there is a very specific global warming denial "industry" led by the Exxons and Koch Brothers of this world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:05 PM
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10: xkcd is claiming that the weather (in St. Louis at least) wouldn't be unusual in the 90s. The argument is that this cold weather only feels cold because the weather has been so warm lately. And I think xkcd is probably wrong about St. Louis, and would definitely be wrong to claim that the cold weather most of America is experiencing only feels cold because it's been so warm lately. The weather actually is much colder than usual in many American cities, colder than it has been for a really long time. And it is all happening at once. It's not just that people forgot what cold weather feels like.

Is that close enough, J.P.?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:07 PM
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11: Really? I would think that the Exxons and Koch Brothers are involved in other industries, which benefit from denial. I don't think that the profit margin for denial is itself very attractive.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:09 PM
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And their advocacy is beyond infuriating, in *any* possible scenario the energy resources that they control would be wildly valuable. But it's all about how much can milk out of it *right* now, this month, this year, next year. The fucking worst.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:11 PM
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12.last: Close enough for a willfully obtuse reading from a fucking idiot. So probably best to leave it at that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:15 PM
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14: Yes, that kind of advocacy would only make sense if someone were actually trying to steal something that Exxon and Koch actually created, and had a strong emotional attachment to.

I mean I guess Exxon would say that it had a role in creating the current petroleum market, which essentially undergirds the economy. But no directors, officers, or employees of Exxon actually did that themselves. So while they might have developed some sort of emotional attachment to the status quo, it hardly seems defensible.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:17 PM
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15: Let's pretend I'm a fucking idiot, J.P. Explain the comic to me in a way which doesn't restate what I already wrote.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:18 PM
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2008 was an especially annoying year in denialism (Fox News in particular). If you look at the world temperature graph by year, 1998 was an outlier and 10 years later was a cooler year, so that is what you heard about all fucking year--how can it be true since this year is colder than 10 years prior. Yadda yadda yadda.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:19 PM
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That doesn't actually explain the comic.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:21 PM
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Though I loathe the "hur hur, this snow means Al Gore is fat" camp of climate change denialists as much as anyone, I actually had pretty much the same reaction as 12. You don't need to deny that a given spate of cold weather is exceptional in order to refute the denialists.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:25 PM
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(I found the linked wonkblog piece much more useful and appealing.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:27 PM
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I will quote it.

Stick Figure: "Because what used to be normal, now feels too cold."

Stick Figure: "It is cold"

[insert final panel in which stick figure complains about melting ice puddle]

It's stupid -- though I wouldn't go so far as to call its creator a fucking idiot -- because the weather actually is colder in many American cities than it has been for a very long time. It's not just colder relative to the past few years, or even the past ten years. The fact that weather is exceptionally cold right now in many places does not of course refute global client change. So it is stupid to deny that this weather is taking place.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:27 PM
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The linked piece says a lot of what text is saying*, minus the trolling. Exceptional weather is exceptional; long term trends are more meaningful.

*Disclaimer: I haven't read all of text's comments in this thread, because why?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:33 PM
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22: I don't know about St. Louis first hand, but for NY the comic is straight up accurate. This weather we are having now (listen carefully) would not have been unusual any winter in NYC before I graduated from high school. Weather like this might have been the coldest week in any given winter, but not unexpectedly cold at all.

I haven't checked temperature records, but Munroe claims to have (see the mouseover text), and based in my memory of the 80s it's very plausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:41 PM
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because why?

Solid reasoning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:43 PM
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24: I'm not sure Munroe is actually claiming to have checked records. And I didn't grow up in New York, but I think you're wrong, and have as much data as you do to prove it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:46 PM
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26: He is (see that little "source" footnote in the relevant panel).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:47 PM
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28

http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/saint-louis-mo/63101/january-weather/349084Check out the weather in St. Louis this month, compared to the historical average. There are more days when it's colder than the historical average than it is warmer, but not many more -- I count eleven warmer to thirteen colder. That's not freakishly cold weather.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:52 PM
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Further to 27:

And if you count the dots
0 days below 0F in the 00s
~20 days below 0F in the 90s
~30 days below 0F in the 80s
~40 days below 0F in the 70s.

And from the link in the OP, note the declining number of low-temp records set by decade--that's been dwindling since the 70s (while the high temp records have been steadily increasing).

It isn't that you're wrong, text. It's that you're willful. And wrong.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:52 PM
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27: The mouseover for that panel is rather tongue in cheek. And the graph doesn't include data for this year -- or if it is meant to, that data is incorrect if St. Louis has actually had -0 temperatures this winter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:53 PM
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31

And my childhood winters definitely had more truly-cold cold snaps than I've gotten used to in recent years. That said, "days with lows below zero" doesn't capture everything about the coldness. The basic deal is

(a) it's definitely extremely cold, but (as xkcd is arguing but not quite fully explicating) it used to get almost this cold more frequently, and but

(b) (as the linked piece in the OP explains, but this is the part that xkcd's argument is accidentally actually encouraging people to get wrong, which is annoying!) the presence of unusually cold in some places at some times is in no way necessarily evidence against global warming.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:54 PM
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32

Same in NYC: eleven days above the historical average to thirteen below. Not freakish.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:54 PM
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33

There are more days when it's colder than the historical average than it is warmer

And if that is true throughout most of the continental U.S., I think it would be stupid to tell people that they just feel cold because it's actually been so warm these past few years. No, it's actually cold.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:55 PM
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34

32: The debate here isn't over whether one should use the word "freakish". The debate is over whether the xkcd comic is stupid. Those parameters have been set, LB.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:57 PM
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35

Good lord, you've discovered winter!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 5:57 PM
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31: the comic isn't saying that it used to almost get this cold, it's saying that it used to get much colder, and we've all forgotten, silly us. If you were to write a comic in which a stick figure explained that it used to get almost this cold sometimes, then I would not call your comic stupid, unless it was stupid for some other reason.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:00 PM
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because the weather actually is colder in many American cities than it has been for a very long time.

Let's have another debate as to whether the language quoted above shows a failure to understand the historical temperature record.

Come to think, let's not, despite the fact that it shouldn't take terribly long.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:01 PM
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38

xkcd comics are stupid by definition, of course, but that one isn't actually claiming it isn't cold. It's saying that what used to be a normal, but infrequent, level of cold is now so rare that when it does happen people consider it too cold, and also evidence against global warming.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:02 PM
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39

In other words, the comparison of this month's temperatures to the historical record shows that it's actually a pretty average January in NYC and St. Louis. We just don't get average Januaries, by historical standards, very often anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:02 PM
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Good lord, you've discovered winter!

See, this is what makes me angry. It's essentially the same argument that climate change deniers make when the global temperature averages reach record highs in the summer. And you all know this. Why not just agree with me so I can have some peace? It's not even cold in Los Angeles; I could potentially feel very contented right now.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:04 PM
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38 is well put. Though I stand by my "this is the part that xkcd's argument is accidentally actually encouraging people to get wrong, which is annoying" remark.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:06 PM
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42

Why not just agree with me so I can have some peace?

My work here is done. Have a lovely evening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:08 PM
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39: The comparison shows that it is colder than average in both cities. And my guess is that we haven't had a winter which actually hit the historical average in either city for awhile. So an accurate trend line for for either city from the 1980s to the present would show a huge spike for this winter. And as (to my limited knowledge) most city residents' lifetimes do not stretch back as far as the historical temperature records, it would be perfectly reasonable for them to find that this cold weather is unusual.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:10 PM
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24.last: yes. The chart in the second panel is the key to his whole point (and I actually do think he weakens it a bit with "It is too cold!"--period like this would have been regarded as abnormally cold at any time, but how abnormal would be quite different). Pwned, I see, however (against all better judgment):

that it used to get almost this cold sometimes

And fucking colder. In the time I've lived here in Pittsburgh it has gotten 13 degrees colder than during this cold period, and that time (1994) it was below zero for 52 hours in a row (three times longer than in the current cold snap).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:18 PM
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41: Yeah, the xkcd is kind of a weird way to respond to this sort of thing, regardless of whether it's correct about the facts. The Wonkblog post linked in the OP is much better.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:19 PM
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Teo put it quite succinctly in 38. it has been fucking cold in a lot of places recently. Notably so, but these temperatures would not have been nearly as notable prior to 15 or 20 years ago,


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:22 PM
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Of course, living in Alaska changes your perspective on cold. I look at the links in 28 and 32 and my first reaction is that those temperatures don't actually seem very cold.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:22 PM
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Here's the equivalent chart for Anchorage. You can clearly see the magnitude of the current heat wave.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:26 PM
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44: I was in Ohio for that. They canceled classes but didn't even think to check because there was no snow. I walked into the office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:29 PM
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I was just in central PA. It was, I have to say, cold enough that it reminded me of the winters of my childhood. I'm sure someone will find a way to troll this statement, but there it is.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:36 PM
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This is the first place I've lived where it gets cold enough that people from cold climates will acknowledge that it's occasionally cold here and though it's been below 10 a few times this month, only once did the weather forecast say it might get near a record low. Last year may not have been as cold at this point, but then there was a blizzard in February, right before I arrived. A number of records seem to have been set earlier in the 2000s, though.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:43 PM
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I was just in central PA

Hmmm...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:54 PM
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I was just in central PA

. . . and boy is my ass killing me!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:56 PM
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54

Oh God that was too far.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:56 PM
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55

I didn't even get it, so maybe it wasn't far enough.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:58 PM
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That's it, Halford. You're done. Hit the showers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 6:59 PM
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57

Hmmm...

If you're suggesting that Josh was there and I missed seeing him, rest assured that it was intentional.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:01 PM
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56: Said the actress to the rabbi.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:01 PM
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58 -> 53, 54


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:02 PM
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I look at the links in 28 and 32 and my first reaction is that those temperatures don't actually seem very cold.

To be fair, that was my reaction, too. Damn you, northeast Ohio!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:03 PM
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Hey now, 44, I didn't say "it used to get almost this cold sometimes," I said "it used to get almost this cold more frequently." It indeed also sometimes got this cold and colder!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:06 PM
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61: 44 was to 36. Sorry for the confusion, not in response to you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:09 PM
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Oh, you were quoting text, I see. Sorry, carry on.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:09 PM
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Yes, because I am a fool.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:12 PM
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"that time (1994) "
I remember that one, they cancelled school for a whole week because they couldn't scrape the ice off the roads or melt it with salt. That was suburban NY.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:14 PM
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Comparing # days above historical vs. # days below is sort of irrelevant, if you're 5 degrees above average one day and 30 below average the other do those cancel out in terms of how cold the winter is?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:15 PM
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It was, I have to say, cold enough that it reminded me of the winters of my childhood.

VW is actually Fran├žois Villon?!?!

And 57: if I ever find myself in central PA again in my life something has gone very very wrong somewhere.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 7:17 PM
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It was funny yesterday -- I was hanging out at MOA and then riding the bus on Lake St. and everybody was in a super happy, hail-fellow-well-met kind of mood. Because the temperature had gotten up to the mid-30s. For one day. And now it's cold again. Sigh.

Still, when it is -16 when you leave the house in the morning and then when it's -3 when you leave work, it's kind of a pleasant surprise. "Hey, it really warmed up a lot!" you say.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 8:04 PM
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A nice piece putting cold snaps into the context of global warming. Probably not much you don't already know, but maybe helpful for the climate change deniers in your "Facebook" "feed".

Do you honestly believe there are any remaining climate change deniers who are persuable with reason?

(I don't.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 8:45 PM
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I think there are large numbers of people on the fence (or who aren't paying attention) and that it isn't worthless to occasionally provide a rebuttal of the denier for the benefit of those people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 8:50 PM
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Look JP, it's not my fault that you can't read a fucking cartoon. The fact that it is not as cold in your city as it is in other cities does not make it less cold in those cities. The relevant time-frame for a person to determine whether he or she feels cold is going to have to be limited to that person's own lifespan. And SP is right that the magnitude of difference between the historical low and the actual low is an important factor in determining whether a cold snap is abnormal -- even freakish. Even just five days with extreme record lows are going to be notable. This isn't people being stupid and forgetting about global warming, it is actual weather which is being experienced, actual record lows which are being recorded. If you tell people that they aren't really experiencing record lows, they just forgot what cold was like because of global warming, then you sound stupid and you discredit actual climate change science, however marginally, by associating yourself with it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 8:58 PM
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I remember 1994 too, if I'm not mixing up the years-- seems like that was the biggest snowfall of my childhood. Was that a really bad winter across the whole US?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:12 PM
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In Virginia we had a series of snow and ice storms in the winter of 1993 and 1994 which resulted in an extra month or so of Christmas vacation. I don't know if there were record lows, but it was an unusual amount of precipitation, and it didn't make you a climate change denier to remark on that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:26 PM
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I remember the east coast having a blizzard in 1993 because I went to DC in 1994 for a week and people kept talking about how bad it was the previous year.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:32 PM
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I was thinking of January 1994, I'm pretty sure. There was also a lot of snow in 94-95, but not in such a combination to cancel as much school.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:39 PM
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I googled -- 1994 was the year of both the largest single-day snowfall (16 inches) and the lowest temperature (-22 F) in my hometown. I think we had an entire week off school. It was a few days before someone with a four-wheel drive went up and down our street several times and cleared out enough snow that anyone could leave.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:40 PM
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It looks like January 1994 had a lower minimum temperature than January 2014 in both my hometown and in Chicago. But January 2014 isn't over, and headlines told me there were record lows. If there is a record low in your city, you can say you are cold, and if there are record lows throughout the country, you can remark that it is cold other places. Doing so does not put you on the side of global warming deniers. It's warm where I am and I am allowed to sympathize with cold people.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 9:56 PM
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78

The storm I'm thinking of was March 1993, but there were ice storms in 94 that I was not aware of because California, I guess. DC storm list.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:06 PM
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If there is a record low in your city, you can say you are cold, and if there are record lows throughout the country, you can remark that it is cold other places. Doing so does not put you on the side of global warming deniers.

No one is saying it does. The cartoon is aimed at people who are actually denying climate change based on the fact that it's really cold right now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:09 PM
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79: Actually, the cartoon, which I quoted above, states that people have simply forgotten what cold feels like.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:15 PM
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The first line of the cartoon: "It is brutal out. So much for global warming, huh?"


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:17 PM
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78: The storm I was thinking of hit in January 1994. It's on your list. This article isn't incredibly substantive, but it does contain a series of pictures of Chicago during the recent freeze. When I lived in Chicago -- it was only a few years -- I never saw anything like that. I didn't forget what it was like -- it simply was not that cold in Chicago while I lived there, although it was very cold at times. In my adult experience, January included an unusual weather pattern.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:20 PM
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81: Yes but the cartoon contains more than one panel. The response to the stupid argument that a local record low indicates no global warming isn't another stupid argument that a local record low only feels like a local record low because we've all forgotten what cold really feels like.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:21 PM
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You really prefer this to lighthearted puns?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:24 PM
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In any case, I sure don't, so I'm going to stop now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:26 PM
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I prefer it to heavy-hearted puns. But I would take some peace and comity were it offered.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:26 PM
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Sure, I have no objection to 83 as stated. Comity.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:28 PM
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88

From the title, I thought this thread was going to be about time travel.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:34 PM
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88: Me too! I was a little bit disappointed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-25-14 10:36 PM
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90

Cold, schmold. You know what I remember? Rain. It hasn't rained here in two weeks, parts of the state are at 20 percent of average precipitation for the water year, the U.S. Drought Monitor declares nearly the entire state to be under severe drought conditions, and almost a dozen wildfires are currently burning. In Oregon, in January. It is brutal out.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-26-14 12:30 AM
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88, 89: Just saw that. Should I watch it again or just cut my losses and admit I'm never going to understand it?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-26-14 1:51 AM
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92

More insomnia.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-26-14 5:36 AM
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91: It's worth watching again if you enjoyed it, but I've seen it a couple of times and I'll probably watch it again and I'm not sure how I'd decide whether I understood all of it. I'm pretty sure time travel isn't real!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-26-14 9:30 AM
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For all you haters who thought XKCD made up the data (which really isn't how XKCD rolls) here's the source: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/extreme-cold-events-in-a-climate-context-16931


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 01-28-14 3:33 PM
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