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Climateers Caught In The Vortex

Steven Hayward, PowerLine

Coming on the heels of the Ship of Fools stunt in Antarctica last week, these are the worst of times for the climate campaign. The climateers have been caught in a vortex of their own making

And just where is Al Gore these past 10 days? As is well known, wherever Gore goes, a cold snap seems to follow; there’s even a Wikipedia entry for the “Gore Effect.” He should be cast as Mr. Freeze in the inevitable Batman remake. I’ve been wondering if he’s on some kind of nationwide tour right now, which would explain the cold weather in the eastern half of the country.

The cold snap may well be consistent with the general theory of global warming/climate change, as the spinners are frantically arguing this week. (Andy Revkin points out–see the nearby chart–that while it’s colder than normal here, it is warmer than normal in Siberia. But let that sink in a moment. Siberia. The chart doesn’t tell us that it’s still really really cold. Because it’s Siberia.)

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The trouble is that climate change has become what philosophers call a “non-falsifiable hypothesis.” Everything—Hurricane Sandy, warm winters, cold winters—is said to be proof of climate change.

Try this parlor game out at a cocktail party next time you’re clinking ice-free glasses with a warmist: ask him to specify what climate or weather phenomenon would not be consistent with the general theory of climate change. And then step back and enjoy the fun. Being a climateer is almost as easy as being a Keynesian.

The trouble with this disposition is that it violates the Occam’s Razor that most people of common sense carry about in their hip pocket: if it’s really cold over a wide area, the warming theory loses credibility. Plus the fact that once upon a time, the same group of folks told us that polar vortices like the one we are having right now was evidence of imminent global cooling.

Steven Goodard of the Real Science blog has the goods on Time magazine.  From the 1974  Time article “Another Ice Age?”:

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.

And guess what Time is saying this week?  Yup:

But not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles. Usually the fast winds in the vortex—which can top 100 mph (161 k/h)—keep that cold air locked up in the Arctic. But when the winds weaken, the vortex can begin to wobble like a drunk on his fourth martini, and the Arctic air can escape and spill southward, bringing Arctic weather with it. In this case, nearly the entirepolar vortex has tumbled southward, leading to record-breaking cold.

In other words, the climateers have been caught in a vortex of their own making.  Good luck getting out of that self-generated swirl.

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