Snowblind

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Just a few years ago, alarmists, including politicians such as Sen. Barbara Boxer and journalists such as Thomas Friedman, were telling us that lack of winter snowfall was an indicator of global warming.

Now alarmists have changed their tune, telling us that record snowfalls are a sign of climate change. They seem to recognize how ridiculous it sounds to be claiming large snowfalls as a sign of global warming, given their recent pronouncements about slight snowfalls being an indicator of the same condition.

To those who still dare to point out the inconsistency of these changing positions, they have a new tactic. Now they claim that what we are seeing is extreme weather events — which just happen to be a “predicted” signal of climate change. The beauty of that prediction is that it doesn’t need to have any predictive content at all. No matter what happens, anything that seems in any way different from the past can be claimed as unusual, i.e., “extreme.”

Considering the ingenuousness of constructing an argument that is essentially unfalsifiable — less snow means climate change, more snow means climate change — one may ask, What exactly would not be claimed as evidence of climate change? What would be our experience if we were not experiencing change according to these people’s arguments?

The facile answer would be: no change in the amount of snowfall (though I doubt they would offer that option). But then we should ask, no change from when? Ten years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago?

But wait, the recent levels of snowfall broke records for the DC area from about 111 years ago, by just a little bit. Does that mean we were experiencing extreme weather events 111 years ago, so the current weather isn’t really unprecedented, except to a very small degree, if at all?

What were the typical snowfall levels over a hundred years ago? We know they weren’t greater than the snow- falls of 1898–99, since those set the previous record. Maybe the typical levels were much lower than those experienced in that year or now. If so, 1898–99 was extreme; perhaps the earth was experiencing climate change back then. Or maybe the typical levels were similar to those of 1898–99, only slightly lower, in which case neither that year nor this year is all that unusual; ergo, no climate change either then or now.

So the alarmists’ argument fails on at least three counts: as an assertion with no specific content (the vague “extreme events”); as an unfalsifiable assertion (one for which no evidence would be acceptable as disproving the assertion); and as an assertion that almost certainly contra- dicts itself and the historic record in one way or another.

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