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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Global Warming Protest Curtailed by Cold

by Clifford F. Thies

A global warming rally in Burlington, Vermont, drew only 200 people because of snow and freezing temperature.

Source: Bellinghamherald.com

But, don't fret about the possibility we're not ascending to unprecedented warmness, "climate and weather are two different things," said an environmentalist. Climate is long-term, weather is daily. He then cited "a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just reported that 2012 was Earth’s hottest year on record."

Wrong.

2012 was the warmest recorded in U.S. history, but not the warmest globally. Globally, 2012 was about average as compared to recent years. The accompanying image shows where 2012 was relatively warm and relatively cool as compared to recent years. In terms of climate, the average temperature of the planet has indeed been in rising since the end of the Little Ice Age, and has been been flat for about fifteen years (this fifteen year period being too short to indicate a change in the long-term trend).

Undoubtedly something has been going on. A variety of evidence - such as long-term trends of earthquakes and volcanic activity - suggest natural variation, and human activity may be adding to the natural variation. As an economist, I can't speak to the net contribution of human activity to climate change. But, as an economist, I can say that capping CO2 emissions in some countries and not in others will only result in a shift of industrial activity from the countries with the caps to the countries without the caps, and have little effect on reducing CO2 emissions on a global basis.

Irrespective of being an economist, I can also say that when a person claims to be an environmentalist, he should know the difference between local temperature and global temperature.

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