Heat Wave Has Environmentalists Crowing

Has anyone seen The Arrival? It’s a ridiculously horrible movie starring Charlie Sheen as a scientist trying to expose a conspiracy to raise the Earth’s temperature to make it more hospitable for a race of invading space aliens.

Given all the warm weather the Eastern United States has had recently, I can’t help but think of the movie a lot these days–especially the last scene, in which a stunned weatherman points to an all-red weather map of the country, showing record highs everywhere and exclaims maybe finally people will listen!

That’s how a lot of climatologists may have been feeling the last couple weeks. The hot weather in the last week of March and first week of April even prompted allusions to global warming from meteorologists, who have recently been exposed as a climate-skeptical group.

Climateprogress.org, which recently won Best Political climate blog from Treehugger, couldn’t resist using the heat wave to take a swipe at deniers, a tactic that showed up on other blogs as well. But climate change defenders using the warmer temps as a rhetorical weapon–even with caveats–both a) breaks their own rules against conflating weather with climate, and b) risks a tit-for-tat “today was hot”/”but yesterday was cold” battle with the other side, one that could damage the cause of doing something about global warming.

July or April?

The Weather Channel led with a neutral discussion that suggested temperatures in the 80s and even 90s in the Eastern half of the country suggested July weather, not early April. In the week from March 29th through April 4 over 1100 daily record highs were reported in the United States and only 77(!) record lows, the Weather Channel reported.

This was the report Climate Progress pointed to in its post, which then went on to discuss a clear long-term trend: reported highs are outnumbering reported lows, year over year.

Last winter, climate change deniers were using heavy snowfall in some parts of the country to make smug comments about a lack of global warming even when it would actually suggest the opposite. It’s infuriating, but stooping to their level–whether in winter, spring, summer or fall–is probably not helpful to the cause of doing something about global warming.

After all, one abnormally cold year and the coal industry will be laughing all the way to the bank.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.