By Karl Smith | Conservatives frequently argue that there cannot be global warming since there was a record snowfall or a harsh cold snap.  Senator James Inhofe went as far as throwing a snowball in Congress to make the point!  “It is very-very cold out” he said! 

Granted, weather is complicated, and our ability to precisely predict what will happen is limited.  But just because we do not know precisely when or where specific events will occur, does not mean we do not know the types of events that will happen and what causes them.

Here is a simple way to explain why we can get extreme cold or a lot of snow sometimes even though the planet is warming.  There are three simple principles:

  • 1)    Warmer air means more evaporation of ocean water, so there is more moisture for weather events.
  • 2)    Warmer air means more energy for all types of storms.
  • 3)    A Warmer atmosphere means more volatility in global weather patterns.

These fundamental principles mean that the number and power of storms and extreme weather events will increase as global temperatures increase.   For example, increased volatility in the jet stream will bring warmer and frequently moister air north at times and colder air south at other times.  Combined with more energy and moisture, we then expect hotter and colder weather, heavier rain and snow events, and more and more powerful storms of all types. 

At times, there will be a lot of snow, and it will be extremely cold outside.  Expect it, and it will get worse as global warming continues.  Trump’s tweet “What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!” is at best silly.

With increased injury and loss of life, property and infrastructure destruction, economic damage, and other disruptions from more frequent and powerful storms, we now have a taste of what is to come.  We can easily foresee the dire impacts and loss of life from not only coming weather events but likely wars over disrupted clean water, food, livable land, and massive migrations of people. 

Fighting global warming is a win for everyone, the economy, and the future.  We have enormously inventive and talented scientists, engineers, and businesses to create clean energy sources, increase energy efficiency, improve energy storage, reduce or eliminate emissions, and capture CO2.  The needed war on global warming will create jobs, have a stimulus effect on the economy, and have long term paybacks.  There will be many new energy companies and energy companies that are part of the problem can transform themselves to be part of the solution. 

Even without global warming, we need a lot of energy in the future so that countries are not fighting over limited or access to energy supplies and other benefits.  Finally, proactively fighting global warming will be much less costly than the cost of the impacts.

The “conservative” (as in careful) response should be let’s at least try to do everything we can to slow or stop global warming.   If we cannot stop it, the more time we have to adjust will help minimize loss of life, property, and other impacts.

The “conservative” (as in tradition) response should seem short-sighted or plain dumb to most people.

Conservatives tout their respect for life and morality and yet fight against efforts to slow or stop global warming which unchecked will likely kill and cause the suffering of hundreds of millions to billions of people.  It is time for Conservatives to get on the side of caution over tradition to be more in line with the morality they tout.