As cartoonist Nick Anderson pointed out (somewhat too grotesquely) in the Jan. 8 Press Herald, there are climate change denyers who seize upon facts like the recent cold weather to try to debunk the fact of global warming. (I prefer “denyer” to “denier” in order to relate its meaning more closely to “deny” than to the textile term most often used in association with women’s clothing.)

Actually, that cold spell was one of the symptoms of the wide-ranging aspects of ongoing climate warming that objective data have been revealing more and more for the past several decades.

Warming of the thin film of atmosphere that is humanity’s home on our planet, and of the similarly thin film of ocean beneath, also means that there are proportionally greater point-to-point random variations of that warmth and of the amounts of moisture that had been evaporated from the ocean into the atmosphere.

To evaporate that water required the input of very large amounts of energy, amounts that are then held by the water vapor, leading to larger-than-before point-to-point variations in the local energy content of the atmosphere.

Those variations cause faster, hence more violent, transfers of energy from higher-energy pockets to lower-energy ones – that is, more violent storms of all kinds.

So more low-lying Arctic air is sometimes blown southward faster to chill us, while more temperate air above it goes north faster, dropping down there to increase the melting of Arctic ice, a more easily recognized part of the warming.

Richard B. Innes


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