On the Powerline blog John Hinderaker asks of climate change “What Can’t It Do?” He notes that the Great Lakes are nearing record highs which is being blamed on climate change, even though about six years ago they were low which was also blamed on climate change. And it turns out that in fact climate change has even cracked the supposedly insoluble problem of time travel: A press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada says that “People in Yukon are feeling the impacts of climate change. Thawing permafrost caused 3,000 hectares of lake in Old Crow Flats to disappear between 1951 and 2007.” So now emissions in the 1990s are melting permafrost in the 1950s?
In his piece Hinderaker credits the Washington Post with “a relatively long memory, for a newspaper” so instead of preserving “a discreet silence” over having blamed drought and low water levels in 2013 on a phenomenon now fingered for flooding and high water levels, it says “While experts work to better understand effects of climate change on Great Lakes water levels, they are seeing increased evidence of a new normal characterized by rapid shifts between extreme high and low levels. ‘We are undoubtedly observing the effects of a warming climate in the Great Lakes,’ wrote Richard Rood, a University of Michigan climate scientist.”
Hinderaker is appropriately sarcastic, saying “Unexpected weather events, like rainfall and a lack of rainfall.” But he also produces the dreaded data, ending his piece with a Wall St. Journal chart of water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron since 1990 that show, of all things, fluctuation, with a peak in 1997 like that of today. (Those subjected in high school to the classic NFB production “The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes” back when the concern was pollution not “carbon pollution” may be forgiven for suggesting that a chart going back considerably further would show remarkable changes too. Or even quoting Marcus Aurelius that “Change is Nature’s law”.)
Of course maybe global warming since 2000 caused water levels to rise in the 1990s, drop, bounce around then rise again before falling. After all it can do anything including glare into the past with laser vision that melts Alaskan glaciers when Cleveland was president and thaws Canadian permafrost when St. Laurent was Prime Minister.