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The penguins don't get it

17 Feb 2021 | News Roundup

Back in December there were lurid headlines about “World’s largest iceberg on collision course with penguin colony island”. And of course climate change was to blame because the iceberg, A68a, had broken off the Antarctic Peninsula, “one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, reaching a record high temperature of nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit last February. Ice melt and collapse in the region will inevitably lead to disastrous higher sea levels worldwide.” What really happened was it missed. Unlike the lethal storms that brought snowfalls, record cold and death from Texas to Japan. But those were just weather, with death, disruption and heartwarming tales of Washington zoo pandas “frolicking in the wintry conditions”.

It used to be the case that unusual heat was climate change while unusual cold was just weather. But then unusual cold became proof of runaway warming because of the supposed disruption of the jet stream that sent polar vortices screaming south because of climate change. Or more moisture in the air. Or whatever. Just as the same newspaper will declare that climate change reduces snow cover and also increases it depending on whatever just happened.

Fact shmact, said the New York Times: “although it’s becoming increasingly clear that climate change does have an effect on storms, the relationship can be complex and, yes, counterintuitive. “There were these expectations that winter was basically going to disappear on us,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at AER, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.” Oh really? And who created these expectations?

It might seem like “whataboutism”, the new magic word to make awkward counterexamples go away, to mention that the iceberg that was going to kill the penguins broke off in 2017 and was still caroming around frightening headline writers three years later because it didn’t melt in between, because Antarctica isn’t just very cold. It actually “has not warmed in the last seven decades, despite a monotonic increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”

But that’s just the facts, ma’am. In alarmist-land, a vast piece of ice is proof of a warming apocalypse.

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