We need the best PR people to debunk the “extreme winter weather = no global warming” B.S.

Dear President Biden,

It’s so great that it didn’t ever occur to me that you wouldn’t declare disasters in some states because of how they did or didn’t vote for you – of course you’d do what needed to be done whether as state is “red” or “blue.” Obviously the issue is in play because of the horrible winter storm that’s taken Texas to its knees and the media attention you’ve gotten because of how your response contrasts so vividly with that of your predecessor when California was struggling with out of control wild fires last summer and fall. I wonder if people who think it’s ok to withhold needed federal disaster assistance from some states would also think it’s ok to not feed one or more of their children for a week or two if they’d been sassy. Sadly, the answer isn’t a clear “no, that’s crazy” – yes, it’s crazy but people are pretty adept at shoring up their crazy with righteous cruelty.

I know Texas and the rest of the middle of the country have been the primary focus weather-wise, but I trust you know that the Pacific Northwest also got walloped with about a foot of snow in metropolitan areas this past weekend and that North Carolina had what appears to be its first major, deadly, tornado yesterday. Here in Seattle we had more snow on Saturday than fell on any other single day in 52 years. It finally started raining late Sunday night and now most of the main roads are passable, but side streets are still slushy messes and lots of sidewalks are still icey/dicey. Fortunately, I don’t think anyone lost power this time around and we do have a few snowplows that were doing their thing, so comparatively we’ve had it easy. At least those of us who are housed.

Hopefully you all have already thought of this, but do you think maybe in a week or so once the snow and ice have cleared out of most of Texas and the power is restored down there but before Texans’ memories have been wiped and the debris is cleared from the NC tornado that there could be some heavy public messaging around climate change? Like something that explains how global warming leads to extreme winter weather too? I know a solid handful of climate change deniers who get super riled up and super smug whenever there is extreme winter weather because they think it “proves” there’s no such thing as global warming. They are really adept at ignoring the year-in-year-out new high temperature records we keep breaking in the summer and the fact that spring is coming earlier and earlier – they just zing in on extreme snow/ice events.

Here’s a link to a website called “Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism” that has some good material explaining how warmer temperatures mean more water vapor in the air which means there’s more moisture in clouds to then fall back to earth in the form of snow or rain. Apparently water vapor increased 5% in the 20th century, mostly since 1970. It’s not clear yet whether global warming will lead to more frequent extremely cold winters in some parts of the world, but the presence of so much more water vapor in the air means that more extreme precipitation events, whether in the form of snow or rain, are certain. And the more CO2 we pump into the atmosphere, the worse this is going to get, which I know you know. Sorry.

Obviously this is super important stuff that the public needs to have freaking understood yesterday. So please, please, please get some of your best PR people on this ASAP – we need our best persuaders to use their powers for good.

May we be safe from ourselves.
May we be willing to make the changes we need to make to save the planet and ourselves.
May we be stronger and bolder in our climate reckoning than we can even imagine right now.
May we accept that without such measures things will get much, much worse – fast.

Tracy Simpson

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