Whoa. Was it just fall?



What's with the 20-degree temperature swings? While it's difficult to complain about cool weather in mid-summer, it is pretty darn weird that autumn decided to visit two months early this year ... even if only briefly. (It's supposed to be back up to 97 degrees by Thursday.)

Of course, you'll have the loyal few right-wing nut jobs who proclaim the weekend's cool weather as proof that climate change is a hoax, to which we should all shake our heads and find out where they've been living all these years. The last time I checked, it's always blistering hot in August around these parts, making 70-something degree mid-day highs the outliers and, therefore, strong evidence in favor of climate change.

But, it seems, the more things change the more people claw into their beliefs about whether or not climate change is actually occurring before our very eyes — regardless of what the majority of climate scientists report.

“Within psychology, it’s called motivated reasoning, or the confirmation bias,” explained Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Project on Climate Change Communication at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. “People are looking for evidence of any kind that validates or reinforces or justifies what they already believe.”

Last February, for example, as a freak winter storm paralyzed much of the East Coast, relatives of Senator James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is a skeptic of climate change, came to Washington and erected an igloo.

They topped it with a cheeky sign asking passers-by to “Honk if you ? global warming.” Another sign, added later, christened the ice dome “Al Gore’s new home.”

Environmentalists roundly criticized the stunt for relying on a fact as lonely as a snowstorm. “Weather is our day-to-day experience, while climate is more static, describing a region’s typical weather conditions as established over periods of time,” explained Adrianna Quintero, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a blog post scolding the deniers.

Now, with record heat searing much of the planet from Minnesota to Moscow, people long concerned with global warming seem to be pointing out the window themselves.

Mr. Leiserowitz has identified what he and fellow researchers call “Global Warming’s Six Americas” — from people who are “alarmed,” “concerned” or merely “cautious” on climate change, to those who are “disengaged,” “doubtful” or wholly “dismissive.”

For people at either extreme — that is, those alarmed by or dismissive of climate change — the local weather isn’t going to have much influence, although they may use it conveniently to drive home a point.

But for those in the mushy middle — about a third of the overall population — the local weather, rightly or wrongly, influences their thoughts on the topic, often subconsciously.

Read more the rest of this New York Times article, "Is it Hot in Here? Must Be Global Warming," by Tom Zeller, Jr., here.

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