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Global Weirding

by Mike Gaworecki

June 23, 2008

So I’ve been wondering lately if maybe we should start referring to man-made climate change as something other than “global warming.” While a rise in average global temperatures is the main effect of the unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases we are dumping into our atmosphere, and higher global temperatures are in turn the root cause of many of the drastic impacts we will experience, “global warming” as a premise is too easily attacked in the minds of the average public citizen.

For instance, as weather patterns change, some regions experienced higher than average snowfall last winter. In the minds of the general public – people who aren’t scientists and don’t follow global warming science and news closely – this can automatically debunk “global warming.” Yet, according to James Hansen (via ClimateProgress.org), there are many reasons why we might experience short-term cooling, including a volcanic eruption or ocean dynamics like the Southern Oscillation (more commonly known as the El Niño – La Niña cycle).

I’m not proposing that the environmental movement should cater our entire message to people who are willing to discount something as massively urgent as global warming just because they got a few extra inches in their yard. What I am saying is that there is perhaps an even more powerful and unassailable framework we could be employing, something everyone can recognize and identify with.

I have a friend who works during winters as a snowboarding instructor, and she says that in the snow sports industry it is referred to as “global weirding” when the weather acts all crazy. And the weather has certainly been acting crazy lately:

We’ve all come to know the words “extreme weather.” Wildfires rage across California, and a state of emergency is declared in several counties. Torrential rain in the Midwest and historic levels of flooding from Iowa to Missouri. At least six people are killed by tornadoes in Iowa and Kansas. A heat wave on the East coast has claimed the lives of a number of people. In China, people have barely had time to recover from the recent earthquake. Flooding and rain have killed over sixty and left over a million people homeless. Meanwhile, record drought in many parts of the United States and Australia continue.

The words “extreme weather” are rarely associated in the mainstream media with another two words: “global warming.” But scientists argue these extreme weather events are consistent with changes they have long predicted would accompany global warming. (Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!)

I kinda like the term Global Weirding because it points up the fact that the global ecosystem has been thrown out of whack. But it doesn’t quite convey the severity of the situation. Anyone got any good suggestions?

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