Yes Virginia, There is an El Nino..
December 23, 2015
As the eerily warm, moist autumn in Eastern North America dribbles into an even eerier, water logged Christmas season, we’ve seen a lot of ham fisted reporting along the lines of, “What about all this warm weather, is it climate change?”, with the teeth grindingly shallow answer being, “why no, it’s El Nino!”.
I asked Mike Mann of Penn State to weigh in.
“Yes, El Nino is part of it. So are the vagaries of weather. But so too is human-caused climate change. We’ve had weather before, we’ve had big El Ninos before. We have never, at least during my adult life,had anything like this before. Near 80F in DC on Christmas Eve day? That’s not “weather” and it’s not “El Nino”. It is something more.”
Simple concept. Yes, El Nino makes cold air breakouts from Canada less likely, and a warm December more likely – but the kind of records we are breaking this year, many of them set in previous El Ninos, are indications that there is indeed “something more.”
That something more is a large amount of heat and moisture in the atmosphere that was not there 10, 20, or 50 years ago. Heat and moisture that are part of every weather event, including the current one.
So, yes, Virginia, there is an El Nino, but that’s not the only thing that’s slouching toward Bethlehem with this year’s unsettlingly balmy Noel.
“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”
“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
“Oh, Man, look here! Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.
“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.
“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”
The bell struck twelve.