Record Snowfall Buries Climate Bill But Sparks Debate

Does the blizzard that has paralyzed D.C. and the northeast support or detract from the theory on global warming?

By Tamer El-Ghobashy
|  Thursday, Feb 11, 2010  |  Updated 8:00 AM EDT
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Record Snowfall Buries Climate Bill But Sparks Debate

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WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 10: A U.S. Capitol Police cruiser sits parked in the plaza in front of the Capitol during a powerful winter storm February 10, 2010 in Washington, DC. The capital area was crippled Wednesday with the second major winter storm of the season as whiteout conditions forced the area's three major airports to cancel flights and the postal service suspended delivery. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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The historic snowfall in D.C. has shut down the federal government and hope seems to be withering that a significant climate change bill can be passed this year.

In addition to paralyzing the nation's capitol, the blizzard has breathed new wind into the argument that the globe is not getting any warmer. Environmentalists are now pushing the counterintuitive notion that the heavy snow is further proof that global warming exists. Conservatives, meanwhile, are chilling -- confident that a northeast coated in white is the right indication that climate change is junk science.

Here's a look at the debate raging over those pretty little snowflakes:

  • The New Republic's Bradford Plumer writes that the worst part of the storm is having "to suffer through a flurry of Al Gore jokes and Republicans snorting about how this proves global warming is all fake." He points to the "thoughtful" comment by meteorologist Jeff Masters who asserts that "massive snowstorms in the Northeast are, in fact, quite consistent with a steadily warming world" because warming creates higher levels of moisture in the air.
  • Blogger Matthew Yglesias notes that there have been concerns over the lack of snow leading up to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver -- to make the point that the current snowfall trends bolster the climate change thesis. "If you turn your moron filter off, though, you’ll see that unusual weather events all around the world are exactly what you would expect from systemic shifts in the global climate," he writes. "The Winter Olympics are in Vancouver and not DC. Just swapping weather patterns around is incredibly destructive."
  • Writing in the New American, Charles Scaliger rails against global warming thesis. "If this is global warming, I'd hate to see what global cooling might entail!" he quips while putting climate change on par with ancient Norse mythology. "The attribution of such forces of nature to divine wrath, while not scientific, at least has an internal logic that the doctrine of global warming — driven more by ideology than by level-headed science — lacks absolutely."
  • The editors at the National Review Online declared "the global-warming thrill ride looks to be coming to an end, undone by the same politically motivated serial exaggeration and moral preening that discredited previous apocalypses." "This is probably the beginning of a wholesale revision of the conventional wisdom on climate change."

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