From Superstorm Sandy to wildfires, droughts, and freakout temperatures, weather extremes have been hitting the United States hard. And simultaneously, a new scientific theory has emerged to explain much of this weather weirdness: Climate change is warming the Arctic more than the mid-latitudes, leading to a loopy jet stream and, in turn, all manner of weather extremes, including both heat waves and also excessive cold.
The US did suffer an all-time record stupid event last year, when Obama was re-elected.
What’s striking is that even as scientists continue to debate this idea, the public seems to buy into it. Or at least, that’s the upshot of a new study in the International Journal of Climatology, reporting on a series of surveys of residents of the state of New Hampshire (whom, the paper notes, are pretty representative of Americans as a whole when it comes to their views on climate change). From Fall 2012 through Spring 2013, 1,500 Granite Staters were asked the following question: “If the Arctic region becomes warmer in the future, do you think that will have major effects, minor effects or no effects on the weather where you live?”
Sounds like they need an Arctic field trip to help them understand just how warm the weather is there.
Here’s the stunning result: 60 percent of respondents answered “major effects,” and another 29 percent answered “minor effects”—leaving just 11 percent saying “no effects” or professing that they did not know. Overall, then, 89 percent of these New Hampshire respondents thought changes in the Arctic would reverberate far beyond that region, and would affect their weather in the mid-latitudes. “Research on an Arctic/weather connection is new, but it seems to be reaching the public,” says Lawrence Hamilton, co-author of the study and a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire.
I suspect that 89% would have expressed concern for Arctic penguins, had they been asked that question.
Who made sociologists so wise in the ways of science?