13 February 2010

Beyond the "Consistent With" Canard

For a few years, I've been noting the tendency for advocates and others to explain that specific weather events are "consistent with" predictions of climate models of the expected effects of human-caused climate change (e.g., here).

Over at the Center for American Progress, Joe Romm has recommended that journalists use the "consistent with" construction to imply in misleading fashion a linkage of specific weather events with human-caused climate change. Implying such a linkage is simply wrong, because weather is not climate.

In addition to being wrong, implying such a linkage is also wrongheaded. To understand why, have a look at the short debate above between Daniel Weiss of CAP and Marc Morano of climatedepot.com. Based on this performance, CAP may want to rethink its messaging. However, Mark Morano is probably pretty happy with it as it stands.

In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank makes a point that I have been arguing for years:
For those concerned about warming, it's time for a shift in emphasis. Fortunately, one has already been provided to them by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has done more than any Democrat to keep climate legislation alive this year. His solution: skip the hurricanes and Himalayan glaciers and keep the argument on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on foreign oil, some of that going to terrorists rather than to domestic job creation.

Al Gore, for one, seems to realize it's time for a new tactic. New TV ads released during last week's blizzards by Gore's climate advocacy group say nothing about climate science. They show workers asking their senators for more jobs from clean energy.

That's a good sign. If the Washington snows persuade the greens to put away the slides of polar bears and pine beetles and to keep the focus on national security and jobs, it will have been worth the shoveling.
Someone should pass along this good advice to CAP.