Travel in time with me:
On March 29 2011, the 88th day of the year, James Delingpole sends out this e-mail blast to promote his book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy:
#88: Global Warming Fun
Pick a cold day in April to remind all the liberals you know how miserable the weather still is. Ask: “Do you think there’s a single person left out there who’s still stupid enough to believe in global warming?” If the liberal tries to explain to you the difference between “weather” and “climate,” laugh darkly and cynically and go, “Yeah, right. When it’s hot, the eco-nuts will tell you it’s proof of dangerous climate change. But when it’s cold, they tell you it’s just ‘weather.’ How dumb do those tree-huggers think we are?”
If spreading illogical and anti-factual talking points is what it takes to Drive a Liberal Crazy, then James Delingpole succeeds in his mission. It’s a simple definitional truth: there is a difference between weather and climate. “Weather” is the atmospheric condition right now where you are. “Climate” is a long-term tendency in atmospheric conditions. “Climate change” is a long-term change in atmospheric conditions over time. A “global climate change” like “global warming” is a long-term change over time in atmospheric conditions across the planet. Delingpole implicitly acknowledges exposure to these terms by using them, but despite that encourages his readers to laugh at these distinctions and use mockery to try and make the distinctions go away. That’s a small-minded way to live life. Why would Delingpole want to encourage that?
James Delingpole does worse than that in his short paragraph: he actively tricks his readers into believing something that’s just not true. What is “a cold day in April”? In the trivial sense of weather, it’s a day that’s not as hot as it will get later on in July. But nobody disputes (or at least nobody should dispute) that summer months tend to be warmer than spring months, which in turn tend to be warmer than winter months. Global warming is indeed not about weather, which is what’s happening today where you are. It’s a pattern of climate change across time, around the world. When you’re talking about global climate change, a cold April is an April that is colder across the planet than normal. The NASA global temperature data record shows that there has only been one April in the past 30 years that was colder across the planet than normal: April of 1982 (that’s the 1951 to 1980 average; if you measured against the full 1880-2010 average for all Aprils in NASA’s temperature dataset, none of the Aprils in the past 30 years would be colder than average). Since 1982, every April has been warmer globally speaking, and the extent to which Aprils have been warmer has increased over time. April of 2010 was actually the globally warmest April yet. When speaking in terms of the climate, there has not been a “cold April” for nearly 3 decades, which makes Delingpole’s suggestion about a remark to make during a “cold April” ludicrous.
The final sticking point of James Delingpole’s talking point is that he doesn’t actually believe what he’s telling his readers. On January 7 2011 Delingpole refused to accept a bet in which he’d pay me $100 if BOTH the year 2010 was one of the top ten warmest on record AND the winter of 2010-11 was one of the top 20 warmest winters on record; I’d pay him $100 if EITHER the year 2010 wasn’t one of the top ten warmest on record OR the winter of 2010-11 was cooler than the 1880-2011 average. If Delingpole was being sincere when he wrote “Do you think there’s a single person left out there who’s still stupid enough to believe in global warming?” then this would be a pretty good bet.
Here’s how Delingpole responded, explaining why he wouldn’t take the bet:
The world is emerging from the Little Ice Age which ended C1850. Therefore it is understandable if temperatures are on average warmer now than they were over a century ago. Global warming is – or rather has been – happening. We just don’t think it’s mainly or indeed significantly man-made.
“Global warming is – or rather has been – happening.”
James Delingpole encourages his readers to call anyone who believes in global warming “stupid,” but actually believes in the existence of global warming himself. How exasperating. Why, if I took Delingpole seriously, it’d be enough to drive me crazy.