climate change, weather, Donald Trump, little ice age, year without a summer

Climate Change or Just Plain Old Weather?

By Susan Kuebler

Well, Donald Trump managed to do it again.  Weigh in on a subject about which he knows absolutely nothing and look like an idiot doing it.  Which is par for the course. (Pun intended).  After an Arctic air mass (sometimes known as an Arctic Express or Polar Vortex) moved in over the eastern United States, temperatures plummeted.  This is hardly newsworthy.  The weather phenomenon seems to occur at least once every year, and often more frequently.

But Trump decided to make it all about global warming and climate change.

It is frankly amazing that a man who has lived for 71 years, most of it on the east coast, does not seem to remember having experienced an Arctic cold front before.  But if recent statements and interviews are worth anything, it is doubtful he remembers what he had for breakfast.  Even the normally apolitical Weather Channel took him to task over this tweet.

Their article begins with “President Trump tweets the ‘U.S. could use some “good old Global Warming’ – proving once again that he doesn’t know the difference between climate and the weather.”  They go on to describe the difference between the two using the following analogies by Dr. Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s (GO DAWGS! #RoseBowl) atmospheric sciences program “weather is your mood; climate is your personality.”  [emphasis added]

In addition, many people living on the West Coast pointed out that it has been a tad warm out there this year.

No one with the least bit of education or IQ above that of a houseplant would deny that climate change is a reality.  The earth has undergone major climate changes throughout its history, from cooling to warming periods.  Glaciers once reached far into the continental United States during a cooling era and their retreat during a warming one dug out the depressions that became the Great Lakes.

The current controversy surrounding climate change centers on two points:

  • Are we undergoing a period of climate change now?
  • Is it the result of man-made activities?

This discussion began in earnest with the release of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. This documentary, while it contained some claims that did not bear out, did raise the level of discussion on climate change.  it received an Academy Award for “Best Documentary” and led to Gore’s receiving, along with other climate activists, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Although I did receive “A’s” in both of my honors geology classes at the above-mentioned University of Georgia, I will admit I do not know enough about the science to make a meaningful contribution.  But I was also a history major so I do know some events that occurred in the past.

While many might still believe that the last Ice Age occurred during the time of the mastodons and sabre tooth tigers, there was an event known as the “Little Ice Age” that happened roughly between 1300 C.E. to 1850 C.E.   According to the Encyclopedia Britannica “Frequent cold winters and cool, wet summers led to crop failures and famines over much of northern and central Europe.”  This was also the period when the Black Death, or the bubonic plague, ravaged much of Europe.

Another interesting feature of this weather was the “Frost Fairs” held on the River Thames in London when it froze solid and enterprising businessmen set up shops on the frozen river.  The last of these fairs was held in 1814-1815.

Climate change or weather?  Most scientists agree that this period did not last long enough to qualify as a “true” ice age, but the people who lived during that time might have disagreed on that point.

Then just over 200 years ago, in 1816, the United States – and in particular the New England area – experienced what became known as “The Year Without A Summer.”  According to the New England Historical Society it was also known as “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death” and the “Poverty Year.” Six inches of snow fell in the region in June and every month of that year had a hard frost.

While there is still debate over the cause, it is a well-established fact that on April 10, 1815 Mount Tambora in what is now Indonesia suffered a massive volcanic eruption that was 100 times more powerful than the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.  Again, the Encyclopedia Britannica says

“Many volcanologists regard the Mount Tambora eruption as the largest and most-destructive volcanic event in recorded history, expelling as much as 150 cubic km (roughly 36 cubic miles) of ash, pumice and other rock, and aerosols – including an estimated 65 million tons of sulfur – into the atmosphere.”

That much material released at once into the atmosphere would have blocked much of the sun’s rays from reaching earth and led to the Year Without A Summer.

Donald Trump may “say” he doesn’t believe in climate change and that he saved Americans “TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS!” by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, but when he applied to build a wall at his golf course at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in County Clare back in 2016 he “explicitly cited global warming and its consequences – increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather this century – as the chief justification for building the structure.” Source: Politico

So apparently Donald Trump DOES believe in climate change – but only when it affects him.

“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. Julian of Norwich.

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