Weather or not it’s proof of climate change…

It’s cooled down a bit lately, but the last few weeks have seen the worst of what Summer offers in and around the Beltway.  A massive windstorm knocked out power in Alexandria, and heat indexes made mowing the lawn such and incredibly dangerous activity that it was to be avoided at all costs. (That’s the story we’ll go with.)

What does it all mean?  For some it’s unequivocal evidence of man-made climate change:

During their recent coverage of winter storms, Fox News has repeatedly mocked former Vice President Al Gore and cited the cold and snowy weather to attempt to discredit global warming. Fox News and other right-wing media routinely use snow to cast doubt on global warming, and internal emails from Fox News’ Washington bureau show that in the past Fox employees have been instructed to question climate science.

Wait, wait, no, I’m sorry, that’s an old Media Matters story, back when the eighteen feet of snow dumped on the Eastern seaboard was just “weather.”  There’s a difference, you see, between weather and climate, so a cold winter doesn’t mean anything for those looking to disprove global warming.

Yet this week, the anti-Keystone XL organization 350.org sent an email to their subscriber list highlighting the recent heat wave as evidence that radical environmental change is afoot.  Their leader, Bill McKibben, sarcastically needled global warming skeptics in the Daily Beast:

Please don’t sweat the 2,132 new high temperature marks in June—remember, climate change is a hoax…  On Friday, for instance, Washington set all-time heat records (one observer described it as like “being in a giant wet mouth, except six degrees warmer”), and then shortly after dinner a storm for the ages blew through—first there was five minutes of high wind, blowing dust and debris (and tumbleweeds? surely some tumbleweeds), followed by an explosive display of thunder and lightning that left millions without power.

That’s 350.org, whose big idea was to fund a giant ice sculpture on the steps of the U.S. Capitol spelling out the word “HOAX.”  You see, they were going to disprove climate skeptics by melting ice in July.  That was before they slammed on the brakes – ostensibly because they would appear insensitive to people suffering the heat wave, but more likely because it was just a really silly idea.

You can’t spend the winter preaching that weather and climate are different things, then using the summer heat to support the need for environmental action.  That’s not a scientific argument, that’s political hackery – though, come to think of there’s probably more money in simple hackery.

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