I tried to stay balanced while reading this week’s Supreme Court oral transcripts from Massachusetts vs. EPA, the global warming case, but it’s tough. This feels like instant history, the kind of document that people will look back on in a hundred years and say there was a great example of a missed opportunity, a point where things began to really get away. So much sophistry, so little substance.
You can, of course, understand the temptation to wait for more data, to argue lack of standing, or to argue about the costs and consequences of carbon dioxide curbs. But then … while the global climate is a highly complex system, the science is also more settled than the Appeals Court and the EPA make it sound. Start reading the climate scientists’ amicus brief on page 17 to get a sense of how climate research is being warped to serve a political purpose.
Will we be telling our grandchildren about the days when winter skiing was widespread in North America and Europe? Maybe, because that already seems to be happening in Europe:
The International Ski Federation reports cancelled races in France, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Italy because of a lack of snow. This monthâ€™s menâ€™s downhill and Super G races at Val dâ€™IsÃ¨re, a French resort favoured by British skiers, have been scrapped. Not since Thomas Cook introduced ski tourism in the 19th century has there been so much dismay about the weather.
This November was the warmest in Austria since meteorological data was first gathered in 1775. At Cortina, the Queen of the Italian Dolomites, it is as if spring has arrived. At 1,224m midday temperatures are 15C â€” normal for May.
Alpine communities have coped with warm winter weather before, but this year there is a sense that it could be the beginning of the end of the European skiing experience.
If you think that’s a Euro-only phenomenon, read the Aspen Skiing amicus brief for the changes already under way there:
Over the past twenty-five years, Aspen has watched its total precipitation decrease by 6 percent, with snowfall decreasing by 16 percent (17 percent above 10,600 feet). Average temperatures have already increased by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) over the same period and frost-free days have increased approximately 20 days per year.
Go ahead and read the respondent-friendly briefs too, like the AEI’s, but even there you see that the arguments are mostly at the margin, about the amount of change, and about humans’ ability to cope with those changes — higher sealevels, more freakish weather, etc. — than abou actions that might be taken now to mitigate those responses.
Yeesh, I now need to go to bed. I’m apparently having a very, very green moment.