Fimbulwinter 2014   Leave a comment

The week is drawing close to a conclusion, and the state of Indiana is no longer in a State Of Emergency.  This year’s Fimbulwinter was bigger than most in recent years.  I enjoyed it, personally, but I know that many did not.  Some people needed to drive places in spite of the treacherous roads, but my schedule was already pretty clear.  It’s worth noting that not every year has a storm that earns my Fimbulwinter Award.  Last year was almost depressingly light on snow, for instance.  But I’d say that this one does.

I can’t speak for other places in the country, but it was definitely a mighty storm here.  I say that Indiana as a whole was in a state of emergency, but that’s not quite the case; it’s more accurate to say that nearly every location within Northwest Indiana capable of declaring a state of emergency did so for itself.  That, in itself, is probably a gross overstatement of the facts regarding which locations were actually in an emergency state, but it definitely felt that way whenever I heard from people elsewhere about their roads.

Rather than enjoying the splendor of the waist-deep snow on its own merits, a number of people on the Internet and television made a few comments regarding this weather and what it means for Global Warming, or Climate Change if you prefer that term.  My own thoughts on Climate Change aside, I feel that taking advantage of a winter storm of this magnitude, one where news reporters used phrases like “could cause death in minutes”, is scientifically shady.

It’s not exactly good science to look at a single event (even one that lasts half a week) and say “See?  This PROVES that I’m right!”  Science isn’t about taking a single example and making broad statements based on it.  Science is about repetitious study of events multiple times, ideally with variations so that you can eventually measure and quantify your understanding.  If you don’t believe that Climate Change is happening, it’s not fair to take this one winter storm and say “See?  This is record breaking cold.  Global Warming totally isn’t a thing.”  People acting this way were really well trained to do say by those who do believe in Global Warming, who jumped on every single instance of unusual warmth, many times using the word “proof” when “evidence” would have been so much better.

As humans we do seek proof and conclusions, and it’s really tempting to pin our own hopes and emotional investments to individual examples instead of patiently looking at the long-term question.  Global Warming is, unfortunately, a situation where we don’t have a good Control Group.  There is no Earth in our solar system at the same distance from the Sun as us that was formed at the same time that we were.  You could argue that Venus might be an example of too much Global Warming (and in a weird way that Mars might be an example of too little?  That one’s a stretch, though), but Venus is geologically and spatially different than Earth.  There simply is no nice alternate Earth to look at for temperature comparisons, at least not until someone develops a Stepper that one can use to travel The Long Earth.  (As a sidenote: you should really read The Long Earth if you haven’t already, it’s a really nice sci-fi story.)

To those pulling their hair out in frustration over the unwillingness of others to accept the obvious danger of Climate Change: please be patient.  Don’t bend any facts when presenting your evidence, and don’t give your evidence as if it was proof.  It’ll all work out in the end with enough patience, I’m sure of it.

To those who simply can’t believe in any of this foolish Global Warming nonsense: please be patient.  Don’t misrepresent your own evidence.  Consider your position scientifically and keep an open mind about change.  Even if Global Warming isn’t a thing, it won’t hurt us to be more careful where our environment is concerned.  It’ll all work out in the end with enough patience, I’m still sure of it.

These aren’t baseball teams that we have to support so that the other team won’t win.  This is a situation where it’s okay to look at the other side not as an evil competitor who must be beaten, but as an associate and fellow explorer.

To both sides of the issue: please let me enjoy my Fimbulwinter when I start thinking the icicles that are taller than me are awesome and how great it is to wade through snow now that I have some new shoes and how fantastic all the other life-interrupting effects of a massive blizzard can be once everyone is able to get inside where it’s warm.  Fimbulwinter comes less than once a year, and I really want to enjoy the buckets of snow before spring rears its ugly head.

(Note: There’s always some confusion whenever I reference Fimbulwinter as something there can be more than one of instead of a single world-ending uberstorm at the end of time.  Yes, I’ve read the Poetic Edda, I know how inaccurate artistic license can get.)


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