New Study Indicates More Pleasant Winter Weather Inoculates Americans From Global Warming Alarm
Growing up in the northern part of the United States, during the dead of winter–those long, dark, cold gray days–when you catch an occasional sunny, warm day, you rejoice. The joke is that weather which in the summer would have you scrambling for your hoodie and long pants will get you running around in shorts and a t-shirt in January.
That’s just human nature. We are animals after all; we evolved under the rays of the sun, walking on the grass and among the trees. We long to be outside, but in winter that experience isn’t nearly as pleasant.
But according to a new study, that natural love of nice weather might be our downfall when it comes to dealing rationally with global warming.
“Americans are getting the wrong signal from year-round weather about whether they should be concerned about climate change,” said the lead author of a recent study, Patrick Egan, who is a public policy professor at New York University. “They’re getting the good parts and haven’t had to pay the price of the bad part.”
The study, published in the journal Nature created a weather preference index for Americans based on previous studies that showed where and how people move, take new jobs, and other factors. Basically it calculates where people choose to live and uses weather information from those places to determine what type of weather most Americans prefer.
The results were perhaps not surprising: most Americans preferred warmer winters and summers that weren’t terribly hot nor humid.
Study co-author Megan Mullin, an environmental policy professor at Duke University put it this way: with global warming, “For the average American, the daily weather has gotten better.”
But the study is not without controversy. It has raised the ire of certain parts of the scientific community, who suggest that looking at where people live is not a great indicator of what type of weather they prefer. Other critics note that the study fails to take into account extreme weather events that are likely triggered by global climate change. The travails of people having to deal with, for instance, California’s record-shattering drought, increased flooding, and storms like Sandy don’t figure in to the team’s calculus.
“People moved from New Orleans because of Katrina, not because they thought Houston, Dallas or Oklahoma City had better evening temperatures,” said George Mason University professor Ed Maibach.
And at any rate, the bottom line is things are going to get worse before they get better–if they are to get better at all. The summers are going to get hotter and hotter, and those extreme weather events aren’t going away anytime soon. In all, the study ultimately showed that by the end of the century, 9 out of 10 Americans will have significantly worse weather, especially in summer.
Of course, by then it will already be far too late to do anything about it, unless we wake people up now.